Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's
Number 806, January 25, 2015

We do have some advantages the other side is
lacking, among them, a working sense of humor.
Republicans haven't had a sense of humor for
a century. They no longer cherish any beliefs,
and they're sensitive about it.

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The Atheist Experience Folly
by Sean Gangol

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

In one of my last articles I noted that many atheists seem to reserve their skepticism for God and the supernatural, but seem to have blind faith when it comes to government. That notion seemed to be reinforced on a recent episode of "The Atheist Experience." The Atheist Experience is a cable access show that was created by an atheist organization in Austin, Texas. It is a show where viewers call in to discuss a wide range of issues with the hosts. On this particular episode they had a libertarian caller who tried in vain to get his message across to the show's hosts, Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris about the evils of the initiation of force. I have seen a few prior episodes on YouTube and I would have to say that these two, along with various other hosts of the show are usually pretty good at holding their own when it comes to debating theists. Unfortunately it seemed like they reached some level of ignorance when it came to libertarianism.

While I do catch a few episodes here and there, I usually don't watch the show unless they discuss some particular subject that happens to peak my interest. This particular episode was brought to my attention when one of my favorite libertarian YouTube posters, Shane Killian mentioned it on his weekly podcast. Killian who is a regular watcher of the show, was somewhat disappointed at the way that the two hosts responded to the caller. He was so disappointed that he referred to both Dilahunty and Harris as the week's Idiot Extraordinaire. Personally, after seeing the way that those two responded to the caller, I would have to say that Killian was being generous.

The first response came from Tracie Harris, who said that we should want government to initiate force, since there are situations in which force is required. She used a case where the police lawfully shot a knife wielding woman who was going on a psychotic rampage. As soon as she said that I almost got whiplash from having to face palm myself. If Harris had any understanding of the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP), then she would have known that the use of force is justifiable when it is used in the act of self-defense or even the defense of others. As Killian and the co- hosts of his podcast pointed out, the same principle would also apply if the woman had been taken down by private security guards or possibly concerned citizens with concealed carry permits (emphasis mine). The shooting was justified under ZAP because it was the knife wielding woman who was initiating force and not the police. It became obvious that this discussion was not going to bold well.

Unfortunately the conversation went from bad to worse, when Harris, actually told the caller that we were all free to leave the country anytime we want, if we don't like the way it's governed. She actually said this with a very smug grin on her face. Guess what, Tracie? Most of us don't have large sums of cash sitting around our homes or private islands to go to, like Mel Gibson. Most of us have jobs, careers, mortgages, families and even pets that we can't just leave behind. Where would we go? It's not like there is a libertarian paradise waiting for us around the corner. For that matter, why should we have to leave? We are the ones who are trying to preserve the principles that made America great, while the government and its supporters are trying to undermine them. I knew that by the end of the video, my head was going to take one hell of a beating from all the face palming that I was going to do.

Then we get to Matt Diliahunty, who tells us that the people are the government and if we don't like it, we can change it by running for office or voting. At that point I was starting to get a headache from all the face palming. Come on, Matt, you can't be this naïve. Yes, in theory the government is supposed to be made up of the people, but the reality is something entirely different. Running for office is easier said than done, otherwise Congress would be made up of Joe Blows and Suzie Homemakers instead of wealthy career politicians with corporate backing. Even if an average Joe does manage to make it through the political maze, he will find himself marginalized if he doesn't vote on the side of the establishment. Ron Paul ring any bells? Voting? We have the same choice in our two party system as a Russian citizen would have in a Soviet era supermarket. Third Party? Sure, once hell freezes over and Satan does an ice skating trio with Nancy Kerrigan and Peggy Fleming. Considering that you guys don't believe in hell, you would probably think that the chances are even slimmer.

The caller then went on about the immorality of the government using the IRS to imprison or even kill people who don't want to give up the fruits of their labor. Both hosts nodded their heads in agreement, but Harris justified it by saying that we live in a society governed by a social contract. At that point I decided to stop face palming myself out of fear giving myself a concussion. Aside from not understanding libertarianism, they obviously don't understand how a contract works. A contract is an agreement between two or more parties. I don't recall ever agreeing to give the government any part of my income. Also a good contract has it to where all parties benefit in some way. Telling me I can either pay or lose my freedom isn't much of a contract. Shane Killian and his co-hosts hit the nail right on the head when they compared Harris' "social contract" with a mobster that shakes down a shop owner for "protection" money. "You can either pay me or I'll break your legs." Sounds like a great contract, doesn't it?

I would offer just one bit of advice for both Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris. Obviously political ideology isn't one of your strong points, especially in the case of libertarianism. I wouldn't have faulted you guys, if you had just told the caller that you didn't know much about the subject. Instead you guys made arguments out of ignorance and in Tracie's case, belittled the caller by telling him that he could leave the country any time he wanted, not once, but twice during the conversation. With all due respect Tracie, if you don't know what you are talking about, then you have no room to be condescending. Before you two answer another call like this, either do some research on the subject or just stick to arguing with theologians. Making arguments out of ignorance doesn't make you look any smarter. It makes you look just as foolish as your creationist opponents who try to challenge evolution without bothering to read a science book.

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