29
May
10

Quotes for the day, libertarian civil-rights edition

Since we apparently can’t shut up about Rand Paul, who’s fast becoming the left’s straw-man libertarian:

[They] shouldn’t be allowed, but it’s not the literal force of government or private parties that should disallow it. It’s the metaphorical force of social pressure — led by libertarians, of course — that should disallow it.

Sounds a bit like a cop-out, right?  Recall that it’s exactly the social pressure referred to that’s made Rand Paul backpedal fast enough to change weather patterns across the continent.  Suppose the Civil Rights Act was repealed tomorrow: what do you think would happen to the first dickhead stupid-brave enough to post a “Whites Only” sign in his shop’s window?  It’d make the Rand Paul backlash look like a mild rebuke from the UN.

The insight builds in Sheldon Richman’s first comment, left by the rather clever Roderick T. Long:

The problem (well, one of the problems) with statists is that they tend to equate getting something done with passing a law, as though a) passing a law guaranteed that the result would be achieved, while b) not passing a law left the goal’s being achieved to complete random chance (ignoring both spontaneous price-system incentives on the one hand and organised pressure on the other).

Exactly right.

When people obey the law, do they do so only because they respect the authoritah! of the politician who first proposed it, or the government that made it law?  Not hardly.  They do so either because it’s obviously the right thing to do (as with most of the “zOMG teh libertarians r teh racistz0rz!” commentariat) or because they’re being compelled to do so by armed agents of the state (as with, say, the folks who used to enforce Jim Crow laws, on or off the books).  It’s becoming pretty obvious that an overwhelming majority of people aren’t interested in the existence of segregated lunch counters, so to expect them to pop up out of nowhere and stay in business long enough to matter is flabbergastingly ignorant.

But wait!  Brian Dunbar found a quotation that says it far better than I just did:

Oh so many times he stood up in front of Federal District Judge Ritter, that old fart, and he’d be picked up for picketing illegally and he never pled innocent or guilty; he pled anarchy. And Ritter’d say, “What’s an anarchist, Hennacy?” And Ammon would say, “Why an anarchist is anybody who doesn’t need a cop to tell him what to do.” Kind of a fundamentalist anarchist. And Ritter’d say, “But Ammon, you broke the law, what about that?” And Ammon’d say, “Ah, judge, your damn laws … the good people don’t need ‘em, and the bad people don’t obey ‘em, so what use are they?”

Exactly right in the limit, although the marginal effects of laws are a bit sticky.

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