Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Canadian Liberal-Left discovers "Individual Liberty"....yeah right!

I haven't commented on the whole Mark Emery brouhaha as it has already been done to death throughout the whole Canadian Blosgspehere.

Instead, for the past week I decided to take on a spectator's role in the whole thing and see what other bloggers have been saying on the matter. There was your Pro-Emery and your anti-Emery commentary. Both camps had very valid and very interesting views on the matter.

But what caught my eye the most was the reaction of the leftist bloggers on the matter. (Many of whom suddenly discovered "Individual Liberty" and oppose his arrest).

Now many on the right have also slammed his arrest, but that really isn't anything new as Libertarians (who compromise of a big chunk in the Canadian right) have always stood for individual liberty and have called on the government to repeatedly get out of our lives. Leftists on the others hand have not.

I find the reaction of the Liberal and NDP supporters on this matter stinking of B.S and hypocrisy. For the following reasons:

The very same leftists who believe Canadians should have the right to shoot up drugs and pick up a hooker on the street are the very same people who:

-Oppose giving Canadians the freedom to choose their own broadcasting.
-Oppose Giving Canadians the freedom to purchase their own medical treatments.
-call for more restrictions on Tobacco and Alcohol manufacturing and taxation (what's up with that?! Freeing up one drug and restricting the other?)
-Call for restrictions on free speech.
-Call for more Gun Control. And completely oppose the notion of giving Canadians the right to self-defense.

and many many more.

So in other words leftists believe you have the right to have a choice in soft drug purchasing, but you don't have that same right to purchase your own doctor. They believe that you have the right to destroy yourself with marijuana and ecstasy while you're forbidden to protect yourself from a murderer or a rapist with a handgun. You have the right to shoot up cocaine, but you don't have the right to state certain opinions.

So why are the leftists all riled up over this? Let's just put it this way:

They wouldn't be shaking their fists in the air had the arrest been ordered by Sweden and not the United States.

11 Comments:

At Sunday, 07 August, 2005, Blogger v said...

Solid, AK. I've had similar thoughts about this whole thing too.

 
At Sunday, 07 August, 2005, Blogger Mark Francis said...

There are many different opinions on the left in such matters. I note that you have left out figures on the right whom believe in various violations of civil libertities, including censorship, establishing Christianity as a state religion, restrictions placed on Muslims, eliminating minimum wage and related laws, environmental deregulation
(as in individuals having less reliable water and air), and so on...

As for your list...

1. Canadians are free to watch a heck of a lot of broadcasts, and could get rid of the CBC, or have it changed if they really wanted to. I see little relation(*) between this issue and individual liberty, nor see how it is analogous to the Emery case.

2. 'Purchasing medical treatments' - There are actually a wide variety of views on this matter in the left, however, the bottom line is that any system whihc causes, or is believed to cause even less access to medical treatment for many people is not consider a boost to individual liberty. The debate rages as to whether a second tier, or having no public tier in the first palce would increase access to services, or simply increasse access for a very few at the expense of many more. If the majority suffer for the benefit of a few, then you have a net decrease in individual liberty, not an increase.

3. People are still free to buy cigs and booze. Given the societal costs of both, extra taxation is not unreasonable, nor is your comparison between that and the want to decriminalize pot. Most of the left want pot decriminalized and regulated with the same restrictions as alcohol. You would also find the state preaching the evils of pot use at the same time. The point is to save tax dollars, save people from getting criminal records over a common social activity and to reduce the crime associated with that part of the drug trade and free up police recouces for more important matters. We'd also get a safer, more consistent product. So the call to treat pot like alcohol and cigs is consistent. I note that a lot of conservatives don't favour this, and want people's asses busted over pot.

4. Hey, why not have 24 hr audio porn on public radio! My kids will never get their hands on one until they're 18! The problem here is that the airwaves are public. I am sympathetic here: I think that the CRTC rules had a place when bandwidth was very limited. This is emerging as not being as necessary anymore. Modern tech may make these old restrictions besides the point soon enough. You'll find that a lot of the left aren't happy with the restrictions in operation here.

Keep in mind that free speech doesn't include the right to walk into a bank and yell 'This is a hold up!' or walk into a movie theatre and scream 'Fire!'

5. A gun registry makes sense. Heck, we have to register cars! But I'm not pleased with the one we have. Self defense without a gun is quite legal. Guns in homes or on persons just end up escalating matters anyway. As always, just look at the US: wrt to self-defense, they don't accomplish much. Lots of innocent death, criminals getting their hands on them... as a deterence value they don't work, and it's not unusual for guns to get turned on their owners, or by innocents to get shot.

I understand that individual liberty here says "Screw the results aggregate! I want that choice!" But the evidence is that we are not safer. Do we not have a net gain in liberty in that case with such restrictions? In a nutshell, I'd love to own a gun, but I'd rather most people didn't.

I find that the restrictions are very urban-centric, though. There's a big difference between firing a gun in city park, and firing one on a farmer's field (which I've done).

---

In summary, I can give you part marks for the CRTC and gun control issues, but on the rest I think you've missed the mark.

I'm surprised you left out the hate speech laws. I don't support them, and the left is rather split on this issue. I think they give too much attention to the assholes spewing crap, and have the _potential_ to both get abused and to shut people up who otherwise wouldn't get prosecuted.

Finally, your statement:

"They wouldn't be shaking their fists in the air had the arrest been ordered by Sweden and not the United States."

Well, are the pot laws in Sweden as restrictive as America's? Does Sweden have as much influence on our domestic policy as the USA does? Does Sweden have some political point to make to Canada by trying to prosecute Emery?

Our relationship with America really doesn't have parallels with our relationship with any other country, so I think your attempt to paint this as some sort of anti-American protest falls flat.


P.S.: BTW, Pooh at Blank Out Times is an unrepenting libertarian. In the example you link to, free speech is not an issue because the matter discussed involves a private agreement. Free speech is all about the relationship betweeen the state and the individual, not between private peoples.

---
(*) Obviously anything involving tax dollars being spent has some relation to individual liberty.

 
At Sunday, 07 August, 2005, Blogger The Arabian Knight said...

"I note that you have left out figures on the right whom believe in various violations of civil libertities, including censorship"

Show me one. Its the left that's always screaming for "hate speech laws" and squashing dissenting opinions.

"establishing Christianity as a state religion"

Oh for the love of god! Can you point me to ONE Conservative who stated that they wanted to establish Christianity as the "Official Religion"? Opposing matters like Abortion or SSM does not equal to establishing Christianity as a state religion. Its simply having opinions on certain individual matters (which are supported by other religious non-Christians). Using your logic for "imposing religion" one could argue that Leftists want to establish atheism as a state religion.

"restrictions placed on Muslims"

Like what? Racial Profiling in Airports (Which I support as a Muslim, see my post on the matter)? Deporting Mullahs with ties to terrorists like Aly Hindy?

"eliminating minimum wage and related laws, environmental deregulation
(as in individuals having less reliable water and air), and so on..."

If anything those are arguments FOR individual liberty and property rights. You choose where to work, you choose where to live, what to do, how to run your business. This is one issue that can drag this debate, but I will simply refer you to the writings of Ludwig Van Mises and Murray N. Rothbard on those matters.

1.First of all, no they can't get rid of the CBC, it comes as a basic channel with ALL cable and satellite providers in Canada. Second of all the thrust of this was to criticize the left's insistence on CanCon regulations on broadcasting and restricting foreign channels from being watched by Canadians (e.g. ESPN, MTV, XM Radio, Sky, etc...). As for how it relates to Mark Emery, drugs and individual liberty...I just find it weird that you trust Canadians with weed, ecstasy and Cocaine, yet don't trust them with foreign broadcasts on their TV's and radios.

2.Ok that was completely bogus but whatever. But what I found interesting is that your definition of "individual Liberty" revolves around the welfare of the majority. Which is a contradiction with individual liberty in the first place. People who believe in Liberty believe that the more freedom an individual has, the more his/her society profits collectively in the long run.
But let's apply your logic in health care to another field. Housing. Judging from your view on health care you believe that we should all live in similar houses. As real-estate in limited, and the rich take up most of the best houses out there, leaving "tiers" of housing all over. Is it fair for a rich guy to have a huge mansion in the suburbs, with a pool, 8 bedrooms, huge living room, 4 Garage doors and a beautiful garden, while I have to share a two-room apartment with a roommate in downtown Montreal? Using your logic from health care, No he shouldn't. And therefore the government should nationalize all housing and make us live in similar environments.



Now to get back on topic on how it relates to the whole Emery case and the war on drugs.

Why is it ok for people to choose to take drugs which harm them, but others can't pay for medical services that can heal them at their level of choice?

An argument can be made that people on drugs endanger the lives of those around them. E.G. A driver who is high is more likely to get into an accident, and that will defenatly increase once drugs are legalized. How does that not influence the welfare of the majority?

3. Actually believe it or not most of the right (In Canada anyways) do believe in softer drug policies its just that when it comes to individual liberty there are bigger fish to fry and therefore don't comment or concentrate on the matter much. And I think you'll be shocked when you come accross the anti-tobacco activists who want tobacco to be made illegal altogether. As a matter of fact many of them state that its their goals to do so by taking small steps to restrict smoking altogether. If the left really does want to do the things you state, then why on earth aren't they taking on the Anti-Tobacco activists with similar thrust? Who btw sound just as repressive as the Drug Czars of today, only their views are more socially acceptable. That's hypocrisy right there.

4. How about we eliminate all public radio. And no the airwaves are not "public". You have the choice of tuning in or out of any radio station of your choice. The airwaves do not place a gun to your head and ask you to listen to them. And the radio station (CHOI FM) that was ordered to be closed down was due to the fact that they made many Anti-Liberal, Anti-Leftist commentary on their radio broadcasts. And most of the left cheered on this censorship.

Soooooo...you believe that a guy has the right to shoot up ecstasy in his system yet he doesn't have the right to listen to Politically Incorrect commentary on the radio. Weird.

5. "Guns in homes or on persons just end up escalating matters anyway. As always, just look at the US: wrt to self-defense, they don't accomplish much. Lots of innocent death, criminals getting their hands on them"

Mother of god! lefties today watch "Bowling for Columbine" and all of a sudden they become gun and criminology experts. I can simply reverse your theory of "escalating matters" and point out that thousands and thousands of women were able to shoot their rapists because of their gun in their purses. Many people were able to shoot the guy who's holding up the convenience shop for money, many people were able to shoot thieves who broke into their houses. How come you hear of no "rampage shootings" by Palestinian terrorists in Israel? Because all Israelis are armed with handguns and the shooter would end up dead on the spot after he holds his weapon.

Again, you believe that stoners should be free to light up and endanger the lives of those around them in one shape or another, but you oppose giving people the ability to protect themselves from rapists, thieves, terrorists, hijackers and thugs. And can you please explain to me how having a registry helped save the lives of the people I read about dying of gunshots everyday?

"I'm surprised you left out the hate speech laws. I don't support them, and the left is rather split on this issue."

Whoa...careful there! No they're not. In fact I can honestly say that the majority on the left have always cheered on anti-hate-speech laws. If anythingt its within the right flanks where the debate on hate speech is being debated.

"Well, are the pot laws in Sweden as restrictive as America's?"

Let's say they were! Ok? Let's say that Sweden was progressive on every matter you can think of EXCEPT drugs...would the left suddenly discover "Liberty!" like they do in this case?

"Our relationship with America really doesn't have parallels with our relationship with any other country, so I think your attempt to paint this as some sort of anti-American protest falls flat."

Were just trade partners, just like Europe, Australia and Japan. Only the trade occurs on a higher volume with the US. That's pretty much it.

"BTW, Pooh at Blank Out Times is an unrepenting libertarian"

OMG! BULLSHIT! Look I know its fashionable to adopt the label "Libertarian" label nowadays in order to distance yourself from the whole "Left Vs. Right" partisan crap. Now while Pooh does have some ideas that are in line with Libertarianism, most of his opinions on most matters are not. At best he could be described as a leftist-populist, but nothing more.


P.S. FYI: I DO believe that drug laws are bogus! Surprised? The whole point of this post was to criticize the left's hypocrisy regarding this individual issue (drugs) to others. I do want drug laws eliminated, its just that I don't want to pay for for the food, housing, transportation and medical care of people who shoot up drugs. If a law can be written in which states that drug users will not be able to apply for public assistance of social porgrams...then light it up for all I care.

 
At Sunday, 07 August, 2005, Blogger Dan said...

I don't know much about Canadian politics but I am learning...thanks to this blog.

---Dan (Oklahoma City)

 
At Monday, 08 August, 2005, Blogger Mark Francis said...

I was refering to the 'right', not just the Conservative party. For example, the CHP wants Christianity as a state religion, no matter how they phrase it.

If were to write a story in which a boy was raped, and kept it to myself, should I be criminally prosecuted for it if someone going through my personal belongings read it? I say no. Quite a few conservatives, based upon the last federal election, think otherwise.

A significant number of people on the right want pornography banned, or severely censored. (There are some on the left who want this too).

There is nothing to gain for individual liberty by removing basic labour laws like minimum wage. Given that our economic policies work hard to maintain a deliberate level of unemployment (with the advent of modern monetary policy), the traditional libertarian thinking in this area just doesn't work well in practice. Individuals lack the bargaining power towards the lower end of the economic scale, and lack control over almost all aspects of the economy. The mobility of labour doesn't curtail this, except when dealing with very specialized professions. If we could have a policy of allowing full employment (not practical due to its negative economic effects), then certain labout laws like minimum wage would make less sense.

You've stated in a few locations that I support decriminalization of cocaine etc... Not at all! The standard to compare agaisnt really is alcohol, and pot probably is less harmful. Nor did I state that it should be deregulated. The model should be similar to how alcohol is regulated. If all drigs were decriminalized, I would wonder about the wisdom of our health care system covering their care too.

Since you support profiling people for their appearance, and are right-wing, I guess I can cite you as an example of a right-winger supporting violating freedoms.

To get rid of the CBC, you elect people who want to shut the CBC down. They do so, then the CBC doesn't exist.

The airwaves are public. Do you actually supporting buying and selling broadcast portions of the spectrum? No way. I want a say there. They are not purchased by anyone, nor are they allowed to be. The use of the spectrum is by licensed agreement. With a limited broacast spectrum, regulation is inevitable. This is going to change due to newer technologies. For now, though, people should be able to tune into a radio station with knowledge that a certain standard is maintained. As some of my friends on the right would point out, what exactely should we allow children to stumble into on TV and radio?

As we've been seeing on tv, this issue is solved in part by moderating what time certain content is broadcast, and by having pay-only channels.

"How come you hear of no "rampage shootings" by Palestinian terrorists in Israel? Because all Israelis are armed with handguns and the shooter would end up dead on the spot after he holds his weapon."

Well, it's hard for a Palestinian to get anywhere in Israel without being cleared by Israeli armed forces. Those guns haven't done much to stop suicide bombers. But we digress... I gave you partial marks here, remember? Keep in mind that my neighbor having a gun may make me less safe, so if my response is to buy a gun, is safety up or down? Gun ownership to deter crime is a model based upon deadly force, the problem being that the weapons are so deadly that if one party becomes convinced they can strike, the results are more easily deadlier than with melee weapons or hand-to-hand. The problem with guns is that they have one function: to destroy. And they do a great job at it, including blowing away bystanders.

As I said, I support myself owning a gun. I'm just not sure I support the other guy having one. I don't believe that the gun culture has worked well in the US, and, no, I've never seen Bowling for Columbine.

Back to our health care system, I support having a second tier, actually, but only if the public tier doesn't suffer from it. Your comparison of housing and health care isn't a bad one, but there are differences in the analogy. Health is far more fundamental to our existence than even housing, and we can often have little control over the state of our health, unlike housing, in which our hard work can affect what we live in. Though I can argue that people speculating on property have adversely affected my family, I can't argue that having less square footage is anywhere as deterimental to my life and the life of my children than, say, having a serious illness that I can't get treatment for.

I'm aware of the anti-tobacco activists. I'm also aware of the anti-caffeine activists (the bastards), the anti-junk food activists, the anti-meat activists, and so on. As I've mentioned, there's also the anti-porn leftists. But that's largely fringe left-wingers.

The US wields considerable influence over us as a result of proximity and the huge volume of trade we do with it. People get concerned with that. I see no evidence that the opposition to the Emery extradiction is based upon a dislike for America in general, but in its overzealous drug sentencing laws. So if the US was like Sweden in all other regards, I'd think we'd hear the same stink.

By the way, is this the first time you've noticed that the left wants pot decriminalized?

Where we differ, I think, is that I tend to look at effects, you tend to look at ideology. Traditional libertarianism results in oligarchy, which, in the end, is simply liberty for the few. I look at the actual practical welfare of the individual as a liberty benchmark, not the theoretical. The balancing point, as I alluded to previous, is related to resource allocation: taxation interfers with personal freedom as soon as the cost outweighs net benefit to the individual. Now is that net benefit to be weighed based upon actuality, or the theoretical?

I also note that you seem to lump people together. If someone identified with the left calls for abolishing tobacco, that doesn't make me a hypocrite for calling for the legalization of pot. I'm not responsible for the idiot. Nor do I think it's a serious concern at this time. If people called for a tobacco ban, and it appeared to be having an effect, I'd speak up about it.

There's not just a left-right model in operation here. There's also an authoritarian-libertarian model, which crosses the spectrum. For example, the RC church, all things considered, holds left-wing economic views, but is fairly authoritarian socially. Another example are traditional libertarians vs. the religious right. Socialists are left-wing, but I largely disagree with them.

There's more here to discuss, I know, but I have get back to work.

 
At Monday, 08 August, 2005, Blogger aliandra said...

Mark;

"As always, just look at the US: wrt to self-defense, they don't accomplish much. Lots of innocent death, criminals getting their hands on them... as a deterence value they don't work"

This was debunked earlier this year in a report published by the US Dept of Justice. The conclusion was that more guns do not equal more crime.

Take DC for example. DC is the murder capital of the US and has the strictest gun laws in the nation. Yet, right next door in VA, gun laws are looser and crime is far less.

Guns accomplish very much in self-defense. If you are a woman, it's your only option. You cannnot fight off a man bare-handed. Actually, most people who turn a gun on a criminal never shoot the guy - they just hold him at bay until the police arrive.

Keep in mind that most of the gun deaths in the US are suicides. Suicides aren't crimes, but they get added to the total of gun related deaths and inflate the statistics. Gun control advocates will never break out the numbers to show you this, but it's a fact.

Hope this clarifies it a little.




Arabian Knight;

Do you have an organized Libertarian Party in Canada?

 
At Monday, 08 August, 2005, Blogger The Arabian Knight said...

Mark: Were drifting a little off topic with this whole debate. I'll try to answer you through e-mail just to get back on topic and clarify my points.

Aliandra: We do have an Organized Libertarian Party in Canada, but its extreamly weak. Most Libertarians tend to support the Conservative Party or maybee even the Green Party.

 
At Friday, 12 August, 2005, Blogger James Bow said...

One thing I find interesting: of all the representatives of the left that you picked in defending Mark Emery, not one was on your list of leftist bloggers you accused of hypocrisy.

The reality is, "the left", just like "the right" is far more diverse than you give it credit for. Indeed, "the left", just like "the right" is often a catch-all term used by opponents to try and draw all individuals within the wider group within one tight corner so that they'd be easier to skewer.

In other words, you're painting with too broad a brush, here. The fact remains that most bloggers of "the left" are decent, hard-working human beings, just like you me, and most bloggers on "the right". I would like to see that reflected on more posts throughout the blogosphere -- left and right.

 
At Saturday, 13 August, 2005, Blogger The Arabian Knight said...

"The reality is, "the left", just like "the right" is far more diverse than you give it credit for. Indeed, "the left", just like "the right" is often a catch-all term used by opponents to try and draw all individuals within the wider group within one tight corner so that they'd be easier to skewer."

I wasn't really trying to paint a wide brish, just trying to point out how most leftists tend to be hypcritical when it comes to standing up for individual liberty. Carefully cherry picking some to march for (e.g. Drug Legislation) while working hard to surpress others (e.g. Broadcasting). All I'm saying is that if you want to screa, "Individual Liberty!!" preach the whole thing, or don't preach at all.

"The fact remains that most bloggers of "the left" are decent, hard-working human beings, just like you me"

I don't think I suggested anything otherwise. But if I did I apoligize.

 
At Sunday, 14 August, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who doesn't feel competent to operate a firearm probably shouldn't be owning one unless they're willing to invest the time necessary to use it effectively - morons and guns are a bad mix.

I've got a Florida concealed weapons permit, so I can pack heat wherever its legal to in FL.

Having the firearm isn't some sort of Buck Rogers "death ray" though - its not guaranteed to perform the way guns always do in the movies where the bad guy drops dead with a single shot. That's not the way it works in real life.

The best kind of gunfight is the one that never happens though. So, I find myself being extra carefull when I'm out and about.

ex. If I go to an ATM, I'll drive around the building once checking out the shadows to see if anything looks suspicious - if it does, I just drive on and find another.

If I'm on foot, I'll slow down a bit and swing wide going around corners. This puts more distance between you and whatever might be hiding just around the corner. My brother was robbed at gunpoint in Chicago a few years ago because he walked around a corner "tight and fast" and walked right into the robber before he knew the guy was there.

IMO, having the firearm keeps me more aware of my surrounding than the average. This extra awareness contributes to not having to actually deploy it. Its always better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it though. "Better luck next life" doesn't seem an acceptable alternative to me...

 
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