Mark Silverstein on Your Rights when Interacting with Police

Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado, discusses your rights when interacting with police, troubling police actions during protests, and Colorado police reforms. This is the Self in Society Podcast #16.

Listen to the episode via iTunes or YouTube (audio only).

Read my article based in part on my discussion with Silverstein, “Police interactions come with rights, responsibilities.”

Continue reading “Mark Silverstein on Your Rights when Interacting with Police”

Six Steps Toward Ending Police Abuses

“Please, I can’t breathe!” George Floyd begged as a Minneapolis police officer crushed a knee into his neck as he lay prone and handcuffed. The officer who killed Floyd deserves to be tried for murder, and the officers who participated or stood by and watched deserve to be tried as accomplices.

It doesn’t matter here what Floyd is alleged to have done. The person who called 911 said that Floyd was trying to pay a store with fake bills and that he was intoxicated. I have no idea whether the allegations are true. The officers involved claimed that Floyd resisted arrest. Video shows that Floyd struggled as police yanked him from a vehicle, after which Floyd cooperated. [Update: Subsequently released video seems to show Floyd struggling with police in a police vehicle.] Regardless, the officer’s extreme use of force obviously was entirely unnecessary to subdue Floyd. No reasonable person doubts that crushing a person’s throat for minutes on end can kill the victim. It is a police officer’s job to bring the accused to the courts for justice, not to play street executioner.

What, practically, can we as regular people do toward stopping such senseless violence by a minority of the people we pay to protect us? Here I review six main ways.

Continue reading “Six Steps Toward Ending Police Abuses”

Why Libertarians Should Abandon the Libertarian Party

In urging liberty advocates to actively join the Republican Party to advance better candidates, do I ignore the elephant haters in the room, the Libertarians? Is the Libertarian Party (LP) a viable path for pro-liberty activism?

On the contrary: The LP impedes progress toward liberty by wasting resources, muddying the ideological waters (as I’ll explain), and leaving electoral outcomes more fully under the control of authoritarians. Members of the LP should abandon that party and either join the GOP, if they wish to engage in electoral politics, or else devote their energies to other causes. Continue reading “Why Libertarians Should Abandon the Libertarian Party”

Theocratic Republicans Dominate Colorado Assembly

Colorado voters remain caught in the vicegrip of theocratic Republicans and hard-left Democrats who often select candidates far from the values of mainstream Colorado. Here I focus on the Republican side of the problem as revealed at the April 14 state assembly, which I attended as a delegate. Continue reading “Theocratic Republicans Dominate Colorado Assembly”

Reflections on American Gun Laws

Sensible gun laws will not be achieved by demonizing peaceable gun owners or by ignoring the realities of gun use (including defensive use) and gun laws. Some possible changes in gun laws are worthy of reasoned discussion.

Some people who believe that changes in American gun laws would save lives seem to think that somehow it will help to demonize the millions of peaceable (and voting) Americans who own guns or who are members of the National Rifle Association. This is despite the fact that many gun owners favor certain changes to gun laws and that many have good reasons to oppose certain changes.

Is the goal to gin up partisan rage for the 2018 elections or to actually achieve the most sensible set of laws? Continue reading “Reflections on American Gun Laws”

Frederick Douglass and the Meaning of Individualism

In our polarized and angry age, most people can at least agree on the brilliance and historical importance of Frederick Douglass. Most of us have more in common than blaring headlines typically indicate, and that is worth remembering.

What first struck me when reading Yale historian David W. Blight’s New York Times critique of Timothy Sandefur’s reflections in Douglass is how irascibly Blight often agrees with Sandefur. Continue reading “Frederick Douglass and the Meaning of Individualism”

Property Rights and Democracy: Reply to Wilkinson

Property rights—at least “absolutist,” “hard-core,” “hard-nosed” property rights that are “rigid and all-encompassing”—are the enemy of democracy. That is essentially the theme of Will Wilkinson’s essay and follow-up on the matter.

I answer that Wilkinson, who apparently favors the “standard redistributive policies of successful modern states,” does not recognize property rights at all, but merely property permissions that can be granted or retracted by democratic majorities at will. Continue reading “Property Rights and Democracy: Reply to Wilkinson”

Calling Vile Racists Right-Wing or Extreme Only Gives Them Cover

In Charlottesville at a rally of white nationalists, a man with neo-Nazi sympathies drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer. The need to condemn racist ideologies and the violence they inspire remains urgent.

The language we use to combat racism matters. Calling white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and their ilk “far right” or “extreme,” rather than white supremacists or the like, only obscures their vile nature and helps them falsely claim ties to mainstream America. Continue reading “Calling Vile Racists Right-Wing or Extreme Only Gives Them Cover”