Tuesday, August 29, 2017

From the Archives: Delegate Steve Landes is 'keeping an open mind' on Governor McDonnell's ABC privatization plan

Delegate Steve Landes is 'keeping an open mind' on Governor McDonnell's ABC privatization plan
August 29, 2010 12:08 PM MST

liquor law Steve Landes ABC privatization Bob McDonnell Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to privatize Virginia’s state-owned liquor stores “has some possibilities,” said Delegate Steve Landes (R-25) after a town-hall meeting on government reform in Harrisonburg on August 26.

Landes, whose district includes parts of Albemarle, Augusta, and Rockingham counties, as well as the city of Waynesboro, added that “at this point” he is “keeping an open mind.” He wants to talk to his constituents to find out what they like and don’t like about the plan.

Delegate Landes spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner on the campus of James Madison University as the crowd dispersed from the governor's town hall. State Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Dickie Bell were also interviewed that night.

‘Public safety concerns’
The governor, he said, had “addressed a lot of the public safety concerns” but as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, one of his main concerns is “how is the revenue going to work, where would that go, how are we going to offset what could be a reduction” in the money the state takes in from liquor sales. Landes also expressed concern about what would happen to the portion of ABC profits that goes to local governments.

Asked if he has a sense of what his colleagues in the legislature are thinking about ABC privatization, Landes replied:

“Most of the people I’ve talked to are just like I am, trying to get information, trying to find out what the proposals are, [and] what the governor may be proposing.”

Once the government releases “his formal proposal,” Landes said, “we’ll all be looking at that.”

‘Devil’s in the details’
As a member of the General Assembly for the last 16 years, Landes explained, he has “found that the devil’s always in the details, so you need to see the bill, you need to see what it says, and where the dollars are going to go, how the franchise sales would be, who would be eligible, whether you’re talking about small business people or just larger corporations, chain stores, and the like. All those details would have to be looked at before I could say whether I’m in favor or against it.”

Regarding the question of whether privatization of the ABC system is a “matter of principle,” Landes pointed to his support of the private sector and free enterprise over the years, adding that “there is a good argument from the standpoint of, ‘we don’t control beer and wine [so] why is the state in the business of’” selling distilled spirits?

Noting the current economic climate, Landes went on, “If the economy was really good, it would be an easier decision for me, because we’re not looking at what the revenue picture is, where the dollars are coming from, where they’re going to go.”

The issue would be easier for him to decide, he said, because as a member of the Appropriations Committee, “I think you have to look at making sure that the dollars are going to match up and that projections would be there to offset what the state might lose from the standpoint of sales and what we might obtain from the standpoint of tax revenue.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 29, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Guest Post: Anti-Trump backlash gags free expression at universities

James Turk, Ryerson University

We are living in difficult and worrisome times.

There has been a resurgence of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and nativist nationalisms in many parts of the world — including Canada.

This renaissance of hate has been intensified by the actions of Donald Trump before and after his election. Fortunately, many have responded against the hate. For some, regrettably, part of that response has been to call for suppression of free speech.

As the director of the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University, I was deeply troubled when Ryerson recently decided to cancel a panel discussion whose topic, ironically, was to be “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses.”

The panel discussion — scheduled to include University of Toronto psychologist Jordan Peterson and former Rebel Media journalist Faith Goldy — was not a march riddled with Klan and neo-Nazis. It was a group of three conservative academics and one right-wing journalist whose ideas are odious to many people, including me. But then, my ideas are likely odious to them.

The security excuse

free speech wall Charlottesville
Free speech wall in Charlottesville, Virginia
The university said it cancelled the event after a security review concluded it was “not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward.” The violent confrontation and deaths in Charlottesville may have both spooked Ryerson officials and made their decision seem prudent to many.

Opponents of the planned panel contributed to the fears — with their Facebook page headlined “No Fascists in Our City” adorned initially with a photo of a crossed-out swastika and a call for mass turnout to stop the panel. “This shit stops now. Either you’re with us or you’re not….”

In cancelling the event, Ryerson gave in to intimidation, prevented a panel discussion of difficult ideas and disagreement over deeply held views, and denied free speech rights to those with opposing views.

Part of freedom of expression is the right to dissent, protest and criticize, but that right does not extend to intimidation, harassment or violence that denies others their free speech rights.

Differences of views are the lifeblood of any university and essential to the mission of advancing knowledge and educating students. Most universities even have statements of principle that guarantee and support free expression.

Depriving views

Yale University’s statement says “to curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.”

The University of Toronto’s statement of purpose guarantees the “rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.”

Ryerson’s decision to cancel the event violates its own Freedom of Speech policy which states:

“Ryerson does not avoid controversies, difficult ideas, or disagreements over deeply held views. When such disagreements arise within the University or within a broader social context, the University’s primary responsibility is to protect free speech within a culture of mutual respect. The right to freedom of speech comes with the responsibility to exercise that right in an atmosphere free of intimidation and in an environment that supports the free speech rights of those with opposing views.”

This is not a new issue. During the anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy period in the 1940s and early ‘50s, many universities abandoned their commitments to academic freedom and freedom of expression. Loyalty oaths were imposed on faculty and many professors accused of being Communists were fired.

The then-president of Yale University, Charles Seymour, famously said in 1949: “There will be no witch hunts at Yale because there will be no witches. We do not intend to hire Communists.”

In her book No Ivory Tower, Ellen Schrecker summarized the role of the universities during this period: “In its collaboration with McCarthyism, the academic community behaved just like every other major institution in American life. Such a discovery is demoralizing … . Here, if anywhere, dissent should have found a sanctuary. Yet it did not.”

Cowardice and complicity

That harmful legacy of university cowardice and complicity took years to overcome. We need to remember this past if we do not want to relive it, albeit in the name of new passions and different ideologies and concerns.

Instead, it appears as if we are starting down a dark road that threatens the raison d’ĂȘtre of the university and the fundamental rights to freedom of expression guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If standing by its principles requires a university to make a greater investment in security personnel to protect freedom of expression, that must be seen as a proper cost of doing business.

If threats continue to blossom, then there needs to be discussions with governments to ensure universities have the additional financial resources to ensure free expression does not fall victim to intimidation.

Not only are censorship and suppression fatal to the purpose of the university, they undermine the foundation of democratic society.

When individual rights to freedom of expression are diminished or taken away for an allegedly good cause, they are necessarily invested in some higher authority that is given the right to determine what is acceptable.

The ConversationThe result is censorship from above — ultimately the state — with the likelihood that the champions of that censorship today are its vulnerable targets tomorrow.

James Turk, Director, Centre for Free Expression & Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ryerson University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Monday, August 28, 2017

From the Archives: Delegate Dickie Bell is 'on the fence' with regard to ABC privatization

Delegate Dickie Bell is 'on the fence' with regard to ABC privatization
August 28, 2010 7:42 PM MST

When Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell hosted a town hall meeting on the topic of government reform in Harrisonburg last Thursday, several state legislators from the area were in the audience.

One was Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20), who represents a district that includes Highland County, parts of Augusta and Rockingham counties, and the city of Staunton. He spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about Governor McDonnell’s proposals to privatize ABC stores and the state government’s monopoly on liquor sales.

‘Not as committed’
“The governor is very committed to privatizing ABC stores,” Bell said. “At this point, I have to say, I’m not as committed.”

Dickie Bell Virginia politics Examiner.com ABC privatization liquor Harrisonburg
Bell explained, however, that he is “a big believer in private enterprise and in using our private enterprise structure when we can.

“In most cases,” he said, “it’s a better way to go than having government do some of the things that we can do commercially.”

With regard to ABC privatization, however, Bell said “there are some questions that I need to have answered before I can get on board and fully support it.” He noted that he had spoken to Governor McDonnell before the town hall meeting and “he understands my concerns, I think.”

Bell also pointed out that his “concerns are not unique. They’re the same concerns that a lot of people have at this point.”

‘Social impact’
He is primarily concerned “about the social impact” but also worries “that a lot of the smaller retailers in the [Shenandoah] Valley seem to think that this will squeeze them out and, instead of helping their business, will actually put a squeeze on them.

“If only the bigger, larger, the major retailers have this opportunity,” Bell suggested, “it’ll never trickle down to smaller guys.”

The motivation for this particular concern, he said, is because “I’m a strong advocate for small business. We have to level the playing field. If we’re going to privatize, we’ve got to make sure that every size business out there has the same opportunity.”

Bell said he is also concerned about the effects on Virginia’s “very clean system” of selling distilled spirits.

“There’s no way we can privatize and not increase sales and not increase alcohol consumptions,” he said.

‘Based on my feeling’
When asked, “Is that based on empirical data that you have?,” Bell paused briefly before replying:

“No, it’s based on my feeling” that competition and more stores and expanded distribution will result in “increased sales.”

Summarizing his thoughts on privatization, Bell said, “Mostly, I’m just concerned that we have a system now that’s not corrupt, it’s very clean, it’s very efficient, one of the most efficient things that the state of Virginia does. I’d hate for us to lose that.”

He concluded: “I would say that I’m on the fence right now,” and acknowledged that he needs to be convinced that privatization is the right thing to do.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 28, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

From the Archives: State Senator Mark Obenshain on Virginia liquor privatization: 'I was for it before it was cool'

State Senator Mark Obenshain on Virginia liquor privatization: 'I was for it before it was cool'
August 27, 2010 10:37 AM MST

A member of Governor Bob McDonnell’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring, state Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg says “I was for it before it was cool” when asked what he thinks about the governor’s proposals to privatize the Commonwealth’s monopoly on the sale of distilled spirits.

ABC privatization was a central topic of discussion when Governor McDonnell held a town hall meeting on the campus of James Madison University on August 26, and Senator Obenshain took a few minutes with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner to explain his support for the proposals.

“I’ve been pushing ABC privatization for several years,” said Obenshain, “and I was delighted last year when the Governor announced that he was going to include that as part of his transportation agenda. I’ve been working very closely with the administration, I’m fully on board as a member of the team, and I look forward to seeing it pushed through to fruition.”

‘Government’s essential mission’
Obenshain became involved in this issue, he said, because “I’ve always been a free-market guy. I believe in reform. I believe in prioritizing and figuring out what government’s essential mission is, and what it’s not.”

Mark Obenshain liquor law Prohibition privatization ABC Harrisonburg Virginia politics
Speaking “frankly,” Obenshain added, “running a monopoly [and] running a statewide retail operation is something that state government really has no business being in. They’ve got to get out. We’re now 76 years post-Prohibition. Notwithstanding the fact that Virginia is a tradition-bound state -- which I love about Virginia -- it is about time for us to enter the post-Prohibition era.”

Asked what his colleagues in the state Senate are thinking about ABC privatization, Obenshain replied:

“I think a lot of them are keeping their powder dry,” because they have two major concerns.

“Number one, can it be done in an economically responsible way, and number two, can it be done in a socially responsible way?”

‘Crafting his proposal’
Obenshain explained that “the governor is crafting his proposal in a way that both of those questions can be answered in the affirmative. We can do it without losing the revenue stream that’s generated through our public ABC store operation and we can do it in a way that doesn’t endanger the public health [or] public safety.”

Addressing the worries of many who question the ABC privatization idea, Obenshain offered these assurances:

“It doesn’t put a liquor store on every corner. It preserves the right of localities and local governments and community organizations to express their support or opposition to proposed locations for licensees.”

He added that privatization “can be done in a way that satisfies the concerns of those who are on the fence.”

Obenshain conceded that there will be “people who are going to stake out a position in opposition to it,” including some “motivated by social reasons.”

‘Good idea for Virginia’
Identifying another set of opponents, the Harrisonburg senator suggested that some “are going to be opposed to it because it represents an infusion of capital into the transportation system. Their vision for solving the transportation problem is to raise taxes. As a consequence, anything that gets in the way of their effort to raise taxes is going to be something that they’re going to oppose.”

Obenshain summed up his views on ABC privatization by saying the governor’s proposals will “make good sense for Virginians.

“I would not support it if it was going to result in increased incidence of alcohol abuse,” he said, “or liquor stores on every corner or [become] a drain on the resources of the Commonwealth. I believe it can be done without any of that and I believe it’s a good idea for Virginia.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 27, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

From the Archives - Privatizing ABC: Virginia Institute's John Taylor wants 'a small government I can easily monitor'

Privatizing ABC: Virginia Institute's John Taylor wants 'a small government I can easily monitor'
August 26, 2010 12:26 PM MST

John Taylor Virginia Institute of Public Policy ABC privatization liquor law alcohol regulation
Tonight in Harrisonburg, Governor Bob McDonnell will be holding the sixth in his series of eight town hall meetings on the topic of reforming Virginia’s government. As always, the centerpiece of the governor’s presentation will be his proposals to privatize the state’s monopoly on the wholesale and retail sale of distilled spirits, which dates to 1934 and the end of alcohol Prohibition.

Earlier this month, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, a state-level think tank based in Gainesville, published a study called Impaired Judgment: The Failure of Control States to Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems, written by George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux and Julia Williams, a consultant with the Regulatory Economics Group, LLC.

‘No statistically significant difference’
A few days after the study was released, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner caught up with Institute president John Taylor in Richmond, who summarized its findings.

“We looked at the public health and safety aspects of privatizing the state-owned liquor stores,” Taylor explained, comparing “the control stores that have monopolies over the sale of distilled spirits vs. the license states where the state government will sell licenses to private vendors to sell distilled spirits.”

These findings closely match those found by Duquesne University economist Antony Davies in research he did for a Pennsylvania think tank.

The three areas examined in the study, he said, “were alcohol-related deaths, binge drinking, and drunk-driving fatalities. In those three areas, what we found was there’s no statistically significant difference between the control states and the license states. There just isn’t.”

If one argues that “we have to control distilled spirit sales and give the government a monopoly,” Taylor said, “then public health and public safety [are] not really the excuse,” repeating for emphasis: “In those three areas, there is really not a need or an excuse for the government to be involved.”

With regard to the revenue that could be gained (or lost) through privatization, Taylor said that he understands the governor has claimed privatization will result in a windfall of $500 million that will be applied to transportation program.

‘Moral hazard’
However, he added, “To me, the revenue argument is not a good argument to begin with, because I don’t believe selling liquor is a core function of government. If you can say, ‘well, yeah, but the state makes a lot of money off of it,’ [then] the state might make a lot of money off a lot of things that should be private industries.”

Turning sardonic, Taylor added with a smile:

“I mean, if we allow them to have a monopoly to sell liquor, before you know it, they’ll take over car companies, insurance companies, banks – oh, sorry, they already do that.”

Having government involved in one consumer business, like liquor, Taylor argued, is the start of “a slippery slope and it’s a moral hazard. I just don’t want our government involved in this. I want a small government that I can easily monitor to make sure I know what they’re doing so that I can bash them when they overstep their bounds.”

Asked what he has heard from members of the General Assembly, who will have to vote to approve any privatization program, Taylor noted that “there are some that have expressed views that they don’t want to give up the ABC stores simply because they think it would be a loss of revenue.”

‘Not a core function’
At the same time, however, he pointed out that “the more conservative members of the General Assembly would agree that this is really not a core function of government and the government should get out of it.”

Following tonight’s town hall in Harrisonburg, Governor McDonnell will meet with voters and taxpayers in Danville on August 30 and in Bristol on August 31. Press reports indicate that he will officially release his ABC privatization proposals on September 8, for the consideration of the Government Reform Commission.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 26, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Guest Post: Why David Hume Defended the Rights of 'Seditious Bigots'

by Dan Sanchez

Some can’t imagine a downside to punching Nazis, or otherwise obstructing their spewing of hate. How could the world not be a happier and sunnier place after the forcible removal of such a spiritual pollutant? In the face of such an obvious potential pragmatic benefit to society, isn’t concern for the rights of Nazis so much fussy, abstract philosophizing?

David Hume shed some light on this problem, explaining way back in 1738 the pragmatic utility and public interest in granting even “a seditious bigot” his rights.

The Case of the Robbed Nazi
In his Treatise on Human Nature Hume wrote:

“A single act of justice is frequently contrary to public interest; and were it to stand alone, without being followed by other acts, may, in itself, be very prejudicial to society. When a man of merit, of a beneficent disposition, restores a great fortune to a miser, or a seditious bigot, he has acted justly and laudably; but the public is the real sufferer.”
David Hume seditious bigot Treatise of Human NatureMany would consider “seditious bigot” a perfectly apt term for the Nazis and white supremacists now seizing public attention. Let’s say, following Hume’s hypothetical, a Nazi, who had grown rich through honest business, had been robbed of a “great fortune”: let’s say a collection of antique German coins. Then, a person “of a beneficent disposition” who believes in the human rights of all (in other words, someone who is quite the opposite of a Nazi) somehow came into possession of the pilfered coins, and returned the fortune to the seditious Nazi bigot.

This, according to a strict application of property rights, would, as Hume put it, be a “single act of justice.” The Nazi’s fortune was his property by right, so restoring that property was indeed a single act of justice.

But what will the Nazi do with his restored fortune? What if he uses it to finance web sites and Twitter bots broadcasting hate throughout the Internet? Clearly, in that case, “the public is the real sufferer” as Hume put it.

The human rights champion who returned the fortune might even personally suffer. Maybe he individually, or a group in which he is a member, will be one of the targets of the Nazi’s campaign of hate. By striving to act with strict integrity, he may have hurt his own interests. As Hume wrote:
“Nor is every single act of justice, considered apart, more conducive to private interest than to public; and it is easily conceived how a man may impoverish himself by a single instance of integrity, and have reason to wish that, with regard to that single act, the laws of justice were for a moment suspended in the universe.”
Now, take the above thought experiment, but replace one matter of rights with another. Instead of the Nazi’s ownership right over external property, consider his right of self-ownership, which includes his right of free speech.

Let’s say that this right too is defended by a champion of universal rights, namely a libertarian: someone whose credo is the furthest conceivable thing from that of a Nazi.

Again, such a defense may seem contrary to the public good, since the Nazi’s message accomplishes nothing but evil. It may even seem contrary to the libertarian’s personal interests, since collectivist, particularist Nazis often rightly recognize individualist, universalist libertarians as their antithesis and as their most dangerous ideological nemeses.

The Pragmatism of Principle
But such regrettable results are not the only consequences of affording the Nazi his rights. We must consider Frederic Bastiat’s “unseen” as well the “seen”: namely the wider ramifications of maintaining a universal principle: a general rule. As Hume continued (emphasis added):
“But however single acts of justice may be contrary either to public or private interest, it is certain that the whole plan or scheme is highly conductive, or indeed absolutely requisite, both to the support of society, and the well-being of every individual. It is impossible to separate the good from the ill. Property must be stable, and must be fixed by general rules. Though in one instance the public be a sufferer, this momentary ill is amply compensated by the steady prosecution of the rule, and by the peace and order which it establishes in society. And even every individual person must find himself a gainer on balancing the account; since, without justice, society must immediately dissolve, and every one must fall into that savage and solitary condition which is infinitely worse than the worst situation that can possibly be supposed in society.”[1][2]
Once you start making exceptions to a universal principle/general rule, you begin to undermine it; it becomes easier to make further exceptions. If the hate speech of Nazis are to be restricted, why not the hate speech of traditionalist conservatives? If the violent, seditious rhetoric of Nazis are too dangerous to allow, why should the violent, seditious rhetoric of communists be tolerated, or any fundamental criticism of the government?

As Jeffrey Tucker recently wrote:
“Once you pick and choose the way you want rights exercised, you threaten the very idea of rights and make them all contingent on political expediency.”
And Ludwig von Mises, in Human Action, granted that, in the single case of ads for quack remedies, it might do no public harm…
“…if the authorities were to prevent such advertising, the truth of which cannot be evidenced by the methods of the experimental natural sciences. But whoever is ready to grant to the government this power would be inconsistent if he objected to the demand to submit the statements of churches and sects to the same examination. Freedom is indivisible. As soon as one starts to restrict it, one enters upon a decline on which it is difficult to stop. If one assigns to the government the task of making truth prevail in the advertising of perfumes and tooth paste, one cannot contest it the right to look after truth in the more important matters of religion, philosophy, and social ideology.”
As Hume said, the more you erode the universality of rights, the more society devolves toward the “anything goes” law of the jungle. And it is precisely Nazi-like brutes who thrive under such conditions, at the expense of the civility-minded.

It's about More than the Nazis
When libertarians and other sincere defenders of the freedom of speech, like a great many in the ACLU, defend the free speech rights of Nazis, their greatest concern is not the defense of Nazis as such, but the defense of a vitally important principle and general rule.

Such a defense is especially vital in a world in which it is quite possible for the reins of government to be seized by violent bigots themselves. This idea has been vividly expressed in the 1960 film Man for All Seasons, in an exchange between Sir Thomas More and another character:
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
Now read the above again with “Nazi” substituted for “Devil.”

This is the pragmatic rationale behind taking the stance of the early champion of free speech and tolerance Voltaire, which was encapsulated by Evelyn Beatrice Hall as follows:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
[1] Hume traces the rise of property and justice themselves to this individual recognition of the personal benefit of rigorously applied general rules:
“When, therefore, men have had experience enough to observe that whatever may be the consequence of any single act of justice, performed by a single person, yet the whole system of actions concurred in by the whole society is infinitely advantageous to the whole, and to every part, it is not long before justice and property take place. Every member of society is sensible of this interest: every one expresses this sense to his fellows, along with the resolution he has taken of squaring his actions by it, on condition that others will do the same. No more is requisite to induce any one of them to perform an act of justice, who has the first opportunity. This becomes an example to others; and thus justice establishes itself by a kind of convention or agreement, that is, by a sense of interest, supposed to be common to all, and where every single act is performed in expectation that others are to perform the like. Without such a convention, no one would ever have dreamed that there was such a virtue as justice, or have been induced to conform his actions to it. Taking any single act, my justice may be pernicious in every respect; and it is only upon the supposition that others are to imitate my example, that I can be induced to embrace that virtue; since nothing but this combination can render justice advantageous, or afford me any motives to conform myself to its rules.”
[2] Henry Hazlitt, in his book The Foundation of Morality, characterized Hume as the originator of the ethical tradition of “rule utilitarianism” as distinct from the “act utilitarianism” often associated with Jeremy Bentham.

Dan Sanchez FEE.org philosophy libertarian thought
Dan Sanchez is Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writings are collected at DanSanchez.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Guest Post: Your Free Speech Is More Important Than My Feelings

by Tricia Beck-Peter

The first time I felt threatened by someone else’s free speech, I was a freshman in college. My college was plagued by a young man who would stand outside the library and use the word of God to belittle and harass students, especially young women.

First Amendment Free Speech ConstitutionOnce every few months, this man would show up to call us adulterers, witches, sluts, and sinners while professing to represent a religious viewpoint that enriched the lives of many of my classmates.

When he turned to me I was wearing a skirt, a turtleneck shirt, and leggings that covered any exposed skin of my legs. He decided that even this relatively chaste outfit was reason enough to condemn me. Emotion welled up within me- fear, yes, but mostly a desire to fight this terrible man. I could see that my classmates, especially my gay and lesbian classmates, felt unsafe around him.

We wanted him off our campus, and so we protested. Theology students grabbed their Bibles and yelled counterpoints to his scripture. LGBT couples openly displayed their affections as a way to fight hate with love. And me? I checked out the first Harry Potter book and read the first chapter aloud to the crowd loud enough to drown him out. I lost my voice for a week.

An hour into the counter protest, the police were called. We begged them to remove the man from the premises. They looked apologetic but informed us that the sidewalk we were standing on was public property even though it ran through the campus. Therefore, this man was protected by free speech laws.

This Was "Hate Speech"
I believed in free speech in theory, but not for this guy. This guy was attacking students verbally on a place where they deserved to feel safe. His words made us feel angry, hurt, less than human. His words were damaging. How could they be protected?

For years, I campaigned for the college to privatize that sidewalk to protect our students from this monster. While I was campaigning, I spoke to a fellow economics student. He begged me to reverse my position.

I had no intention of giving this up. Time and time again, my friends and I had been called every nasty name in the book for the crime of being women in shorts in the Florida heat. I had no intention of backing down, until this student made a point that stuck with me.

What if one day, we needed to protest the administration?

My administration was fairly competent, but they had botched an on-campus sexual assault case the year before. What if they did it again? What if we lost the one place on campus where our free speech was more important than their feelings?

The Student Government charter was written in such a way as to give no power to the students to challenge the administration. There was no formal process by which we could change the institution from within. Without that sidewalk, we would be powerless if the tables should turn.

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
The point of free speech is to rebel when those with more power are wrong. Abolitionists needed free speech. Suffragettes needed free speech. Civil rights activists needed free speech. While today we applaud all of those movements, in their day they were considered radical loonies that should be silenced. Sometimes the right thing is unpopular and the right people have less power. Sometimes, the good guys are the minority.

That hate preacher was wrong to attack the character of strangers. I do not believe the tide will ever turn so thoroughly for me as to see him as anything more than mean-spirited and cruel. But the same laws that protected Martin Luther King protect him. The First Amendment will be rendered impotent when we pick and choose who it protects. As much as I despise that man, his free speech is more important than my feelings.

Your free speech is more important than my feelings. Your right to say whatever you want is more important than my right to feel safe. Your right to be awful is more important than my right to feel accepted. Your right to condemn my choices is as sacred as my right to make those choices.

It is not fun to prioritize the rights of strangers, whose words upset us over our comfort. It is, however, necessary. One day, you may need that same right to do good in this world. Therefore, we cannot suppress the right of others to challenge our beliefs. We can only work to advocate for ideas that are better than those that advocate for hate and destruction because, in the long run, good ideas win.

Tricia Beck-Peter FEE.org free speech
Tricia Beck-Peter is a graduate of Flagler College, with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in International Studies. She serves FEE as our Outreach Associate, and deals primarily with alumni relations and the Campus Ambassador program. When Ms. Beck-Peter is not in the office you can find her swing dancing, enjoying fine gins, or binge-watching The Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Updated: Gary Johnson and Cliff Hyra React to #Charlottesville

Gary Johnson Charlottesville City Hall Jefferson Madison Monroe
Gary Johnson
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian Party's nominee for President in 2012 and 2016, issued a statement on the afternoon of August 14 in reaction to the events this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Johnson posted his remarks on Facebook:

Racism killed people in Charlottesville this weekend. That is as un-American as it gets.

In the nation our Founders created, even a tiny minority of vile and repugnant 'demonstrators' enjoys the right to express racist white-supremacist evil.

BUT, the rest of us -- the overwhelming majority -- have the right, and I believe, the obligation, to condemn racism of every form. And when racist hate becomes violence and murder, we must respond with nothing less than the full force of the law.

Late Saturday night, Cliff Hyra, the Libertarian Party's 2017 nominee for Governor of Virginia, issued a similar statement, also on Facebook, reacting with shock and disbelief to the carnage precipitated by the presence of neo-Nazis, unabashed racists, and Confederate sympathizers in Charlottesville:
Cliff Hyra Libertarian Party Virginia Governor Charlottesville
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Cliff Hyra
Horrific and tragic events in Charlottesville today. White nationalists and neo-Nazis threaten the liberty of us all, and as Virginians we must stand united against them. My heart goes out to the victims of the brutal terrorist attack and their families. I wish a swift and full recovery to those hospitalized, and offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

It is shocking and unbelievable to me that a political disagreement over statues could serve as an excuse for violent combat and heinous murder. I am heartbroken today, and also fearful for the future of our country and our commonwealth. We must act now to root out and extirpate all support for political violence. Peaceful discussion and political action are the only way forward.

Update, August 15: Gary Johnson expanded on his thoughts about last weekend's events and their aftermath in an article for The Jack News headlined "In the Wake of Charlottesville, Let’s Look for Solutions and Not Blame."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

From the Archives: Fifth District congressional candidate Jeffrey Clark endorses idea of liquor sale privatization

Fifth District congressional candidate Jeffrey Clark endorses idea of liquor sale privatization
August 13, 2010 7:07 PM MST

Jeffrey Clark Tom Perriello Bob McDonnell Charlottesville ABC privatization liquor regulation
Just prior to his debate with incumbent Representative Tom Perriello (D-Ivy) at Charlottesville’s Senior Center on August 11, independent congressional candidate Jeffrey Clark gave his opinion on a current statewide issue.

When asked by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner what he thinks of Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposals to privatize the state’s monopoly on wholesale and retail sales of distilled spirits, Clark readily replied, “I like it.” It is, he said, “a win for everybody.”

‘A great model’
Pointing out that in “many places” elsewhere in the United States, liquor is sold through private outlets, Clark asked, “If it’s working effectively in other areas of the country and it’s a great model, why not move in that direction here as well?”

Clark explained that he doesn’t see “any reason that would prevent us from” privatizing ABC sales.

“We can get away from the bureaucracy,” he added, noting that “small businesses like restaurants and things like that would welcome the idea of the privatization of the ABC stores.”

Drawing on his own business experience, Clark remarked: “Trust me, I’ve been in restaurant-hotel management for a very long time, and I understand the red tape that can go along with that.

End the red tape
“Listen,” he continued, “just trying to get an opportunity to be able to have the privilege of selling alcohol in your business can be a huge issue of red tape and then you’ve got to go deal with this government bureaucracy that is the ABC stores of Virginia.”

McDonnell’s idea is “a way overdue proposal,” Clark said, wondering “why so long here?” when 32 other states have had private systems for decades.

Like the governor, Clark suggested that ABC privatization is part of a broad-based approach to government reform.

“We really need to look at every program, no matter what it is, even if it seems small, even if it seems like” people are dismissing the idea by saying things like “Oh, the ABC stores, it’s just alcohol, no big deal, we’ll leave it” the way it is, Clark argued.

‘Save a dollar, save a billion’
“Any area where we can look, where we can focus on the small things” the state should consider a change. “If it’s saving [just] a dollar, who cares? If we look to save a dollar, we can eventually save a million, two million, a billion.”

By looking for savings and efficiencies, Clark asserted, “we can start to bring these things back into some type of financial control and better serve the people.”

Clark, who lives in Danville in Southside Virginia, where it is believed much of the opposition to McDonnell’s proposals originates, does not see a downside.

“I don’t think anybody believes that somehow the ABC stores won’t be able to serve the public as well if they’re somehow not under government control,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, I think that most independent businesspeople probably act more responsible in their day to day lives than do government bureaucracies.”

Add Jeffrey Clark’s name to the list of supporters of Bob McDonnell’s ABC privatization efforts.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 13, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

From the Archives: Porn king Larry Flynt defends free speech in Charlottesville

Porn king Larry Flynt defends free speech in Charlottesville
November 6, 2011 9:24 PM MST

Larry Flynt pornography free speech Virginia Film Festival Charlottesville
Self-described smut peddler and free speech advocate Larry Flynt appeared at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville on November 4 to discuss the 1996 Milos Forman-directed film based on his life, The People vs. Larry Flynt. The screening was sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Flynt had earlier spoken at the University of Virginia in November 2000 with his friend and courtroom adversary, the late Jerry Falwell, as part of a lecture tour in which they talked about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988), in which a unanimous court upheld Hustler’s right to engage in political parody even if the object of that parody (Falwell) had hurt feelings as a result.

That case originated after Hustler, one of many adult publications operated by Flynt, had run a satirical advertisement for Campari in which Falwell allegedly endorsed the liqueur and revealed that his first sexual experience was in an outhouse with his mother. Falwell sued for libel and lost, but won damages in a Roanoke federal court for “intentionally inflicted emotional distress.”

‘One Nation Under Sex’

After the film and discussion, Flynt autographed copies of his new book, One Nation Under Sex, for about 100 fans. The book, coauthored by David Eisenbach, looks at American history through the prism of the sex lives of presidents and first ladies.

As the crowd dispersed, Flynt answered questions posed by reporters from radio station WINA and the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner.

Noting that many people yearn for a simpler time when their own moral values seemed to be shared by the rest of society, Flynt said that “nostalgia affects people usually in a very positive way but the world goes on.”

What needs to be understood, he said, is that “the big thing is, you’ve got to accept the rights of other people. We pay a huge price in this country to live in a free society and we’ve got to tolerate things that we don’t necessarily like so we can be free.”

Reconciling religion with freedom

Flynt added that “unfortunately, my friend Jerry Falwell never seemed to be able to reconcile the Bible with people who wanted more individual freedom.”

Larry Flynt UVA Virginia Film Festival free speech Charlottesville
Larry Flynt
Supporting the idea of moral values is fine, he said, “if they work for you or your family, but if they don’t, you should not seek to impose your values on other people.”

While Jerry Falwell is dead, his son continues to run Liberty University in Lynchburg, but Flynt is not impressed with that institution’s legacy or mission.

“I know that whole family,” he said. “I’m not looking to pick a fight with them [but] they bring people like Michele Bachmann to the college and the whole nation knows about it.”

Flynt chuckled and then trailed off as he shook his head ruefully: “If they’re holding Michele Bachmann up as an example of greatness, she makes people who find Sarah Palin challenging…”

Flynt’s dismissive tone indicated he does not hold either Bachmann or Palin in high regard.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on November 6, 2011. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.