Standards Of Outrage

From Glenn Greenwald:

And this is where the odious anti-Americanism is so evident. Say what you will about the death penalty – reasonable people can certainly disagree about it, and it’s one of the issues to which I confess an irresolvable ambivalence, usually leaning against it. But even to ardent death penalty opponents, the execution of the unquestionably guilty mass murderer and violent gang founder Tookie Williams –- after a jury trial and multiple judicial appeals –- ranks very, very low on the list of the world’s human rights outrages and grave injustices.

The countries which the European Left makes a passionate cause of defending – from the Palestinian Authority to Iran and Syria, not to mention Cuba, China and multiple other historic Communist regimes –- routinely imprison and/or execute people without any due process, for reasons ranging from criticism of the Government to adultery and homosexuality. None of that sparks “outrage among Europeans,” because none of that provides an opportunity to depict the United States as the world’s real evil. As a result, the European Left is uninterested in it.

And therein lies the embodiment and definition of “anti-Americanism”: the parmaount desire to find fault and evil with the U.S. and thereby adopting that goal as the first and only real principle, from which everything else follows. That goal is then fulfilled by selectively and endlessly highlighting and exaggerating America’s faults and downplaying, ignoring and even defending far worse flaws in others. In its most virulent (and quite common) form, this extends to making common cause with the most abusive and genuinely evil regimes and movements around the world, whose only virtue –- the only one the European Left needs -- is that they are opposed by the U.S.

This is a deeply dishonest and manipulative syndrome, having nothing whatever to do with the principles to which its adherents claim fidelity. Indeed, their supposed “principles” (human rights, the sanctity of human life, individual liberty) are simply weapons, pretexts, used to promote the only real principle they have – that the U.S. is a uniquely corrupt and evil country. And the reason one knows that to be the case is because these same individuals systematically overlook and even excuse far more severe violations of their ostensible principles when perpetrated by the countries and governments with which they inexcusably sympathize (sympathy which itself can be explained by a desire to sit in opposition to any and every American interest).

Right under the noses of the European Left, European Muslim extremists – whom the European Left instinctively defends -- have been systematically executing scores of people for the last several years: innocent people, not mass murderers, who have been randomly slaughtered, without any due process or judicial appeals of any kind. They murder film makers and journalists and they blow up hotels, synagogues, and European mass transit systems. Where is the “outrage” over these incidents from the European Left, which (unlike the murderous United States) cares oh-so-much about principles of non-violence, human rights and the sanctity of life?

And the Middle Eastern countries with which the European Left has made common cause, beginning with the Palestinians and then extending to most other Arab countries in that region, routinely violate the principles which the European Left pretends to believe in, with scarcely a peep of protest from them. It is not Palestianian and Iranian executions of homosexuals or the Chinese imprisonment of dissidents which moves them to “outrage.” It is only the act of Arnold Schwarzenegger in refusing to overturn the decision of a jury upheld after multiple appeals to execute a mass murderer which does so, because that enables them to highlight America’s evil.

Looks like a certain subset of the European Left has a lot in common with a certain subset of American libertarians.

link via Insty

Share this

I was expecting the last

I was expecting the last line to read:
Looks like a certain subset of the European Left has a lot in common with a certain subset of American left.

I had to read the sentence several times before I could force myself to see libertarian.

Does the typical libertarian expend a lot of energy simpathizing for repressive regimes? I haven't seen it much in my travels, perhaps I'm not looking in the right places.

Greenwald's post and the

Greenwald's post and the accompanying comments are a good read. I'm not sure which libertarians Jonathan is referring to either.

Yes, I was confused too. I

Yes, I was confused too. I know that the American "Progressive" movement is very forgiving of folks like Castro and the Palestenian A, and I know the Neo-Con movement is very forgiving of the House of Saud and China...

But I'm dumbfounded about the American Libertarians comment though.

I was puzzled for a second

I was puzzled for a second and then thought: Oh yeah, antiwar.com.

I think I see the subset

I think I see the subset because I argue with them daily: they are people opposed to government because it's government or support capitalism because it's capitalism. This reasoning is fallacious because there can be no inherent moral rightness or wrongness in some purely instrumental function like government or capitalism (or even a particular government) independent of some goal exterior to it.

A hammer isn't simply good, it's good for pounding nails. A government isn't simply good, it's good for implementing a policy. Etc.

Also such people have the

Also such people have the same tendency: lionizing people because they oppose seat-belt laws, for example.

Schreiber: This reasoning is

Schreiber: This reasoning is fallacious because there can be no inherent moral rightness or wrongness in some purely instrumental function like government or capitalism (or even a particular government) independent of some goal exterior to it.

"This reasoning is fallacious because there can be no inherent moral rightness or wrongness in some purely instrumental function like slavery (or even a particular slave-pen) independent of some goal exterior to it.

Please identify the relevant difference, if any, between your argument and mine, and any auxiliary premises that one must accept in order to recognize the difference. (If there isn't any, do you accept the conclusion that there can be no inherent moral rightness or wrongness in slavery?)

Jonathan, there's a terrible civil war raging in the Congo, in which as many as 3,000,000 innocent people have been slaughtered in the past 8 years by warring pretenders to State authority, backed by various ethnic factions and by neighboring states. Clearly, even to arden eminent domain opponents, the stealing of houses by the New London, Connecticut city government, after a long administrative process authorized by state law and municipal ordinance, ranks very, very low on the list of the world's human rights outrages and grave injustices compared to the Congolese civil war.

Yet I have seen endless posts about Kelo and eminent domain on this blog, and not one mumbling word about the Congolese civil war. Where's the outrage? Clearly you are just pretending to be libertarians as rationalization for your pathological, manipulative hatred of the New London, Connecticut city government.

Right?

There's nothing inherently

There's nothing inherently wrong about slavery unless you hold autonomy or freedom to be a moral predicate. From there you can argue that it, by its very nature, is immoral because it contradicts a moral rule (autonomy or even just greater freedom).

What makes government or capitalism more difficult is a small problem of logic: if I have no black cats, "all my cats are black" is a true statement even though it seems "false."

By extension: "there are no movie theaters, there are no laws against going to movie theaters, I am free to go to movie theaters."

Thus the freedom-regulation divide presents a real problem: certain diminutions of freedom created by solving problems (for example coordination failures) lead to an increase in opportunities to exercise freedom. If the idea of the statement about black cats and that about movie theaters sounds suspect to you, then you must concede the point of government intervention or the implementation of tools that might restrict "freedom" in those cases but produce new real freedoms (those that you are interested in actually doing, not lame "all people are free to have heterosexual marriages" BS).

Perhaps this clears some things up.

Rad, Kelo bears on me, the

Rad,

Kelo bears on me, the Congo doesn't. I never suggest that Connecticut is worse than the Congo.

Kennedy, that's fine. Did

Kennedy, that's fine. Did anyone suggest that the premeditated murder of prisoners in the US is worse than the systematic human rights violations in the P.A., Iran, Syria, Cuba, China, etc. that Greenwald mentions? Or are they just focused on things that happen bear on them at the moment?

Schreiber, of course there seems to be nothing instrinsically wrong with slavery if you don't think that people have any rights not to be enslaved. So what? The question is why you'd believe such a ridiculous thing.

As far as freedom goes, you seem to be either neglecting or intentionally obfuscating the distinction that libertarians make between freedom in the sense of uncoerced choice and freedom in the sense of the choice between available alternatives. There are lots of reasons alternatives might not be available to you, but that's only an actionable problem, from the standpoint of libertarian theory, when what's restricting your choices is coercion by another person. You might think that that distinction doesn't bear logical scrutiny, but it's silly to pretend as if it didn't exist when trying to make a point in a mostly libertarian forum. And I am not at all clear on why having a different theory about the logical status of the categorical proposition in A, when the domain is empty, commits you to any particular claims about the proper functions of government at all. (I happen to think that they have false presuppositions, and like Strawson, I think that sentences with false presuppositions are neither true nor false, but rather failed attempts at asserting. So what now?)

Stephen, If you hold, as I

Stephen,

If you hold, as I do, that acts of violence directed at those who are not trying to harm you or deprive you of your property is immoral, then government by its very nature is immoral.

Now you could argue that my axioms are messed up, that there are occasions where it is morally appropriate to point guns at people who are minding their own business and threaten to injure them if they don't provide you with some of their property or act in some way pleasing to you, and thus conclude that governments are not inherently immoral. However, one can not pretend that governments are some value-neutral tool like a fire-arm. Whenever a government acts, someone gets hurt in some way, usually by being deprived of some amount of their property.

Personally, I am not swayed by utilitarian arguments that the benefits to one arbitrary set of people outweighs the harm visited upon another arbitrary set of people. Those arguments always contain the assumption that the values of the person making the determination somehow take precedence over the values of those impacted by the policy.

RG Libertarianism, which I

RG Libertarianism, which I generally support, isn't justified by recourse to objective deontology (nothing is) and as a meta-ethical point, the functioning of all ethical systems are predicated on a hypothetical imperative.

The question then can be moved to why someone supports libertarianism, which will generally come down to something of a rough pragmatism or "it meshes" with the adherent's view of rights. In the first case, the claims are most likely of the type I'm asserting: libertarianism, generally, leads to greater real freedom overall. If this is not the case, then no can be a libertarian without also being an anarchist, which is true of the theory as a philosophical construct but not in terms of society's understanding. But in the latter case, the first argument of Mackie's Error Theory will apply and the position is untenable.

The problem of empty predicates follows from there: we conceive of libertarianism from the side of ends. Rather than it following from a non-aggression principle, it is the attempt to actualize the oft-stated goal of "maximum liberty compatible with like liberty." This end precludes discimination but not coercion itself and leads inevitably to this sort of "liberty calculus" that I am offering.

tarran Government is precisely value neutral because it can be implemented based on the consensus of its members and no further if need be. A government can be constituted that merely holds the powers of intervention in reserve for when the members of a polity have agreed that they should deployed.

But to press my earlier point on real freedom: there is somethign that you know you will never do, the government suddenly bans it, is your freedom diminished?

Rad, Did anyone suggest that

Rad,

Did anyone suggest that the premeditated murder of prisoners in the US is worse than the systematic human rights violations in the P.A., Iran, Syria, Cuba, China, etc. that Greenwald mentions?

Yes. He's quite right that many actively excuse rights violations in these other places and hold the U.S. to be a worse offender when it usually is not.

An example of this that I'm especially familiar with is the double standard that many lewrockwell.commers apply to the Union and Confederacy. It's perfectly natural to expend more of one's critical energies on the Union since that is the regime we still live under, but these folks go out of their way to excuse evils of the Confederacy.

The same tendency exists in segments of the antiwar camp - the applying of double standards to the US and other nations. It's not universal but it's obvious.

A day without a Catallarchy

A day without a Catallarchy post that turns into a debate over idealism (or morality or natural rights) versus pragmatism (or utilitarianism or consequentialism) is like a day without sunrise.

Rad Geek: People post a lot

Rad Geek:

People post a lot of words about Kelo because:

a) we have a more realistic chance of dealing with it;
b) we actually are arguing against an opposition, whereas nobody is defending the events in the Congo.

I was puzzled for a second

I was puzzled for a second and then thought: Oh yeah, antiwar.com

Same here.

a) we have a more realistic

a) we have a more realistic chance of dealing with it;

I think that's the problem in this entire situation, and the reason the villains of the original post do indeed choose to harp on American evils.

It's not irrational, in the economic sense. Look at it from their perspective. They can either harp on American evils and gain political sway and possibly convince "America" (whatever they think that is) to take action. Or they can harp on Iranian/Chinese/Cuban/Congolese/Sudanese evils... and nothing will happen. The possible benefit is lower, yes, but easier to attain.

Sure, we all know that the evils in those countries are worse, and that a greater benefit would come from "fixing" (whatever they think that means) them than the relatively minor problems in America -- but the people agitating for this change have no leverage over those totalitarian regimes. Candle light vigils, vitriolic blog posts and editorials in the NYT have little effect on Kim Jong Il. Sure, there are things you could do to stop the atrocities there, but none of those things are actions those people would contemplate, for better or worse. Plus, in an ultimate irony, the only organization (they believe) with the ability to do "those" things is the US government.

This is the problem with simultaneously enshrining "International Law" and sovereignty. Given these two things, the only people who will follow the laws are countries that aren't that bad. The North Koreas just ignore them, and there's nothing the creators of the law can do.

By the way, I was only

By the way, I was only justifying why people might choose to harass America rather than some totalitarian regime. There are definitely people who choose to attack America because they honestly think it's worse; and yes, they are pretty despicable.

But short of them defending those non-American atrocities (which some do) how do you differentiate? You say to them: "well, yes, but what about the atrocities in the Sudan?" And they respond the way WhiskeyJuvenile did above: "yeah, those are terrible, but there's nothing we can do about those."

Schreiber: Libertarianism,

Schreiber: Libertarianism, which I generally support, isn’t justified by recourse to objective deontology (nothing is) and as a meta-ethical point, the functioning of all ethical systems are predicated on a hypothetical imperative. ... But in the latter case, the first argument of Mackie's Error Theory will apply and the position is untenable.

These are bold claims for which you have provided absolutely no support. I don't know which argument of Mackie's you're referring to as the "first"; if you mean the Argument from Relativity (the first one he uses to attack the existence of objective values in Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong) then the argument is not even remotely decisive. (So people disagree on ethics and it's hard to resolve the dispute by introducing bits of evidence that one of the parties has not got. So what? You could offer the same worries about meta-ethics or philosophy generally that Mackie offers about normative ethics. If it doesn't entail that there's no objective fact of the matter as to whether or not error theory is true, then it doesn't entail that there's no objective fact of the matter as to whether a given normative ethical claim is true, either. Broadly speaking, if your argument depends on this kind of crude verificationism, you should probably give the argument up.) For discussion of the second claim, see Philippa Foot's Natural Goodness, in which she revisits (and rejects) her own earlier argument from "Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives." The first claim is also simply irrelevant, since the claim was merely that slavery is an evil in itself and not for its causal contribution to something else. That may be true under deontology but it's also perfectly compatible with virtue ethics, some kinds of consequentialism, and many other theories about the nature of the Right and the Good. It's not compatible with hedonism, but the fact that hedonism blocks you from viewing slavery as an evil in itself is one of the chief reasons that hedonism is false.

But to press my earlier point on real freedom: there is somethign that you know you will never do, the government suddenly bans it, is your freedom diminished?

Yes. Freedom is a term with modal weight; it has to support counterfactuals.

Kennedy: Yes. He’s quite right that many actively excuse rights violations in these other places and hold the U.S. to be a worse offender when it usually is not.

I certainly agree with you that there are people who do this, and that the examples that you give are good ones. But is this just a general beef on your part, or do you have specific examples in mind having to do with the killing of Tookie Williams, or even the death penalty in general? Because frankly, the only evidence that Greenwald seems to offer is that some people vocally objected to the killing of Williams but he personally hasn't seen them objecting to executions in other countries where the death penalty is used more freely and against people who certainly didn't do anything wrong. Which is frankly a ridiculous standard for concluding that someone is being dishonest or selective; there are lots of honest reasons that you might object to both A and B but only mention A at some particular time. (Maybe there are some Leftists in Europe, or some libertarians in America, whose outrage over Williams' execution is dishonest; but the argument certainly hasn't shown that.)

WhiskeyJuvenile: People post a lot of words about Kelo because:

a) we have a more realistic chance of dealing with it;
b) we actually are arguing against an opposition, whereas nobody is defending the events in the Congo.

That's fine. Maybe similar considerations to (a) and (b) explain some people's decision to spend a lot of words on the killing of Tookie Williams without first having made sure that they denounced every murderous regime in the world that also deliberately kills prisoners?

Rad, The piece cited doesn't

Rad,

The piece cited doesn't prove anything, it just identifies something real.

I'll leave it to others to document the double standards, they were evident to me when Tookie's supporters were calling Schwarzenegger a cold-blooded killer.

Kennedy: I'll leave it to

Kennedy: I'll leave it to others to document the double standards, they were evident to me when Tookie's supporters were calling Schwarzenegger a cold-blooded killer.

He is a cold-blooded killer. Last I checked, executing a death sentence meant killing somebody, and carrying out a deliberate, premeditated killing 24 years in the planning could hardly be described as a crime of passion. Making the words "cold-blooded" and "killer" longer and more Latinate ("the execution of the unquestionably guilty mass murderer and violent gang founder Tookie Williams –- after a jury trial and multiple judicial appeals ...") doesn't change the fact of the matter.

Maybe you were objecting to something else? E.g. the express condemnation of Schwarzenegger without a corresponding condemnation of Tookie? But most people who objected to Tookie's sentence either thought (1) he wasn't guilty, or (2) whether or not he was guilty killing him would be unjustified. Those who believe (1) may or may not have been dishonest about the facts of the case (I wouldn't know; I don't care whether Tookie was guilty or not and I haven't studied the case). But what's that got to do with their opinion of Schwarzenegger? (It's not a matter of dispute as to whether or not Schwarzenegger authorized the killing.) Those who believe (2) are under no obligation to make sure they denounce any murders that they believe Tookie committed before they denounce Schwarzenegger's having him killed--since they think that whether Tookie was evil or not is irrelevant to whether or not Schwarzenegger should have him killed. If you mean (3) the attempt by many to portray Tookie as a good person in spite of any crimes he may have committed, since he supposedly turned his life around, then I have no idea whether or not he became a good person or was just trying to save his skin (how would I know?), or whether the people who believe this are being dishonest, but I don't see what any of this has to do with Schwarzenegger either.

You seem to think there's some kind of comparative judgment involved here instead of a simple statement to the effect that Schwarzenegger killed somebody when he shouldn't have. If there is such a comparison, explicit or implicit, where is it?

A parable Here’s an old

A parable
Here’s an old joke from the Brezhnev era. I offer it as a parable in light of the recent debate at Catallarchy (2005-12-15) and Unclaimed...

Rad, He is a cold-blooded

Rad,

He is a cold-blooded killer. Last I checked, executing a death sentence meant killing somebody, and carrying out a deliberate, premeditated killing 24 years in the planning could hardly be described as a crime of passion.

When did he sentence anyone or carry out their execution? When did he kill?

He had it in his power to preserve Tookie but declined to do so. That's not killing anyone.

Kennedy: When did he

Kennedy: When did he sentence anyone or carry out their execution? When did he kill?

When he deliberately declined to order subordinates, over whom he had direct and unquestioned control, not to kill someone that he knew they planned to kill, when he claimed the authority and in fact had the power to stop them by a simple order, because he approved of the actions that he was permitting.

Are you claiming that to count as one of the people responsible for killing Tookie Williams, Schwarzenegger would have had to issue a direct order stating "Kill Tookie Williams," or jabbed the needle in himself?

Uh oh, JTK, gotta call you

Uh oh, JTK, gotta call you on this one.

He had it in his power to preserve Tookie but declined to do so. That’s not killing anyone.

That would be true if Tookie were being killed by some person. But he is being killed by the state, and thus the agents of the state that have the power to decide whether he should or should not be killed by the state share in the responsibility for the state's actions. That includes the Governor, the D.A. that decided to seek the death penalty in this case, the legislators that voted to institute the death penalty, and any legislators that could have since voted to rescind it but did not.

The state's agents' responsibility for the actions of the state is a separate question from the morality of those actions. Killing Tookie may or may not be right; that's a matter of some controversy. But there is no doubt that he is being killed by Arnold and many other individuals, each one's choices (whether a choice to act as the D.A.'s was or to not act as Arnold's was) being hidden behind the fiction that "the state" is doing the killing, not them.

Rad, eddie, I'll accept that

Rad, eddie,

I'll accept that standard. Will you concede that many of Tookie's supporters holding Schwarzenegger to this standard are not holding the former leader of the Crips to anything remotely like the same standard?

Rad's running interference for people who don't mean what he means. Schwarzenegger was called a cold blooded killer to condemn him, but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with cold blooded killing as Rad lays it out. A man may justly kill even if his blood isn't hot. No, they were saying that Schwarzenngger was doing as bad or worese than what Tookie was convicted of. That's not the case.

RG: What sort of support are

RG: What sort of support are you looking for? I thought the argument was straightforward enough and I don't see why any of the claims made therein are controversial.

I don't particularly understand your problem with using Error Theory, it is in application with regard to normative claims only and therefore does not present problems for epistemic justification generally, only for normatives specifically.

I can only presume that the "first claim" is the first sentence given.

Virtue ethics suffers from all the problems that start with Hume, there's no way to escape that. If it refers to objective moral claims, you need a way around the question begging.

The fact that some philosophy blocks your ability to see something as "evil" can't be considered a serious fault, prima facie.

Why do we have a death

Why do we have a death penalty? Its real basis is to enforce just retribution against the criminal. Before the strong state was established the job of executing those who allegedly deserved it was in the hands of the decedent’s family or clan. As mankind has become progressively civilized the state took over this function and rationalized and democratized it, which has resulted in increased justice and eliminated the problem of the killer’s family then seeking reciprocal vengeance and the resulting destructive vendettas. For the life of me I don’t see how this is so horrible.
Sure it is an imperfect procedure, but what system is perfect. The public wants it. This is a democracy. The system is being progressively made more just, as it should be.
But that isn’t good enough for the left. Some time in the nineteenth century the anti- death penalty ideology became part of the complex of precepts that decorates the mind of every leftist. Paradoxically, leftists typically turn a blind eye to the murders perpetrated by various insurgent or revolutionary death squads which get a free pass to kill most anyone at will. Since all Blacks, especially literate or charismatic ones are de-facto revolutionaries in the eyes of the left it is no mystery why there is the predictable falderal when one of them faces execution. You will hear no comparable outcry when child killer John Gacy or similar persons are executed. Thus execution itself is not the real issue, despite protestations to the contrary.
The left never ceases to forget the improvement that has occurred since the days that Blacks, guilty or innocent might have been lynched on the spot for allegations similar to Tookie’s case. Please note how nothing ever improves in the eyes of the left, so this is par for the course. This chronic tendency to constantly cry wolf is what undermines their credibility the most.

Dave: [The death penalty's]

Dave: [The death penalty's] real basis is to enforce just retribution against the criminal.

Most people who oppose the death penalty as a matter of principle deny that violent retribution can be just. Most people who don't oppose the death penalty in principle but do oppose this or that instance in fact, deny that violent retribution against the condemned would be just in that particular case (for whatever reason).

Of course, you're free to disagree with them and give reasons for your disagreement, but thus far you've only begged the question against them in the course of your description.

Dave: Before the strong state was established the job of executing those who allegedly deserved it was in the hands of the decedent's family or clan. As mankind has become progressively civilized the state took over this function and rationalized and democratized it, which has resulted in increased justice and eliminated the problem of the killer's family then seeking reciprocal vengeance and the resulting destructive vendettas. For the life of me I don't see how this is so horrible.

Because if you think that the death penalty is unjust, increased bureaucratic rationality as applied to injustice is not something to be cheered. Again, you may not think that the death penalty is unjust, but since you've given no argument for that position, you can hardly expect this to convince those who don't already view deliberate, non-defensive killing of prisoners as permissible.

Dave: Sure it is an imperfect procedure, but what system is perfect.

These happen to be people's lives that you are fucking talking about. Even if you think that killing people who pose no further credible threat is, in principle, permissible, how many innocent lives do you consider acceptable losses for the sake of the "system"?

Dave: You will hear no comparable outcry when child killer John Gacy or similar persons are executed.

It's true that people often find some of the condemned more sympathetic than others, and those who elicit more sympathy tend to get more people trying to defend their lives. That's too bad, but so what? Some people don't turn out for unsympathetic victims because they're unprincipled; other people because they oppose the death penalty only in some specific cases but not in others; others because they genuinely oppose the death penalty in all cases but have only so much time and energy to spend and choose to spend it on some cases but not others. (And none of this has anything to do with whether or not the death penalty is in fact justified, of course.)

Dave: The public wants it. This is a democracy.

Oh, well. If it's popular that must mean that it's alright.

Thanks for clearing that one up.

Thanks for the well thought

Thanks for the well thought out reply. I am not getting into whether the death penalty is right or wrong. I also favor what is right, what ever that is. In this unprecedented world of over-choice I don’t see how the average human is equipped to really decide what is right or wrong in the borderline cases. That is why there is controversy. In these cases, according to my theory, persons don’t ordinarily operate by deciding what is right or wrong, but instead decide what they want and then selectively use logic, ethics, etc. to justify it. That is why I did not justify the death penalty as a means of deterrence, or whatever. Those who do are lying. They just want the SOB dead.
The death penalty is an avenue to justice, an attempt to make whole the victim for the injustice that was forced upon them by the offender. When the perpetrator commits an act of injustice he may forfeit perfect justice for himself. If the body politic decides he should be executed, how do you justify overruling them? This may not be fair but so what? The feeling generated by these outrages is the same as the one generated by the injustices imposed on the clients of the left. I mean, if you are not outraged by injustice, then why do you rail against your favorite targets or suggest remedies for them? You say that you base it all on determining whether it is right or wrong but how do you decide these things? Your goal will have to be to convince others.

I don’t like all the things the state does, especially the way it allows certain persons to use state power to parasitize and bully their fellow citizens. I would like a smaller less intrusive state.
The state does serve many good functions. The rule of law can depersonalize, rationalize and legitimate things such as the way criminals are treated. It is really not a matter of right or wrong. Law changes as the opinions of society change. For example, puberty used to be considered the age of consent in some states but now it isn’t. On the other hand, getting an abortion used to be a felony but now it is a right. It used to be that lot of what you did with your wife in the privacy of your own home was your business. Now the public is involved and mandates these things in different ways. For example you can’t rape or beat your wife. Did right and wrong change? I don’t think so. The battle lines move this way and that, which is disconcerting for everyone. If a person could determine what was right and wrong and enforce it, it would be called a theocracy. Hail Pope Rad the First! But no, just kidding, you will just have keep on doing what you are doing.

Kennedy: Will you concede

Kennedy: Will you concede that many of Tookie's supporters holding Schwarzenegger to this standard are not holding the former leader of the Crips to anything remotely like the same standard?

I wouldn't know; I haven't talked to many of them. I don't think that an answer can be read off the public statements I've read or the ones you've pointed to.

Whether or not they're holding Tookie Williams to the same standard as Arnold Schwarzenegger depends on (1) whether or not they believe that he's guilty of murder at all, and (2) if they do think he's guilty, whether or not they think that the murders he committed were as bad or worse than Schwarzenegger's participation in having him killed.

As for (1), some people think that he's innocent, at least of the murders that he was slaughtered for; and that belief may or may not be dishonest -- I wouldn't know -- but if it is, the dishonesty doesn't have anything in particular to do with comparative judgments with Schwarzenegger. If he is innocent, then there just isn't any question of holding people to the same standard at all, since they don't believe that they both did the same thing.

As for (2), how would I know? I haven't seen any statements comparing the two at all, or resting on an implied comparison between Williams and Scharzenegger. You might think it's implied if they (a) believe Williams is a mass-murderer, but (b) try to portray him as a good person nevertheless, while not extending the same charity, or indulgence, towards Schwarzenegger. But it seems obvious to me that how you take someone's past violence to bear on their character depends a lot on whether it was committed a quarter century ago or less than a week ago. Again, maybe people who think that Williams genuinely repented of his past are fooling themselves -- again, I wouldn't know -- but again, it's unclear what the dishonesty in question would have to do with Schwarzenegger, who had a man killed not a week ago and to all appearances sticks by his sincerely-felt endorsement of it.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who opposed killing Tookie Williams who were being dishonest -- that's true of most political movements and there are specific facts about the conditions under which campaigns against a particular death sentence are conducted that encourage dishonest arguments (it's a person's life at stake, the time is limited, the arguments most likely to succeed are arguments against the verdict rather than the sentence, etc. etc. etc.). That sucks, and I don't like it or engage in it, but it's not clear that the phenomenon has to do with differing standards for outrage.

Kennedy: Rad's running interference for people who don't mean what he means. Schwarzenegger was called a cold blooded killer to condemn him, but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with cold blooded killing as Rad lays it out. A man may justly kill even if his blood isn't hot. No, they were saying that Schwarzenngger was doing as bad or worese than what Tookie was convicted of. That's not the case.

When you say "No, they were saying that Schwarzenngger was doing as bad or [worse] than what Tookie was convicted of. That's not the case," do you mean to complain that it's in fact not the case and that Williams's supporters were wrong to believe otherwise, or that they don't even believe that it's the case, and so were being inconsistent or dishonest to imply it? If it's the former, then why do you suggest they're not holding both men to the same standard, instead of just saying that their standards are wrong? If it's the latter, what grounds do you have for saying that? If it's that you think that death sentences for convicted murderers aren't as bad as freelance murders of the innocent, then again, it's unclear why the issue is supposed to be dishonesty rather than error. If it's that they think that death sentences for convicted murderers aren't as bad as freelance murders of the innocent, why would that death penalty opponents believe that?

That's connected with my reasons for "running interference" through a narrowly literalistic reading of the words involved. I think that bullshitting through word-choice is one of the ways that people avoid real arguments about matters of life and death, particularly when they're connected with the State, and I'd like to put a stop to it. I also think that in this particular case it conceals where the real argument lies. Greenwald explicitly claims, and you seem to want to suggest (maybe you don't; if so, my bad) that you ought to object to the way that Tookie's supporters are carrying on about Schwarzenegger and the hangman State broadly whether or not you believe that the death penalty is justified, because it involves dishonesty or hypocrisy. I think that the moral status of the death penalty as applied to Williams is the only genuine issue in the debate, but that this is concealed by using language that covers over what a death sentence is. The actual complaint is that Schwarzenegger is being held to standards that Greenwald disagrees with, not that he's being held to a different standard from Tookie Williams, or to a different standard from Iran or China or whatever other slaughterhouse we're supposed to be denouncing first thing this morning. The shift in language from "cold-blooded killing" to "the execution of the unquestionably guilty mass murderer and violent gang founder Tookie Williams –- after a jury trial and multiple judicial appeals" makes it easier to talk in a way that effectively presupposes that killing Williams wasn't a serious offense that anyone ought to care about, and so helps license the classic "And what about your blacks in the South?" feint.

Your write: "Looks like a

Your write:

"Looks like a certain subset of the European Left has a lot in common with a certain subset of American libertarians."

You are SO RIGHT. And it is amazing the number of people (like some here) who peruse the libertarian end of the internet, but seem never to notice the steaming piles of irrationality and bigotry they step in.

What is written in SOME sections of the libertarian universe about Islam, the Mid East, and the (oh so hated) state of Israel is often no more rational the economic pronouncements of welfare statists.

The tendency to mimick, if not outright plagiarize, the moonbat left on subjects like Iraq, instead of developing their own criticisms of the war, is mind-boggling, given that the main claim to legitimacy for we libertarians is a commitment to rational thought and resistence to easy, but irrational, answers.

I cannot count the number of times I've heard "libertarians" claim that Israel took the U.S. into the Iraq war, knew about 9-11 in advance, or run the government through their neocon puppets. Yes, I know, every part of the political spectrum has its crazies. But our crazies have syndicated columns, speak frequently at libertarian functions, and even run major free-market institutes. And very few people seem upset by this, even when one of "our guys" is standing next to Cindy Sheehan or speaking at a function sponsored by folks who believe the holocaust is willful exageration by agenda-driven zionists. So sad.

Thanks for putting it in print. This should happen more often.