Pedestrian Citations versus Pedestrian Safety

pedestrian citationI just watched an interesting video on YouTube about pedestrian citations. Basically, pedestrians are given tickets for various violations including jaywalking and a litany of other things. The idea behind the citations is they are issued for the protection of citizens. Not crossing at a crosswalk is potentially a dangerous activity.

While I’m certain you won’t be surprised blacks and Hispanics receive the majority of these pedestrian citations, that’s not really what I want to talk about today. It’s the government supposedly trying to protect us that bothers me. In reality they are simply financing themselves through citations. The reason I say this is because the studies show these tickets are often given in areas where pedestrians have little choice but to break the law.

In the case of Florida, where the video originated, they are often given on streets where there is no sidewalk to use and yet there are bus stops. People must get to the bus stop but they can’t get there without walking on the street, which is a violation. Many other instances are when people move from one side of the street to the other but not at a crosswalk.

When you examine the region, there are no crosswalks available for multiple blocks. The alternative being to walk three, four, or more blocks out of your way to cross the street. I don’t care how much of a law and order person you are, that’s a law no one is going to follow.

The reality is making the streets safer for pedestrians involves spending money on building better sidewalks, designating more crosswalks, and a variety of other things. If the government actually wanted to make us safer, that’s what they’d do. Citations for these sorts of silly things are merely an excuse to generate revenue for the city.

For example, in my state of Missouri I violate a pedestrian law on an almost daily basis by walking on the left half of a crosswalk. Code 300.385. I’m fairly certain every person reading this article has violated this law many times. Because this law is violated constantly it becomes rife for abuse. The officer can charge whomever she or he feels like charging and let anyone else go merrily on their way. This is the problem with many laws and why we see people of color getting the majority of such citations, although, again, that’s not my main problem here.

The problem is the law. Let’s take 300.385 as an example of a law which continues to exist largely because of its revenue generating potential. The government will tell us the law was written to cut down on inconvenience when crossing the street at a crosswalk. By keeping opposite flowing pedestrian traffic on different sides, it is a better system. I don’t disagree with the principle of the idea. It is a good strategy. It just shouldn’t be a law punishable by a fine.

If someone wants to cross on the opposite side and there is no, or little, oncoming pedestrian traffic; all is well. If, on the other hand, the crosswalk is filled with people going both directions and someone is swimming upstream they are generally given dirty looks and even forced to the other side. That’s enough punishment. We don’t need to take people’s money in order to get them to walk on the convenient side of the crosswalk. Are we going to have laws forcing people to wait before entering a mass transit vehicle thus allowing exiting people to go first?

It is against the law to change lanes without signaling. It is against the law to make a turn and switch from one lane to another while doing so. There is virtually no one in the nation who doesn’t break laws on a daily basis.

The question I’d like you to ask yourself is relatively simple. If law enforcement agents started to enforce these laws on people driving a Mercedes, a Lexus, a Tesla, a BMW, and other expensive cars; if law enforcement agents started enforcing jaywalking laws on people wearing expensive clothes; if law enforcement agents started citing politicians at the state capital for crossing on the wrong half of the crosswalk; how long before the laws would change?

These laws are a tool of oppression on those who cannot defend themselves and serve the sole purpose of financing government agents without making life any safer or better for citizens. That’s just plain wrong.

Tom Liberman

Solving Animal Abuse at Intensive Animal Farming Facilities

intensive animal farmingThere are two apparently diametrically opposed sides in the animal husbandry industry. Animal Rights Activists and owners and operators of Intensive Animal Farming Facilities. One of the positive takes I have about being a Libertarian and Objectivist is that I’m not ideologically tied to any particular side in an issue.

On one side are the activists who see the abuse of animals and feel an ethical obligation to do everything in their power to help the largely defenseless creatures. On the other are people trying to provide goods to paying customers, employ willing people, and make a profit while doing so. What we see are two groups of people doing all they can in court, on social media, and in various state legislatures to attack one another.

I, on the other hand, do not see the two groups as necessarily needing to fight one another for the minds of public opinion. I think there is a place for both sides and a happy middle ground. I understand getting the entire population of the world to turn to a plant-based diet is a hopeless endeavor. People will always want to eat meat and someone will provide this product. I am also truly disgusted when I see the videos animal rights activists’ post when they gain access to such farms.

If we take a Libertarian and Objectivist point of view, I think the inevitable conclusion is there will always be such farms but that animals should not be tortured and brutalized while they are living their short lives. When videos come out showing horrific abuse of animals the owners and operators of the facilities always express outrage but I find words to be largely meaningless. I want to see action.

That brings me to the point of this article. How can the owners and operators of Intensive Animal Farming Facilities and Animal Rights Activists work together in a pragmatic way to reach some reasonable solution? This is important. It must be remembered when the two sides attack one another this takes time, effort, and money. These things could be channeled into productive activities that make a difference.

The simplest solution is for Animal Rights Activists to purchase, install, monitor, and maintain cameras at various points in the facilities. If the owners of such farms truly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, as they express time and again, they will have no problem with such a system. It costs them nothing and ensures workers are being monitored for abuses to animals that certainly affect production.

It will also help the public make informed decisions about their purchases. If I can go online and watch how the animal is being treated at the farm before and during slaughter that helps me feel good about my purchase. If I know the animal is reasonably well-cared for and not being tortured, I am happy to spend my money on the product. I imagine that I’m not alone in this feeling. If I knew that an animal was horribly abused before getting to market, I would probably not make the purchase. This ripple effect causes those farmers who practice treating their animals with respect gain market share.

This changes the Intensive Animal Farming industry as a whole. If people are well-informed in their purchasing decisions and farmers who treat animals well are rewarded, then the farmers who have less healthy practices are driven from the business.

This is a desired result. It is good for the ethical farmers, it is good for the purchasing public, and contributes to the welfare of the animals themselves. I don’t think anyone would have an objection to this outcome except those who enjoy abusing animals. Let us not pretend that such people do not exist and are not attracted to jobs that allow them to carry out their perverse desires. They must be curtailed.

From my perspective, the important thing here is to try and work together to come up with solutions to problems rather than simply attacking one another. I find that ideological differences can be overcome when you are willing to examine practical solutions and work with each other. I also believe when you refuse to engage in such compromise you are setting yourself up for long-term disaster.

Neither the Intensive Animal Farming industry or the Animal Rights Activists can truly win this war alone. They need each other.

Tom Liberman

Ending the Lychee Dog Meat Festival

lychee dog meat festivalOne of my Facebook acquaintances who is deeply passionate about animal rights recently posted about the Lychee Dog Meat festival in China. I think it’s fairly reasonable to suggest that most of us in the western world are not particularly comfortable with eating canines. What can be done about it? What is the best way to stop such behavior? This question speaks to my Libertarian ideology.

I recently wrote several blogs about the horse meat industry and I think the comparison is reasonable. When horse lovers lobbied Congress sufficiently, laws were passed that defunded the inspection of horse slaughter houses. Because it is not legal to slaughter animals in the United States without such inspections, the industry was eliminated. Yet, the practice continues.

The efforts of people like my friend on Facebook are used to put pressure on China to outlaw the Lychee festival. In China manipulative legislative runarounds like that which was done with the horse meat industry are unnecessary. They do not live in a free society. If the government wants to prevent a particular activity, they simply issue a ban. There is no Constitution to maneuver around. If my friend and her allies can put enough pressure on China to outlaw the festival, it will happen, but will it work?

In China the government position is that the Chinese people do not hold dogs in the same regard as companions as do Westerners. They find our slaughter of cows and chickens to be far more egregious than the single festival in which a few thousand dogs die. In this, I believe they are correct. More cows and chickens are slaughtered in a single day than die in the yearly festival.

Opponents of the festival argue the dogs die in unsupervised, and horrific fashion. That many of the animals are stolen from their owners. I have no way of knowing if this is true or not but it certainly seems plausible.

Now we get down to the reality of this world. The Chinese people enjoy the meat of dogs. The people of the United States largely find such slaughter abhorrent.

Let’s imagine for a moment that the Chinese government comes around the way of thinking of my friend. They ban the slaughter of dogs, they outlaw the Lychee festival. Do we think that such will prevent dogs from being slaughtered and eaten? The answer is obviously no. As long as Chinese people want to eat dogs, dogs will be eaten. Horses are still slaughtered and eaten in the United States, it is just done via a black market. The price increases, money is delivered into the hands of criminals. The ban is largely ineffective.

It seems obvious to me such would be the case in China. The Chinese government might even give lip service to such a ban but would not bother to enforce it. This is the problem with relying on government to solve problems. Sure, they can pass laws, they can make heroin illegal, they can make speeding illegal, they can outlaw certain variety of firearms, but these laws never stop human behavior. If people want to consume drugs, to drive quickly, to purchase firearms; they will continue to do so.

We only give ourselves the illusion of safety and harmony with such laws. In reality the behavior continues largely unabated or even enhanced by the lure of danger.

What is to be done? My friend is passionate, she is caring, she strongly believes in the rights of animals. I applaud and admire her dedication and think it is people like her who will eventually bring about change, if change is to come. She should continue to make her opinion known, convince one person at a time. It is only when people no longer want to consume dogs, or horses, that the Lychee festival will end. The government is helpless and hopeless.

Do not rely on government to legislate. Convince people, convince the individual. The individual has the power. If you cannot convince the people, then you need to make a better argument.

Tom Liberman

Bob McNair was the Apology a Lie?

Bob McNairThe owner of the Houston Texans, Bob McNair, recently made a comment for which he later apologized. A National Football League player named Richard Sherman thinks the original statement was a true indication of the feelings McNair has and that the apology is merely pretend. What I’m going to discuss is not the nature of the comment itself but the reality of Sherman’s analysis.

To get you up to speed, there is an ongoing issue in the NFL in which players are kneeling or otherwise protesting during the playing of the national anthem. The owners largely do not like this. McNair was quoted as saying something along the lines of: We cannot let the prisoners run the asylum. This equates the players in the NFL to incarcerated people. McNair was apparently confronted shortly after making the statement and he apologized.

Sherman believes McNair truly meant the statement, that he associates the players with inmates. People who should have no say as to how the team is managed. Sherman believes the apology a lie motivated by politically correctness.

Sherman believes McNair is not alone in his opinion. Sherman thinks other NFL owners feel the same way, players are to be used as best as possible and discarded when their productive years are behind them. Sherman also believes not all owners think like this. He thinks the owner of his team, Paul Allen, does not think this way about his players.

We cannot know for certain if McNair’s original statement is his true opinion or not but I think it’s an interesting question. Did McNair mean it when he compared NFL players to prisoners in an institution? Is he bowing to business expediency and political correctness by pretending to apologize?

I think Sherman’s opinion is legitimate. I think there is quite a good chance McNair truly believed what he said and, upon reflection, realized it was a terrible thing to say. Or perhaps McNair is simply pretending to apologize. That he, in his heart, believes what he original said. Again, we have no way of knowing the answer to this question, only McNair can tell us.

Sherman goes on to make an incredibly interesting point. He says he would rather McNair tell the truth, even if it is antithetical to Sherman’s own beliefs. Sherman would rather know the honest opinion of McNair and thereafter avoid him.

Let’s imagine I know someone whose opinions on a subject are deeply offensive to me. Would I rather they pretend not to have those opinions when around me, or would I prefer if they told me exactly what they were thinking? I find myself in complete agreement with Sherman. If you have an opinion, state it. If I don’t like it, well, it’s up to me to decide if I want to be around you in the future. Sure, when you make a statement I don’t like, I can speak up. Trust me, I do. If you refuse to back down then we are at an impasse. The ball is in my court. I can choose to associate with you in the future or I can choose to avoid events at which we might meet. If we do meet, I can choose to circumvent topics of conversation where I know we conflict and focus on areas where we might agree.

I do not disagree with anyone about all things nor do I agree completely with anyone on all subjects. I, like Sherman, would prefer to know you true opinions. Then I can make judgments and take actions that I deem appropriate.

My opinions are in my blogs and my novels for all to see. I’m an Atheist. I’m a Libertarian. I don’t suffer fools lightly. If that offends you, and there are many who are offended, then the ball is in your court. You can choose to engage me or avoid me. You can choose not to be friends with me on Facebook so you don’t have to see my thoughts on various topics. That’s cool. I respect that.

I think that’s Sherman’s point here. He wants McNair to be honest. If they disagree, so be it. What he doesn’t like is saying one thing while behind the scenes doing something else entirely. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t apologize if you say something and upon further examination realize it was truly awful. You are allowed to change your opinion. I certainly hope McNair is truly sorry for what he said, that he realizes the condescending nature of his statement. Then the apology is warranted and should be accepted.

I’m sure Sherman, and others, will be watching McNair more closely in the future. Will his actions down the road support his original statement or the apology? That’s the true test. We can say anything we want. It’s our actions that prove the integrity of our words.

Tom Liberman

Taylor Winston and the Case for Relative Morality

taylor winstonAs an Atheist, one of the things I talk about frequently is the relative nature of ethics. My religious friends believe their morality is handed down from god to them. I argue that morality is not fixed by any being, be it god or the government, but is subject to interpretation. This reasoning usually does not find purchase with such friends. I hope the case of Taylor Winston and stealing might make the point clearer.

Stealing is wrong or stealing is usually wrong. The former statement is an absolute statement of morality and is found pretty much verbatim in the bible. Thou Shall Not Steal. There are no caveats. This is the argument made by my religious friends. The second statement is not so stringent. Stealing is generally wrong but it circumstantially could be the right thing to do. This is the argument often made by Atheists.

I think the case of Winston might resonate with my religious friends. He was attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas. He was among the crowd, along with friends, when the gunfire began to rain down upon them. He managed to escape over some fencing while helping others do the same. Then, seeing the many wounded, he went to the parking lot and found a vehicle with keys. He illegally entered the vehicle, started it, and drove it to the hospital with victims of the attack. He then returned and ferried more people in the stolen truck.

The public reaction to Winston and his actions pretty much proves the point of relative morality. If stealing is wrong without question, if we follow the word of god’s morality; there can be no question Winston was in direct violation of the 7th or 8th commandment, depending on the version. Winston should suffer whatever punishment a society based on religion should choose to enforce, perhaps chopping his hands off.

My question for anyone reading this blog post is what did you first think about the story of Winston and the truck stealing? What was your immediate and instant reaction? I’d be enormously surprised if anyone thought Winston committed an immoral act, including the owner of the truck.

I suppose some argument can be made that he simply borrowed the truck but the reality is Winston saw a situation in which he needed something that did not belong to him and took it. It’s that simple. In this particular case he did the ethical thing, the right thing. Not only should he not be punished but he should be rewarded.

This is one of many reasons I’m an Atheist. Please feel free to join me.

Tom Liberman

A Real Apology

apologyI was thinking about the idea of an apology. You say or do something you regret. You say you’re sorry. The natural reaction of the person or people you’ve offended or angered is to accept the apology. It is almost as if some part, if not all, of the original transgression never happened. But what is an apology? Just words. I’m beginning to become skeptical about accepting those words, they are merely a way for the person giving the apology to feel better. I’ve decided I don’t want apologies anymore, I want to see a change in your behavior. That’s a real apology. If that’s beyond you, fine. Let’s both move on.

I’m sure this is coming across as rather cruel and heartless and perhaps it is. It’s just that I often see people giving what appears to be heartfelt apologies for particular misbehaviors and then going right back to repeating the offending behavior in exactly the same fashion.

I’m sometimes willing to believe the apology is sincere. The person does feel bad about what she or he did. But the apology is nothing more than a symptom masking panacea. The offending person is fixed and can go on about their life without further worry, until they do it again. It’s an endless cycle of misbehavior and apology. There is no effort to fix the underlying problem, or perhaps there is an attempt but it ends in failure. The apology is a central part of the ongoing problem.

It seems to me, quite frequently the words are completely phony. The person is only apologizing because the behavior generated unfavorable results. The person isn’t really sorry at all. They are sorry about the consequences but they acted exactly in the fashion they desired. The only thing they’d change about the incident that requires an apology is the resulting upset.

However, if the person actually changes their behavior over the course of the next several years, that would seem to me to be a real apology. I’m sorry I did something and I recognize what I did was wrong. Every time I’m in a situation in which I could repeat the behavior, I react differently. That’s an apology I can get behind.

So, there you have it. If you offend me and aren’t sorry. That’s cool. Tell me you’re not sorry and I’ll deal with it. If you are sorry, change your behavior. If I offend you, tell me about it and I’ll try my best to change my behavior if I feel I was in the wrong. Apologies aren’t worthy of accepting or rejecting.

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t have a lot of friends, then I remember!

Have a wonderful day.

Tom Liberman

Martha Stewart and her Unjust Conviction

martha stewartI’ve been reading a number stories about Martha Stewart and her feelings about being imprisoned in 2004 for conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements in regards to the sale of ImClone Systems stocks. She felt it was a horrible experience and she learned nothing from it.

I think there are a number of things to take from Stewart’s opinion on this subject not the least of which is that she was convicted in what most people would regard as questionable fashion and I would classify as grossly unjust. I find her words about her imprisonment resonate strongly with me. She was not made stronger for her stay in jail, she learned nothing, she did not become a better person. It was horrible in every regard. This is an indictment of our prison system.

First, I’d like to talk about her conviction. She sold some stock shortly before it went down by 16% and avoided about $50,000 in losses. This may seem like a lot to you and me but to a woman of her means, it is a fairly trivial amount. Her broker supposedly was informed by an insider that a drug the company was promoting failed to gain approval. Stewart claimed there was a standard order to sell when it reached a certain price, $60, and had documentation that such an order existed.

An ink expert from the Secret Service testified the ink on the order for the ImClone sale was different than other ink on the document. He lied. He hadn’t even examined the document. Another worker examined it and it was clear she had a grudge against Stewart. The case of securities fraud against Stewart was so flimsy the judge threw it out of court. But, Stewart insisted the order for sale at $60 was real and she was convicted on charges related to these statements. This despite the fact the person who claimed it was different ink was lying. She was not convicted of securities fraud. The civil case was eventually settled with Stewart paying the government the equivalent of triple damages although she maintained her innocence.

So, off she went to a minimum-security prison. Here’s where her comments really caught my eye. She was asked if the sentence and imprisonment made her stronger. If the adversity was essentially good for her. This question reflects what we’d like prison to be. A place where inmates reflect upon their misdeeds and emerge the better for it. No, said Stewart. It was not a learning experience. It did not make her stronger. It was horrible. It was only her own strength of character that allowed her to endure. This confirms my opinion that prison is not making better people but is largely making better criminals. It is not turning criminals into good citizens but conversely, turning good citizens into criminals.

This assessment is coming from an undeniably strong woman who was sent into what is largely considered the least penal sort of prison. Imagine men and women of lesser character getting sent to far worse places. We turn a young person who perhaps robbed a store, got caught with some small amount of drugs, or perhaps got into a drunken fight into a hardened criminal by sending them to our failed jails.

If the goal is to have a better society, to have better people, then we must listen to what Stewart has to say. If we merely want to punish people and ensure they are more likely to commit crimes after their release, then we can safely ignore Stewart’s advice. It’s important to note that Stewart is not merely answering a question, she is unleashing a stinging and startlingly accurate indictment of our entire system. I’m not surprised, she is a woman of tremendous strength.

If you choose to ignore her, do so at your own peril. More and better criminals is not a recipe for a successful society.

Tom Liberman

The Underlying Weakness of Anthem Anger

anthem angerThere is an interesting phenomenon going on surrounding the behavior of people during the playing of the national anthem. I don’t want to talk about the reason behind the kneeling but the reaction to the protests.

There are largely two categories of offense in these situations. Either you are affected or you are not. Protestors can act in a way that directly or indirectly affects me, or can perform it in a manner that has no impact on my life. The national anthem protests fall into the latter category. Blocking traffic would be the former. Your reaction to events that don’t affect you is an insight into your character.

The stronger you are as a person the less you should react to affronts that don’t affect you. If you are secure in your patriotism, why would you feel the need to force someone else into an act you deem patriotic? It is your own insecurities that rouse your ire, much more than the protest.

Biblically, Jesus used the idea of love to demonstrate this principle. If you love yourself, you love everyone else. Their feelings toward you are irrelevant, if they hate you that is too bad but it doesn’t change your opinion of them. It is only when you have feelings of doubt and insecurity in yourself that you worry what other people are thinking. Buddha and enlightenment is another example of this principle. The more secure you are in your own opinions, the less you feel it necessary to make others conform to those particular standards.

I’m certainly not criticizing anyone for standing during the national anthem but I do find their rage and urge to punish anyone who does not to be an underlying weakness of character, not a strength. If you really believed in your patriotic stance, you wouldn’t need to coerce others through force, economic or social, to conform to the ideologies you hold dear. You would simply smile and be comfortable in your own behavior. Those who are secure don’t need to be constantly reinforced by others. Those who are weak, who are insecure, require such reassurances.

I’m also not suggesting that such strength is easy to acquire and to demonstrate consistently. I think the ideals proposed by stories of Jesus and Buddha are essentially unobtainable, but still well worth pursuing. Everyone gets a sense of ease from being in a group of like-minded people. It is simply human nature to enjoy such comradery. When I am in a large group of people who share my ideology, I am reassured that I myself must be correct, this is a false comfort. Their agreement, or disagreement, with me has nothing to do with my own opinion.

I don’t hold myself up as a shining example of strength or perfection, but I also feel secure enough in my own beliefs that I don’t attempt to forcefully make people do as I do. I’m a Libertarian and an Atheist but I’m not offended by Democrats or Christians. I make my points as honestly as I can and I leave the decision up to you. If you choose to believe or behave differently than me, so be it. Best of luck to you. This is strength of character.

Not that I’m telling you how to act. That’s your decision, I am suggesting you look at your behavior with an eye toward critical thinking. Trying to force people into conforming to your way of doing things is a sign of tremendous weakness and insecurity, not power.

Tom Liberman

In My World Jason Stockley has a Job and Anthony Lamar Smith is Alive

st. louis stockley protestsThere’s bit of a hubbub going on here in my hometown and right down my own street in regards to the fact that former police officer Jason Stockley shot and killed suspected drug dealer Anthony Lamar Smith.

There’s a lot of people talking about various things in the news and up and down my social media platforms. My conservative friends rail against protestors who broke windows. My liberal friends argue against the verdict in the case. Both sides assert angrily, and often with threats of violence, their moral superiority. I think there are interesting and pertinent arguments to be made from both sides but I’m going to take this moment to interject my Libertarian perspective. I think it’s something people on both sides of this issue should take into account, not that I would ever force them to do so.

In a Libertarian world, adults are allowed to put whatever chemicals into their body they want. There are no laws against certain kinds of drugs. Heroin is just as legal as Oxycontin. It can be purchased at the local pharmacy for an extremely modest amount of money. Stockley is still working as a police officer and has never been tried for a crime. Anthony Lamar Smith is alive and well. There are no windows broken in the Central West End or University City, one a place where I currently reside and the other my old home. Traffic is flowing normally without disruption in downtown St. Louis. That’s my world. Sadly, it’s not the world we live in.

It’s important to understand that heroin and prescription opioids are, in fact, pretty much the same thing. Law Enforcement Officers are busy risking their lives in order to control the competitors of the pharmaceutical market, not for the safety of the community. The laws against drugs are inarguably making our communities less safe, they are making life more dangerous for everyone. They are funneling huge amounts of money into the hands of violent criminals.

To everyone out there protesting either in physical form or via social media, arguing back and forth with friends and family, saying horribly insulting and threatening things to those on the other side, filled with self-righteous certainty; ask yourself this question: Am I partially responsible for what has happened?

Do you unconditionally support the War on Drugs? Do you support Law Enforcement Officers under almost every circumstance? Do you oppose such officials almost always? Do you hurl nasty and violent insults at those on the opposing side? Do you prefer to pat yourself on the back assuring yourself of your moral superiority rather than looking into real solutions? If you answer yes, you are part of the problem.

There is a simple solution. End the War on Drugs. It’s a War on Us.

Tom Liberman


Garry Kasparov Disses Jennifer Shahade

garry-kasparovI’m lucky enough to live in the Central West End where the St. Louis Chess club is currently hosting the Sinquefield Cup and recently former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov visited the studio and joined Yasser Seirawan and Jennifer Shahade. During his chat, he essentially completely ignored Shahade both in spoken words and body language.

It’s an interesting situation because I doubt Kasparov is misogynistic. The first reality we must take into account is that Seirawan is objectively a better chess player than Shahade. Therefore, when analyzing the various games, it was to be expected that Kasparov would rely more on the opinion of Seirawan.

The second thing we must take into account is that Kasparov is somewhat, or perhaps a great deal, a pompous jerk. Not to say he doesn’t deserve to think highly of himself, he was the best chess player in the world for a very long time and it can be argued he is the best to have ever played the game. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly, as the saying goes.

But, even taking all of that into account, Kasparov barely even gave indication that he knew Shahade was in the room, occasionally glancing at her with his eyes but never directly addressing her or asking her any questions. He leaned toward Seirawan the entire time he was in the studio. The mood was so obvious the camera crew focused in on the two men in a tight shot for the majority of the interview.

The obvious conclusion we can draw is that Kasparov is misogynistic, but I’ve already said I don’t think he is such. Chess is a sport that is dominated by men even today, but was even more so in the era when Kasparov was world champion. It’s most likely, although I am not certain, Kasparov never analyzed a single chess game in his long career with a woman.

Of particular note is his opinion of Judit Polgar who is largely considered the best woman chess player in history. Early in her career Kasparov was asked about her potential and gave what can only be called a misogynistic statement: She has fantastic chess talent, but she is, after all, a woman. It all comes down to the imperfections of the feminine psyche. No woman can sustain a prolonged battle. Later in life, however, after he had lost a rapid game against Polgar in 2002, Kasparov revised his opinion: The Polgars showed that there are no inherent limitations to their aptitude ….

I think it’s fair to say Kasparov maintains some dismissive attitudes towards women chess players and it came through, certainly unintentionally, during the interview.

I think the lesson here is that you don’t have to be overly sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, or any other sort of particular prejudice in order to behave like you are so. Be careful out there, people are watching!

Tom Liberman

Moral Panic and the Blue Whale Challenge

blue whale challengeTeens committing suicide playing Blue Whale Challenge scream the headlines. Tenuous and often fraudulent links to people who committed suicide while supposedly playing the game immediately follow. Moral Panic sets in.

Basically, there isn’t much evidence young people are committing suicide because they were instructed to do so as part of the Blue Whale Challenge. The game supposedly involves a series of dares that occur over fifty days with the last challenge being to self-film the player’s own suicide.

First off, I’m highly skeptical this is real. It has all the hallmarks of a hoax and the Safer Internet Centre, a European Agency, seems to think so. Secondly, I’m not sure encouraging someone to kill themselves is a crime. I wrote about this in conjunction with the Michelle Carter case so I won’t go on endlessly here. Providing material assistance to someone who is going to commit suicide is probably criminal. Knowing someone is attempting to commit suicide and not reporting it might be a crime. Encouraging someone to kill his or her self is despicable; but I think not criminal.

Then there is the idea of a Moral Panic. This is basically when society learns of some danger and begins to enact laws and regulations to prevent harm from coming to its citizens. The problem is the danger never really existed at all, or was happening to such a small percentage of people that the methods enacted to prevent it actually cause more harm than the original issue.

I argue the entire War on Drugs is a Moral Panic. Drug use causes for less damage than the interdiction methods introduced to reduce drug addiction problems. We’d be far better off today if never began the War on Drugs, thus when I see something like the Blue Whale Challenge I become concerned. In the United States people are already proposing laws similar to those enacted in Russia where the Moral Panic is already in full swing.

In Russia, there are now laws against a website that promotes suicide and laws against encouraging a minor to commit suicide. Several people have thus far been imprisoned. I know what you’re thinking, good. Those are bad things. We should have laws against them. The problem is the impact of those laws.

If I want to promote suicide why should the government prevent me from doing so? I understand telling someone to kill themselves is nasty and reprehensible. I get why people want laws to prevent shameful behavior. I get children can be vulnerable to manipulation and sometimes need special protections not in place for adults. I just don’t think it should be the government’s responsibility to monitor this sort of thing. We can’t legislate morality and the more we try, the more problems we cause.

I can’t tell you all the problems these sorts of laws might cause down the road, but I’m convinced they will create more difficulties than they actually solve. These laws won’t stop people from playing the Blue Whale Challenge or being administrators, if anyone actually is playing. They will just push the situation further underground.

Some people will commit suicide. Some people will encourage others to do so because they are failed humans. We can be better friends to those in need. We can spend our time helping people, rather than hurting them. We can see people who are in danger and act to help them. That’s our job, not the government’s.

We cannot and should not rely on the government to be our moral saviors. If we do so, we risk them dictating moral policy, and that is a dangerous path indeed.

Tom Liberman

Sorry to say but Connie Yates and Chris Gard are Evil

yates-gardPeople who do horrible things to other people are evil. Connie Yates and Chris Gard are stealing a bunch of money from people and using it to allow a zombie baby to take up space and resources in a hospital that could be used to help someone else. That’s evil.

They are parents and they love their child, Charlie, that I don’t deny, but they have let that love become twisted into something horrible. Something that borders on, and in my opinion, crosses into a realm we call evil. Those who support them are not just enabling this situation but contributing to it.

Charlie was born with a terrible disease that left his brain destroyed. He is unable to breath or move. He is blind and deaf. Even if the cause of this tragic disease could be treated, and it can’t, his brain is dead. He is simply a lifeless zombie. I can only hope Charlie doesn’t have nerve activity and he is feeling no pain. Still, there is tremendous pain being intentionally inflicted by Yates and Gard playing to people’s heartstrings with the impossibility of the boy’s recovery. They are stealing money from people, not for themselves, but for doctors offering an experimental treatment that will do nothing to reverse the brain damage.

One of the most fundamental issues of this situation is the reversal of normal morality. In many cases it would be immoral to allow a sick child to die. If the child had a disease which can be cured, it would be despicable to place that child in the woods and allow it to die. This was done throughout history but medical care has improved to the point where children who were doomed to horrific lives until a few hundred years ago, can now live full and fulfilling lives. Thus, when we hear about a sick child whose parents are trying to get medical care, we are predisposed to think of them as heroes and those who are opposed as villains.

In this case it is the reverse. Keeping Charlie alive is the immoral act. The professionals at Great Ormond Street Hospital are the ethical and kind players in this story. The judges who have made their rulings are moral.

What I’m saying is brutal. It’s not nice. I’m not a nice guy. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll be happy to confirm I’m often times quite a jerk, quite forceful, when it comes to putting forward arguments. Be that as it may, what I’m saying is true. Keeping Charlie alive is the immoral act. That’s the bottom line. The parents are engaged in behavior that I can only describe as evil.

There are a number of people in Social Media and other places who supported and continue to support this behavior. They encouraged the parents to take money from many people for the pursuance of an immoral act. They encouraged the people to keep poor Charlie on life-support for the last ten months when they could have ended this entire ordeal, and saved a huge amount of pain and suffering. Those who support Yates and Gard are contributing to the evil.

If that’s you, I won’t apologize. Get your act together.

Tom Liberman

Otto Warmbier and our Nanny Country

otto warmbierI’m sick of it. Sick. We are a nanny nation. I’m reading comment after comment about the terrible death of Otto Warmbier and virtually everyone seems to think they know better than Warmbier, they know better than his parents, they know better than the travel agency, they know better how to lead everyone else’s life.

I’ve got advice for each and every one of you. Why don’t you try to lead your own miserable life and stay out of everyone else’s business? Is that too much to ask? Really? You get to tell Warmbier how stupid he was for going to North Korea. You get to tell his parents there must to be an autopsy. You get to push your political agenda by using the death of this young man. You’re sick. All of you! Sick, sick, sick.

When did we become a nanny nation? When did every single decision anyone makes become our business? People are concerned the United States is becoming a Nanny State where the government feels compelled to tell us how to conduct our lives? Well, look in the mirror. Just look and tell me what you see.

What was your last comment on any news story? Was it telling someone else they were wrong about something? How to go about their business? For whom they should vote? That they are ruining their lives by eating coconuts? Ruining their lives by not eating coconuts? Good grief. Shut up, the lot of you, leave people alone.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind an informed discussion. Here are the facts of the case and the opinion that I’ve arrived upon. What do you think? That’s reasonable. But no one does that anymore. It’s all somebody else’s fault. It’s all shouting and yelling and feeling superior because we’re certain we would do things better.

Are you so insecure with your own life that you have to tell everyone else how to live? Because that’s what it is. If you’re posting stories about how wrong and stupid other people are, it’s because you have no confidence in yourself. You might think you do, but the proof is in the proverbial pudding. If you actually had confidence, you wouldn’t feel the need to tell everyone else how to go about their lives, all the time!

How about you leave the Warmbier family alone to experience their grief in the way they choose to do so? Is that so much to ask, you miserable excuses for human beings?

Tom Liberman

Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent and the Corn Snake

Chartelle-GeanetteThere’s an interesting story dividing Social Media in regards to a woman named Chartelle Geanette St. Laurent who let her one year old child interact with a small Corn Snake. The snake bit the girl who began crying while the mother laughed. The video was then posted to Facebook. Case closed, horrible mother, right? Not so simple.

The small corn snake didn’t have fully developed fangs and was incapable of actually penetrating the skin. In addition, this type of snake is very popular as a pet because of its docile nature and ability to catch and kill rodents. Basically, it’s the kind of snake a child might encounter naturally. In addition, it was incapable of doing any harm to the baby.

I’m not saying it’s the sort of parenting behavior I’d engage in with my non-existent children, I’m just saying the baby was never in the slightest bit of danger and learning to not touch snakes is probably not the worst thing in the world.

The mother excuses her behavior as trying to teach her daughter a lesson but that strikes me as rather disingenuous. She let her other child play with the snake earlier and probably didn’t think much about it one way or the other. Only when she started to get criticized on Facebook did she come up with the excuse she was trying to teach the baby about snakes. I don’t buy that for a second but I also don’t think the woman did all that much wrong.

People let their children play with cats and dogs all the time and those creatures, while domesticated and more accustomed to children, are also far more dangerous. Children are badly bitten by dogs all the time and certainly I was scratched by cats any number of times as a lad. I grew up with both dogs and cats and I don’t remember any specific incident, but I can say I probably pulled a tail too hard and got snapped at or scratched at one point or another when I was an infant.

No one called the government to report my mother for child endangerment. Of course, back then we didn’t have Social Media to make these sorts of things public. Still, I find it hard to believe thirty years ago this would have been a problem. Nowadays we all seem to be of the opinion we know how to raise someone else’s child in the best fashion possible.

Parents should have a pretty wide latitude in the manner in which they raise their children. Certainly, if the baby misbehaved and St. Laurent smacked the baby lightly on the wrist we’d have no one calling child services. I’m totally opposed to corporal punishment but I think parents should have the right to engage in such if they feel it is warranted. It’s not the government’s job to intervene except in extreme situations.

The outcry here is a product of people thinking they know better than anyone else how to conduct their lives. We live in a world in which far too many people want to be judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to other people and their behavior. For the most part, it’s just none of your business.

If St. Laurent allowed her one year old child to play with a rattlesnake and the baby suffered serious wounds then there is a problem. This incident is so harmless that it boggles the mind when you read comments from people who think the child should be taken away by the government. The baby was never in any danger.

Again, I’ll reiterate, I don’t think I’d let such a young child play with a small snake knowing the inevitable outcome. Basically St. Laurent gave her baby something that caused a small, if any, amount of pain. It’s likely the baby was more startled than hurt. If the child learned much of anything it’s probably not to trust anything her mother gives her.

That being said, it’s none of my business and it shouldn’t be yours either.

Tom Liberman

North Korea and the Keyboard Warriors

Keyboard WarriorsPrior to the election, President Trump got a lot of grief and praise for tough talk in regards to North Korea and their military ambitions. This tough talk was well-received by those who like such things but reality has set in, at least for Trump, and that is a good thing. The keyboard warriors haven’t changed their attitude at all.

Those that support Trump generally believe a military solution to the problem of North Korea is on the table despite the fact such action is largely impossible because of the terrible harm that would come to South Korea and Japan and the fact that China and Russia are not going to allow us to operate in the region in an unfettered fashion.

What I find interesting is that Trump has stopped speaking about military solutions, as have his advisors, even as North Korea intentionally provokes them. This shows an understanding of the complexities of the situation and the difficulties of any solutions. Meanwhile the comments section of any article about North Korea and their various missile tests are filled with Trump supporters repeating his campaign rhetoric. That North Korea wouldn’t dare tests more missiles now that we have a tough president. This despite the obvious reality North Korea thrives on saber rattling and has ramped up their program hoping to provoke the current administration.

This disconnect interests me. Now that he is actually in power, Trump apparently understands the limited options available to us as far as North Korea and other nations are concerned. His tough talk has faded into basically the same policy pursued by previous presidents in regards to North Korea, Iran, and other nations we perceive as the enemy. Mostly diplomacy, a fair number of drone strikes, and a few raids with soldiers on the ground.

We have changed presidents but the world largely remains the same whether or not supporters of Trump choose to believe it or not.

I think this is perfectly natural. When we don’t actually have to make a decision, or take any action, we tend to have a very different reaction to situations than when we are in a position of authority. Once we come into a place where we are responsible for the outcome, our behavior tends to change pretty dramatically. It’s always easy as a keyboard warrior to utter tough words, but when the reality of the difficulties and dangers of a situation become clear, particularly the negative outcomes, we suddenly become more cautious.

Thus, I don’t really mind the disconnection between Trump and his legion of keyboard warriors. They are behaving fairly normally, as is he.
One of the few problems with this is when such banter bleeds over into real life. When people delude themselves into believing their online persona is their actual personality. Then trouble can ensue if they say the wrong thing to the wrong person. If we were to say something to a person in real life that we have no trouble uttering in an online situation we might get a fist to the face.

In conclusion, don’t get too upset by the keyboard warriors. They are probably pretty nice folk in real life.

Tom Liberman

Michelle Carter is Encouraging Someone to Commit Suicide a Crime?

michelle carterThe case of Michelle Carter has begun and it presents interesting questions for a Libertarian. Carter essentially encouraged and cajoled a man named Conrad Roy into suicide. He was feeling suicidal to begin with but in a series of texts over numerous days she pushed him to do it, despite the fact he was clearly reluctant and afraid.

I’d like to dispense with the fiction that Carter somehow thought he was not serious about his intentions or that she didn’t actively attempt to bring about what she desired, Roy’s death by his own hand. Anyone who reads the messages must come to the conclusion she wanted Roy to kill himself. We can only speculate as to why she wanted this outcome but that she wanted it to happen is beyond debate.

Without a doubt, we can conclude she is a failed and disgusting human being. But is she a criminal? She didn’t take any physical part in Roy’s death. She did not even purchase any of the equipment he used to kill himself. She took no direct actions that caused his death. She simply told him, repeatedly, that his family would be fine, that his problems would be over, that he would be in heaven, and that suicide was clearly the best and only solution. When he promised to do it and failed, she chastised him for his shortcomings and encouraged him to finish the job.

When the fact of these texts came to light, Roy’s family alerted the police and now Carter has been charged with Involuntary Manslaughter. Essentially, she is being charged with killing Roy.

Therein lies the problem. Carter didn’t kill Roy. She just encouraged him to kill himself. Roy was clearly vulnerable to such manipulations but there is no indication he was mentally handicapped. He was of legal age when he killed himself and of relatively sound mind. He clearly wasn’t thinking very well and was manipulated by a terrible person. I freely acknowledge as much. But he was not legally impaired. As such, Roy is ultimately responsible for his own actions.

People want to punish Carter for her reprehensible behavior and I well understand this desire to make her pay for her actions. She is a horrible person. She deserves a punch in the face at the very least.

Sadly, I don’t think she should be put in prison for her actions. While she certainly encouraged Roy to kill himself, Carter took no concrete actions in making it happen. It’s largely the same as if I said I wanted someone dead. It’s a horrible thing to say but I haven’t actually killed anyone. I can talk about committing all sorts of crimes but it is only when I take physical action toward committing those crimes, or actually proceed, that I’m subject to law enforcement.

If Carter is found guilty of the crime it has rather far-reaching implications. Anyone who encourages anyone to commit a crime might well be charged. Saying something in Social Media about wanting President Obama or President Trump to burn in hell could well encourage a lunatic to attempt murder. There are plenty of fanatics out there and they don’t need much encouragement.

The important reality is that we must be held responsible for our own actions. In this case Roy is dead and that’s a terrible shame. Carter is a nasty piece of work and one would hope people will shun her in the future, but it’s not up to me or the courts to force punishment upon her.

Tom Liberman

Cosby and O’Reilly – Take the Money or Take the Abuse

bill-cosbyThe Bill Cosby sexual assault case is in full swing and I think it brings into amazing clarity the terrible position people find themselves in when they are sexually assaulted or serially harassed. On the witness stand and in the court of public opinion, the people who come forward with these accusations almost universally face vicious attack from the supporters of the accused, particularly when the suspects are celebrities.

In the Cosby case, the first woman to take the stand is being accused of all sorts of things by the defense attorneys. We see this same scenario play out again and again, most recently against people who accused Bill O’Reilly of misdeeds.

The attacks against the alleged victim are vicious to the extreme and it makes me wonder why anyone would come forward rather than taking a large monetary settlement. I think that’s why most victims of such crimes suffer in silence and why attackers get away with their behavior year after year. Some victims attempt to come forward and are squashed by their powerful attackers. Some come forward and pursue the case as best they can. Proving these attacks is not so easy. Many fail to have enough evidence to support a conviction.

In a court of law, we must have evidence and in these situations, it is generally the word of one person against the other. The need for this burden of proof is important and necessary. We cannot deny some people make false accusations. We cannot presume the accused is guilty. That is one of the factors making coming forward all the more difficult.

There are no easy answers to these sorts of situation nor is there any chance they will stop occurring. People in power unfortunately will sometimes abuse that power, that is an unhappy fact. Victims of such attacks have two initial options. They can go on with their lives and ignore the event happened. This is certainly the easy course. A terrible thing has been done but there is no chance to undo it. Bringing it to light will potentially harm the person accused but it might well not, and the accusers own reputation can be destroyed.

If the victim pursues the case there are again two possible outcomes. The accused can offer some sort of financial settlement or the case can proceed to criminal charges. Again, it seems to me the path of least resistance is to simply take the money and move on with your life. Pursuing a criminal case is going to take considerable time, money, and effort and there are no assurances of a positive outcome. The accuser can easily lose the case.

What’s the point of all this? I just hope to make these facts apparent to everyone negatively judging those who take money as settlements or those who go on about their lives without bringing charges.  The victims are doing what most of us would do and what is, frankly, sometimes the best course of action. Unfortunate as that may be.

Our court system protects criminals, particularly when it is the word of one person against another. I’m not saying this is a bad system, in fact I’m a firm believer in our legal doctrine, but I am suggesting in these sorts of cases it makes the decision to pursue criminal charges a difficult one.

Don’t be quick to leap to conclusions after finding out a person didn’t file charges immediately after the incident.

Tom Liberman

How About Admit Culpability Rather than Claim Responsibility?

culpabilityWhen we do something wrong we don’t claim responsibility for our actions, we admit culpability. I’m a writer and well aware of the power words convey. I’ve been thinking for a number of years that we should start using different verbiage after terrorist attacks.
Anyone who claims they took part in a terrorist act is admitting they have done terrible and irreparable harm. They are saying they admit culpability to their vicious crime. Let’s call it what it is. That’s what I think at least.

Some might argue terrorist organizations have succeeded in their goal and therefore they can claim credit. That the attack is ostensibly a good thing from the point of view of a terrorist or those that support such. The reality is far different. I’ve written before, at some length, how terrorist attacks actually harm the people they are intended to help far more than immediate victims.

If you look at the larger picture of a terrorist attack, the only conclusion to draw is the people the act purports to help, suffer horrifically. I’m not even sure what the terrorists hope to accomplish anymore, but their stated objectives are generally based on the removal of oppressors from their land. The problem is their actions don’t work. They just make the oppressors more virulent, violent, and oppressive.

There is no doubt the theocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt are extremely brutal. Those governments are backed, almost without question, by the United States. I get where the terrorists are coming from, I really do. I know this point of view will raise eyebrows. The reality is people who are carrying out these violent attacks have a legitimate complaint. The problem is their method simply makes the situation worse; for the terrorists and the people the terrorists hope to help. These actions generally create sympathy and solidarity within the governments the terrorists hate so much.

For every person killed by a terrorist, thousands of those the terrorist purports to support are killed. The regimes they hope to oust are made stronger, the oppression greater, and the resolve of the western nations that support them more stalwart.

For each and every terror attack, there is no winner. There is no claiming of responsibility, just an admission of terrible wrong. The terrorist has directly killed and maimed innocents and indirectly killed and maimed even more.

Doing as I suggest is not going to stop a terrorist from carrying out heinous activity. They are bent on their destructive ways and there is likely nothing anyone can do to talk them out of it. Still, I think it’s best to use the proper words in situations like this. It’s culpability we’re looking at, not credit.

Do you agree?

Tom Liberman

The Relationship Between Welfare and Disability

welfareWelfare is a word that conjures images of poor black and Hispanic people living in an urban environment. Like it or not, that’s the image. Disability, on the other hand, brings to mind pictures of people in wheelchairs struggling to get up a ramp. The reality is somewhat different but what I’d like to talk about today is the relationship of the two entitlement plans. The two programs basically take money from taxpayers and give it to those who cannot afford to get through life for whatever reason.

We have these programs because in the United States we do not like the idea of people living in hunger. We see pictures of children in poor nations standing in line to get water, children dying of disease in fly infested hospitals and we say; not here. Rightfully so. In a wealthy country, there should be protections for people who cannot care for themselves. I have a disabled niece who will never be able to care for herself, so I’m aware of the value of the so-called safety net.

There is a general dislike of entitlement programs in the United States. This contempt is probably centered with Republicans but there are plenty of Democrats and Libertarians who find the sheer amount of money being distributed to be troubling. We, as a whole, largely think people should live within their means. Most people believe there are people like my niece who need help, but think the majority of people receiving this help aren’t trying hard enough. There is likely a lot of truth to these thoughts.

That’s where the relationship between welfare and disability comes into play. Two things happened. The first was the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984 passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Reagan. It loosened the screening process by which the designation of disability was awarded.

Then came the Contract with America, Newt Gingrich, and President Bill Clinton. When the Republicans came to power in 1996 they wanted to reform welfare. Welfare, again, being imagined as poor black people living in the city. They did not, on other hand, seek disability reform. Mainly because it wasn’t much of a problem.

The result was The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. This was passed by the new Republican majority and signed by President Clinton. It is law today. It essentially forces people to work before they can collect welfare. After a couple of years, the amount being paid in welfare went down. Success! Our plan worked! Hooray!

The reality is less pleasant. The amount of people applying for and receiving disability skyrocketed. The majority of people getting this money live in rural areas, are white, and are generally Republican. We now have generational disability families. The entire family lives off their government checks. The percentage of United States citizens on disability has doubled since 1985, which of course means a larger increase in total recipients.

There is no work requirement or time limit on receiving disability checks. Once granted, they arrive monthly for the rest of the recipient’s life.

We hear all about how the Social Security fund is scheduled to run out of money in thirty years or so. The Disability Insurance fund is scheduled to run out of money this year! People on disability are being cut off in ever greater numbers as the money runs out. Desperation, largely in rural areas, is beginning to be felt.

Our Congress is pretty much unwilling to discuss this entitlement for various political reasons. I don’t want to get into the blame game, I want to highlight the issue and the fact people often misperceive what is happening to whom and why.

Just be aware when you criticize people on welfare you are essentially censuring people who have been determined, for whatever reason, to be disabled. These people used to be on welfare and have simply switched the government agency which provides them with money.

Ask yourself, why isn’t this being discussed? Could it be political?

Tom Liberman

Kathy Griffin, Margaret Court, and the Freedom to Hate

kathy griffin margaret courtThere is one thing Kathy Griffin and Margaret Court have in common, the Freedom to Hate. I think both women and their supporters will vehemently deny this fact. They will argue the two are merely stating a firmly held opinion and not backing down. Their opinions are not based on hate but passionate belief.

I’m here to tell you; Court and Griffin are filled with self-righteous hatred and it completely clouds their ability to think about their words and artistic expressions. As vile as I think both of these ladies are; it’s their right to be filled with as much hate as they want. They can express that hatred in whatever way they want as long as it is not physically hurting other people. If they want to post vile pictures and make completely unsupported claims about homosexuals, whatever. Go right ahead. That is the Freedom to Hate.

Almost everyone else has the right to say whatever they want about either of the women. You can despise one and revere the other. You can hate them both. You can like them both, although that has to be an awfully short list of people.

Advertisers have the right to stop purchasing commercials for things in which they are involved. People have the right to not buy items they are selling or attend events at which they are appearing. The only entity that doesn’t have the right to do as it pleases is the government. Griffin and Court, vile as they might be, cannot be arrested for their words. They cannot be fined for their words. That’s what Freedom of Speech, or in this case, Freedom of Hate is all about.

The world has many people like Court and Griffin. People completely overwhelmed, for whatever reason, by hatred of other people. The good news is the vast majority of us aren’t filled with such hate. The problem is we get drawn in by all that rage. The need to tell other people how awful and wrong is their behavior.

One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is when to disengage. You’ve all encountered someone so filled with rage they are unwilling to listen to reasonable arguments. People so locked into a position talking with them is an exercise in frustration. My advice, disengage. Forget about it. Their lives are filled with anger. They spend it trying to find more people to hate, more people to harangue in a vain attempt to feel better about themselves. The problem is, of course, the hate they so feel is internally generated. Someone filled with self love just can’t be bursting with that sort of rage. It’s not possible.

The bottom line is Griffin and Court are allowed to engage in lives filled with hate. They can create as much art as they want that embodies this hate. They can say as many hateful things about others as they want. Naturally, they must face the consequences of this hate. Freedom to hate doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of hate. It just means they can’t be imprisoned or fined.

That is an important distinction. There are nations in this world where people are not free to express themselves so. There are states where anyone who dares speak out is imprisoned, tortured, murdered, and even their families punished. What happens in these states is not the eradication of unwanted thoughts but the multiplying of them.

The people in nations in which government has the ability to act in this fashion become violent. Instead of expressing their hatred with words and art, they act out as terrorists. They kill people.

You most likely don’t like what Court or Griffin is saying, but their right to do so is important.

Feel free to hate, it’s a right.

Tom Liberman