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December 04, 2004


Matt Barganier

You can cry foul as soon as I call for someone to boil you alive. Are you afraid to stand by your own words?

Matt McIntosh

Unlike Max I don't have a job to lose, so I'll be as blunt as I wanna be:

Bite me, Barganier. You take Max's comments completely out of context, and rather than combatting Max intellectually, you resort to trying to get him fired. Do you know what that says about you? It says you're a thug, and like all thugs, you're also a coward. Like every other petty little thug and would-be thought-policeman, you're afraid of words and instinctively go for the bluntest instrument you can get a hold of.

People like you make me sick. If the shoe was on the other foot and someone was trying to get you fired for your views, you'd be howling bloody murder from the highest perch. You're a hypocrite and a worm.

John Lopez


Why not just refute Bargainer? I mean, you are right, aren't you?


I have never called for anyone to boil anyone alive. And yes, I stand by my words, which had other relevant words nearby within the context of a subtler argument that you didn't get.

My words were not that people should be boiled. My words were a reply to Logan's hyperbole about boiling people. Of course, in the timeless fashion of the weak-minded, you dropped the context of the sentence and the entire exchange.

My wider point was that rights are political, not natural. But instead of addressing this more nuanced perspective, you simply defaulted to the "send disgust" emails to his work. These are the tactics of a person who can't stand the heat of the intellectual kitchen--which people like Logan, Sager, and Balko obviously can.

I respect Justin Logan because he could stand toe-to-toe like a man and have a decent argument about matters of philosophy and foreign policy. You, however are no better than a Michael Moore of the blogosphere. And I look forward to boiling you alive in the future - metaphorically, of course.

Ta for now.

What's all name-calling about? Barganier should go "toe-to-toe like a man," and is a "Michael Moore" of the blogosphere, Logan is "snide", someone (me?) is "nutless", Tom Palmer is "smug" and a "pedant," and Robert Higgs speaks with "venom". If this is the heat of your intellectual kitchen, I'll pass, too.

I think Barganier was wrong to mention your employer. That's uncalled for.

You haven't given any sort of nuanced, wider political theory, except to say there are no such thing as rights - and you constantly mischaracterize how many people - libertarians, included - think about rights. I'm not sure whether you actually believe yourself when you claim rights theorists think of rights as "emanations" etc. Of course, rights theorists do not.

Natural rights theorists think rights are kind of facts, the understanding of which is derived from some careful examination or argumentation about who we are as human beings and how we relate to one another.

Other people derive rules/rights that come out of some sort of utilitarianism.

But no serious rights theorist thinks of rights as a third eye or something.

Even various kinds of contractarianism have things that look a lot like rights and apply broadly - regardless if one is an American or not.

In all of those cases, the rights or rules, if you prefer, apply to people inside and outside of political orders - that's a fundamental element of liberalism. They can't be so easily dismissed, as you do, with your talk of nuking and boiling people alive.

Anyway, on with your name-calling.

John Lopez

That's "Barganier", up there.

In any case, "interests of the American people" is meaningless, since "the people" is an ambiguous collective. "The people" doesn't exist - only individuals exist.

john davies

Hey, I read your whole " so subtle" piece before I wrote to the University that ought to at least know what sorts of beasts hang about its lair. And I never said "fire him" -- are you afraid that your employer might put you on a stage to defend your darkest thoughts? You said, quite plainly, that what's good for you is good for me -- self interest is the only rule -- even boiling me alive, if that betters your lot. Well, I guess your "logic" even justifies the Holocaust, if it made the lot of Germans better. I haven't read such desperate, craven writing since as a grad student I closed the book on that French writer who jumped out the upper storey window with has last manuscript under his arm. Go hang yourself, you de-humanist.

Micha Ghertner

I haven't been following the debate closely enough to know whether or not I agree with Max's position in this particular case. But I can say three things regardless:

1. It's way out of line to contact people's employers for what they say informally on their personal blog. Max clearly notes on his "about" page that "The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the aforementioned sites."

2. Nothing in libertarianism rules out torture in all conceivable situations, even if the specific form of torture involves boiling people alive. Period.

3. I find it ridiculous that libertarians can't even *debate* these issues, according to Barganier. Unless this is some sort of Randian cult, libertarians should be free to talk about whatever the hell they please. I disagree with Max's position on the war, but that doesn't make the argument itself taboo.

Abe Heward

How about this for some nuance:

What is a libertarian doing advocating for something as collectivist/nationalist in nature as "American interests", anyway--and that's regardless of the context of boiling people?

I'd like an explanation for that one.

Micha Ghertner


Not all libertarians are anarchists. I may disagree with their nationalism, but they are still libertarians.

george archers

No big deal,just child play and a throwing mud squabble.I,m lost in understanding the problem. No Big deal!--The only problem is that -Matt hides in,by having comments submissions hidden from view. Matt--what are you attempting to hide,from your readers.?
Now if 'Matt', said--"Instead of 135 GIs deaths in Iraq,it ought to been 135,000',or all the Israelie Russian Jews be driven into the sea.I could understand being fired,if you worked for AIPAC.

john davies

Meanwhile, the poor bloke in Bushf**kistan who did get boiled alive is dead alright, but at least his suffering has its remembrance, after a fashion herein, most of the millions of the dead trodden in America's pursuit of its interests have no individual memorial. Oh, what was his name? Who was his family? Now, that would be a humanist study, worth reading.


I figured out who "no name" is, aka D.C. Everyone else here put their actual names on the board, but oh well - when you're the Vice President of a large thinktank you can't play in the open. He is also a good friend, so I'll be nice.

And he makes some good points. He's right in that I "haven't given any sort of nuanced, wider political theory." No, I haven't launched into 25 pages on moral anti-realism and contractarian constitutionalism-cum-game theory. I feel fairly certain accusations of 'obscurantism' would start to fly.

I do take issue with this part: "except to say there are no such thing as rights - and you constantly mischaracterize how many people - libertarians, included - think about rights." I do think there are such things as rights. Such are political rights. They are not Divine rights or natural rights or utilitarian rights. And yes, there are contractarian theories of rights, like that of early Rawls, that are universalist. But most social contract theories are grounded in the world. And this is how you can be both individualist and collectivist with respect to foreign policy. Individuals make cooperative arrangements for their security. If you're not in the club, then you aren't automatically doled out the benefits of the arrangement. That is why British interests come before the interests of even American interests if you're a Brit. It seems fairly obvious that this isn't an argument for Brits boiling Americans. It's merely an effort to establish the political parameters of rights and freedoms within a polity. DC has not given us an adequate response about universal (non-political) rights, and neither has anyone else who has commented on this exchange. Naive libertarians can maintain articles of faith to the contrary, but its their soul search, not mine.

I agree with Micah to some extent: I'm as libertarian as the sainted Rothbard, but I think torture is on the table, in extreme emergency situations that are unlikely to ever actually occur in real life.

I'll respond to the content of the last post shortly.

rh bee

Wow. I just dropped in from the west coast via because I was blogging about the casualty list that appeared in the Sunday section and realized that I really didn't know what was going on in the antiwar movement. And now I see it's just as Michael Kinsley pointed out in his article, Destroying Iraq to Save It, people would rather talk while the cities burn. Go fiddle that?

Julius Blumfeld

I'm having some trouble with the logic here.

If boiling people alive did not best serve the interests of the American people, would it then be immoral?

Or would it still be neither moral nor immoral?

Did you actually mean to write: "whether boiling people alive is moral or immoral does not depend upon whether it best serves the interests of the American People"? - an entirely anodyne proposition which I imagine nobody would be likely to disagree with!


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