Category Archives: Law

Garner: Innocent Actor In Sovereign’s Snuff Film

Founding Fathers, Free Markets, Law, libertarianism, Morality, Natural Law

“Garner: Innocent Actor In Sovereign’s Snuff Film” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

Despite its elegant simplicity, the libertarian law is difficult to grasp. This I realized pursuant to the publication of “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law.” Some of the smartest, polymathic readers a writer could hope for were easily bullied into believing that by failing, first, to submit to the sovereign and question Him later—Eric Garner had undermined some sacred social compact.

A small-time peddler is killed-by-cop for selling single smokes on a New York street corner. Yet so befuddled were readers over the application of libertarian natural law to the Garner case, that they insisted against all evidence that Garner’s was an understandable death by “civil disobedience.”

“I certainly would applaud those who resist truly immoral laws (like ordering someone to commit torture),” equivocated one writer, “but I am leery to suggest massive civil disobedience of petty regulations which may, in fact, just give rise to more oppressive government to ‘restore law and order.’”

Yes, the poor sod who dared to purchase and dispose of a couple of loose smokes had committed “massive civil disobedience.” Fearing the Sovereign’s vengeance, some of his fellow citizens felt obliged to calibrate just how daringly Garner should have deviated. Did he raise his voice excessively? Did he wave his arms too energetically? All utilitarian, not principled, considerations.

Other readers beat on breast. Hopelessly “torn” were they between my verdict—Garner was an innocent actor in the sovereign’s snuff film—and the proposition that Garner had an obligation to prostate himself before the law to his overlord’s exacting specifications. By failing to do so, Garner had somehow invited his fate.

“Torn” is a word that better comports with images of Gloria Swanson or Marlene Dietrich mid-swoon. What in bloody blue blazes is there to be “torn” over? The right of a man to stand on the curb with a few “loosies” in-hand, and stay alive?

In claiming that Garner was innocent in natural law, I was—or so I was informed—guilty of implying that he had no moral obligation to obey state-enacted positive law. Woe is me—and woe betides that rascal who counseled that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” …

… The complete column is “Garner: Innocent Actor In Sovereign’s Snuff Film,” now on WND.

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The Civil Disobedience Ruse

Founding Fathers, Law, libertarianism, Morality, Natural Law, Regulation, Taxation

Despite polite efforts to resist, I was pulled, last week, into a most unpleasant, unscholarly, uncivilized, almost Kafkaesque exchange, in the wake of the publication of “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law.” Polite disagreement is second nature when one has been writing controversially and stridently for close on 20 years. However, one is also obliged to swat down any attempts on the part of an interlocutor to score points by sleight-of-hand—by obfuscation. Suffice it to say that ego-bound writing is a bad thing. When the mere prospect of being perceived as wrong is so devastating to a writer; when he becomes maniacal when challenged, digs in and digs up any and all justification for his position, however tangential—that writing ceases to edify.

Another shock to the system was realizing just how difficult the libertarian law is for most mortals to grasp. They say we libertarians make up only 10 percent of the politically conscious public. No wonder. Some of my smartest readers were bullied into believing that to not submit to the sovereign is to undermine some sacred trust or covenant.

So confused were these readers over “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law,” that they took off after the pied piper, muttering mad incantations about the understandable death by “civil disobedience” of Mr. Garner.

“Among other things,” wrote one such reader, “there are no real libertarian states and ‘common property’ exists. Thus, while I might have the right to urinate on my driveway, I do not have the right to urinate on (government-owned) Broadway and the cops can arrest me, etc.”

The issue with taxes is also problematic – one who ignores taxes is engaging in civil disobedience and suffers the consequences (this does not make the taxes good but it is not surprising for governments to enforce their own rules). I certainly would applaud those who resist truly immoral laws (like ordering someone to commit torture) but I am leery to suggest massive civil disobedience of petty regulations which may, in fact, just give rise to more oppressive government to “restore law and order”.

Eric Garner did not urinate on public property. Neither did he expose himself to kids. He waved his hands and walked away. Woe is me! As to the comment about “taxation”: yet another WTF moment. Possessing a few loose cigarettes is not a tax offense. Besides, since when do my readers stand up for the “civilizing” influence of the tax collector; a thief by any other name?

Indeed, a few of my readers took off after the rat catcher, wagging fingers at the poor sod who dared to own and dispose of some loose smokes—-committing “massive civil disobedience”—and lived to tell the tale. Scrap that. Civilization is safe. Garner did not live to tell the tale.

Some good news. The natural law has prevailed among the people:

Americans by nearly 3-1 say the white police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man being arrested for selling cigarettes, should have faced charges from a Staten Island grand jury, a nationwide USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll finds.

Who was it who counseled that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”?

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Torture A Fig Leaf For Greater Evil

Iraq, Law, Morality, Terrorism, The State

You’ll probably say this is a serious defect, but the CIA torture tempest has never been uppermost in my mind.

The Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s interrogation-and-detention program during the Bush era, just like the torture furor that erupted at the time, is nothing more than a foil and a fig leaf; a cover for complicit journalists, jurists, politicians and pointy heads, who all skirted the real issue:

In invading Iraq and vanquishing an innocent people—Bush, Cheney, Clinton, Kerry and the gonzo journos who backed them absolutely, prosecuted an illegal, immoral and calamitous war. Torture is a subspecies of a larger crime. Fussing about it in this context is like harping on a murderer’s traffic violations.

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UPDATE II: The Exquisite, Consistent Minimalism of Libertarian Law (Just WTF??)

Justice, Law, libertarianism, Natural Law, Paleolibertarianism

“Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law” does not meet with the approval of Jack Kerwick. He writes:

Coming soon: My article on NATURAL LAW and POSITIVE LAW and the relationship between the two. This article was inspired by Ilana Mercer’s contention that since Eric Garner was “innocent” as far as the natural law is concerned, he had no obligation whatsoever to “obey” the unjust positive law under which he was arrested. I will show that even accepting Ilana’s premise, the conclusion does NOT follow. From Cicero and Socrates to Augustine and Aquinas to William Blackstone, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke, no natural lawyer, as far as I have been able to determine, has ever contended that the injustice of a SINGLE law is sufficient grounds for disobeying it. And when disobedience is called for, respect for the larger system of law of which the unjust law in question is a part demands a WILLINGNESS to be arrested. Breaking the law openly, in public, and then submitting to arrest affirms the law while drawing attention to the injustice in question. Such an act distinguishes the civil disobedient from criminals (think MLK and the “civil rights” protests of the 50’s and 60’s). Garner was a criminal.

Ilana Mercer replies:

Before publishing said article, Jack, you want to correct what appears to be a misrepresentation of my words. Where in the article do I venture that “Garner had no obligation whatsoever to ‘obey’ the unjust positive law under which he was arrested.” Nowhere! This is not the purview of libertarian law (which deals only in the axiom of non-aggression), thus I would not have dignified it. Before publishing a column, make sure it is based on my exact words, and not an inference therefrom. I do not have to reread what I wrote to know I would not have addressed compliance at all, for it is not within the ambit of libertarian law.

Jack Kerwick:

Ilana Mercer: I’m not sure, then, what the point was in claiming that Garner was “100% innocent under libertarian [natural] law.” Maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t. But even if he was, so what? I presumed (how could I not?) that your point was that Garner was not acting immorally–i.e. unlawfully–in illegally selling cigarettes. Thus, he never should have been stopped, much less arrested, for doing so. Now, if you think that he DID have an obligation to obey the law, even if it was unjust, then you think that HE DID ACT IMMORALLY (UNLAWFULLY) in not obeying it. I drew a legitimate inference from your claims: if he was acting both illegally and unlawfully (immorally) in selling “loosies,” then the police acted morally and justly in stopping him. I don’t mean to misrepresent anyone: I just don’t know what other conclusions can be drawn from your argument.

Ilana Mercer:

Jack Kerwick, you wrote: “Now, if you think that he DID have an obligation to obey the law, even if it was unjust, then you think that HE DID ACT IMMORALLY (UNLAWFULLY) in not obeying it. I drew a legitimate inference from your claims.”
I did not anywhere assert that Garner had an obligation to obey (or disobey) the law, and that by not so doing he had acted immorally (or morally). Thus, there is no reason whatsoever for you to impute to me, 1. a thing I had not said. 2. to draw an inference from something I had not said. Any line of reasoning built on this edifice is simply wrong and should not be pursued as a line of reasoning. I can understand that you are unclear as to what I meant by “100% innocent in libertarian law.” That sentence could be seen to constitute a bit of insider talk. That I can certainly address, my friend.

Twice does Jack pair “immoral,” in the above paragraph, with “unlawful.” But that’s the entire point of “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law.” First, what is immoral is not necessary illegal and vice versa. It is, arguably, immoral to legislate preferences in employment for certain workers because of the concentration of melanin in their skin. Yet it is perfectly legal in some precincts around the country. Conversely, it is utterly moral to sell an item that belongs to you, as Garner did. However, it was illegal for Garner to sell said items, despite the fact that he was in his moral right to trade.

We all have ideas about what is moral and immoral. Oddly enough to some, libertarianism has nothing whatsoever to say about morality per se. When we say this or the other thing is wrong in libertarian law, we mean the following and the following only:

Unprovoked, A initiated aggression against B or his “legitimately owned” property.

That’s it! Libertarianism is, then, concerned with the ethics of the use of force.

The foundation of libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom. Walter Block explains:

The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. That is, in the free society, one has the right to manufacture, buy or sell any good or service at any mutually agreeable terms. Thus, there would be no victimless crime prohibitions, price controls, government regulation of the economy, etc.

… the non-aggression axiom is a very powerful tool in the war of ideas. For most individuals believe, and fervently so, that it is wrong to invade other people or their property. Who, after all, favors theft, murder or rape? With this as an entering wedge, libertarians are free to apply this axiom to all of human action, including, radically, to unions, taxes, and even government itself.

Which is exactly the analysis applied in “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law.”

Of course, there are many very difficult issues over which natural-rights libertarians—as opposed to Benthamite, utilitarian libertarians—will argue. Abortion, for example.

Based on the non-aggression law, some libertarians hold that abortion at whatever stage is OK, because a woman owns herself and may evict anything from her body. To punish her because of what she does to her own body, they claim, would be wrong—even if we think abortion immoral. Other natural-rights libertarians disagree with this position. They say that abortion is aggression against a living, non-aggressive being. The debate, however, while wading heavily into issues of morality, always comes back to what should be legal or illegal in libertarian law. In other words, based on the non-aggression law, should we or should we not proceed with force—for that is what the law is—against a woman for what she does to her body.

This and this alone is the ambit of libertarian law.

The same dynamic debates are conducted by libertarians with respect to immigration law.

Law is force. Like most 19th Century classical liberals, libertarians believe that force is justified under very few circumstances. Each time our overlords in DC legislate (unconstitutionally, by the way), they give their foot-soldiers permission to initiate force against a sovereign, innocent citizen. Every new law and regulation grants permission to law enforcement to proceed with unjust, unprovoked force against an innocent, sovereign individual and/or his lawful property—a citizen whose actions did not harm anyone. (And competition is not aggression. “Eric Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares – that is unless the malevolent competition that sicced the cops on him has a property right in their prior profits. They don’t.” A shopkeeper has the right to pursue profits. He has no right to the profits he had before the competition arrived on the scene. Not in a free-market.)

This is what was addressed in “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law.”

Now, the fact that libertarian law is so minimalist—skeletal, if you will—does not obviate against its complexity and subtlety. The debates we have—and are having now—are complex and hence often hard to grasp. In essence, libertarians debate the laws about the the law; the legality of law. That’s a meta-debate.

Ultimately, libertarianism’s elegant minimalism about what is legal and what’s illegal is perfectly compatible with the idea of individual sovereignty and limited, legitimate authority.

UPDATE I (12/15): Everybody is “torn” on Facebook thread. Some are starting to sound like Gloria Swanson mid-swoon (or was it Marlene Dietrich?). “I am torn, my dear, so torn. Fetch my smelling salts.” WTF is there to be “torn” about? The right of a person to stand on a street corner with a few loosies in-hand and not be killed??????????? There was no “civil disobedience.” WTF is wrong with y’all?

UPDATE II (12/17):

Hastings Ragnarsson deserves credit for his clarity, having admonished against the penchant for “dragging morality into a discussion of legality.”

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UPDATE III: Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law (Natural Law)

Justice, Law, libertarianism, Liberty, Natural Law, Private Property, The State

“Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

… Not to be conflated are the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, of Ferguson fame. While the evidence of police wrongdoing in Garner’s death is incontrovertible, the reverse is true in Brown versus Officer Darren Wilson.

As the evidence shows, Michael Brown initiated aggression. He had aggressed against the store keeper and the policeman, who protected himself from this rushing mountain of flesh. In libertarian law, the individual may defends himself against initiated aggression. He may not initiate aggression against a non-aggressor.

Eric Garner, on the other hand, had aggressed against nobody. Whereas Brown was stealing cigarillos; Garner was selling his own cigarettes. The “law” he violated was one that violated Garner’s individual, natural right to dispose of his own property—“loosies”—at will.

In libertarian law, Garner is thus 100 percent innocent. For the good libertarian abides by the axiom of non-aggression. When enforcers of the shakedown syndicate came around to bust him, Garner raised his voice, gestured and turned to walk away from his harassers. He did not aggress against or hurt anyone of the goons.

To plagiarize myself in “Tasers ‘R’ Us,” “Liberty is a simple thing. It’s the unassailable right to shout, flail your arms, even verbally provoke a politician [or policeman] unmolested. Tyranny is when those small things can get you assaulted, incarcerated, injured, even killed.”

Again: Garner had obeyed the libertarian, natural law absolutely. He was trading peacefully. In the same spirit, he turned to walk away from a confrontation. Befitting this pacific pattern, Garner had broken up a street fight prior to his murder.

The government has a monopoly over making and enforcing law— it decides what is legal and what isn’t. Thus it behooves thinking people to question the monopolist and his laws. After all, cautioned the great Southern constitutional scholar James McClellan, “What is legally just, may not be what is naturally just.” “Statutory man-made law” is not necessarily just law. …

Read the rest. “Eric Garner 100% Innocent Under Libertarian Law” is the current column, now on WND.

UPDATE I: “FOX NEWS POLL: Voters agree with Brown grand jury, disagree with Garner decision.”

UPDATE II (12/12): One despairs when, on a site that is faith and freedom-oriented—and to which this writer has been contributing for so many years with articles similar to “Eric Garner: 100% innocent under libertarian law”—most readers still have no feel for the supreme law of God, if you will, and show an overriding concern with validating state oppression and unjust state laws.
One wonders how a people can ever regain true freedom when they are so beholden to the sovereign’s perverted laws and cannot tell just- from unjust law. The feel for and understanding of freedom is exactly zero unless you know that the natural law—call it the law of G-d, if you like—is incontrovertibly supreme. Any state law that violates it is unjust. (An why are individuals arguing the merits of taxes and obedience to all manner of tax, when taxes are tantamount to theft? For that is what a government-imposed tax is: private property stolen at the point of a gun.) Moreover, the natural law is not some libertarian ideal. People who habitually talk about western civilization should know that the natural law is one of its greatest philosophical expressions, beginning with the Decalogue (The Ten Commandments), the ancient Greeks, Aristotelian philosophers, the Stoics and Cicero, Scholastics and St. Thomas Aquinas through to Thomas Jefferson and Declaration of Independence.
Natural law has always been a bulwark against tyranny; that of monarch and mob alike. When the people forget that; they are as good as slaves.

UPDATE III (12/13):

Hugh Mcgarity • 2 days ago:

I think that I read somewhere that the officers involved in the Garner case were called there by a shop owner who was concerned by the presence of Garner causing loss of business. This would seem a valid concern as most small businesses struggle in the highly taxed and regulated environment of NYC. As far as the level of force, it would appear to be excessive. Ask yourself this though, if you were being assaulted by a huge man and were wanting intervention by police: would you want the officer/s to apply a little too much force or not quite enough. If not quite enough and you were further injured, what would your reaction be? I know, it’s not a perfect analogy but it does have some parallel. If Mr Garner had complied with the legitimate first request of police then he would still be selling loosies somewhere else.


The column addresses this bit of statism in the last paragraph. Please read it:

Eric Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares – that is unless the malevolent competition that sicced the cops on him has a property right in their prior profits. They don’t.”
A shopkeeper has the right to pursue profits, he does not have the right to the profits he had before the competition arrived on the scene. Not in a free-market.

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Race Demagogues Vs. The Misrule of Law

BAB's A List, Law, Left-Liberalism, Race, Racism, The State

By Myron Pauli

In 2006, 50 bullets were fired at 3 unarmed drunk black men leaving a strip club in Queens – killing one, maiming 2, and almost wounding a bystander and two nearby Port Authority patrolmen. America’s number one race baiter, Al Sharpton, started to growl until it was discovered that the first cop to fire, Gescard Isnora, was black – oh, well… never mind!

Yes, blacks kill blacks, blacks kill whites, whites kill whites, and (surprise) whites sometimes even kill blacks. But only the last of these phenomena is an excuse for the Sharptons to rouse up crowds and, if the opportunity arises, looters to rob and burn every store in town. By the way, the Queens cops were exonerated of all charges (yawn)!

One issue that arises is whether certain laws have “disparate impact”? Yes, rape laws affect men more than women. Prostitution laws affect women more than men. Burglary laws affect poor more than rich. Brokerage fraud laws probably affect Jews more than Buddhists. If improperly wearing a hearing aid was criminalized, it would probably affect the elderly more than the young. I do not see “disparate impact” as a reason to invalidate a law that is otherwise proper.

Nevertheless, while the Torah has 365 prohibitions – some “secular” such as dishonest weights, stealing, and murder; and some “religious” such as not eating pork—in Bloombergian America, we need tens of thousands of laws to regulate all of us sinful citizens – the Torah is almost anarchistic. And to enforce Bloombergia, we need lots of cops armed with the latest from the Department of Defense with SWAT “no knock” raids, “stop and frisk”, zero tolerance, TSA gropes, Tasers, ….

The other piece of the puzzle, of course, is the higher rate of criminality by black men. The recent “Hollaback” video – which has some feminists calling for laws against talking to women on city streets – shows mostly black men coming up to the white girl walking. Even Jesse Jackson has admitted that he would be more likely to clutch his groceries more tightly or cross the street at night if walking alone and seeing Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown than 3 elderly Asian women. Now, perhaps, elderly Asian women should start committing more crime to make things “fair” but this might not improve the world.

So imagine 10,000 business regulations in Bloombergville – which companies are more likely to “comply” – Con Ed and Verizon or Pedro’s Bodega and Mobutu’s Taxi? Personally, I am happy with the law that says “don’t defraud your customers” but perhaps the other 9999 laws can be scrapped because they are idiotic onerous laws, not because they are part of a “racist conspiracy” again Pedro and Mobutu.

And so it is, often in “liberal” minority communities, that one finds the most idiotic and corrupt governments, onerous petty rules, highest taxes, idiotic traffic traps, and (sadly) the worst cops. The Cleveland cop who shot the 12 year old boy had been dismissed from his job in suburban Independence. My revulsion over race-baiters and looters does not mean I need to admire corrupt governments and pathological policing.

The case of Eric Garner is illustrative. Garner was making a few bucks avoiding the 300% cigarette tax and the cops came to bust him. However, they did not bother to ask him a few times (time was not urgent) to put out his hands for arrest but all of a sudden pounced on him, riding him like Secretariat and tackling him to the ground to handcuff him. He said a couple times that he couldn’t breathe. Then, he lay in front of the cops for 7 minutes. The NYPD is trained in CPR – “Curtesy, Professionalism, and Respect” AND Cardin-Pulmonary-Resuscitation – but practiced neither. WAS IT “CRIMINAL”?? – I personally did not hear from the dozen witnesses nor gone frame-by-frame over the Garner – Cop – Jujitsu part nor know the “mens rea” requirements pursuant to an arrest to determine involuntary manslaughter vs. reckless endangerment vs nothing. So far, the ONLY one indicted was the (white) cameraman, Ramsey Orta, on “criminal possession of a weapon” based on an undercover police investigation.

Respect for the law goes down the toilet among civilians of ALL races unless the government holds itself accountable.

Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A Lis

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