Sunday, December 15, 2019

Principled better than wishy-washy

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for November 13, 2019)

A common criticism of libertarians is that we are wrapped up in principles; in absolutes. We are called "purists" as if this is a bad thing, yet the opposite of "pure" is "contaminated".

Ethical principles function like a conscience. You won't always do what your conscience tells you, but without it, you can't know you've done wrong.

Another word for "principled" is "consistent". People balk at principles and consistency when they want to do something they know isn't right. Consistency doesn't mean you're automatically right-- it's entirely possible to be consistently wrong-- but inconsistency is a sure sign a person is off-course.

This may explain why most people seem to prefer utilitarianism-- using whatever approach seems useful and effective in the situation. They believe they can't be principled because the real world isn't perfect. Reality may not be perfect, but it is absolute.

By contrast, politics avoids principles like the plague. It's said to be "nuanced" as if right and wrong don't apply. Politics is utilitarian.

Politics can't be absolute because it needs useful and effective flexibility so as to provide excuses to do wrong without being seen by the majority of its victims as the bad guys. Reality is what it is; politics is whatever you can get away with.

In the real world, you don't have the option to use magic when you don't like the way things are. In politics, you can say some special words and permit yourself to violate life, liberty, and property-- usually without consequence.

If you want a car but can't afford one, the political utilitarian might encourage you to steal one or steal the money with which to buy one-- through taxation, perhaps. Theft can be both useful and effective. It can get you what you believe you can't get otherwise. However, if you insist it's wrong for someone to steal from you, how can you pretend the rules don't apply when you're the thief?

If you want to find a way to do wrong you can use the excuse that it's a nuanced "gray area"; it's useful and effective to violate others who stand in your way. Politics "works".

Since principles and politics-- opposite approaches-- can each have utility, utilitarianism is meaningless.

Is being principled better than being conveniently wishy-washy? I believe it is, as long as your principles are worthwhile, but it all depends on how you define "better" and what you want to get away with.

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"Where were the 'brave', 'heroic' gun owners?"

Not around here... or anywhere else I've ever lived.

Anti-gun bigots frequently ask why gun owners don't intervene and stop attackers more often-- which gun owners claim as one of the main reasons they own and carry guns.

Maybe my situation will illustrate a possible reason.

Say I have a gun or two and am willing to carry to protect myself and others.
However, because of rampant anti-gun bigotry and statist support for it, the reality is I have 4 options:

  • I can stay home.
  • I can go out of the house but leave my guns at home because there are no essential businesses* in this region that lack a "We don't care if you die!" sign at the door. Thus, bolstering the anti-gun bigots' point that guns are useless for defense of society and might as well be banned.
  • I can go out, but leave my guns in the car, rendering them useless for defense and more vulnerable to theft. Thus, again proving more of the anti-gun bigots' points.
  • I can go out, armed, in violation of the signage.

That's it. Those are my options.

And this is in Texas and New Mexico-- supposedly fairly "pro-gun" places.

A right you are unable to exercise is worthless and might as well not even be a right. Just a wish.

That's why evil losers are able to commit mass murder, time after time, with little effective opposition. I find this situation unacceptable.

I know other gun owners who carry and say they've never seen these anti-gun signs around here. Am I hallucinating all the signs? or are the other people selectively blind to these nasty insults to human dignity?

What solution do you see? "Too bad"? "Move"?


*Ignoring for a moment whether there is any such thing as a right-of-way since there is some contention on that point, I see a big difference between property that is accessed "by invitation only" and property which is "open to the public" for business or such.

Writing to promote liberty is my job.
I hope I add something you find valuable enough to support. If so...
YOU get to decide if I get paid.