Tracing consequences both seen and unseen.
Wirkman VirkkalaAnatomy of a Character Assassination
Posted at 10:40 pm on October 4, 2010, by Wirkman Virkkala

A writer named Mark Ames has written a profile of a man named Will Wilkinson. He titled it “Anatomy of a Libertard,” and it is very nasty.

I encourage you to read it not because it is in any way exemplary or honest or commendable. Instead, it is a great example of base rhetoric and unthinking partisanship. There’s so much hypocrisy and double standard, in evidence — and behind that a vast reservoir of thoughtless hate — that it almost boggles the mind.

Indeed, it contains no real argumentation. The business about income inequality, allegedly at the heart of the piece, is all invective and ridicule on Ames’s part. He simply mocks Wilkinson and lets it go at that.

Now, I am not a friend of Will Wilkinson, and I defend him not because of any connection that I know about, but simply on the grounds of decency and some sympathy. I haven’t exactly been following his career. From the few episodes that he participated in, and that I watched, he struck me as an intelligent person who loves liberty but fails to follow any else’s plumbline. So perhaps I identify with him in that sense. I, too, love liberty, hate coercion; I oppose bullies, thieves, and vindictive advocates of mass imprisonment or regimentation, whether such lockstep marching orders hail from the lightning left or the thunderous right.

That is, I’m a libertarian.

But I have an independent streak, and keep on finding new avenues of thought to explore. Wilkinson seems of similar cast. I vaguely recall his interest in evolutionary psychology.

Ames insinuates that libertarians argue what they do and believe what they do because some billionaires have poured money into a bunch of libertarian institutions, one of which is Cato Institute (wrongly identified by Ames as “the first libertarian think tank”). He gives us no reason to believe this. In fact, he gives us reason not to believe that. Wilkinson, he chortles, was fired from Cato (he says) for not being on the Tea Party bandwagon, which the Kochs also fund.

I don’t know if that’s true, half-true, or just a large hair ball of falsity. But I do know that you cannot call Wilkinson the Kochs’ “whore” (as Ames does, with that very word) and then deride him for being unemployed for an ideological stance which offended some Mr. Moneybags’s other commitments.

Note to Ames: Being paid to do something you love is not tantamount to whoredom. Indeed, I assume that many people on the left (who love complaining about rich people’s spending habits . . . or very existence) get paid out of funds donated by (shock of all shocks) rich people. Indeed, I know that this is precisely the case with nearly every major “liberal” and leftier journal extant.

Pot, see the kettle? It, too, steams up over heat. And it, too, sheds little light.

Filed under: Rhetoric
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John W. PayneSome People Are Just Assholes
Posted at 9:44 pm on October 1, 2010, by John W. Payne

I’m sure by now many of you have heard the story of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate broadcasted him making out with another man. A video by Ellen DeGeneres speaking out against the bullying and mistreatment that apparently led to the suicide of Clementi and three other gay teens in the past month has been making the rounds on Facebook the past couple days. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, and Molly Wei, another student who allegedly assisted Ravi in spying on Clementi, have been charged with invasion of privacy, and police are considering bringing hate crime charges if the two appear to have been motivated by anti-gay bigotry. Some of Ravi’s friends have claimed that Ravi is not a bigot:

“I think he’s a good person,” said Michael Zhuang, 17, a neighbor and former classmate. “I don’t think he’s a homophobe. It would’ve been no different if it was a girl in the room.”
Let’s take Zhuang’s statement at face value. Does that make what Ravi did any less reprehensible? I actually think it makes it worse because that means that Ravi doesn’t discriminate–he’s just an asshole to everyone. Granted, there is a high correlation between being an asshole and being anti-gay, but there are plenty of assholes out there who aren’t particularly anti-gay, just as there are quite a few anti-gay people who aren’t complete assholes. And that’s the rub.
Assholes are vicious monsters to anyone and everyone provided they believe they can get away with it, which means they will lash out at individuals and groups who are marginalized by society. Fifty years ago, that usually meant harassing racial minorities, but in most parts of the country, those views are now thankfully considered unacceptable by almost the entire non-asshole population. If an asshole calls someone a “nigger” or “kyke” these days, he immediately reveals himself for what he is. However, it is still acceptable to bash gays–both verbally and physically–to huge swaths of the American populace (25%? 30%? More?), and that is what allows this kind of abuse to go on. Assholes are the only ones who do things that are this malicious, but it’s the tacit acceptance of certain kinds of hate that enables them to hide amongst us.
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Tom is sold to Simon Legree–the epitome of an evil slave master–and Southerner attempts to defend the institution of slavery to a Northerner on the grounds that most slave owners treat their slaves well, to which the Northerner responds,
Granted…but in my opinion, it is you considerate, humane men, that are responsible for all the brutality and outrage wrought by these wretches; because, if it were not for your sanction and influence, the whole system could not keep foothold for an hour. If there were no planters except such as [Legree] the whole thing would go down like a mill-stone. It is your respectability and humanity that licenses and protects his brutality.
The same can be said today about the respectable and even kindhearted people that nevertheless condemn gays as wicked. They are good people and may even love their gay neighbors as themselves, but their soft bigotry makes gays a target for the truly wicked and depraved.
Cross-posted at Rough Ol’ Boy.

Filed under: Culture
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Henry Hazlitt"[T]he whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson






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