This is yet another piece on the proper role of government. We’re using a way of looking at it provided by Penn Gillette, in a speech at the libertarian CATO Institute. I came across it in a Mr. Reagan podcast compilation of various people's Red Pill moments—the change in direction of people from progressive/leftist/socialist to freedom-loving Constitutional conservative. Penn’s is from 11:20 to 13:50 on the video.
|Penn Gillette, speaking at the CATO Institute|
screenshot from this video
I met Teller when I was 18, and we started putting together our magic show, and I guess we were kind of fast tracked to be Hollywood liberals. I met a man named Tim Jennison. I was then just your standard liberal, there in the end of the 80s, and Tim was libertarian. And Tim was also a peacenik.
I started giving all the arguments for why the government needed to be more powerful and do all these things. And Tim said a really simple sentence to me: “Do you think it’s OK to punish people who’ve done nothing wrong?” And I said, “No.” And then he said, “Then why is it OK to reward people who’ve done nothing right? Can’t you see that you can’t reward without punishing? They are the same thing.”
And then Tim started saying, “You know, you’re so against force. You’ve never hit anybody in your life. You are insanely peacenik in terms of the way you see war and what you think the countries should do. Why do you think it’s so OK for the government to use force to get things done that you think are good ideas?” He said, “You’re wrong. You’re an a—hole! Think about this.”
Turns out, to me, that’s the way you argue with me. Because that’s the way you show respect. You’re saying, “I’m really telling you what I really think. I’m not gonna try to trick you or try to be nice or suck you in. I’m just telling you what I think.”
And it started me thinking, one really good definition of government—that the government are the guys with the guns. And we are the people that tell the government what they can do. So, in my morality, I shouldn’t be able to tell anyone to do something with a gun that I wouldn’t do myself.
If you asked me, would I use a gun to stop a murder? Yeah. Would I use a gun to stop a rape? Yeah. Stop robbery? Yeah. To protect our country and our way of life? Yeah.
Would I use a gun to build a library? [pause] No! Do I think libraries are really important? Wicked important! So, will I give my money to help someone build a library? Yeah. Will I ask other people to give their money to help build a library? Yeah. Will I beg? Yeah. Will I lie? A little bit. Will I use a gun to get someone to build a library? No.
And that is, in a nutshell, my entire view of politics.
Penn is an atheist, a libertarian, and often profane; we don't agree on everything, but because he's clear on what he believes and why, there's a lot we can agree on. I'm interested particularly in his definition of government, along with his "would I use a gun" question.
I think this might make a useful game. We’ll use the question “Would I use a gun to…” and then fill in the blank. This will only work with a civilized people, who believe they shouldn’t go around killing people. That’s why it worked with Penn Gillette. So we’ll start with that premise.
|image found here|
Would I use a gun to…
· Take money from someone who earned it to give to someone who didn’t earn it?
· Force a business owner to pay all workers, regardless of ability or contribution to revenue, a minimum wage of, say, $15?
· Build a school?
Let’s take that last one, because it’s similar to Penn’s library example. Is it important? Yes (“wicked important,” he would say). Would you give your money to help build one? Possibly, depending on the particular school, but yes. Would you ask your neighbors and friends to give their money to build the school? Yes. Would you even go to businesses and ask them to contribute to building the school? Yes. (Penn adds, would you lie? but mostly for humor, so we’ll skip that.)
But would you go to your neighbors, or the neighborhood businesses, and pull on gun on them to force them to cough up a “generous donation” for this school? And then you’d feel comfortable living among these people afterward? I’d say no. I’m assuming you’d say no too.
Let’s get a little more specific. Would I use a gun to…
· Force neighbors and friends to pay for LGBT-agenda sex ed to be taught to elementary school children?[i]
· Force neighbors to submit their children to such sex ed?
· Force neighbors and friends to pay for children to be indoctrinated with the “rightness” of doing away with religious freedom, the right to self-defense, the electoral college, or other limits to government spelled out in the US Constitution?
How about this. Would I use a gun to…
· Enforce favorable treatment to a certain race?
· Enforce favorable treatment to a certain sex?
· Force people to pay for others to kill unborn babies?
· Force people to pay for other people’s health insurance?
· Force people to favor people from other countries entering our country illegally over people who follow our laws for entering our country?
If you’re willing to do these things, you pretty much just look like a thug. You look evil. And it’s pretty clear, when we put it this way, that you would be doing something evil if you took a gun to force your neighbors to behave a certain way or do certain things.
This “use a gun” description really is the way it is. It just looks sanitized if a government does it for you, and you don’t ever see the guns. But it is in fact coercion at the bottom of it.
How about this one: Would I use a gun to…
· Force a person to use pronouns that are both inaccurate and not part of the language’s natural usage?
|Jordan Peterson speaks on transgender pronoun law|
screenshot from here
That’s the actual situation in Canada regarding gender pronouns, which Jordan Peterson gained fame for standing up against. He didn’t actually offend any transgendered person in his presence. He didn’t even refuse to use such a person’s preferred pronoun when respectfully requested—depending on circumstances. He just said that government’s assertion of power to control his speech—not even to prevent certain words, but to require certain unnatural words—was a bridge too far. He would not submit. And he has pointed out that would mean the government would then be required to fine him. He wouldn’t pay. And if they imprisoned him, he would go on a hunger strike. He would not submit to this government coercion. And he understood fully what his refusal meant.
What his standing up has done is point out that government is, in essence, force. Which we’ve symbolized in today’s piece as a gun. If a transgendered person is so offended that people don’t use the pronouns they require (and they don’t all require the same ones, so it’s anyone’s guess what such a person might want) that they feel justified in pulling out a gun and threatening death if their choice of pronoun is not used—then that person is too uncivilized to be among us. That person needs mental health therapy, possibly even institutionalization.
Yet we have governments using their guns, their force, for these things that we clearly wouldn’t use a gun for ourselves.
As Penn Gillette pointed out, “We, the People,”[ii] do not have power to delegate anything to the government that we don’t have the natural right to do ourselves. We have the right to our life, liberty, and property. We have the right to protect those things for ourselves and our families and neighbors. So we have the right to hire government to protect those limited things for us.
If you wouldn’t pull a gun on your neighbor to force him to call you by a particular pronoun—because that would be crazy—then you don’t have that power to delegate to government.
If you wouldn’t pull a gun on your neighbor to force a “charitable donation” to yourself or another neighbor, then you don’t have that power to delegate to government.
If you wouldn’t pull a gun on your neighbor to force her to frog-march her children to the local school for LGBT indoctrination, then you don’t have that power to delegate to government.
If you wouldn’t pull a gun on your neighbor to force him to never speak opinions that you disagree with, then you don’t have that power to delegate to government.
Governments have been usurping powers that we have not delegated—because we cannot delegate powers we don’t have.
We can’t vote to delegate a power to government that we don’t have. That would just make it a democratic tyranny, but a tyranny nevertheless—which is why we don’t have a democracy. We have a constitutional republic. If, as Benjamin Franklin noted, we can keep it.
[ii] Not quoting Gillette here, of course, but the Declaration of Independence.