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Author Topic: Walter Block's take on the Spike Lee incident  (Read 12236 times)
Seth King
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« on: April 02, 2012, 12:09:55 AM »

http://lewrockwell.com/block/block201.html

My take is that in no way did Lee commit a libertarian crime, nor would he have had he given the correct address, even if his hope was that others would kill Zimmerman.

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Seth King
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2012, 12:18:05 AM »

To summarize my view as to why Lee's actions are not criminal:

Ordering others to kill somebody does not violate the NAP. However, if the order to kill is backed by threat of violence to the would-be killers for disobeying the order, then it would be a violation of the NAP, not against the ordered target, but against the would-be killers.

Lying is also not a violation of the NAP unless there is fraud involved. Lee giving a false address, knowingly or mistakenly, is not fraud. Fraud requires another party to be defrauded. Now, if somebody had paid Lee for information concerning Zimmerman's address and been given a false address, then that would be fraud against the seeker of Zimmerman's address, but not against the tenant of the false address because he was not defrauded of anything.
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dpalme
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2012, 08:03:54 AM »

I agree with the sentiment that he didn't commit a crime. Addresses are fairly public information and easy to find; if Lee didn't tweet it, people would have been able to find it anyway. It's more of a morality issue to me. Lee knows that people are looking for blood when it comes to Zimmerman.
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2012, 10:16:30 AM »

Great topic!  I have to agree that he would not have committed any crime if anything came from his tweet.  To reiterate the other examples of this; if he did not provide anything related to a plan such as supplying weapons, funds, time tables, etc., then he did not assist in any would be violence or property damage.  If blame for your harmful actions could be blamed on someone's commandment to do something then everyone committing harm against anyone would blame movies, games, and the Beatles for speaking to them in coercive code.
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SinCityVoluntaryist
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2012, 04:43:23 PM »

 Seth, I have a agreed with you on many things since coming to this site, but let someone record, on this day, April 2nd, 2011, that I finally disagree with you. How in the world do you consider ordering a kill on someone an act that does not violate the NAP? If you motivate someone to kill me or harm me, you are just as guilty as the person doing the crime because YOU are the one that wants to see the aggression created. How is that rule an exception?
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Seth King
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2012, 04:52:31 PM »

Seth, I have a agreed with you on many things since coming to this site, but let someone record, on this day, April 2nd, 2011, that I finally disagree with you. How in the world do you consider ordering a kill on someone an act that does not violate the NAP? If you motivate someone to kill me or harm me, you are just as guilty as the person doing the crime because YOU are the one that wants to see the aggression created. How is that rule an exception?

I just don't see how desiring, or vocalizing a desire for something, could ever be a crime. The only criminals are the ones who actually initiate violence.
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SinCityVoluntaryist
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2012, 05:08:53 PM »

 That's actually a good point, and I see the fallacy, in my statement. Just because you say you're going to cause violence doesn't mean you're actually going to do it.
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Seth King
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2012, 05:55:01 PM »

That's actually a good point, and I see the fallacy, in my statement. Just because you say you're going to cause violence doesn't mean you're actually going to do it.

That's not even what I'm saying. I'm going one step lighter. I'm saying that if Lee says he'd like to see harm done to Zimmerman by OTHERS, that it is not a crime. This is different than if Lee says HE'S going to cause harm to Zimmerman.

To me, a threat implies personal action. It's not a threat when you say OTHERS will do something.

To me, these statements are all equally innocuous:

Don't walk down that back alley. My friends will mug you.

If you are caught selling drugs, police will arrest you.

You are a serious criminal. You deserve to die and I hope you do.

Only these statements are threats:

If you walk down that back alley, I will mug you.

If I catch you selling drugs, I will arrest you.

You are a serious criminal. I'm going to kill you.

And even those threats aren't criminal by libertarian standards if they are said to individuals engaging in real criminal activity, such as trespass.
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Seth King
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2012, 06:33:22 PM »

More support for Lee's innocence.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/109206.html
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2012, 06:39:29 AM »


I just don't see how desiring, or vocalizing a desire for something, could ever be a crime. The only criminals are the ones who actually initiate violence.

This is wrong. Perhaps it is just conversational discussion and you don't really mean what I understand the two sentences to say. However, consider the criminal mastermind who plots the bank heist where you get shot. I say that the criminal mastermind has committed a crime under libertarian law. If you hire a hit-man to kill me because of this post disagreeing with you, then I think you have committed a crime under libertarian law. If you seek revenge by selling information to thieves so that they may violate me or my property then I say you have committed a crime under libertarian law.

In the original post, Dr. Block called for many people to discuss this cae and he admitted to perhaps posting too fast and not analyzing the case fully. I think he needs to recall that Rothbard was big on finding the violation of contract in a society where everything had an owner. I think property rights and contract violation happened in this case.



Side Note And Plea for Help: I don't get to follow this site on a continuing basis as I have to "work for the man" and then "work for the wife". Hence, I lose track of my last posts and can't check to see if I need to respond to someone. (or at least I lose track of some of them) Does the site have a way to search on poster?
 
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2012, 07:01:33 AM »

I think at the very least Twitter should have banned Lee from using the account since he violated the terms of the contract.

I've always thought that Spike Lee was a racist asshole.
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Seth King
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2012, 11:04:38 AM »


I just don't see how desiring, or vocalizing a desire for something, could ever be a crime. The only criminals are the ones who actually initiate violence.

This is wrong. Perhaps it is just conversational discussion and you don't really mean what I understand the two sentences to say. However, consider the criminal mastermind who plots the bank heist where you get shot. I say that the criminal mastermind has committed a crime under libertarian law. If you hire a hit-man to kill me because of this post disagreeing with you, then I think you have committed a crime under libertarian law. If you seek revenge by selling information to thieves so that they may violate me or my property then I say you have committed a crime under libertarian law.

In the original post, Dr. Block called for many people to discuss this cae and he admitted to perhaps posting too fast and not analyzing the case fully. I think he needs to recall that Rothbard was big on finding the violation of contract in a society where everything had an owner. I think property rights and contract violation happened in this case.



Side Note And Plea for Help: I don't get to follow this site on a continuing basis as I have to "work for the man" and then "work for the wife". Hence, I lose track of my last posts and can't check to see if I need to respond to someone. (or at least I lose track of some of them) Does the site have a way to search on poster?
 


I've written about this before. See this thread for my reply.

http://dailyanarchist.com/forum/index.php/topic,748.msg2852.html#msg2852
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JustSayNoToStatism
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2012, 12:53:59 PM »

The search function does allow you to look for posts from specific users.
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« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2012, 02:01:47 AM »

Stephan Kinsella wrote about this recently in http://www.libertarianstandard.com/category/libertarian-theory/. This is some of what he wrote:

"If some third party aggressor had used the information supplied by Lee to harm the McLains, should Lee be liable under libertarian principles?

As a general matter, someone—say, A—is responsible prima facie only for his own actions, not those of others. That is, A is responsible for harm he directly causes. If someone else—say, B—directly commits aggression against victim C, then A is “vicariously” responsible for B’s tort or crime only if there is some special reason to impute B’s acts to A. (For more on Rothbard’s and my views on vicarious liability, respondeat superior, etc. see my posts Corporations and Limited Liability for Torts and Corporate Personhood, Limited Liability, and Double Taxation.)

In the case posited, Lee is at most indirectly or vicariously responsible for the acts of aggression committed by someone acting against the McLains using information from or acting on suggestions in Lee’s tweet. The basic question is: should Lee be considered vicariously responsible, along with the direct aggressor, for the direct aggressor’s crime? Can Lee be considered a cause of the harm done to the victim?

Most libertarians recognize that in some cases, A is vicariously responsible for B’s actions. For example: if A coerces B to harm C, then A is causally responsible for what happens to C. (B is responsible too, but maybe even less responsible than A.) Or, if A has a contract with B, such as a wife hiring a hit-man to kill her husband. But these are ad hoc exceptions, not grounded in any general theory of causal responsibility. Some, such as Walter Block, seem to believe that these are the only grounds for vicarious liability (see, e.g., Reply to “Against Libertarian Legalism” by Frank van Dun; also Rejoinder to Kinsella and Tinsley on Incitement, Causation, Aggression and Praxeology). Walter’s concern seems to be that a more general theory outside these two narrow exceptions would be contrary to Rothbard’s view that someone is not liable for “merely” “inciting” others to commit aggression (Rothbard, Self-Defense and “Human Rights” As Property Rights, in Ethics of Liberty).

I think this ad hoc approach is problematic. First, it is not general or clearly rooted in a general theory of causal responsibility. Second, there are problems with each of the two ad hoc exceptions. In the case of A coercing B, this would imply that, say, President Truman is not responsible for dropping nuclear weapons on Japan. Walter has argued that in such a case the higher-ups in the government always and necessarily are coercing the underlings down the chain of command. This does not seem correct. It could be correct, but as far as I know Truman didn’t actually carry a firearm. At most he could have ordered someone to coerce the general, to coerce the next down the line and so on. But he was not coercing the first guy he ordered. And so on. Further, it seems that Truman should be responsible even if he had not coerced anyone. If his commands were effective in a given hierarchical structure or organization, then he is causing the underling to perform certain actions.

And in the case of A hiring B to harm C—a contract is merely a transfer of title to property (A Libertarian Theory of Contract: Title Transfer, Binding Promises, and Inalienability). The Austrian theory of subjective value recognizes that a person B may value many things—not just money transferred by contract. He might value instead the possibility of sexual favors A might give him later. And so on. It seems odd and unAustrian to assert that A paying money to B is the only way of inducing B to do something that makes A responsible for it.

..."




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Seth King
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« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2012, 11:52:08 AM »

I have to disagree with Kinsella on this one. Individuals have to take direct responsibility for their actions. If you allow for so-called causal responsibility you open the flood gates for making virtually everybody culpable in every crime ever committed. Then it starts getting HIGHLY subjective as to how far you want to assign blame.

The fact of the matter is that no property rights are violated by writing or speaking when done so with one's own means, using one's own property. The same holds true with buying and selling of contracts to kill, or chains of command.

In the case of chains of command, the sooner people internalize the fact that they, and they alone, are responsible for their actions, the sooner they will stop passing the buck with excuses like "I was just following orders." Only when commands are threatened with violence does it become a crime, but only directly against the individuals being threatened, not the intended target.

This so-called causal responsibility is the same logic that people use when they want to sue gun manufacturers for the death of a loved one or drug dealers for a person's drug habits or overdose.

I'm not buying it one bit.
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