Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A Cultural Disease Goes Merrily On
Jim Crow, the political expression of white racism, has, fortunately, been dead for decades. And now, we have a black President: So, in one sense, this story about a small town in the Mississippi Delta electing its first black mayor isn't really news.
But in another unfortunate sense, it is.
Some youngsters ran into [defeated incumbent Robert] Fava's store to taunt him. "They was pulling down their pants, shouting, 'Kiss my black ass, because we got a black mayor', swinging their things around and throwing stuff," said Jennifer Green, 31, a black mother of 10.There is no excuse for insulting behavior like this: indecent exposure and vandalism, at minimum. Racism is wrong regardless of who is on the receiving end.
And so is crime, for that matter.
How Not to Address Racially-Motivated Acts
And I hope a different electoral result in the town of Alligator would not have looked like this:
Akron police say they aren't ready to call it a hate crime or a gang initiation.The solution, as I have written before, to racially-motivated crime is to prosecute actual crime to the fullest extent of the law regardless of its motivation.
But to Marty Marshall, his wife and two kids, it seems pretty clear.
It came after a family night of celebrating America and freedom with a fireworks show at Firestone Stadium. Marshall, his family and two friends were gathered outside a friend's home in South Akron.
Out of nowhere, the six were attacked by dozens of teenage boys, who shouted ''This is our world'' and ''This is a black world'' as they confronted Marshall and his family.
The solution to criminal acts is for the government to take the criminals off the streets and punish them for their crimes. The solution to racism is cultural change, which individual citizens must work for through rational persuasion. For the government to fail to do the first, or -- as the agent of force that it is -- to attempt to bypass the second, as it does all the time, is to push our society wholesale towards anarcho-tyranny.
In one sense, a lack of respect for the rights of others such as this should come as no surprise: Our government has been excusing the violation of property rights for a very long time based on the presumption of ignoble sentiments on the parts of owners. Here is the latest example:
The waters were still and the gates locked at the Valley Swim Club Thursday. Board members decided to close the private Huntington Valley, Pa., club for the day as it combats accusations of racism for booting 65 mostly minority day campers from its grounds without explanation late last month.If this incident turns out to have been motivated by racism, the proper response is to ostracize members of this club, and make it known far and wide that it is full of bigots.Whatever the reason, the fact is that the kids were simply removed from the property, and not physically harmed in any way. There not being a violation of anyone's rights, the government has no business launching an investigation into how this club disposed of its own property.
"Hate crime" laws -- which punish people for their opinions -- and the trampling of property rights do nothing to persuade individuals that racism is wrong, but they do set an intolerable precedent for the government (and, arguably, private citizens) to violate the individual's rights to speech and property.
But just as we protect the innocent from unjust criminal prosecution by insisting on proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so must we protect the freedom of everyone by permitting bigots to behave like fools (but only so long as they are not violating anyone's individual rights).
If the owners of this pool are bigots, make it known far and wide. Ostracize them. Make membership in that club a badge of shame. But do not compound injustice with tyranny by calling for or sanctioning the government's dictating to private citizens how to use their own property.
Well, It Finally Happened
A teenager has walked straight into a manhole while texting. That comes on the heels of a mass transit accident in Boston caused by an operator doing the same.
If The FDA were in charge of telecommunications, I guess it would consider banning all cell phones with texting capability.
Mrs. Van Horn and I watched Disney's Up in 3D this weekend and I found it enjoyable despite my disappointment with its unjust portrayal of businessmen and its ecology-tainted theme. The movie has other weaknesses, too: Most notably, it confounds altruism with goodwill.
On the former complaint, the movie opens with a perfect example of a popular left-wing myth about property rights that Tom Bowden addressed in his recent OCON course, "Property Rights and Wrongs:" Its protagonist is the lone property owner holding out in the midst of a huge development, his house and yard being completely surrounded by active demolition and construction. As Bowden indicated in the course, this is ridiculous. A developer would line up his property purchases before doing anything like that, and if he couldn't get the land he needed, he'd develop elsewhere.
Bowden's refutation has always seemed like common sense to me, but after hearing Bowden make it explicit, I see the value in doing exactly that when appropriate.
Having said that, I found the movie's development of the main character poignant and enjoyed seeing the old man come alive again after rediscovering his youthful sense of adventure.