Update VI: Beware Of 'Absolut' Libertarian Lunacy (& In Praise Of One Lunatic)

Classical Liberalism,Ethics,IMMIGRATION,Israel,Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim,libertarianism,Natural Law,Ron Paul


Update III: The excerpt is from my new column, now on Taki’s Magazine. I’m not even going to post the title the editor gave it. The attendant disclaimer reads: “This outrageous title is the product of the festering imagination of the editor, not the author.”
Update IV (June Eighth): Mr. Reavis did NOT approve of the poor column’s latest title, as you can see from the estimable Judge’s comment hereunder. Writers are pretty powerless in this respect.
Update V (June 9): The column’s title has, thankfully, been changed.

“About certain moral (and legal) matters, patriotic, freedom-loving Americans agree instinctively. For example:

When brave, border patrolmen Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean shot an illegal alien drug dealer in the derriere, they were defending their state, country and countrymen.

For hastening the descent into hell of two career criminals, who had broken into the country before breaking and entering at the home adjacent to his, Joe Horn—another fine Texan—is the best of neighbors.

Another acid test is the case of Frank Ricci, a firefighter from New Haven, Connecticut. Ricci was denied a promotion because he bested all the blacks in the department on a test 77 other candidates took. City officials didn’t like the results, so they voided the test, and put the promotion on hold until a less sensitive test could be developed—one that better screened-out proficiency and ability.

The individual with a healthy moral compass will agree that Ricci was wronged. What is licit or illicit in the natural law is inescapably obvious in the other vignettes as well.

But not to libertarian deviationists (by which I mean deviants, as opposed to dissenters).” …

The complete column, previously “Beware Of ‘Absolut’ Libertarian Lunacy,” is now on Taki’s, differently titled by the editor.

Which is where you can find it every week. Miss the weekly column on WND? Catch it on Taki’s Magazine, every Saturday.

Update (June 6):In Praise Of One Lunatic. The “KNAPPSTER,” Tom Knapp, and I have had a fractious exchange in the Comments Section. I’ve posted two of Tom’s comments, starting with a highly unpleasant post, aimed at my person. Not unpredictably, Tom was most injured by my correct claim that his newsletter, which I dubbed a libertarian organ, and which I read regularly for its news items (not its commentary), has not featured my column in years.

Somewhat disingenuously, Tom disagreed, posting a list of my blog posts and columns on his site, claiming they were featured recently in the newsletter he mails out to thousands of libertarians.

(This was followed by an ugly personal note, calling me a liar, but I will not be dragged down by purveyors of smut.)

Now, I know and remember everything I’ve ever written. Check the dates on these posts; they are all old, exactly as I asserted. I repeat: These are all older column and blog posts.

The most recent entry is from 2006 (three from 2007, although “Tasers R Us” has vanished from the list; Don’t Tase Me Big Bro,” which I would have thought Tom would love, never made it onto the list, as far as I can tell).

Here are the dates of each individual post on the Rational Review’s newsletter: 11.16.05, 06.22.06, 09/11/06, 06.11.07, 11.16.05, 11.27.06, 12.04.06, 08.24.06, 11.20.06, 06.28.06, 06.28.06, 03.28.06, 03.15.06, 09.04.06, 12.23.05, 03.22.06, 10.19.06, 08.07.06, 01.31.06, 05.23.06, 10.28.05, 09.27.06, 03.06.06, 02.08.06, 01.17.07, 07.02.07, 09.06.06, 01.20.06, 04.25.06, 12.11.06, 12.20.06.

It’s a shame, because I’ve said things in the cause of freedom—my cause and Tom’s cause—few libertarians have dared to (and better).

Just two Examples:

1) My hardcore propertarian defense of Michael Vick (other libertarian dog lovers offered a watered-down, states’-rights defense. Sean Hannity could not find a defense such as mine, which is how I made it onto his radio show on that rare occasion).

2) They’re Coming For Your Kids”

Now, in his defense (I try and be immutably fair; although Tom is fighting dirty these days), the KNAPPSTER I once knew is quite a rare creature among libertarian cults. He has always appreciated contrarians and the vitality they bring to the movement. Rare. Like mainstreamers, libertarians spend a lot of time huddling in their purist corners, enforcing party lines, following a Cult Leader, and peering at the contrarian from behind heavily fortified ideological parapets.

Again: The KNAPPSTER I knew was not like this. Yes, he got heated about his perspective, but he never barred mine.

On the other hand, libertarian women folk can be real Stalinists in their approach to someone like myself. Last I was kicked off a distribution list it was by one such Siren of intolerance.

I am hopeful that some positive has come from this over-heated exchange, and that Tom, who doesn’t appreciate being perceived by readers (on this humble forum) as less than open-minded, will feature my column on his informative newsletter. He has not done so for a few years, as you can see from the dates the columns and post carry.

In that spirit, I’d also like to credit the KNAPSTER I knew (I do hope his women folk, and here I include women with the YY chromosomal makeup, have not gotten to him on this front) with being unique among (lower case L) libertarian anarchists in advancing one of the most cogent defenses of Israel. (I hope he will send me a link to that splendid tract.)

Peace (and give us a smile, KNAPPSTER).

Update II: Here is “Context is everything: American libertarians and Israel, part 1,” forwarded by Tom.

The KNAPPSTER, I believe, is cracking a grin. We’re good again.

Update VI (May 26): Postscript. I’ve been collegial and fair to a fault in my dealings with one Thomas L. Knapp, who has not carried any of my columns in his “newsletter” since this exchange—despite saying he would. My integrity tends to bring out the best in otherwise innately nasty pieces of work. In the case of this individual, my ability to elevate worked fleetingly—only while he was exposed to it during the exchange on this blog.

19 thoughts on “Update VI: Beware Of 'Absolut' Libertarian Lunacy (& In Praise Of One Lunatic)

  1. Myron Pauli

    Having once devoted 6 days of free time doing proposal evaluations only to have some higher-up poohbah throw out the entire process, I understand the outrage of the Ricci injustice. And if my house was 250 feet from the hydrant and on fire, I would like to have a fire supervisor who knew it required FIVE 50 feet hose segments – not some randomly selected schlub. Ricci might even have a good case in CT state court to compensate for his time and sacrafice in studying for an exam that got chucked by New Haven. Now, if the federal government COMPELLED New Haven to scrap the test, I think Ricci has an excellent grounds for a legal challenge. However, there is ample reason to be skeptical of use of the 14th Amendment and the federal judiciary to right every wrong (if it was New Haven’s own dumb idea to scrap the test). Just as your Michael Phelps analogy, if the IOC decided to randomly handed out medals (extremely stupid idea) – is there legal recourse (by Phelps) to the UN, World Court, or Federal Court? Not every insidious and retarded action has a judicial recourse – so while you are spot on ethically, I am less certain on the use of the federal court system to redress stupidity.

    [Funny: I addressed principle and the natural law, but you escaped into positivism. Moreover, for fighting back using the only redress available, you condemn the guy’s action as “trying to right every wrong.” I’ve addressed this form of lunacy with respect to the anarchist’s response to terrorism: “Coming from libertarian anarchists, suggestions such as these imply realistically that the aggressor has all the rights because he places himself outside positive—national or international—law. The victim, being a law abider, has no rights, because his only recourse to justice is through the state.”
    As I said, Ricci is expected by you to “go gentle into that good night.” Steve Sailer also covered the demographic you represent: Super smart men whose employment is relatively secure not directly threatened with displacement by the hordes.—IM]

  2. Thomas L. Knapp

    Even setting aside libertarian positions on the morality/efficacy of borders, and even setting aside libertarian positions on whether or not it should be legal to use, possess and traffic in marijuana …

    … the fact remains that Ramos and Compean are evil, criminal slime. They beat a suspect who had surrendered, they attempted to murder him when he ran from the beating, and after they finally managed to hit him in the ass after a number of wild shots, they didn’t detain him, but rather proceeded to a cover-up of their crimes, including but not limited to perjury.

    Anyone who believes that Ramos and Compean belong anywhere but in jail lacks the moral standing to lecture anyone else on Americanism.

    [What a hissy fit, my old friend. Well, my lowly morals notwithstanding, at least I’m sufficiently open-minded and intellectually honest to air your (rather dainty) views on my forum. These days, my column is never ever carried on the restricted libertarian organ you run. Don’t want your readers discovering Mercer, do we?! You used to be more fun. There is a section about your ilk here, me thinks. It’s the stuff about “intellectual vitality”…–IM]

  3. Robert

    Great article and good work. This critique needs to be displayed more often within liberatrian circles and Tom’s screed demonstrates why — all problems along the boarder are caused by patriotic American citizens who want their boarders respected, those who say otherwise need to be silenced or jailed. They don’t know you very well.

  4. drummermanrick


    I read your column today, with interest. As a self-professed libertarian I find some of the statements about Libertarians in your column shocking, if true. I can’t believe any Libertarian who proudly wears that label would ignore the roots of the word, liberty, which implies individual liberty and responsibility over collectivist group-think policy making. Clearly the Ricci case should be eyed with a prejudice against the officials who tossed out the test results because of their own biased agenda. It baffles me that libertarians would not champion the individual, Ricci, over any govt-imposed policy that is not color blind. I hope the Libertarians mentioned in your column are not the Bill Maher type libertarians whose ideologies can’t be distinguished from liberalism, and doesn’t represent the majority of libertarians of today.

    I will say that I do believe in open borders, that people should be free to move to-from countries, but not until all the socialism/taxation has been backed out, which will probably be never. Until that time, I agree that borders should be protected and immigration must follow a lawful process.

    Rick Beckham

    ps – keep up the good work.

  5. Virgil

    Because many libertarians do not recognize state-enforced borders, they were silent about the injustice to border agents Ramos and Compean.

    This is one issue where I strongly dissent from most libertarians. I am a Buchananite when it comes to our southern border. Defending it from the waves of criminals, murderers, drug runners, and other human scum is one thing I believe the state should be doing (instead of defending the borders of Iraq and South Korea). Other then a few shining lights like Hans-Hermann Hoppes and Dr. Ron Paul, most libertarians (both left-libertarians and anarcho-libertarians) are either pro-open borders or indifferent to the issue. The problem with many libertarians is that they get to caught up in theory, and loose touch with reality.

    I’m not a universalist, and as such I don’t believe all people or cultures are predisposed to accepting our Lockean-Jeffersonian attitude toward life, liberty, and especially private property. It is foolish to allow mass immigration from regions where the inhabitants are raised believing in values quite contrary to our own libertarian values. (I’m not trying to dump on other cultures here, but merely preserve my own.) We must remember that the libertarian values and ideals we all love are the product of Western European (esp. English) civilization and can only truly flourish in an environment that has been shaped by that history.

  6. Robert Glisson

    I took the hint and went to Mr. Knapp’s site. Thank you for the referral, it was educational. A brief scan, told me that you pegged him right: Hissy fit fits him very well. “Old friend” is a little generous in my opinion. They don’t make dresses with armor plate to my knowledge. I was not too surprised to find out that according to his site’s political essay I can’t call myself a “Libby” anymore. According to him, I have to follow his stringent rules if I want to use the L-word. I think that with forty years of being a ‘self-styled Libby, I’ll keep it up anyway. In characterization, I would prefer the term or title, Neo-Libertarian to Left-Libertarian though. Left-Libertarian is a oxymoron. I like your feisty attitude much more, than his ‘better than thou’ smuck.

    [And I like my readers more than his; although you can see why a man I considered a friend must keep me away from them. Even the near-comatose can grow sick and tired of dour, dreary and delusional.]

  7. Gordon F. Corbett

    Dear Ilana,


    As an Objectivist, I find your evaluation to be entirely correct. Our Founding Fathers created our Constitution to hobble government. If they lived today, their watchword would be “Freedom Through Gridlock.”

    I oppose the so-called “War on Drugs,” because it is a gigantic excuse to violate our rights; but Ramos and Compeán were doing more than drug patrol. They were excluding from our soil foreigners who have no right to be here. The courier they shot was an extreme example requiring extreme measures. Sutton’s prosecution was political from the outset.

    It is not anti-libertarian to defend our country.

    Please keep up the good work!

    Gordon F. Corbett

  8. Virgil

    I like your feisty attitude much more, than his ‘better than thou’ smuck.

    Yes, I agree. What I also respect about Ms. Mercer is that she isn’t someone committed to idealistic, utopian libertarianism, but is in touch with reality and common sense. Take the issue of immigration, Ms. Mercer recognizes that one cannot have mass third world immigration and hope to maintain (or develop) the general principles of libertarianism. Ms. Mercer clearly recognizes the danger of the state, but she is also well aware that there are other entities and individuals that can be just as big a threat to our life, liberty, and property as the centralized Leviathan state (which we cannot say for the beltway libertarians and the more extreme wing of the anarcho-libertarian movement).

    Personally speaking, Ms. Mercer is one of the people who has been a tremendous influence on the evolution of my political thought (along with Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Thomas DiLorenzo, and Lew Rockwell) and I’ve only been reading her articles for a few months. All I can say is thank you Ms. Mercer for being such a staunch supporter and defender of liberty.

    [Very Kind words; thank YOU]

  9. Thomas L. Knapp


    You write:

    “My column is never ever carried on the restricted libertarian organ you run.”

    Actually, it is — when one of our editors notices that you’ve written a piece that he or she thinks our readers will find interesting.

    [Manifestly untrue. I read your news items regularly; my column is NEVER carried by your mouthpiece anylonger. You used to carry it years back, when you were interested in contrarian opinion. No longer. Maybe you’ve let “the editors” take over.]

    This particular piece certainly fits that bill, I happened to notice it, it has already been entered in our Twitter feed and will probably make Monday’s web and email editions.

    Call it a hissy if you want; I seem to recall your own case of BigGovernmentitis that flares up when it comes to letting politicians draw imaginary lines on the ground and then empowering thugs like Ramos and Compean to menace anyone* who doesn’t respect those lines.

    Tom Knapp

    * Anyone, that is, who doesn’t happen to have migrated across those lines from South Africa by way of Israel and Canada. Free pass for yourself by all means, and if Ramos and Compean had shot YOU in the ass you’d be outraged. [A left-liberal egalitarian would compare me and my spouse—our combined contribution to this country—to a scum drug dealer. Like most lefties you are confused; you think that opposing the drug war as we both do means that Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila—uneducated, illegal alien, Mexican drug dealer—is of a piece with libertarian scribe ilana Mercer and her Ph.D. (productive) husband. I don’t think so.–IM]

  10. Myron Pauli

    You and Sailer make good points. Even with my privileged job, I had 2 years of work “sponsored” (and sabotaged) by a Project Office mismanaged by a black man, an Iranian woman, and a Puerto Rican woman – thanks, Affirmative Action! If justice prevailed, Ricci would be promoted. Our demagocratic “government” is a conspiracy of the stupid masses, led by statists “Tooheys”, to elevate the inferior “Keatings” at the expense of the superior “Roarks” – through taxes, spending, “affirmative action”, and other regulations. Perhaps I have gotten too cynical like Mencken who, writing on Tennessee’s anti-evolution law, said “the yahoos of the state had a clear right to have their progeny taught whatever they CHOSE and kept secure from whatever knowledge violated their superstitions.” In this case, democratic government of state-indoctrinated semi-literates called New Haven CHOSE to “non-discriminate” by allowing dolts to be promoted over those who studied for an exam, which they discarded. Yes, Ricci is entitled to ask government to redress its own injustice, but I recall the wit of Finley Peter Dunne who said “An appeal is when you ask one court to show its contempt for another court.” and “the Supreme Court follows the election returns.”

  11. Michel Cloutier

    Now, it’s my turn to raise my hand from the back of the class and say, ‘but Ms. Mercer, libertarians DO believe in borders !’. And then I’ll go on explaining that the life of privilege they so often live leads them to think they’re shielded from the consequences of their policies, and that they can just ignore inconvenient realities. But just as with climate change, there is a ‘tipping point’, at which a society’s capacity to afford lucrative employment to destructive ‘parasites’ disappears. Then, the ‘raising waters’ will just carry them away

  12. Tom

    The Government wants the country to be run by low level idiots in order to make it easier for the top level elitists to implement the treasonous totalitarian New World Order, in which the low level idiots blindly follow the treasonous totalitarian instructions of their superiors.

  13. JD


    I don’t believe that Ricci intended for the courts to recognize that “…all men are NOT created equal…”, I think his point is that all men are not created IDENTICAL. Otherwise an excellent article.

  14. michel cloutier

    I of course meant ‘Lunatic libertarians’ for whom an altogether different label should be coined. Any suggestions ?

  15. Barbara Grant

    Sad to say, Ilana, the “Stalinist” approach to which you refer is, in my experience, not a characteristic exclusive to libertarian women; rather, it seems to be a “woman thing,” as far as I can tell. For example, I joined NOW at age 17; shortly thereafter, it appeared to me that leaders in my “consciousness raising” group sought primarily to cull and channel a specific “feminist response” to all issues, rather than acknowledging that women having different backgrounds may naturally differ in their conclusions. I also see a desire for uniformity occurring among groups of “conservative” women, though I’ve not personally seen jack-boots. From my experiences, I’ve concluded that many girls will be happy to play with another girl who looks different (racially, ethnically); but few will be eager to play with a girl who thinks differently, outside the “norms” of a particular ideology/movement/religious persuasion.

    I realize that this was not the subject of your original post; however, my response was prompted by your recent Update.

    [Ms. Grant is a scientist at the top of her game. She is also a rational, clear thinker. Her shared experiences are invaluable.–IM]

  16. David K. M. Klaus

    > (This was followed by an ugly personal
    > note, calling me a liar, but I will
    > not be dragged down by purveyors of
    > smut.)

    I don’t like Tom Knapp, for plenty of personal reasons, but to call him a “purveyor of smut” is, so far as I am aware, ridiculous. If you’re going to toss a personal insult his way, either please document it so readers may make their own judgments as to the smuttiness contained therein, or please make your insults fact-based.

    [Clearly this writer has a limited knowledge of the nuances of the English language. Nor any particular need to find out before banging off an irate email. Smut: “A smudge made by soot, smoke, or dirt.” It fits perfectly with Knapp’s note to me, however, contrary to this high-and-mighty demand, I generally don’t publish personal missives. In this instance, no good will come of it. But the Knapp note indeed “blackened” and “smudged” me.–IM]

  17. Thomas L. Knapp

    Ms. Mercer,

    I’m sure you’ll understand why I can’t — or at least won’t — go back and erase the parts of my blog post which offended. That would be the functional equivalent of a lie, an attempt to cover up something I did rather than either stand by it or renounce/denounce it. Better to simply take any lumps I have coming, analyze what led to it all (which I do, in an update at the bottom of the post) and move on with the honest intention of resolving the underlying problem.

    Mr. Klaus is well-acquainted with the English language; it was reasonable for him to assume that the use of the word “smut” indicated content of a misogynist or pornographic character. Thank you for clarifying that that was not the case.

    Bottom line: On the one hand, Ms. Mercer’s claim that RRND/FND does not cover her work is facially true in that it’s been some time since her columns have shown up there — something I intend to remedy.

    Her implicit claim that that dearth of coverage has something to do with our ideological or personal disagreements, however, is incorrect. Not only do I cover content I disagree with (a description which applies to some, but by no means all, of Ms. Mercer’s writings), even if written by authors I personally dislike (and I don’t dislike Ms. Mercer), I seek out such content to cover and prefer well-written and well-argued samples of it (Ms. Mercer delivers on both points).

    Best regards,
    Tom Knapp

    [Tom, I’m a good judge of character. The KNAPPSTER may be cantankerous, but he is not cultish or intellectually incurious. I instinctually—and, I believe, correctly—put-down my absence from “Rational Review” for 2-3 years to other editors: “the women folk, and here I include women with the YY chromosomal makeup.”–IM]

  18. Robert Glisson

    I thought that everyone who read your articles knew that they needed to keep a dictionary handy. I learned a long time ago that you say what you mean and mean what you say. Therefore, if it don’t compute, check the data. Keep it up, I can afford a new dictionary if this one wears out.

    [Use an online one; very handy.]

  19. Robert

    I saw recently over at Taki Mag that the half-cocked editor headlined a thoughtful article by a rather thoughtful and civilized woman (none other than our Ilana) with the boorishness of the F Bomb. Normally one would go to a bowling alley, a whore house or on Marine patrol for such elemental color, but alas we now include it under the cover of audacity in introducing thoughtful commentary. We have been confusing means and ends for too long now.

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