The Outrageous Limits of Liberty.


Brett called “nonsense!” on a comment of mine at this post, saying,

A right is something the individual holds against the majority. By definition, a right is not negotiable. The Ninth amendment makes it clear that unenumerated rights are not to be denied or disparaged. Your argument does both.

I’d say “ouch” except that it didn’t hurt. Should it have? Let’s see.

My entire politics is a single axiom. Has anyone else ever formalized their political belief system? I doubt it, but If I’m wrong, share! (Multiple assumptions must be prioritized, since axioms can be brought into conflict.)

My sole axiom is “Maximize Liberty”…yet Brett is beating me up over it?!

I’d say he’s doing pure theory, divorced from practical concerns. I can do theory, but am actually trying to engineer greater freedom.

And even theoretically, I don’t see Brett accounting for human nature.  That, IMAO, makes his ideas as sustainable as mandatory communism. Laudably he sprints in the opposite direction, but he’s still just as far out.

Consider this. What has changed least over the millennia: climate, landscapes, government, culture…

…or human nature?

You don’t have to consider weather and soil when planting.   You can plant seeds anytime, anywhere, ignoring growing conditions.

But getting a harvest is another matter. I’m trying to grow a bit of freedom using hybrid seeds adapted for the existing soil. I’m castigated for not planting pure seeds that will never germinate. Brett, the populace is too base for them. (If you’ll pardon the soil pH joke.)

Brett talks about unenumerated rights but ignores a very important one.  Everyone (with rare exceptions like Brett and myself) holds it dear. It’s valued much more than most enumerated rights. Abridge it wholesale and by definition “the peasants are revolting!”.  Because it goes something like this:

I have the right to (not) be outraged!!

(Multiple exclaimation points intended.)

Outrage has two “!!”s, offense has only !. No one likes being offended(!), but liberty-loving Americans understand that offense is an occasional cost of freedom.

(Millions of thin-skinned Americans feel they have a right not to be offended.  They don’t.)

By not seeing that !! reaction, Brett ignores the right to (not) be outraged. And denying it is ridiculous, because everybody seizes it. Unconciously, but fervently.  No court can change that. It’s not legalistic; look at what’s happening in the Middle East tyrannies right now. Outrage.

People get outraged over different things. What’s in common is that they won’t stand for being outraged if it’s in their power to stop it.  Ignoring this, Brett makes the mistake of the Communists. His is a beautifully-designed system that will certainly work…when people stop acting according to their nature.

I’m about to use Brett’s logic to create outrage.  Just reading the following words may sicken and anger you.  So we’ll start with (by far) the least outrageous concept.  If you can’t stomach it, please skip the others. Consider the legality of…


…necrophilia. Do corpses have rights? No.  So, if I decide to boff the dead, what right of yours do I infringe? The one Brett ignores; your right to (not) be outraged.

How about the legality of…

…pedophilia?  Do prepubescent children have rights? They sure do, and Brett would risk life and limb to stop the rape of one. But given these two examples, what about…

(I’m sure you see where this is going)

…necropedophilia?  Does the corpse of a child have more rights than an adult corpse? Nope.  So examine Brett’s 9th Amendment argument and ask yourself…does my unenumerated right to necropedophilia trump your unenumerated right to not be outraged?

It’s (sadly) certain that necropedophiles exist among Earth’s seven billion souls. But they know not to seek legalization for the sickness, which is as offensive as “victimless” crimes can be.

Any further example, like necrobestiality, is just beating a dead horse.

Hey, I just outraged myself!!

Outrage is why hardcore libertarians disgust the public. It’s why we have both a First Amendment and public decency laws. Go to any American street and scream things the locals find obscene; you will soon be arrested.  Don’t expect sympathy for your outrageous behavior.

Do you think the Tea Parties arose due to unsustainable public debt? Bah. That’s been around for decades. Generations. The projected dates of insolvency vary, but not the insolvency itself. No, it wasn’t unsustainable spending and debt that birthed the Tea Parties. It was outrageous spending and debt. And the cronyism.

Does Rick Santelli have the right to be outraged?

Public unions now make outrageous demands of taxpayers, who responded by voting Republicans in. Then Democratic senators circumvented democracy by fleeing Wisconsin?  Outrageous.

We may yet wrench the public fisc away from our public “servants”. But it won’t be through logical arguments, rational debate, or Brett and I splitting the liberty hair juuuuust right.

If the Ruling Class falls it will be toppled by outrage.  Ignore it like a libertarian or outlaw it like a progressive, but it is truly unalienable; you cannot keep outrage from the living.

(UPDATE–Linked by L.M.A., thanks Lil’ Miss! I’m also getting some hits from “other sources”. Can’t I.D. them. So if you’ve linked and I haven’t thanked you…thanks!)

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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11 Responses to The Outrageous Limits of Liberty.

  1. DiogenesLamp says:

    I would argue that the body of a deceased relative is the property of the living relatives, and therefore having sex with it constitutes vandalism and or conversion, at least from a legal perspective. It might also constitute a form of “fighting words” from a legal perspective.

    From a Social perspective, it is a grave insult (npi) and/or a form of defiance/contempt on the part of the perpetrator. A challenge, that if left unanswered would seriously undermine the social standing of the family upon whom it is committed. It is an act demanding of revenge. It therefore becomes an aggressive act of social theft.

    For these and possibly other reasons, I think it is safe to say that Necrophilia is legitimately a concern of government, not to mention the window upon the mindset that it provides for those interested in guarding against potentially dangerous deranged individuals.

    If someone is seen stacking firewood against a building, one does not need to see him light it to deduce that he is increasing the probability of mortal danger to others and their property.

    • wormme says:

      Of course relativists would say it’s the opposite of contempt and insult; it’s done in loving memory of the deceased.

      As for legal arguments, I’m testing this “outrage” concept because it seems useful in so many contexts.

      Incest probably serves best to provide the entire spectrum of reaction. Adult fourth-cousins…who cares? Adult second-cousins make most people queasy but not outraged. And so on, until a young child is forcibly taken by her biological father. Which act merits imprisonment or death in almost all eyes.

      So, given modern birth control and legal abortion, why shouldn’t adult brothers and sisters be free to marry each other?

      Because of all the people exercising their unenumerated right to (not) be outraged.

      It’s an economical and wide-ranging argument, and I like it! Anyone have a better one?

      • Yu-Ain Gonnano says:

        Seems like the old “Theory” versus “Practice” issue: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is a great deal of difference.

        In theory, you have rights because they are natural and intrinsic. They exist outside of gov’t/society/
        In practice, you have rights pretty much because everyone around you agrees that you do.

        Russians during communism certainly had a theoretical right to life, but they didn’t possess a practical right to it.

      • wormme says:

        Wow, excellently and succinctly put. Welcome!

        I think a few hours passed between you posting and me seeing and approving these first comments of yours. You should be able to post without moderation from now on.

  2. Pingback: Personally . . .

  3. Brett says:

    I believe the original subject was the prohibition of customary vices by democratic means. I contend this is tyranny, no matter how popular, and that the Constitution was intended to prevent such inroads.

    You’ve essentially changed the subject to misdirect attention from the justness of my argument. Are you a recovering liberal who can’t give up old habits?

    • Brett says:

      Outrage, of course is a very powerful and interesting thing to think about in the political dimension. But, like the deconstructionist who burns Robin Hood’s barn to come to the unremarkable conclusion that people can tell lies in order to gain power, your argument comes down to the passions that make liberty a fragile thing among men.

      We know that.

      I think you define the maximum possible limits of liberty downwards. The nation once enjoyed more freedom and prosperity with much less government.

    • wormme says:

      I’m pretty much a classic liberal, pretty much the opposite of a modern one. That’s never changed since I’ve been aware.

      If you’re saying that no vice can be banned at any level of government, I freely admit I’ll never understand. I’m not sure how far ranging your definition of “vice” is. Is necrophilia a vice? Are adult father/daughter sexual relations a vice? Necropedophilia?

      It seems to me your approach devastates the concept of “consent of the governed”. I don’t like tyranny of the majority either, but I like tyranny of the minority even less. If not even the most extreme and vile of vices can be made illegal, then Charlie Sheen gets to be happy at the expense of everyone else.

      To me the way to maximize liberty and consent of the governed is to govern as little as possible for all citizens, but allow increasingly restrictive legislation for people who actually want it. Minimal federal government, wider options for states, and so on down the line. Combine that with the freedom to travel, then to inhabit whatever community is to your liking.

      I would prefer for the federal government to stay away from all vices, even the ones listed. Repeal national laws against Code Duello for all I care, as long as there are only willing participants. If there’s near-unanimous condemnation of something all states will ban it anyway. If one state permits it (Nevada-prostitution) people can vote with their feet if legality is important to them, either in or out.

      That position alone makes me a virtual pariah, but it would go a looooong way toward consent of the governed. Going on past that to your extreme takes us backwards. Vast majorities of people don’t consent to these things being legal in their communities.

      With much, much less government, we would certainly once again enjoy greater freedom and prosperity. Your mention of passions is precisely what I have in mind in my proposals. When a vice elicits disgust and anger in essentially all citizens, and it’s required to be legal everywhere, you’re ensuring those passions will be enflamed.

  4. Brett says:

    I still think you give entirely to much authority to collectives.

    • DiogenesLamp says:

      As a practical matter it is impossible to do otherwise. The people will have their way.

    • wormme says:

      As D.L. says. And I utterly differentiate between voluntary collectives and Borgification. It’s the difference between Amish restrictions and sharia law. One doesn’t bother me, the other is tyranny.

      You’re fine with the Amish restricting themselves, right? They’re all free to leave at any time. I just grant other communities that same oxymoronic-sounding “freedom to restrict”.

      Like you, I want maximum liberty in my community. That’s why I love letting folks voluntarily self-segregate.

      It gets the repressive ones out of our hair.

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