To The List Moderators

Michael,

  I don't believe I'm a list moderator, but as someone who's been
attacked by Glenn in the past, I nevertheless oppose censure for
several reasons:

• In a community like this one where civility is generally valued,
incivility is its own punishment, as it tends to make those who engage
in it less well liked and their opinions less listened-to
• I have not yet seen any proposed standards of moderation which seem
to me consistent and well-defined enough to pass muster in a U.S.
criminal court of law (not that we are such, but it's an established
standard for comparison)
• Maintaining an open list sends a message that we place a high value
on free speech and are willing to undergo a bit of unpleasantness in
order to uphold it
• Our maintenance of an open list stands in pointed contrast with the
state ExCom's reprehensible practice of maintaining a list that is
completely closed to ordinary LP members

  With your permission, I will send your message below to Glenn, and
urge him to respond in a way that lessens the sense among some here
that there is a problem which needs addressing, by recognizing that
his words are frequently perceived as crossing the line into
incivility, and pledging to try to avoid doing so in the future
(regardless of how he may perceive others as behaving).

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Michael,

  Thanks for addressing my points. My responses likewise follow your
comments below.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Dear Starchild,

Comments embedded.

Warm regards, Michael

From: "Starchild" <sfdreamer@earthlink.net>
To: <lpsf-activists@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 9:50 AM
Subject: Re: [lpsf-activists] To The List Moderators

Michael,

I don't believe I'm a list moderator, but as someone who's been
attacked by Glenn in the past, I nevertheless oppose censure for
several reasons:

• In a community like this one where civility is generally valued,
incivility is its own punishment, as it tends to make those who engage
in it less well liked and their opinions less listened-to

Perhaps. However incivility diminishes the utility of the list for
those of us interested in thoughtful, civil exchanges. In addition,
it tends to discourage new members who check us out and could
potentially offer valuable contributions.

  Your point about diminished utility is inarguable, and I agree it is
a strong argument for moderation. I would question your second point.
I think new members who could potentially offer valuable contributions
might in many cases be *encouraged* by seeing that our commitment to
free speech is strong enough that we are willing to tolerate
dissenting opinions even when they are rudely expressed.

• I have not yet seen any proposed standards of moderation which seem
to me consistent and well-defined enough to pass muster in a U.S.
criminal court of law (not that we are such, but it's an established
standard for comparison)

The standard for us is not that of a criminal court, but rather that
of people with busy lives who are interested in rewarding, civil
exchanges anent liberty.

  "People with busy lives who are interested in rewarding, civil
exchanges anent liberty," is descriptive language, not a standard.
Unlike the criminal courts, that descriptive language does not have
specific standards associated with it. Enforcing rules without well-
defined standards often leads to justified charges of arbitrariness
and unfairness.

• Maintaining an open list sends a message that we place a high value
on free speech and are willing to undergo a bit of unpleasantness in
order to uphold it

"Sending a message" does not work this way. Different individuals
will interpret your style of openness differently. Some may be "sent
a message" we're an uncivil cult.

  Cults are typically characterized by a high degree of control. I
agree that not moderating people who post uncivilly could result in
some people being "sent a message" that we're uncivil, but it would if
anything make us appear *less* cult-like, not more.

• Our maintenance of an open list stands in pointed contrast with the
state ExCom's reprehensible practice of maintaining a list that is
completely closed to ordinary LP members

I agree with you there.

With your permission, I will send your message below to Glenn, and
urge him to respond in a way that lessens the sense among some here
that there is a problem which needs addressing, by recognizing that
his words are frequently perceived as crossing the line into
incivility, and pledging to try to avoid doing so in the future
(regardless of how he may perceive others as behaving).

If he reacts civilly and contritely to Marcy's message, this would
be fine. Otherwise, please refrain. Thanks for asking.

  If he reacts civilly and contritely to Marcy's message, then I would
see the message I suggest above as largely unnecessary.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Michael,

  I agree that barring someone from participating in a Yahoo group
would not be violating his *rights*, but freedom isn't only about
rights, nor is freedom only meaningful to an individual vis-a-vis an
established government. Unrestricted speech is unrestricted speech,
and restricted speech is restricted speech, regardless of the source
of any restrictions. The ultimate goal of libertarianism is to
maximize individual liberty, not simply to minimize the state. The
latter is merely a means to the former. I believe minimizing the state
is by far the most important single means of maximizing liberty in our
society, but we should never forget that it isn't the *only* means,
and that liberty doesn't rise or fall only with the fortunes of
governments, but also with how much value individuals and non-
government institutions place on it when making voluntary decisions
which affect the freedom of others.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Michael,

  I don't think "liberty" necessarily has such a restricted meaning,
but if you want to use that definition here, then simply substitute
the word "freedom" for everywhere I said "liberty" in the paragraph
below in order to understand what I meant.

Love & Freedom,
        ((( starchild )))

Starchild,

I appreciate your flexibility in using the definitions I offered and
substituting "freedom" for "liberty."

Implementing your word change we get:

The ultimate goal of libertarianism is to
maximize individual freedom, not simply to minimize the state

We may have an essential disagreement here. The invention of the
automobile and the airplane, for example, increased individual freedom
for many. This was a result of libertarianism (free markets), not a
goal of it.

My view holds the ultimate goal of libertarianism as minimizing the
initiation of aggression, of which the state is the major perpetrator.

Warm regards, Michael

Michael,

  What good would minimizing aggression be if it did not bring any
positive, practical real-world consequences? When a freedom is
prohibited, it is difficult to predict in advance what all the
benefits of ending that prohibition will be, but that doesn't mean
those benefits are not a legitimate goal.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Starchild,

You wrote:

What good would minimizing aggression be if it did not bring any
positive, practical real-world consequences?

Not good.

When a freedom is
prohibited, it is difficult to predict in advance what all the
benefits of ending that prohibition will be, but that doesn't mean
those benefits are not a legitimate goal.

I don't understand this sentence. Please restate with at least one
example.

  Sure. People are currently prohibited from holding community
festivals, street fairs and such, in public places in San Francisco
without paying lots of money to the city government. I don't know
exactly what wonderful cultural outpourings might blossom if those
taxes were removed, but I am nevertheless desirous of seeing them
removed, because I dream of possibilities that do not yet exist.

  If the development of cars and airplanes were being held up because
of a government rule prohibiting gas-burning engines, and cars and
airplanes would clearly increase individual freedom, then I would hold
it to be desirable from a libertarian perspective that someone figure
out how to design cars and airplanes powered by another means. You've
agreed that minimizing aggression would be of little value if it
brought no positive, practical, real-world consequences. Thus the
fruits of freedom themselves are clearly desirable in and of
themselves, whether or not they are achieved by reducing aggression,
or by some other means.

  A patient came in to see a doctor. "Great news!" she said. "My pain
is all gone, and I didn't even have to take any of those pills you
gave me!" "But I don't care if you're feeling better!" cried the
doctor. "The sole point of my prescribing the pills was that I believe
you have the right to take whatever medication you think will best
treat whatever condition ails you."

  I don't want libertarians to be like that fictional doctor.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Michael,

  Please see my responses below...

Starchild,

I agree with you, the fruits of freedom are desirable.

  Only if they are achieved by limiting government, or are they
desirable in and of themselves? If something is desirable in and of
itself, then we shouldn't support it only when we can oppose
government at the same time.

You may be missing the fact that one fruit of freedom is the ability
to opt out, secede, or do nothing.

  I'm not missing that, just putting it in perspective. Oskar Schindler
could have chosen to opt out, secede, or do nothing, rather than help
Jewish refugees escape the Nazis. Maybe his personal freedom would
have been enhanced if he'd chosen those particular fruits of freedom.
But we don't celebrate the German industrialists who chose to do
nothing in the face of Nazi oppression, nor should we. From a
libertarian standpoint, it is better that Schindler chose to act,
because the net freedom in the world increased as a result. We should
not pretend that all the choices a person may make in freedom without
violating the rights of others are morally equal.

If Henry Ford chooses to invent the Model-T, this is desirable.
However, if he chooses not to invent it, this is also desirable.
Having the choice is a consequence of liberty, therefore desirable in
that sense. If the state had compelled him to invent the auto, this
would not be desirable even though you may be happy to drive to Tahoe
in your Model-T.

  You said that, "The invention of the automobile and the airplane, for
example, increased individual freedom for many." If we take it as a
given, for purposes of this discussion, that these inventions greatly
increased the net amount of freedom enjoyed by people in the world,
then I would say that from a libertarian perspective, the inventions
were a good thing. Forcing Henry Ford to produce the Model-T would
have been initiating force. But it's not initiating force to make a
judgement that his invention was benefit to humanity and more
desirable than his doing nothing.

Returning to the original point, Marcy has the option to allow Mr.
Trouble to post to our group. She also can choose to prohibit Mr. T.
Both consist of outcomes in liberty. It's desirable that the state
doesn't prohibit one or both options, or mandate an option.

  Yes, that was never being debated.

I have the impression you would like it if the state forced talented
inventors at the point of a gun to invent useful products to give
people "freedom."

  Surely you know me better than that by now. We both know that doesn't
work.

Suppose Congress passed a law prohibiting Marcy from banning Mr. T
from our yahoogroup. Would this be desirable?

  Come on! What do you think? 8)

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Starchild,

You make thoughtful points, some I agree with, disagree with, or am
not clear on.

I prefer to continue this discussion at dinner after our June meeting,
as I think you agreed to.

Warm regards, Michael