Property Is Worth Killing Over

There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the decision by a Texas grand jury not to indict Joe Horn for shooting two men who burglarized the home of his vacationing neighbor.

One common sentiment I've seen, even from some people who support the decision not to indict Horn, is that property isn't worth killing over, because life is sacred and property isn't, or some variation on that platitude.

This is nonsense--property is worth killing over because property is life. I spend 40% of my waking hours doing something I'd rather not be doing in order to make money. Mind you, I have a pretty good job, but when I get up in the morning, I can think of a hundred ways I'd rather spend the day than going in to work, if it weren't for the money. For people who really hate their jobs, this feeling is no doubt much stronger.

When your property is lost or stolen, it means that the portion of your life that you sacrificed to earn that money has been wasted. A thief who steals your property also steals a small part of your life. And a small part of the life of his next victim, and his next, until it adds up to the equivalent of murder. Property crime is piecemeal murder, and I wholeheartedly endorse the use of force--deadly if necessary--to stop piecemeal murder.

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Taxation is slavery

I'm sympathetic to your view (no surprise there), but I'm also aware that when libertarians come out and say that X is Y, that can expose them to ridicule and easy dismissal. That's true of the idea that taxation is slavery. It's even true of the idea that taxation is robbery but, since the connection is much closer, those who deny it are on weaker ground, and their counterarguments are stupid and easily dismantled. Even so, it may be wisest to skirt around the "taxation is robbery" formula as well, though I have used it myself.

I think your argument is strongest if you cut it off just before you write:

until it adds up to the equivalent of murder. Property crime is piecemeal murder, and I wholeheartedly endorse the use of force--deadly if necessary--to stop piecemeal murder.

This gives the critics a handle, because all they have to do now is point out that property crime is not, in fact, murder (which most anyone will immediately agree to who have not taken the time to read your argument or who have not made the effort to get what you are saying), you claim that it is murder, therefore you are a kook, therefore you can be ignored.

Another weakness is that

Another weakness is that property needs not be acquired the way described. One could win the lottery, inherit his money, and still be in its right to shoot thieves.

You are basically trying to reconcile libertarian right with value-based right, which can't really work. It's not about what is more important life or property, it's about who is within in his right and who is outside of his rights.

... and you don't have the right to kill someone merely over

... and you don't have the right to kill over property. There are circumstances where a reasonable person may have to kill someone over property but not every case of property violation escalates this far.

This is similar to the nonsense argument that a willingness to enforce some law is tantamount to the willingness to shoot the person on the spot.

Most of the time law doesn't

Most of the time law doesn't explicitly prohibit the use of deadly force for a good reason - it's absolutely necessary to have that option for proper enforcement.

If someome thinks that

a) a law is just
b) it should to be enforced

then whenever b requires the option to escalate enforcement to deadly force then that person should approve of the use of deadly force.

This is a whole other subject. Actually many Americans are perfectly fine with the DHS license to murder people.

Not murder

That wouldn't be murder, and the "license" extends to everyone.

"When your property is lost

"When your property is lost or stolen, it means that the portion of your life that you sacrificed to earn that money has been wasted. A thief who steals your property also steals a small part of your life. And a small part of the life of his next victim, and his next, until it adds up to the equivalent of murder."

If it's true, so a stolen tv from a billionaire equals a few seconds of his life. And I don't think it serves as justification to kill thieves.

Stealing

Whether stealing from a billionaire or a poor man - it's still theft.
Careful so you do not join the 'soak the rich' bunch.
I am otherwise friendly.

My father was burgularized

My father was burgularized once many years ago. All he lost was a couple hundred in stereo equipment. Inspite of that whenever he talks about the incident he says he feels as though he had been raped. The feeling of safety and security in his own home was violated, and it took a very long time to get over it. I don't know if that feeling justifies murder killing but I know to this day he wishes he could have been standing there with a gun the moment that burglar stepped into his house.

Killing thieves

One item left out of the above circular comments is the DETERRENT affect on future thieves. One of the MAIN reasons we don't have a complete breakdown of law ( since cops can't be every where ) is BECAUSE the thief can never be sure the next house/business doesn't have an armed owner waiting inside it. After that, if said property owner becomes afraid ( fearing prosecution ) to actually use deadly force, then there most certainly will be a further break down in law and order. And if we are not willing to defend our neighbor's property, what makes us think that our own is safe? Mr. Horn is welcome to be my neighbor anytime!

Consequences

Indeed, a failure to respond to crime leads to more crime. This is, however, an argument about consequences, and so it won't appeal equally to everyone as a defense of shooting thieves. I think Brandon was going after a different audience - or, alternatively, a different part of the brain of the same audience.

You are perfectly right.

You are perfectly right. Even if most enforcement does not actually involve use of lethal force, its mere possibility is often fundamental.

Less Than Deadly Force Will Also Deter Crime

Less than deadly force deters too, or are you suggesting we change the penalty for every crime to capital punishment? Sounds like a Star Trek episode.

Where did I say I was

Where did I say I was speaking about every crime ?

In many cases, it would be said that a person was killed not for breaking a specific law, but rather by not complying with civil servants orders aimed at enforcing he law, but it's really the same thing.

We could remove the implicit death threat in the enforcement of some laws by requiring that enforcement has to stop if killing becomes required. Let's take selling drugs as an example... the govt decide it's not worth killing people over dealing drug, the following happen:

- A police officer stops a drug dealer and tells him to surrender
- The guy starts running
- Stop or I'll shoot

=> Fail. Let's say then that the policeman catches the guy. The dealer pulls a gun and tells the policeman to go away

- The policeman pulls a gun and say, drug your gun or I'll shoot

=> Fail again.

I am not saying that drugs law have to rely on the death sentence to be deterrent, I am saying that they probably need the ability to escalate to death if they are efficient. It is conceivable to arm the police with tasers, etc. Yes, enforcement that never escalates into killing might be possible, but it's definitely hard.

Since we're probably talking about arguments I have made about immigration, requesting that no custom officer make use of lethal force would be, in my opinion, de facto akin to opening the border (enforcement that do not escalate to death would be to costly).

The contrapositive would be that people who support the current immigration restrictions support the ability of custom officers to escalate enforcement into killing, which is why I've been saying that, unless they are willing to put a bullet in the head of a Mexican child crossing the borders, they are hypocrites.

Am I willing to consider escalating to that point to defend my property ? Definitely.

Property=life

Sorry, I also should have said that I completely agree with Brandon's article. Left brain connecting to the right! ;~}
On the subject of "consequences"....far too many hand wringers get in the way of deserved consequences. "Protecting" those who should be "paying the Piper" simply fills the world with MORE fools and thugs.
A hundred years ago those two thugs might have CHOSE to live since the fear of certain retaliation ( allowed and accepted ) would have made them "think twice." Weighing the value of something against the risk of obtaining it should be allowed to take its course. I'm sure it's why horse thieves were left hanging in the wind, with an appropriate sign announcing their choice. No, I don't believe in vigilantism, but when you ( victim ) are all alone, decisions must be made. And there's consequences to that, too.
What works is to make the punishment so heavy that the perp will decide not to take the risk.

Capital punishment for theft

Until well until the nineteenth century even minor thefts were punishable by death (usually by hanging). From the late 18th century on the British began to replace hanging with transportation for life, while Americans invented the Penitentiary. But well into the 1800s execution for theft was still common.

None of which did a darn thing to control crime, of course. But it did provide a good deal of public entertainment.

None of which did a darn

None of which did a darn thing to control crime, of course.

How do you know this?