This is nothing new, I’ve complained about it before, but as with most things, there is nothing new under the sun, just the same old stupidity everywhere. This time, back on that old canard of “natural rights”, yet another libertarian went bat-shit insane, to the point that most people were just pointing and laughing at this moron’s insanity.
She, it’s a woman this time, is completely convinced that natural rights exist. They just do. And how does she know that they do? Because she saw a poll that said that lots of people believe they do. People believe it, it has to be so!
Except that’s argumentum ad populum, a logical fallacy. And she simply doesn’t care because it supports her side, therefore, natural rights are real and she wins. Checkmate, logic!
It didn’t matter how many times we went around and around, she refused to admit that she had no evidence whatsoever that her beliefs were true, outside of fallacious claims that they were. As with the religious, they make her feel good, therefore she will double and triple down on her irrationality because she just can’t be wrong. It’s impossible.
This is pretty much how every wingnut libertarian debate ends up. They have their infallible faith that they’re right, they base their entire ideology around that faith and when it turns out their faith is unsupportable, they explode into a pile of libertarian rage-stupidity and demand they have to be right because… because… because… reasons!
But their reasons are downright stupid. They are not intellectually justifiable. They are wholly emotional. They are just lazy. That’s why it is usually pointless to even engage with these people, they can’t defend their views and they won’t shut up about them either.
Sorry, not impressed and nobody else should be either. I’m sympathetic to some of the rational libertarian-minded people out there, but the wingnuts, those are no better than the religious fanatics. And that’s sad.
You have to remember that Minds prides itself on no censorship, making it the de-facto home of disaffected young people who think the world owes them a living. There are lots of people who have been banned or censored by Twitter or Facebook who flocked to Minds because they can say anything they want, I assume within reason, and nobody will boot them off. At least that’s the plan, we’ll have to see how things work out in practice in the long term.
But these people honestly have no clue how rights actually work. They think that because they have freedom of speech, they have freedom to speak anywhere and everywhere, even on private networks, without the risk of censorship and when I tell them that’s not the case, they freak out.
I’m sorry to have to break it to you special snowflakes, but your right to free speech doesn’t exist when you’re trying to do it on someone else’s lawn. If they own the venue, they make the rules and your only option is to follow the rules or go somewhere else. Nobody says you have to agree with the rules, nobody says you have to like the rules, you only have to follow them or suffer the consequences.
And these people don’t get that at all. These are the same people whining that Milo lost his account on Twitter or PewDiePie got dinged on YouTube. Do I think these things should have happened? No. Was it completely in the prerogative of the companies running those services to do it? Absolutely. And all the screaming of censorship and gnashing of teeth won’t change that. Your right to free speech ends where you try to voice it on someone else’s property. If you want to stand on a street corner and rant, that’s fine. Free speech only refers to the government’s inability to shut you up. It doesn’t apply anywhere else. Welcome to the real world.
Of course, it gets worse because when you explain that to them, they will argue that because Twitter and Facebook are so widespread, that they deserve to lose their rights as private companies because they have undue influence. Except that undue influence comes because consumers choose it, not because they have any kind of unfair advantage. They simply have popular services. People choose to use them. They don’t stop potential competition, anyone can start another social media service and try to win those users to their side. And the second you say that, you lose these crazies completely. They refuse to talk to you. They just don’t understand that individual choice and market competition is not the same as government censorship. So they want to force their own form of censorship on private industry because they’re not getting the results they want. It’s just their own form of control while screaming that control they don’t like is evil.
I think I’ve finally realized what libertarians are doing wrong in their arguments about natural rights. I don’t know if this is intentional or just a happy coincidence on their part, but I think this is why they have so many problems getting their ideas across.
See, at its core, natural rights is a philosophical position. That’s perfectly fine. But with all philosophical positions, you have to have an argument, you have to have support and be able to defend your views rationally. That’s how philosophy works. You can’t just make a pronouncement and pretend that everyone is going to take it seriously because you said it. Now there have been plenty of books by famous philosophers who have put forth the idea of natural rights and spent lots of time trying to make an argument for them and that’s great. I’m not convinced by those arguments and I’ve read Locke and Hobbes and Kant and Paine, but at least they tried.
But you have lots of modern libertarians who don’t have the mental wherewithal to put together a credible philosophical argument. They know they like the idea of natural rights, they just don’t understand the ideological underpinnings. However, they desperately want these things to be real so they just claim that they are. They claim that natural rights are a fact, but that brings with it other problems. If you claim that something is an objective fact, you need to show how you came to that conclusion. You need to produce objective evidence. You need to show your work. But, of course, they have no work, they have no evidence to present, they’re only claiming that it’s a fact because it seemed like an easier solution than having to put in the effort to defend a philosophical position. So they’re left in this quasi-religious conundrum, where they have nothing to present, but they have a desperate need to believe. All they can do is keep repeating their quasi-religious mantra over and over, hoping that repetition somehow makes it seem reasonable, but it doesn’t.
The problem is that both options require a defense but most of these libertarians just have no defense to provide. They don’t understand the philosophy sufficiently to present credible arguments in support of their ideas and, because natural rights are not objectively real, they have no credible evidence to present that show them to be factually true. All they can do is keep declaring that they’re “just true”. No, they’re not. They have to believe it though because it forms the basis of their entire political ideology and without the idea of natural rights, they’ve really got nothing.
You really can’t have an idea or make a claim and not have a defense. Your say-so and your desire for a thing to be true don’t make it true and it certainly won’t convince a skeptic that what you claim actually makes sense. You have to actually have a cohesive argument that convinces people that you have the slightest clue what you’re talking about. And unfortunately, far too often, libertarians simply don’t.
I’ve been able to successfully avoid the crazy libertarians for a while, but I stumbled back into the fray, with crazed fanatics demanding that “natural rights” are real and therefore, their imaginary rights are being infringed upon. You know, those rights they can’t actually show are real? Yeah, those rights.
But where do they come from? Well, like the religious, they have no answer, they just assume that they do. That is exactly why I compare the libertarians to the religious. They both take concepts that they have an emotional attachment to. They both pretend that because they are attached to them, that makes them real. They both follow the appeal to authority, either listening to an ancient book of mythology or old philosophers and politicians as their “justification” and because they now feel justified, they base their entire philosophical position on the “fact” that they were right all along. Of course that ignores the fact that they have never validated their initial assumption in the first place but they don’t let that stop them.
That’s a problem for anyone who actually cares about logic and reason, which apparently, these idiots do not. I’m not saying they can’t want whatever they want. They can say they want a magical unicorn for all I care. It’s when you start saying that you actually have a magical unicorn without being able to trot it out that I become concerned. These fools are claiming, entirely without evidence, with just a bunch of hand-waving, that said natural rights actually exist. That is not sufficient to show that they really do.
Of course they don’t really care. They only care that it makes them feel good, just like the religious. So long as it satisfies that emotional itch they have, they’ll grab on tight and never let go. But I actually care if the things I believe are factually true, not just emotionally convenient. The second you open your mouth and start making claims, you’ve gone beyond the right to believe whatever load of bullshit you want in your own head to making claims that you rationally need to justify. Again, to compare the libertarians to the religious, both sides have tried to say “oh, it’s just my belief!” Nope, not since you’ve been stating it as fact it isn’t. It’s now a claim and claims need to be supported. Get to work.
With special guest Charles, this week we talk about fart demons, the absurdity of a new age leader suing her former students for daring to prove she’s a racist bigot, another anti-gay crusader gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and Christians get up in arms when real history proves their religious fantasies wrong. Plus, we talk about the recent DC handgun decision and how it affects gun laws nationwide. It’s another 90 minutes of conservative atheist goodness, open your earholes and enjoy!
As mentioned in the show, please post your comments for the show on the official show website by following the link above!
I’ve seen this going around the web a lot these past few weeks so I thought I’d take a moment to comment on it all because pretty much everyone has been getting it all completely wrong. Now I don’t want to point fingers but it seems that a lot of people think that they have a right to speak using the forum of any company, or for that matter, individual on the Internet and nobody can tell them no.
They are mistaken.
The only group that cannot censor you is the government and even then it’s not an absolute right. Try telling state secrets to our enemies, see how long it takes the government to “censor” you. For anyone who thinks that’s a bad thing, you’re just wrong.
Otherwise though, while you are perfectly free to speak, you do not have a right to force others to provide a platform for your speech. You can stand on a soap box on the street corner and speak your mind but you cannot force TV stations to carry your screed. You cannot force newspapers to print your manifesto. You have a right to free speech, you do not have a right to have your free speech heard, especially on someone else’s dime.
Yet that’s apparently what a lot of people want. I don’t want to make this partisan, but I can’t think of a single recent post on this topic that didn’t come from the left and it seems they just don’t understand it and I want to be helpful. See, when you log onto a service like Google or Facebook, you automatically agree to follow their acceptable use policy. It’s not something you can opt out of. It’s not something you can get around. It’s their house, their rules. If you don’t like their rules, don’t go there. Find somewhere else more appropriate for your screed. Don’t bitch about it, it does no good. This becomes annoying when people whine endlessly that they ought to have the right to post anything they want to a site, just because it’s popular and has a broad reach and, more often than not, is absolutely free to use. Waah! They want to post things that everyone gets to see for free and if they can’t do it, they’re going to hold their breath until they turn blue!
Sorry, cry me a river.
Now if you really want to post your opinions to the Internet, go buy yourself a domain, find someone to host it that doesn’t have rules against whatever you’ll be writing and then you’re free to post whatever you want to post until the cows come home, at least within reason. There are some things you can’t post at all. You can’t post kiddy porn. You can’t post bomb-making instructions. You can’t harass people or threaten people. If that’s what you want to do, stick your head in a blender, you’re an idiot. You simply cannot expect another company or individual to be required to host your dogma when they are paying the bills. If you want that freedom, you pay the bills. Then you can make the rules.
I really don’t get where people think the Internet is a democracy. It’s not. It never has been. It never will be. Like everything else, it is a business. Deal with it. Just like you can’t walk into Macy’s and start ranting at their customers about whatever topic impinges on your little mind, you can’t walk into the Google+ forums and start preaching about things that you’ve agreed, by your very presence there, not to do. You have no Constitutional right to post to any forum anywhere online. You just don’t.
Some people involved in education are just not clear on the concept. On Constitution Day (September 17), Modesto Junior College student Robert Van Tuinen had a dream, he acquired pamphlet-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution and stood on campus handing them out to interested passers-by. This sounds like a good idea, after all, our nations is based upon the Constitution and everyone ought to know what it says and what rights it grants to the citizens of the United States. However, it didn’t work out that way. Within minutes, a campus cop came by to tell him he wasn’t allowed to exercise his Constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech by handing out copies of that selfsame Constitution and he’d have to stop. He was taken to school administrator Christine Serrano, who told him that, at least according to Modesto Junior College, free speech has “a time, place, and manner” and he’s only allowed to pass out literature within a recognized “free speech zone” on campus, in this case, an 8×2 strip of concrete outside the student center. However, the “free speech zone” was booked and he was told he’d have to come back later, perhaps even in October, to celebrate Constitution Day.
Clearly, these school administrators are not clear on what the Constitution says. It doesn’t restrict free speech to a specifically organized zone, in fact, the whole country is a big free speech zone. People can speak out when and where they want to in any public space they wish without being restricted or harassed by authority figures. The only restrictions permitted are narrow, carefully defined and provided to stop public incitement of violence. They must also provide multiple avenues for free speech to be expressed, regardless of what that speech is. Modesto Junior College didn’t do this, which is hardly surprising, nor are they alone. Schools all over are trying to control free speech and losing in the courts. Here’s a video of 11 schools that have recently lost lawsuits over their restriction of Constitutionally-guaranteed speech. I have a feeling Modesto is about to become #12.
This kind of thing is widespread across the nation, a product of gross liberalism that has infested our schools, where nobody is allowed to say anything that might offend anyone else. We have students having their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights revoked so that people, who have no right whatsoever not to be offended, don’t get their precious little feelings hurt.
There is absolutely no conceivable defense for this. I’m hoping that some administrators lose their jobs over this, but I rather doubt it. The asinine teacher’s unions won’t allow it.
You find some odd things over on Google+. One woman popped up to advertise her blog article on makeup and while it’s not something that I’d normally ever respond to, having no interest in the subject matter whatsoever, her phrasing made me drop a small comment, that makeup is not a right and that no one had a right to be free from criticism. It wasn’t a nasty comment by any means, it just corrected some of her misconceptions about rights.
That was, of course, when the shit hit the fan.
Now I’ll be honest, I’m not a particular fan of makeup on women, I prefer a much more natural look, but far be it from me to tell women what they can cake on their faces. I do, however, reserve the right to make my opinions heard, positively or negatively, in whatever available public spaces I decide to use. That’s not to say I spend my time running around judging women’s makeup, such things tend to entirely fall beneath my radar, I certainly don’t chase down beauty blogs and post nasty comments in order to piss them off, my objection to the article really had nothing to do with cosmetics and everything to do with the fact that people misrepresent the concept of rights regularly.
The fact is, there is a difference between having a right to do something and the ability to do something. This is something I’ve pointed out to libertarians on a regular basis. A right is something specific granted by the society in which you live, given to some or all members of society across the board. It doesn’t have to be given to all people, for instance, if a society decided that abortion was a right, it would be granted only to women because men have no use for such a thing. Rights are enshrined in official documents or laws of the society in which they are applicable. There is no such thing as an unofficial right. Rights are protected. Abilities are simply things that you can do if you choose to. You have the ability to go to Starbucks for a latte. You have no right whatsoever to go to Starbucks. Abilities are not protected. They are not codified.
This writer was asserting that because many women (she was convinced that it was virtually all but I beg to differ) enjoy putting on makeup, that they had a right to do so and nobody had any room to disagree with them on their chosen activity. In fact, it was somewhat of an affront to any woman who wore makeup if anyone ever criticized the practice, even if it wasn’t directed at her directly. That’s just an absurd notion. No matter how much you might enjoy looking like you do, there is nothing in this country, nothing on the planet, which is off-limits to criticism. Such a right to free speech, and it is a right, enshrined in the founding documents of the United States, overrides your desire not to be criticized. I can criticize religion, I can criticize politics, I can criticize business, I can criticize anything I want and nobody can stop me, no matter how badly the criticism might offend them. Offense is no defense against the right to free speech and voicing one’s opinions.
We had a short exchange which stopped the second I said “Please tell me this isn’t some bizarre libertarian natural rights thing” and she had no response to that. It just tells me that’s exactly what it was. Libertarians are infamous for confusing rights and abilities. To many of them, because you have the ability to do a thing, you have a right to do that thing. It’s a strange misuse of terms on their part.
It really bothers me how many people use the English language incorrectly. With all the lazy communication, the misuse of words and the confusion over terminology, how can anyone expect to have a meaningful conversation? Words have meanings for a reason, those meanings are not arbitrary, to be altered at a whim because someone has an emotional attachment to a particular ideal and they want to apply a stronger term to their claim for added emphasis. That’s just dishonest, use the proper words, explain your ideas correctly and may the ideas that are best supported win.
It’s funny when you get two groups who are not traditionally bedfellows to agree on the same things for nearly the same reasons. In a recent debate, a fundamentalist Christian argued for an absolute right to life because it stated in the Constitution that we were endowed with said right by our Creator. That’s hardly surprising, in fact plenty of Christians don’t even use the Constitution to back up their claims. God said it, they believe it, that settles it.
Then the loony libertarians started jumping in with their support. See, many libertarians, as I’ve written before, have some very bizarre ideas about rights as well. According to them, rights are these nebulous, magical things that just float around and humans are obligated to acknowledge and follow them, even if libertarians have no way of demonstrating they even exist or determining what they actually are.
Both of them take their claims about rights entirely on faith, only the object of that faith is different. Neither of them has a shred of evidence to support their claims and worse, neither of them have any interest in dealing with the reality of the situation with regard to rights.
What reality? That rights are invented, instituted and implemented by man. We make them up. This makes both of the unlikely allies uncomfortable for the simple reason that if they cannot declare a universal application of these rights, their entire worldviews collapse like a house of cards. That really is the problem, and the demise, of both positions, that they are presented as presuppositions which cannot be supported, for positions which absolutely rely on them.
So I came up with a word, “religutarian” to describe the intersection of the religious and libertarian rights lunacy. Two groups, which usually have very little in common, have stumbled onto an unlikely common ground, drawn there by their individual delusions, yet holding just as much blind faith that they’re in the right spot. Worse, their claims stemming from those beliefs continue to operate in tandem. Christians claim that rights had to come from God or there could be no rights at all, they have to be handed down from on high and objective or their moral high ground falls apart. Libertarians claim that rights have to exist objectively, entirely separate from human society, or there is no basis for declaring objective right and wrong and their political hand-waving makes even less sense.
So what does all this mean? Very little, I’m sure, I just thought it was interesting. Two groups that are largely laughable, who parade around with their holy books, the Bible on the one side and John Locke on the other, coming to much the same conclusions about things that really, both sides would entirely disagree with for the other side.
It’s just funny. Forgive me if I continue to laugh at both parties.
Over on Why Evolution is True, Greg Mayer posted an article on religious freedom from the perspective of Kenan Malik, originally written for New Humanist magazine. In it, Malik wrote… well, let him say it for himself:
Whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be complete freedom to express them, short of inciting violence or other forms of physical harm to others. Whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be freedom to assemble to promote them. And whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be freedom to act upon those beliefs, so long as in so doing one neither physically harms another individual without their consent nor transgresses that individual’s rights in the public sphere. These should be the fundamental principles by which we judge the permissibility of any belief or act, whether religious or secular.
In the comments, lots of atheists took exception to the article, especially where Malik said that burkas shouldn’t be outlawed, citing “discrimination of women” and the like. While I can appreciate those sentiments to some degree, I personally think Malik is right on in his above quote. This is especially true in Westernized nations where women cannot be forced under penalty of death or torture to wear them. People, if we’re going to hold them responsible for their actions, need to be able to make choices which impact their lives. That means people should be able to choose their own religions, their own cultures, their own social customs and modes of dress. So long as it isn’t directly forced upon them, Muslim women should be allowed to wear how they choose, within the larger social context of the nation in which they live. That means that for France, for example, they have decided that people doing certain things must have their faces exposed. That’s fine. For people not doing those things, however, there should be no restriction on what they wear.
Malik is on point with that view completely. Women in these nations are not forced to be Muslims, women in these nations are not held at gunpoint and forced to put on a head-to-toe black bag, they choose to do so. If we’re going to value religious and social freedom, we have to allow people to make their own religious and social choices and deal with the consequences thereof.
This isn’t just a liberal atheist problem though, the same thing happens with conservatives. Everyone seems to think that the way things are done in their own culture is the way everyone everywhere ought to do them. That’s just not true. It’s ridiculous to declare by fiat that your standards apply everywhere and then attack those who don’t hold up to your standards. Sorry, I don’t think they ever voted on your standards or agreed to embrace them.
Now, as everyone knows, I’m 100% in favor of human equality. Men and women, blacks and whites, theists and atheists, gays and straights, everyone ought to be equal. Everyone ought to have equal rights and equal responsibilities. If you can decide to put on a t-shirt and jeans, a Muslim woman should be able to decide to put on a burka. It doesn’t matter to me if they all want to run around naked sporting a purple mohawk. It’s their life, their choices and their responsibilities for those choices. You have absolutely no right to insist their choices match yours.