Sunday, November 19, 2017

Doesn't Consent Matter?

Order F now

Today I published my short story, F, on Kindle. It costs less than a dollar. Go and check it out. It's a good light read with a twist ending. It also happens to encapsulate an issue that everyone seems confused about today.

  • Is it okay for the government to use its police power to coerce people to submit to groping and sexual assault? Doesn't consent matter?  Is it okay if a TSA agent does it on the job as part of his duties?
  • Is it okay to use your economic power as an individual to solicit sex? Doesn't consent matter? If a Hollywood mogul requires it of an actress in order to be cast for a part, can't she just decline the offer and forgo the part? 
  • What is the difference between economic power and government power? In a free world, do you think there will be no prostitutes? Doesn't consent matter? Can prostitution be just one of the duties required of an employee who also does something else that is of value?
There you have it in a nutshell. Read the story. Leave a review. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Why Nabal did not Testify Against Verity

Because life is complicated, and in the interest of fairness, it might be a good idea to examine the other side of the coin. Can women rape men? Does it happen? And why is it so rarely reported? It has to do with honor and courage and proof. It has to do with social norms and the legal system.

But it's not something that can be easily fixed, by passing another law, because ultimately it has to do with sexual desire, the limbic system, and our own struggle as individuals, not just with concepts of personal sovereignty, but with the mind-body problem. We are not just our minds, We are not just our bodies. And our minds and our bodies do not always agree.

Stranger rape is clear cut and obvious, but even there, victims have been known to be burned by the burden of proof. Date rape or rape in relationships is much more messy.  And quite often, rape ends up getting ratified after the fact.

As an attorney practicing in Texas in the 1980s, for instance, I learned that bringing up a non-consensual sex act that occurred thirty years earlier between a husband and wife, at a time when it was not a crime, was not allowed as evidence of cruelty in a divorce action. The victim was deemed to have waived the right to withhold consent when she entered the marriage. If she stayed in the marriage for thirty years after the act happened, she was deemed to have waived her right to complain about it even in a divorce.  Today, when the current law says you cannot waive any of your rights when you enter a relationship, there are ways in which, by their actions afterwards, people end up ratifying an act that was done without their consent.

To complain about it afterwards opens up a very real possibility that you will be slapped with a defamation action. But even more than that, there is the issue of whether the body and the mind were of one accord, and who exactly are we? Are we the mind who said no, or the body that said yes? This is the issue that makes rape one of the most difficult crimes to investigate.

Bruises do not necessarily mean it was a rape. Not having bruises does not necessarily mean it was not a rape. Lack of sexual receptivity does not prove rape. Sometimes people consent verbally and mean it with all their heart, but their body does not cooperate. Sometimes people do not consent, but do experience arousal. The mind-body dichotomy is very real when it comes to sex. If you report a rape, then all of what happened must be described in open court, and it can be very demeaning to the victim, especially when it involves arousal. If it is not reported, but the victim later talks about the event in public, then a suit for defamation can be brought, and the burden of proof under common law shifts to the defendant to prove the allegation is true.

In the "good old days", long before "sexual liberation", many people avoided rape by not getting into ambiguous situations where proof would be difficult to come by, because they understood that the burden of proof would be on them if they were raped. They did not complain decades later about a rape they had not had the courage to report at the time, because they understood this would open them up to legal action. They didn't talk about it nearly as much as they do today, but I don't think that meant that rape was more rampant a problem.  If a rape did occur, this might lead to a duel, not a lawsuit. I happen to think that dueling is a very good deterrent to both rape and defamation.  I don't think we have made it any better or any less likely to happen by all the mandated anti-rape and anti-sexual harassment seminars that young people are being forced to attend on college campuses today.

When rape happens to a woman, there is more sympathy. If it happens to a man, we are conditioned to be dismissive. I think that's wrong, but it may be inevitable due to the nature of the act, and the  undeniable inequality of the sexes in matters of basic physiology.

I'm not going to say much more about it right now. I'm not going to describe what happened between Verity and Nabal. I'm not going to justify a violation of the NAP that did occur in the story, but that was definitely ratified afterwards. Buy the book and read it yourself, or get the Audible Edition, and listen to Kelly Clear act it out. I will just share two paragraphs from Nabal's letter to Verity written after the fact.

 Don't you think it's true for all of us? How else can they claim that our tax payments are voluntary? And aren't all peace treaties signed under duress?

To order Vacuum County, click here

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Verity did not Testify against Abner

Vacuum County is, when superficially described, a story of a young woman who is falsely accused of DWI, because she refused the sexual advances of a crooked sheriff in a backward Texas community.

 We all agree that sexual harassment is bad. We all know that it happens. Frequently. We know that blaming the victim is not right. And that's quite possibly where what we all agree on ends. And because that's all we agree on, the practice will live on, long after all the present victims and perpetrators have died.

This is true, despite the fact that every so often a great and powerful man (like  Harvey Weinstein) will be brought low when the evidence against him is made public  -- evidence that everybody knew about for years, but that could not be acknowledged until some political events behind the scenes suddenly make the transgressor vulnerable.

We know why victims, like Verity Lackland in Vacuum County, don't testify in open court against their oppressors. We know they often make peace with the situation, because they are threatened with dire consequences if they do speak up.

A excerpt from Vacuum County

In Verity's case, her lawyer, David Smith, advised her to plead no contest to the false charges, because a Vacuum County jury would have ruled against her.Was it right of Verity to take her lawyer's advice?  Was she a coward not to speak up?

An excerpt from Vacuum County

Nabal thought so. Sometimes it takes a victim to know a victim. Sometimes it takes a truth speaker to recognize another true witness. Sometimes everybody who is nice to us and takes our weaknesses for granted is in league with our oppressors, while the only person who makes us feel ashamed is the one who knows we have a soul.

The reason Abner was untouchable at the time was that he served as the right hand man of the County Judge, Saul Jones. But as soon as David Smith was the new County Judge, Abner became vulnerable. By then, Verity had already made her peace with situation, and was serving as Nabal's slut.  When she was asked to testify against Abner, she was reluctant, but for a different reason from the one she had had before.

An excerpt from Vacuum County

There is a time when testifying against a perpetrator would be brave. That time is when he has the whole power of the establishment behind him, and toppling him would also make a dent in the power of those who put him in a position to hurt others. When he is alone and vulnerable, and the people in power just want to use your testimony to bring him low, because it suits their plans, then it is no longer brave.

An excerpt from Vacuum County

There is a time when we can make a difference by speaking up. Doing so at that time would be brave. There is a time when we can be a tool in powerful people's hands, just like a skewer at a barbecue, and then testifying becomes not so brave. In the end, Verity didn't have to testify, because Joe found another way to get rid of Abner, so that he could become the new sheriff.

Sometimes a Democrat is in power, and he uses that power to abuse people, including women. Sometimes a Republican is in power, and he uses that power to abuse people, including women. Sometimes it's just a rich man who has a stranglehold on an industry you want to work in. And some will submit to get in. When the person in power changes, or when somebody is brought low for reasons that have nothing to do with justice, that is probably not the time to revel in exposing him, especially if you got something out of submitting. Why? Because at that time, it is no longer brave. It can be just plain sadistic.

As for telling our personal story of being abused to others, there are times when people do that just to relieve their emotional suffering or to let off steam. It's okay to do that. It's your story, and you can tell it wherever and whenever you want. But if you don't name names, it's not brave. And if you do name names, then you have to be prepared to prove it.

Yes, the history of mankind is full of slavery and abuse and rape and bending the knee to an oppressor, because we are scared. There is shame in that -- for all of us. We need to find the courage in ourselves and in each other to put an end to it. But it's not helpful when we are just making a display of it, and business as usual is what is actually afoot.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Neither Populism Nor Elitism

The people who disagree with my proposal to change the Libertarian Party Bylaws have trouble classifying me and my motives. Half the time they accuse me of being a populist. The other half of the time, the accusation is that I am an elitist. I am neither. I wish everybody could have a veto on everything that affects himself and no say at all on anything that affects only others. In the free market, each person does get a vote on precisely those things that pertain to himself. I wish we had a free market for government, too. But barring that, I want to make sure that representation, when representation is meted out, does not all go to the majority. Why? Because the closest thing to freedom, under any form of government, is checks and balances to make sure that one group of people cannot victimize another group of people just because they outnumber them. Which is why I keep bringing up the Constitution of the United States as an example of limited government. I don't do this because I think the constitution is divinely inspired or the most perfect document imaginable. I do it because it is an example we all know about, and it seemed to work for a short while, before it was so altered that it stopped working.

Populism is letting everyone vote on everything, and allowing the majority to decide all things for everybody else. Elitism would be allowing a small number of select people to have the only votes and to decide everything for everybody else. What I want to do with my proposal is to allow the majority to elect the presidential nominee, but then let the next highest minority choose the vice presidential nominee.

My proposal is not more populist than the current provisions in the Bylaws, because it takes power away from the majority to decide everything. But it is also not more elitist than the current provision in the Bylaws, because the minority who gets to elect the vice presidential nominee is not defined in advance. It is not an elite group of people who know they are the elite. It is not going to be the same group of people each time. It is not based on financial status or skin color or gender or even belonging to a particular faction of the party. It is just the next most numerous group who happen to agree on their choice of a presidential nominee after the winning group. In all likelihood, just like the winning group, the second group will consist of a diverse part of the Libertarian Party membership who just happened to support the VP nominee as a better presidential nominee than the one chosen by the majority. Every time we go in to vote as delegates, we will not even know in advance which group we belong in: majority or minority.And that is the beauty of the proposition. The Silver Rule we all should follow is: When you are in the majority, treat the minority the way you would have them treat you if you were in the minority and they were in the majority. Isn't that a great rule? Wouldn't you like to see it implemented in our party's bylaws?

People have asked me: Why can't we just have a second election where the vice presidential nominee is chosen? Because the same majority that chose the presidential nominee will be able to choose the vice presidential nominee, if majority rule is what we are going by. So it really does not matter if they run as a ticket or are chosen separately: if the same people are choosing them, the same choice will be made as if they had been running as a ticket, so long as this is what that faction wants to do. Only if a Presidential nominee supported by the majority does not choose a running mate will the practice of having two separate votes for POTUS and VP nominee make any difference at all.

When I patiently explain this to opponents of my proposition, some retort that it would be like handing out trophies to losing contestants out of a desire to spare their hurt feelings. They speak about it as if a political race were like a physical race to determine who can run the fastest, or a beauty contest to see who is the fairest of them all. And by fairest, I don't mean who has lily white skin like snow white. What then is "fair"?

People argue that fairness in such a competition is to award the prize to the fastest runner or the most beautiful contestant. Handing out a trophy to a loser would be unfair and smacks of political correctness or worse, SJW shenanigans. Letting the VP be a person not supported by the majority would be like handing out prizes for participation, they say. But in an actual race to see who can run the fastest, the second and third best do get trophies routinely, and even Miss Universe has a first runner up who will replace her in the unlikely event that she is disqualified or otherwise unable to serve. Even when casting parts in a play,  a producer will select an  understudy, who is usually someone deemed less desirable than the person cast, but still good enough to step into the part in the case of an emergency. Choosing the second-best person as spare in the event of a disaster is actually a very normal practice in real world selection processes not involving politics. The Vice President of the United Stares was originally intended to be the second runner up or understudy to the President. It's only through a convoluted series of historical events that that was ever changed.

But besides all of that, there is this: Our choice of Libertarian Party nominees for President and Vice President is not a reward to the candidates for a job well done in running such a nice campaign prior to the national convention. Those people are chosen to represent us. And they will -- whoever they are -- in all likelihood represent precisely the interests, not of everybody, but of those delegates who selected them.

That's why voting for the "best man" is almost beside the point in politics. "Best" is only meaningful in relation to what it is you hope to achieve. As libertarians, what we should all hope to achieve is minimal involvement by government in our lives. But for some reason, individual libertarians tend to have pet areas of non-intervention by government, while looking the other way when it comes to other forms of intervention. If we want to have an honest libertarian campaign, we need people on the ticket who represent a wide spectrum of areas in which we do not want the government to intervene in people's lives, ranging from economic issues, to religion, to personal choices of lifestyle to freedom of speech and association. This is important to each of us, and it is important to the Libertarian Party as a whole.

I am not a "typical" libertarian, nor a typical "conservative" nor a typical "radical"
When I joined the LP and supported AP my biggest immediate concern was US Fish & Wildlife confiscating chimpanzees
I am a minority of one -- and so are you!
When the Founders decided that we should have checks and balances built in to the government they were organizing, they could have just divided the Federal government into three branches and then let all the people vote en masse for each office holder in each of the branches. But they understood that if the same majority got to elect all the office holders, then it would not matter that there were different individuals in each of those offices -- they would all still serve only those special interests who had been able to cobble together a majority, leaving the minority unrepresented.  That's why they chose for Congress to have two houses, the lower one to represent the people and the upper one to represent each State. That is also why there is an electoral college, and the people do not elect the President and Vice President directly. It is why Federal Judges are appointed and not elected at all. It is why the Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed for life. All of this is done in order to divide the power of those who rule over us, so that no one will be able to run roughshod over anyone else, just because they happen to command a majority at the moment. And this is why one man, one vote was never a slogan of the Founders. By the time we got to one man one vote as the ideal, our Republic was already well on its way to becoming a democracy. And a democracy is the least libertarian of all forms of government for one simple reason: in a democracy the "people" never vote not to hurt others and not to take their stuff. They vote to only hurt the minority and only take the stuff belonging to the minority. And even though it always turns out the people they voted for do hurt them and do take their stuff, the "people" always persist in trying to vote in new representatives who will only hurt others and only take away other people's stuff. To put an end to this cycle, we need to get away from the illusions and delusions of majority rule. We need to get to a point where everyone realizes that if they vote to take away stuff, it will be their own stuff that is taken. And if they vote to hurt people, they are the ones who will get hurt.

Yes, the Libertarian Party is a private club. Yes, we can make up whatever rules we damn well please. The rules do not have to be fair at all, and anyone who does not like the rules can leave. But if our aim is to take over the government so we can leave everyone alone, shouldn't we start by showing a little more wisdom in how we run our own house? Shouldn't we serve as a shining example to everyone else that our party is not like the others?


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Finally, Impact!

I write, because I must. It's an inner compulsion. My writing flows out with passion. And while I later go back and check for factual errors. structural issues, problems with syntax and stray typos, I don't generally change anything just to please a particular audience. I do, however, always hope that what I have written will eventually have an impact.

This attitude and its conflict with other ways of thinking about writing and the marketplace is discussed in my last and final CS blog post from 2015.

Publishing for Impact

Often after seeing reviews of my books, I am left with the impression that even if reading the book had been an enjoyable experience, ultimately no impact has been made. Lives have not been changed. Minds have not been touched. The worldview they came in with is intact. And that's okay, but I always hope.

Today, Facebook told me that the fans of Our Lady of Kaifeng  had not heard from me in a while. Not knowing what to post, I scoured the internet for new mentions. I did not find any new reviews, but I found something even better. Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy way was mentioned when discussing the meaning of the word autoist.

Source: Stackexchange

The impact I am having is not literary or political -- but I am making a contribution to the English language!

Why is the word "autoist" necessary to describe someone who does things only for the love of the thing? Because "hedonist" isn't right, and "selfish" or "egoist"  have all those negative connotations, and because while "autistic" is actually closer than you think, it, too, is heavy with misconceptions.

So there you have it: the opposite of an altruist is an autoist, not an egoist. And  altruist, in case you are wondering, is just "social metaphysician" with a positive connotation.  So the opposite of an egoist is a social metaphysician. But if you want to avoid words with negative connotations for the concepts you are discussing, just use autoist and altruist. They are pretty much self-explanatory, if you understand the etymology.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Proposed Libertarian Party Bylaws Change

This is the Proposed Change
Things marked in Blue are added to the original. Thing struck out in red are removed from the original Bylaws.

This is my proposed change to the Bylaws of Libertarian Party of the United States. Here is my rationale for the proposed change:

In order to allow maximal representation to the delegates at the convention, including those whose first choice of presidential nominee is not selected by a majority of their peers, and to prevent a vice-presidential candidate who is not considered by the delegates to be fit to be the president from serving in the capacity of vice-presidential nominee, it is best to select the candidate for presidential nominee who received the second highest number of votes in the final ballot for presidential nominee to serve as our vice-presidential nominee. This will also save a lot of time in superfluous nominating speeches, as no vice-presidential nominee will require an additional nominating speech besides that already given before the election for presidential nominee takes place.
For an in-depth discussion of the proposed change, including answers to questions posed by those arguing against the change, see the video embedded below. 


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Government Harm with Drug Proscription and Nutritional Prescription

It was my friend Julia who drew my attention to this satirical video about what would happen if hummus were outlawed in Israel.

The horrors of drug enforcement are well known to the general populace. And maybe those who enjoy the humor think it could never actually happen with hummus. But in a way, it already is happening. The tomato growers and the ketchup producers are already getting a hand from the government here in the United States in suppressing hummus (a high fat condiment)  and therefore promoting ketchup (a low fat condiment.) Of course, the battle here is not conceived of as one between hummus and ketchup. It is fat versus carbs.

Ever since the 1950s, American nutritional "experts", with the full authority of the Federal government behind them, have been pushing an agenda to promote carbs over fat. The Food Pyramid taught at school, the low fat meals funded by the taxpayer in the public schools, the dietary recommendations that doctors had to provide with the approval of the American Medical Association, all indicated that a low fat diet would be a good thing. As a result, obesity became an epidemic in the United States.

The  USDA Food Pyramid pushed by the government Courtesy of  GrowMap
Very slowly, over the new millennium, the truth has been seeping out to the general public. Here is a recent international study published in the Lancet, that shows low fat diets are associated with a greater incidence of early death than high fat diets.

But because most people do not read the Lancet, and because many people trust implicitly in the advice of their doctors, there are still many, particularly those who are obese, diabetic and/or suffering from chronic heart disease, who are still following a low fat diet. And the shelves of the grocery are still full of artificially reduced fat products that dare to boast loudly on their labels: "Low fat!" As if that were a good thing!

So the satire in the Israeli video about outlawing hummus and the chaos that would ensue hits home for me on more than one level. Of course, the War on Drugs is a bad thing, even when it comes to recreational drugs that are detrimental for our overall health. But how much crazier are the results when the government also tries to suppress the sale of food that is good for us in favor of other foods that are bad for us. And by good and bad, I mean relatively speaking, of course. High carb diets are sometimes indicated, when we are trying to fatten up people who have been starving. Sugar is a lifesaver for those who have been deprived, but it's a death sentence for the well-fed.

Today, as people are waking up to the dangers of the high carb/low fat diet, many of the Statists among the general population are pushing for the government to print a new food pyramid that promotes the eating of fat and suppresses the eating of carbs. They think the bad guys are the carb growers, and they hold the government above reproach. It's all the fault of those bad lobbyists, represented by the evil tomato grower in the Israeli video.

Hummus is a relatively high fat food, with 35% carbs to 48% fat, while ketchup is a very high carb/low fat food at 93% carbs to 3% fats. No wonder public schools tried to label it a vegetable and sell it to the public. But if you really want to go high fat, you eliminate the garbanzo bean that gives hummus its name, and stick to its other main ingredient, tahini. At 78% fat to 12% carbs, tahini is a good food for diabetics, people with heart conditions and the general population. However, if you have a starving person on your hands, feel free to feed him primarily on ketchup!

The government is never going to be flexible enough to understand the shifting context of nutritional requirements. That is why allowing them to prescribe to us is killing lots and lots of people who are incapable of thinking for themselves. Those people include a captive audience of school-aged children who really have no way to decide for themselves.