Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

Gene Healy's response to Lindsay Beyerstein's anti-[amateur] mixed martial arts nannying:

Every time the ignorant moralizing of the Right pushes me Left, the ignorant moralizing of the Left pushes me back. (Just when I think I've got out, they push me back in.) Explain to me, if you please, a theory of self-ownership that says you can choose to off yourself if you're sick, you can take whatever sexual risks you please, you can choose to have an abortion up to and including the ninth month of pregnancy--but getting in a cage to fight for money? Oh jeepers: no "civilized society" should permit such a thing.

I'm not even sure I understand Lindsay's policy proposal. She asks, "why should we waste any additional resources trying to protect these losers from themselves?" To do this, she suggests we "rewrite the laws to let fighters sue the fight promoters who stage these spectacles." But what does one thing have to do with the other? It seems to me that rewriting the laws to allow people to bring more frivolous lawsuits costs us additional societal resources, not less. Courts aren't free.

Update: Check the comments for Lindsay's clarification of her position.

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Legislating morality. The

Legislating morality. The reason why it is such a big topic is that our social welfare safety net and anti-competitive insurance laws have made it so that we as a society our collectively insuring ourselves. So since we are forced to have an economic stake in our fellow man it is only reasonable to want to exercise some control. We have become our own shareholders.

Government "solutions" for government-created problems are not the answer, but lets take a moment to appreciate the root cause. Lets stop creating society-wide risk pools.

I'm not anti mixed martial

I'm not anti mixed martial arts. Gene is confused about the subject of the NYT article I was writing about. I was complaining about the business practices of "The Cage, Inc"--an amateur brawl show out of Sioux Falls, SD. According to the article, the fighters are primarily untrained amateurs recruited off the street who are routinely mismatched against trained local MMA devotees.

The article wasn't about the MMA (the sport) or Ultimate Fighting (tm)(a for-profit league for professional MMA fighters). Professional MMA is a totally separate issue. If professional athletes want to engage in high risk combative sports, that's fine. Heck, if trained amateurs want to participate in an organized, regulated competition, that's fine too.

Again, according to the article, current laws do not allow The Cage participants to sue Chris Christianson or his company, even though Mr. these fights are conducted in an extremely negligent manner. That needs to change.

I'm arguing that we shouldn't waste resources on banning these brutal amateur brawls. That would just drive them underground. Instead, we should hold promoters accountable if their mismatches and lax security cause harm.

Ah, my mistake, Lindsay.

Ah, my mistake, Lindsay. I'll edit the post.

Did the promoters lie to the

Did the promoters lie to the amatuers? If so, fine, they should be liable. If not, I don't see the problem. If you are dumb enough to go fight some random person for money, you deserve what you get (as long as the promoter was honest about the rules).

I guess the argument is that

I guess the argument is that the promoters weren't as upfront as they should have been about the risks of their contest. This may be especially true when alcohol is thrown into the mix.

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The difference I see

The difference I see between, on the one hand, suicide, sex, and abortion, and on the other hand, fighting for money, is money. The moment money gets in the picture a lot of people on the left who were otherwise for liberty are against liberty if money is involved. Of course, sex can also involve money, but this only emphasizes the point: many more people on the left are, or seem to be, in favor of (say) leaving homosexuals alone to do whatever they want with their partners, than are in favor of leaving prostitutes and their customers alone.

But the problem that leftists have with money is part of a more general problem they have with exchanges or relationships between people. And that problem is exploitation. Leftist thinking about relationships and exchanges is dominated by the idea of exploitation, the idea that one of the two parties is exploiting the other, is committing an injustice against the other, and that therefore the heavy hand of the state (or some other mechanism) is needed to correct the injustice. And in the mind of the leftist, the need to protect against exploitation trumps liberty every time.

Constant, I think that's an

I think that's an astute observation. I think the unequal playing field is at the very root of many of these problems. I don't think watching a Nicoraguan eat dog shit for a dollar would be good sport, but even if it was it'd be grotesque primarily because it reflects what kind of dire straits the Nicas are in. Watching a middle class person do it of his own free will would be acceptable because it's presumable that they're making a more free choice, hence Fear Factor.

I think these things amount to "let's see what curshing poverty can do to human dignity" and that to me is instinctively grotesque.