Libertarianism at Its Best

Libertarianism at Its Best November 29, 2011

can be found in this sensible and humane piece by Steven Greenhut, on the ridiculous police state tactics deployed by campus security thugs against peaceful protestors at UC Davis (and the lies unsuccessfully deployed to try to excuse those tactics).

His critique of the growing love of fascist violence by the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism is particularly pointed. Also striking is the repeated and persistent use of the word “animals” by alleged conservatives (many of them no doubt Christian) to describe people who were doing nobody any harm, but whose tribal affiliation and dumb ideas place them on the wrong side of an ideological divide from the alleged champions of limited government and the Judeo-Christian tradition. As Greenhut nicely sums things up:

What’s really disgusting is the natural instinct of so many conservatives to stick up for the police. They don’t like the Occupy protesters, so they willingly back brutality against them, without considering the possibility that conservatives at some point might be on the receiving end of this aggression. Then again, this common, vulgar form of modern conservatism almost always sides with the state, even as it champions the empty words of limited government.

In a rapidly dechristianizing society, you’d think that conservatives and Christians would have the modest foresight necessary to ask themselves, “Gee, what if the state and its militarized police decide that we are menaces who deserve to be treated like lawless rioters when we are just sitting there posing no threat and exercising the right to peaceably assemble? Suppose they blinded me with pepper spray or took the advice of more fascist minded ‘conservatives’ and started beating me or fracturing skulls with rubber bullets all while lying that I was a ‘threat’?” But, as the huge ‘conservative’ support for torture has demonstrated, the Thing that Used to be Conservatism seems to be dominated by an awful lot of people want to live in a police state and who seem to have no conception that a post-Christian police state will not keep them safe.

I see basically no difference between these tactics:

and those of Bull Connor:

Does this mean I agree with the OWSers confused and their mixed up goals? Generally, no. Greenhut speaks for me pretty well:

I disagree with most of what the Occupy protesters are saying, quite obviously, but when I see lines of riot-gear-clad officials standing in front of these unbathed wretches, my heart goes out to the wretches. They need a lesson in economics and politics. The policies they advocate – to the degree that many of them have any well-defined grievances – range from the silly to the disastrous. They are inconsistent, foolish and hypocritical. Many of them are lazy freeloaders. Such is life. They do create filth and chaos in public parks, but if one cannot protest in a public park, there are not many places to have a protest. It’s in everyone’s best interest for the authorities to provide as much latitude as possible for protesters of any political persuasion. We still do pretend to live in a free society, right?

As a matter of common sense, I think it wiser for a Catholic in a rapidly dechristianizing culture to be more worried about vast concentrations of power and wealth in an unaccountable pagan crony capitalist state ruled by a God King who grants himself the power to kill any American citizen he chooses. I think it more sensible to be concerned about the intensely incestuous relationship between Big Caesar and Big Mammon. I think it more sane to keep an eye on legislators from two parties who are about the amassing of vast personal wealth as they contemplate how to force veterans to sacrifice more. I am much more concerned about militarized police who have power to casually pepper spray unresisting protestors and lie that they were a “threat” than I am about a few disorganized people living in tents and playing drums, who are open to reading Chesterton and hearing some Catholic social teaching (as many of them are). Are OWSers sinless victims? Of course not. We all know the stories of the smelly hippies, nuts, creeps and criminals among them (sort of like the smelly hippies, nuts, creeps and criminals who occupy the pews–and sometimes the altars–of the Catholic Church). Arrest ’em if they break the law. But do be sure to arrest them for actual lawbreaking and not merely for being annoying or standing next to a smelly hippy, nut, creep, or criminal. Otherwise the jails fill up and the state has to figure out something else to do, like ask itself if the whole crony capitalism thing is really panning out as planned, when its manifold and manifest failures are generating this much unrest, not only among OWSers but Tea Partiers as well).

But unless there is a real threat, this police state crap must go. Like James Madison, I am generally of the opinion that we have more to fear from the state than from a bunch of people peaceably assembling. There used to be a time the Thing That Used to Be Conservatism knew that too.

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