Objective Differences

When talking about the corruption of the government, there are a few metaphors that help illustrate its method of operation. The mafia, slavery, and “just another company, but with guns” come to mind. During a discussion, I’ll equate taxation with slavery, and someone will object at the idea. At this point, I need an objective difference between the two ideas to distinguish them, so that they aren’t comparable anymore. To this date, I’ve yet to hear an objective difference.

One of the most common objections – sometimes called commands – I get when talking to people of the statist persuasion, is that if I don’t like getting my money taken from me, then I’m free to move. So why is this not an objective difference? Because an objective difference would need distinguish why taxation is good and slavery is bad. Since “being able to move” is the criteria that makes taxation good, then we can apply that if slave owners allowed the slaves to move somewhere else, that makes slavery okay. This is nonsense.

There are two possibilities for the now “freed” people. They can either go to another slave owner, or they can live in the wilderness and away from the state’s reach. Scenario A is still slavery, and option B is the only option for freedom. So what do we do in scenario B if the slave owner finds us in the wilderness, just move again?

Another common argument is that we get to vote for who taxes us. I don’t think it takes a lot of explanation to see why this line of reasoning is wrong. “I get to vote for the guy who whips me” isn’t a statement that gives me a lot of confidence in your ability to distinguish what is moral from what is immoral.

Once I remember someone so desperate to win the “slave” argument that they forgot entirely on the taxation part. “Well, if everyone who didn’t want to be a slave got a restraining order on every slave owner, then you wouldn’t have to worry about it.” Honestly. Yes, if that’s the way slavery worked – if it was permission based, then it would be moral. Looking at his proposition, it’s clear that he was no longer comparing slavery to the way that government works in reality, because government isn’t permission based. If I could get functioning restraining orders against the government, then I’d agree that it’s a moral institution. Since it’s not an actual option, it’s not an objective difference.

What suprises me the most – when people give me more than two non-objective reasons, and continue to list even more differences without thinking them through. If you’ve just been disproven on your first two objections, then maybe you should stop and think about your third. Follow its implications on both sides of the comparison to see whether or not it’s objective.

Be Happy, Not Gay

Yes, I write once a month on whatever I please. That seems to be the trend at least. I’m fairly liberal in my views, but I’m somewhat torn on the following issue. Remember, this is all coming from a guy that thinks gay people should have all the rights of straight people, and can’t stand most religion.

Anyone hear about this story? The rundown of the story, is that following a day of silence, a student chose to wear a shirt that read on the front “My Day of Silence – Straight Alliance” and on the back said “Be Happy, Not Gay”. She was told to remove the shirt or go home, and that the reason for that choice was because students were prohibited from wearing messages that upset other students. There’s a bit more to it that I’ll touch on, and if you read the link you can get the full story, but that’s it for my summary.

I don’t get this. If the school bans messages that may upset other students, then clearly the school shouldn’t be encouraging a day of silence, which upon further reading encourages pro-gay buttons and the like, in the first place. You can’t encourage one side of a view while discouraging the other, especially when the reason for discouragement is that you may “upset” other students. If one side of the message might hurt some people, then it’s a fairly simple conclusion that the other side of a message might hurt the other people.

If one person is allowed to express themselves, another person should be able to express the opposite view, it’s only fair. The shirt in itself isn’t even that offensive. It could have read “Be Happy, Not a Faggot”, which could have been considered vulgar and against school rules, and a legitimate reason to not allow the shirt, but it didn’t. It’s not a shirt that incites hate. It might be anti-gay, but that doesn’t automatically insinuate hate. If I wore a shirt that read “Watch Birds, Not TV”, it doesn’t mean I hate TV, it’s just offering a suggestion, at the most.

However, at the beginning of this piece I said that I was at odds in this issue. The reason I’m having difficulty is because I’m not sure where the line should be drawn. If the school were to allow this slogan, it would have to allow practically any slogan that isn’t vulgar. In this next example, I was going to use an arbitrary colour so that I wouldn’t be singling anybody out, but the message becomes much less powerful, so I’ll use a specific colour.

“Be Smart, Not Black”

Should a child be allowed to wear that kind of message on a t-shirt? I say that in most circumstances, the answer is yes. If a school allows a child to wear a message that states one thing, then another child should be able to wear a message declaring the exact opposite, no matter how much I or anyone else disagrees with it. As long as it isn’t hateful, or inciting violence towards someone or a group, then it should be allowed.