Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Matt Bailey brings clarity and wisdom to a Facebook thread about flag-burning.

A few days back I published the picture of the flag-trampler anti-Trump protestor [link] and wrote:                                               Now, an orthodox smug left-libertarian would say that it's perfectly all right if the flag was his own property. That's one of the things that separates me from left-libertrians. I'm not a moral imbecile.
                                            And I probably shouldn't have restricted that knee-jerk response to just left-libertarians, because all libertarians do have a tendency to be so obsessive about the Bill of Rights and to therefore miss some nuances. Yes, even me. So we are driven, when somebody objects to flag-burning or flag-trampling, to point out that he does have the right to do it, and the Gvt shouldn't stop him, because of freedom of speech. Flag-desecration having been defined as speech by various court decisions.

Actually, you can argue about that. Because of the court thing, we have gone along with the speech thing without thinking too much about it. But a lot of things that are indeed covered by freedom of speech, like walking up to a guy on the street and yelling in his face that his wife is a whore, is pretty much an invitation to getting beaten the hell up, and while none of us want to make it illegal to do that, none of us would likely vote to convict the yellee if he knocked the crap out of the yeller. That's known as "fighting words."

Another thing you can call flag desecration equivalent to: A guy walks up to you in public and says, loudly:

 "I hate you and I intend to destroy you and everything you love, but I'm not doing it right this instant, so I have every right to say this and you can't do anything about it, because if you did, you would be initiating aggression, and violating the Non-Aggression Principle, and that would be immoral, but what I'm saying here is perfectly moral and everybody is morally required to defend me against your violence."

And libertarian deep thinkers (along with assorted liberals) nod their heads wisely.

Well, that's nonsense, of course. On a recent Facebook thread, roughly reproduced below (names and irrelevancies left out), Matt Bailey makes it all clear:

Aristotle: I'm gonna go burn a flag right now. Because it's my property and I can.

Matt Bailey: For now devil emoticon

Aristotle:  Lol

Matt Bailey: But seriously, propertarian neutrality is a fantasy that can never exist with real humans. Those opposed to our very existence aren't going to fight by Queensbury rules. Neither should we. Or, you can do a meaningless act over a "principle" that labels you a traitor to what would otherwise be allies.LikeReplyYesterday at 9:43am
Aristotle: Flag burners don't worry me in the least bit. Harmless trolls who do us a favor by putting the spotlight on themselves. I don't care what flag they walk, spit, fart on or burn. Flag worship needs to stop.

Aristotle: Because the American government echos your way of life so accurately? Really?

Matt Bailey:The flag doesn't just stand for the American government and the people burning aren't saying "I disagree with the American government's policies." The correlation between burning flags as a protest and one form or another of pathological Leftism is near perfect. That's why you should really select some other form of signaling, like festooning Gadsden flags on all your shit. Burning an American flag is in our culture an understood signal for much worse things than you yourself actually believe, (libertarian autism is essentially a benign tumor, if you will) so you doing it would just cause confusion....
I know what we've lost. My father was born in '38, class of '55, hot-rodded the hell out of classics for an automotive machine shop in the late 50s/early 60s, etc. I grew up in a house stacked high with Reader's Digests and Nat Geos from the 1930s onward. So I know. But how are Aristotle and most men our age supposed to know? I'm fixing to say something that some of you won't believe: We all want 1960 back. We don't know that because we've been subjected to a half century of relentless propaganda playing up the warts of the time, playing way, way down the upside. But trust me, we do. Able-bodied men not inclined to be college eggheads used to go forth from High School to the plant or the factory and proceed to make a decent living. Livings on which they bought cars, got married in their twenties, supported their families (WITHOUT Mom having to work), and easily bought decent houses in quiet, safe, QUIET suburbs where folks didn't bother to lock the doors. The cities were livable also, more Damon Runyon than Straight Outta Compton. The kids ran around unsupervised till dark, often with .22s in their sticky little hands, and society didn't collapse into bloodshed and chaos, and sure as fuck no one was arrested for "free ranging" their kids this way. Working-class families drove all over this country on their vacations. Needless to say, they also insured themselves and their families without trouble.

Not that easy anymore is it gentlemen? Not so good anymore. The jobs start going overseas and they tell us "Well, better yourself with a college education you skell!". So the colleges fill up with the intellectually disinclined, bad for everybody, and sure enough, the printing up of more diplomas makes them increasingly less valuable, till the point they wouldn't pay for themselves. Wages stagnated so much that our wives had to go to work to make ends meet instead of taking care of the kids and house, and they have the temerity to call it "women's liberation". More like corporate figured out a way to exactly halve the real cost of labor to them. I'm sure others can attest as well. There is a lot that has been stolen from us. We have to go back, in the ways that are good, the ways that count.

Everyone talking in this thread wants to go back there, though we may not know it, and we disagree on the way. Harry Browne wanted to go back, that's why he wrote "Why Government Doesn't Work". Others of us may disagree on a lot of details, but its pretty clear most of them are aimed at the same destination. I'm pretty sure Donald J. Trump wants to go there as well.

I want to go back, that's why I'm willing to think hard an out of the box about just what went wrong. Because we may not agree on where we went off track, but ya gotta admit, politically, culturally, we have to have gone off track somewhere.


  1. Personally, I put flag-desecration in the category of "conduct calculated to provoke a breach of the peace." I don't know about nowadays, but in the old days they could take you in for that.

  2. That certainly makes sense. No doubt that it's the intention.