October 25, 2004

How Dare You Act On Your Principles!!!

Say Uncle is a blogger I've known for a while. I'll make no secret that as much as a person can become one over the internet, I regard him as such. He posted about his decision to vote for Badnarik instead of Bush or Kerry. He's been talking about it for a while & finally did it this past Saturday.

Xrlq has been arguing with Uncle & myself over Badnarik for a while on & off, primarily in the comments of any post where Uncle indicated he was leaning Libertarian. Well he went ahead & posted his thoughts on Uncle's decision on his own blog. This will be a fisking of not only Xrlq's post, but of those of a like mind.

"Today Uncle waived his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and openly admitted to throwing his vote away on the Looneytarian candiate, Michael Badnarik. I’d throw the book at him if he lived in a swing state like Florida, Ohio, New Jersey or even Hawaii (!), but since he lives in safely red Tennessee I will let him off on a technicality, even if he has cast a half a vote for the more libertarian of the two real candidates to 'lose the popular vote,' a concept which means nothing legally but much politically in terms of propaganda value."

The very first thing I should point out is there is nothing in the 5th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that protects against self incrimination specifically. The relevant passage reads, "...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..."

Like separation of church & state, self incrimination has made its way into the Constitution despite a lack of ratification. The purpose of the 5th amendment, in its relevant part to our discussion, was to prevent the state compelling testimony from a person accused of or with the potential to be accused of a crime. If it were only applicable to statements that were incriminating then it would be logical to assume that silence equated with a confession of guilt. So in the first sentence Xrlq makes an error in understanding. Unfortunately not the first or the last.

He then waxes on about how horrible Uncle's decision was, using a slang popular among certain republicans to describe the candidates party. He graciously decides to let Uncle off the hook since Tennessee will likely go Bush & Uncle's vote won't change the outcome.

"For anyone else tempted to throw his vote away on Badnarik as a matter of 'principle,' I’d like to remind you just how silly that principle is. It’s one thing to vote for a Libertarian candidate who you know will never win, in order to send the message that you want the major parties to be more like him. It’s quite another to do that for an individual who is totally unfit to hold any elective office whatsoever, thereby encouraging the LP to field more of the same in future races. Like his predecessors, Michael Badnarik is a September 10 moonbat. Unlike any of his predecessors, however, he is also an unrepentant criminal who proudly admits to driving without a license and refusing to pay income tax. His running mate, Richard Campagna, appears to be relatively law-abiding, but scores equally high on the kook index by proudly sporting a fake Ph.D. Yup, these are two guys who deserve your vote, if only to 'send a message,' whatever the hell kind of message that may be."

Ah, throwing your vote away. It's a shocker that he used that line.

You know how you throw away your vote? You don't use it at all. Other than that your vote is no more thrown away than if you voted for one of the two major party candidates & your guy lost. For the "throw your vote" away logic to be consistent, then everyone in the 1990's who didn't vote for Clinton threw their vote away. In other words, it's bullshit. I'll argue that even those who don't vote out of a deliberate decision don't really throw their vote away, since not voting is as much a political Right as is voting itself. So to say that Uncle threw away his vote simply because his guy probably won't win is reducing the political process to a juvenile game. It would be more about picking the one most likely to win instead of the one you want most to win. That's fine if you have money on a horse race, but American politics should be a little bit above that, don't you think?

The amazing thing is that Xrlq can at least spell Principle. I have doubts of his ability to define it though I hope I'm mistaken.

He rattles his saber against Badnarik's offenses, saying they make Badnarik unfit for office. Yet he'd vote for Bush or Kerry?

Bush, like every president before him, uses his office to enforce laws that violate of the Constitution &/or the natural, inherent Rights of the individuals within the u.S. Kerry has voted many many times to pass laws that do the same.

Now you tell me who's more unfit for office: a person who violates statute law out of a belief that such law is in conflict with the Constitution & his Rights, or a person who uses his office to promote & prosecute laws that conflict with the Constitution's acknowledgement of natural, inherent Rights?

Of all the asinine, hypocritical views to take I have to admit this one gets close to the top of my "but surely you misunderstood the question???" meter.

Badnarik didn't pay taxes for a while. He drove without a license for a while. This makes him unfit for office?

Bush rigidly enforces gun laws that violate the constitution. He supports adding to the number of unconstitutional gun laws. He didn't veto the McCain-Feingold Campaign law despite its clear constitutional conflict & even implied that it could be strengthened (in spirit, not that law itself). But this makes him an eligible candidate?

I can understand not voting for anyone because they violate the law. In fact I've made the argument to Xrlq that due to the scope & complexity of the various federal, state, & local laws that we're all criminals to some degree. His response was less than heartwarming.

From the comment section in question:

"You assume without evidence that I am a criminal; I’d invite you to specify which criminal statutes you think I violate. I will plead guilty as hell to violating speed laws all the time, and sometimes making illegal u-turns when no one is coming. Those are infractions, not crimes. I don’t care if any political candidates speed, assuming they don’t do so to the extreme levels that do constitute crimes (e.g., 100 mph on a residential street)."

He misses the point. I wasn't accusing him of any specific crime; rather I was stating that due to the number & complexity of laws that chances are he has committed a crime at some point. Most likely unknowingly, due to the volumous nature of laws within the u.S.

What he did admit to is speeding & making illegal u-turns. He justifies them by distinguishing them as infractions rather than criminal actions. He then went on to say he'd excuse any politician who violates the same laws he does. & that's mighty generous of him. Mighty generous.

I don't speed. Not to any meaningful degree. If I'm going over the speed limit, it's because I didn't notice it creeping up to 48 instead of 45. Before it hits 49 though I pull it back down to 45. I don't pull illegal u-turns even if nobody is coming. Why? Some of you know I admit openly to breaking certain laws, especially those concerning carrying concealed without a permit. So why would I adhere to speed limit laws yet disregard those about carrying?

Whether I carry or not does not concern you. It has no effect on you at all, unless you're looking to rob me or otherwise do me harm. Then it will be something you're keenly aware of.

Speed limit laws do affect you. I don't necessarily agree with all the limits set in place in all areas, but I'll concede that since most people don't drive as well as I do that most of the speed limits are reasonable. Egotistical of me to think that? Yes, but less than simply ignoring laws that do impact other people because they're viewed as mere infractions.

If you speed you're taking a vehicle beyond what the state considers safe limits for the road you're on. That'd be like shooting a .30-06 at a backstop only rated for the .308 Winchester. Sure, odds are it'll handle it & everything will be fine, but in the event that something goes wrong it'll be worse because you ignored the safety limits that were set in place.

So I drive like an old lady because I'm never in so much of a hurry that I'm willing to risk anyone else's safety for it. I carry because I'm not willing to risk my safety simply because I violate a law that violates my Right.

Now as for Xrlq disagreeing with Badnarik's stand on the issues I'll accept that as a legitimate critique. In fact I'll even agree that Badnarik's views concerning Iraq are a bit off the mark at least. I'll go one further admit that the Libertarian Party could have picked a much better candidate (Russo comes to mind). But that's not because I feel Badnarik is a criminal. It's because I disagree with his stand on a few things.

If Xrlq would have contained his venom & just disagreed with Uncle's choice on grounds of where Badnarik stands he could have possibly made a convincing case. Instead he chose to use the "throw your vote" away theme as a prelude to accusing Badnarik of being unfit for office. I won't go through the entire list of people who are unfit for office according to Xrlq's definition, but they include the likes of Martin Luther King, jr., Rosa Parks, & Harriet Tubman, as well as a good chunk of those who occupy elected offices right now.

What Xrlq fails to understand is that violating an immoral law does not reflect badly upon a person. Defending an immoral law on the other hand does. But acting on principles is often frowned upon by those who lack them. Hence his post denouncing Uncle for acting upon his.

& for the record Xrlq thinks I'm unfit for office as well. I take a slightly different view: most offices are unfit for me. We both get to the same place (i.e. I will not be seeking your nomination for anything) but take very different ways getting there.

I'll close with a comment left over at Say Uncle's by a fellow name of Jason of Fish Or Man:

“Laws are for everyone.'

Xrlq: Your words seem to describe the founding fathers as criminals unworthy of office. Is this something you were trying to say? Would you follow this law as well: kill your first-born son? It’s was a law once too. Because someones principle’s cause them to draw the line before you do, (or possible ever would), does not mean they are unfit for anything. In many ways, the uncompromising person is BETTER fit for office, (they don’t get blown around with the wind).

But really, what about those unfit criminal founding fathers?"

Posted by Publicola at October 25, 2004 04:29 AM

I don't think XRLQ is trying to be a jerk or anything. I think he has serious misgivings about people like me voting that way. After all, it's not unreasonable for me to conclude that if I didn't live safely in a red state, I may have pulled the lever for bush.

Posted by: SayUncle at October 25, 2004 08:02 AM

Dude, if you couldn't tell that the criminal law references (self-incrimination, throwing the book at him, letting him off on a technicality) were sarcastic, you really need to get out more.

I'll get to the serious stuff later. Meanwhile, do everyone involved a favor, and take a chill pill.

Posted by: Xrlq at October 25, 2004 08:08 AM

Oh, I figured you were being sarcastic with the way you opened it up. & you'll note I didn't mention the "throwing the book at him" or "lettng him off on a mere technicality". That self incrimination misconception is a big pet peeve of mine, sarcasm or no.

a chill pill though? When you do come back, care to bring a stinging retort that's from a more recent decade? Say the 90's? :)

Posted by: Publicola at October 25, 2004 08:47 AM

OK, try Zoloft, then. Your non-point about the Fifth Amendment, though, remains as insane as ever. More so, in fact, given that you now claim to have recognized the criminal overtones of my post as sarcasm rather than as a serious representation that the Fifth Amendment had anything to do with Uncle's voting record. I know full well what the Fifth Amendment does and doesn't do, thank you very much.

Posted by: Xrlq at October 25, 2004 11:03 AM
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