Quote of the day—James

The problem with applying risk factor analysis to the law is that the law gains it’s moral authority from its disposition against what is wrong and in favor of what is right. Not every risk factor for a bad event is, independently, morally wrong. For example, littering is wrong, but carrying objects is not wrong, even though it makes littering more likely. Lying in court is wrong, but speaking in court is often necessary, although it makes perjury more likely.

Simply proving that an action or state of affairs carries risk does not say anything for or against its moral justification. Laws regarding the ability of the people to arm themselves need to make sense as a model of individualized justice, not just as a risk-management strategy for those making the decisions.

January 20, 2013
Comment to Please Take Away My Right to a Gun
[It’s a little dense but I really liked the comparisons to littering and perjury.—Joe]


12 thoughts on “Quote of the day—James

  1. It’s a convoluted way of saying that correlation does not necessarily mean causation.

  2. That’s part of it.
    Statistics is a fine science. But statistical approaches applied to policy are a smoke screen for socialism. By definition, statistics deals with large groups, not individuals, so the language of statistics applied to people means a rejection of individualism.
    For example, as others have pointed out here and elsewhere, the fact that criminals use guns has no bearing on my right as a law-abiding individual to own and use guns. The fact that lawful gun ownership reduces crime rates is interesting but in a way irrelevant — even if gun ownership increased crime rates, that has no bearing on my rights as a law-abiding citizen. Those are arguments from statistics, and they have no moral authority where human rights are concerned.
    If it so happens that a statistical argument supports the cause of freedom, that’s perhaps helpful. But if in doing so you elevate the statistical argument to be decisive, you’re screwed if the answers come out differently at some point. Or if some malicious academic twists them that way and gets away with it. (Consider the fake “few guns in 18th century America” story.) By contrast, arguments from principle don’t depend on numbers or polls or statistics.
    I see some of these points in the original quote in its reference to “individualized justice”.

    • Leftists being who they are, the correlation between the possession of guns and the fact that criminals use them is completely discarded when it comes to the use of drugs. Any correlation between drug use and criminal activity absolutely MUST be ignored in the name of freedom, despite their avowed support of the right to go about one’s business unmolested and un-murdered.

      • Actually, what is disregarded by all except Libertarians and the government of Uruguay is that the correlation is not between drug use and violence, but between drug prohibition and violence. The difference is crucial. Organized crime became a significant force thanks to Prohibition; it remains a significant force because we continue to have prohibition to this day (only the chemicals have changed). The “drug problem” — meaning the crime associated with drugs — comes ONLY from their being illegal. Abolish them, and all you have left is the much smaller problem of the health effects of drugs. Those are real, but they are manageable; they have been managed in the case of alcohol for a long time.

  3. The most important word in your quote is “individualized.”

    We have individual rights, that aren’t trumped by what is best for the majority of people, or what is statistically likely, or what others do.

    Paraphrasing another blogger, it doesn’t matter if last night 20 million gun owners criminally shot people. I didn’t. I won’t accept punishment for the crimes of others. And my rights are NOT to be infringed based upon the actions of other people.

    • Indeed. If individual rights were trumphed by “what is best for the majority” or “the good of society”, then the police could round up known “troublemakers” and imprison, execute, or exile them.

      And as long as the number of “troublemakers” was low enough it’d be perfectly cromulent from a social utility perspective.

  4. “…the language of statistics applied to people means a rejection of individualism.
    Excellent! That really gets the point.

    I don’t know about the word “individualism” though. Must everything be an “ism”? Maybe; “The language of statistics applied to people means a rejection of the individual.”

    I’ve described it before as seeing people as farm animals. The farmer views his livestock in terms of return on investment, or how the animals might best serve his goals. Communists, Progressives, Eugenicists and the Republican Party view humanity in the same way. Indeed, they don’t see any other way of looking at humanity.

    They simply cannot grasp the concept that one person’s rights would or should trump “the common good”. That concept represents to the collectivist mind an injustice that must be corrected. What collectivism’s followers never seem to consider is that if one person’s “so-called rights” are rendered nul and void in the name of “the common good” then no one has any rights whatsoever.

    • “The language of statistics applied to people means a rejection of the individual.” — yes. Perfect.

    • “Government seeing people as farm animals” as I stated above, is actually being generous to government. A farmer cares about the well-being of his livestock.

      A farmer, for example, would actually understand and embrace the concept of the Laffer Curve. The Laffer Curve, as I’m sure you all know, describes the changes in revenue based on tax rates. A zero percent tax rate would result in zero revenue, and a 100% tax rate also in zero revenue, or very near zero. In between there is a tax rate, somewhere, (and I submit that that rate is very low) that results in maximum revenue. In farmers’ terms, that “tax rater” would be to totality of treatment the animals receive, which results in, let’s say, the maximum production of milk.

      Government clearly does NOT look at us that way (which is sick and demented enough in itself), simply because maximum revenue is NOT its goal. Maximum power and control (maximum relative advantage) is its goal. In short, our government is evil. It’s like the very bad farmer I once worked for, who beat and terrorized his cows. When he’d go away on vacation for a while, leaving his operation in the hands of two teenagers, the cows would settle down, thinbgs would run smoothly, and milk production and quality went up. When he came back, the trouble started up again right away, and the production and quality went down. THAT’S our government, and it’s practially all other governments. It is warefare by other means, combined with occasional bursts of the regular kind of warfare. Simply, it is a system of intimidation. A chain of command of cowards and bullies, each bully being a coward before greater bullies, and each coward being a bully before weaker cowards. It is the system of the Dark Side. Welcome to Mordor, now get in line, Maggot!

    • There are lots of cases where one person’s rights shouldn’t trump the common good.

      • Specify

        And show your definitive work to the final reduction.

        And you said “lots” so you better come up with “lots”.

        • (Crickets)
          Yep, I figured it.
          UBUs standard non-reply when confronted with one of her statements that appear to be the result of lack of sufficient oxygen supply to the brain, but what we all know here to be is nothing more than trolling.

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