My Libertarian Classroom

For the past six years, I have been teaching high school English in Thailand. I love what I do, and I’m good at it. My classroom, for the most part, reflects my Libertarian worldview, and it works.

I certainly don’t preach my politics to my students. This is because the level of respect I receive from most of my classes leads them to treat me as a trusted and benevolent authority figure. And it is against my pedagogical creed to use my authoritative position to inculcate my students. Anytime my views slip out of my mouth, which are rare occurrences, I take responsibility for them rather than allow my students to understand them as fact.

This does not mean my views are never a part of class discussions or activities. When we discuss and debate political and social issues, I sometimes ask questions that allude to the Libertarian thought process if my students do not invoke them on their own. For example, if we are discussing pollution or other environmental issues, my students generally want to ban certain practices or subsidize solutions. If the conversation comes to a standstill, I may try to get their brains going by asking if anything can be done without the government’s participation. This sometimes leads them to suggest privately-organized awareness campaigns, neighborhood cleanup efforts, or innovations that can lead to profitable and environmentally-friendly business ventures.

One chapter of the textbook I use with my 11th graders focuses on the topic of food concerns. Bangkok, where I currently teach, is famous for its delicious street food, which is often less than sanitary and unhealthy. The vendors who sell this food are usually low-income, so regulating their businesses could lead to them having to absorb crippling costs. This winds up being an excellent opportunity for Libertarian thinking.

As a brainstorming activity, I put my students in groups, and have them come up with several specific food concerns they are aware of in Bangkok. They must then choose one and find a solution to improve cleanliness or health.

Next, I use the Socratic Method to lead my students into proving that government laws and regulations do not always serve their intended purposes. I do this by asking them if drugs are legal in Thailand. They say no. I then ask whether drugs are still used and abused in Thailand. They say yes resoundingly, often accompanied by giggles. So, do laws always work as a means of solving problems?

I then explain our activity which is for each group to come up with a solution to their chosen food concern, but bar them from using laws or other governmental methods. This forces them to consider the profit motive, the foundational motivation of many businesses, and find ways to manipulate it so that people will do what makes the world a better place as a byproduct of their own rational self-interest. I am consistently amazed by the creative ideas my students generate when the easy way out, prohibiting unfavorable human activity, is not an option. Their ability for creative and critical thinking, even in an educational system as anti-intellectual and archaic as Thailand’s, blows me away.

In spirit of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, I explain the rules of my class on day one, many of which are a reflection of negative rights. And in honor of the First Amendment, all opinions are welcome, and all ideas expressed are subject to scrutiny (and that scrutiny is encouraged).

Students are allowed to exit the room to use the toilet at will. In fact, they are not even required to pay attention, and I make this explicit. These freedoms are retained under the condition that my students do not disrupt my teaching or their classmates’ learning. I explain to them on the first day of class that they are personally responsible for their individual selves and are prohibited from making decisions for others, such as drawing their classmates’ attention away from my lesson. This is essentially an expression of the non-aggression principle as only acts that victimize others are treated as transgressions. Going to the toilet and missing key parts of a lesson is allowed. Reentering the room noisily is not.

Fortunately, and I do not mean to toot my own horn here, I happen to be quite charismatic at the head of the classroom. The vast majority of my students find my lessons to be engaging, and they eventually respect me enough to behave highly politely (at least as far as teenagers go). I do not know how much of this is a result of my teaching and how much is a result of my Libertarian governance.

There are, of course, instances in which my students break the rules. Some of my pupils seem to lack the ability to remain quiet for more than a few moments during my interactions with the class or quiet work activities.

While my students are aware of my rule against audible disruptions, I enforce it within reason. My personal view, as a so-called poor student throughout middle and high school myself, is that not all children and teenagers are predisposed to the capability of learning and behaving in a traditional classroom setting. If I could go back to my childhood and be presented with the option of working a part-time, minimum wage job instead of going to school, I’d jump at the opportunity. I have learned more at work than at school throughout my life, and my main motivation for becoming a teacher was to provide an outlet for students who do not mesh with school like me.

So, I do not lose my rag as soon as a student causes a disruption. I let them get away with a few shushes before taking action. Fascism demands perfection; Libertarianism understands that’s impossible.

When shushes don’t work, I have no choice but to bring the gavel down. And this is when I do something that may seem anti-Libertarian at face value. When I lose control of the class, they lose points collectively. Rather than punishing the individuals who are causing disruptions, I deem all of them guilty by association and reduce all of their scores.

Punishing many for the actions of a few is sacrilege to an individualistic philosophy like Libertarianism. But the lesson learned, not the punishment itself, is the key. What I hope the well-behaved students learn (and I explain this to them if they don’t seem to) is that failing to police one’s neighborhood autonomously eventually leads to restrictions in freedom from a higher authority. If a society (or classroom) can keep itself in order, there is little risk for strict laws, rules, or interventions to be enacted. Peaceful populations are more likely to retain self-governance than chaotic and unruly ones.

It could easily be argued that a public school teacher arbitrating the way a classroom runs is a laughable attempt to illustrate Libertarianism. But as of now, I think I’m practicing what I preach.


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My Libertarian Classroom

The New York Times Demonstrates the Left’s Intellectual Dishonesty on Climate Change

At the moment, I am a solid 40-60 pounds overweight. Until I find a way to slim down, I imagine that diabetes and heart disease likely pose the greatest threats to my life.

My goal is to lose a good deal of weight, so the new greatest threat to my life can be The New York Times. Aside from a handful of thoughtful editorials I come across here and there, reading NYT is so maddening that stress-related ailments probably come in second place to my body mass index as far as lethal dangers go.

I just came across a real whopper, even by NYT’s standards. It focuses on a climate change survey.

The survey being reported on asks participants their opinions and feelings about several social and political issues. One question, which is the lead in the NYT story, is whether partakers worry about climate change “a great deal.” A graph displaying the results shows that the more educated Republicans and Democrats are, the more their answers diverge. 23% of the least educated Republicans say they are worried, while 45% of the least educated Democrats do. On the other end, 50% of highly educated Democrats worry about Climate Change, while only 8% of highly educated Republicans answered in the affirmative. On the low education end, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is 22%. On the high end, it’s 42%, a 20-point divergence.

Far more notable than the results is the fashion in which NYT decides to report them. The article’s headline is “The More Education Republicans Have, the Less They Tend to Believe in Climate Change.” This is incredibly dishonest. The story (educated Republicans’ lack of belief in climate change) is unrelated to the facts (educated Republicans are not terribly worried about climate change).

And it’s not just the headline. The article’s introductory paragraph is a textbook straw man (a gross misrepresentation of an opponent’s point of view). The author notes that the scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that the Earth is “experiencing the warmest period in recorded history” and that “humans are the dominant cause” of this. What does the existence and cause of climate change have to do with people’s concerns about it?

The second paragraph, which contains the story’s thesis, reads: “Climate change divides Americans, but in an unlikely way: The more education that Democrats and Republicans have, the more their beliefs in climate change diverge” (the emphasis on diverge is the author’s, not mine). Again, rather than honestly reporting that Republicans and Democrats differ in terms of worry about climate change, the author writes his hallucinations about their beliefs in climate change. And, apparently, the editors didn’t notice or care.

This is the typical false dichotomy that many on the left present when debating (or refusing to debate) climate change and the policies that surround it. They permit two options:

Option A: You believe (1) that climate change is real and manmade, (2) that climate change will result in an inevitable apocalypse, (3) that fossil fuel use must be eliminated quickly to prevent Earth’s destruction, and (4) that international governmental cooperation is the best or only means to accomplish #3.

Option B: You (1) do not believe in science or (2) are greedy and have no concern for Earth, nature, or future generations.

I hope the absurdity here is explicit and needs no explanation. But just in case, here are a few other options at your disposal:

Option C: You believe (1) that climate change is real and manmade, (2) that climate change will cause some serious problems, but is not apocalyptic, (3) that cleaner forms of energy (including nuclear power and natural gas) should be used more regularly for the sake of the environment, and (4) that the free market combined with some governmental subsidies for research and development are the best way to accomplish #3.

Option D: You believe (1) that climate change is real and manmade, (2) that the problems caused by climate change will occur at a slow enough rate that mankind will be able to adapt as they occur, (3) that the benefits of plentiful, reliable, and cheap fossil fuels outweigh the risks they pose to the environment, and (4) that giving governments authority over the climate and energy industry will lead to far more problems than solutions.

Option E: [insert combination of Options A, B, C, D, and additional opinions here]

There are innumerable valid, intellectually honest, and ethically sound opinions one can have about climate policy from both sides of the discussion. Only those who are afraid to defend their positions are reduced to straw man arguments.

False dichotomy and straw man are not the only argumentative fallacies that pollute the topic of climate change. Ad hominem is everywhere too.

The New York Times article does not mention compassion or greed, but the comments section beneath the article on NYT’s Facebook page does. Here are the top two comments:

“Correction: The more education Republicans have, the more they’re willing to lie for short term economic gain. If there were a test that could measure selfishness, you could sort people into Republican and Democrat with 99% accuracy.”

“Maybe better educated Republicans are wealthier and more likely to invest in energy or other companies that would have to spend money to address carbon emissions and the like. So they are more likely to be in denial of climate change since they believe it would affect their pocketbook”

When Option A individuals discuss climate change and are confronted with opposing views, a last resort is often to point to poor communities living in coastal areas (such as fishing villages) that they say are at greater risk to be affected by rising tides and other effects of climate change. This is an appeal to compassion intended to persuade one’s opponent into changing their position out of concern for others.

Aside from the unproven claim that these people will be affected by climate change, and aside from the implicit presumption that they will be unable to adapt to environmental changes, this is a dishonest point too. No one is consistently willing to change their ways or sacrifice their livelihood to save people.

Hypotheticals are not always the most intellectually valid modes of explanation, but I’ll use one for argument’s sake:

Let’s say that 97% of scientists agreed that if homosexual intercourse were banned, deaths via the AIDS virus would decrease by 99%. Would the same people who are willing to upend the energy and industrial sectors of the global economy to save a few fishing villages be willing to ban gay sex to put an end to AIDS?

My guess would be “no.”

Those whose position on climate change is in line with Options B, C, D, and E must not fall for emotion-based arguments. You may be called a shill for the oil companies, a greedy pig, a corporate bootlicker, and far worse for standing your ground. But the pursuit of Veritas, peace, freedom, and prosperity is worth the hatred you’ll encounter along the way. Besides, slander and polemic aren’t half as dangerous as obesity.

Keep speaking.


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The New York Times Demonstrates the Left’s Intellectual Dishonesty on Climate Change

The Person vs. The Politics: Starring Judge Roy Moore

I’m fortunate to have a few Constitutional gurus in my life. Some are people I know personally, others publish content online.

KrisAnne Hall is a lawyer who travels across America to teach and promote the United States Constitution. I am a firm believer in her general interpretation of the Supreme Law of the Land, and I support her efforts mightily.

One of Hall’s mottos is “Liberty over security, principle over party, and truth over personality.” I concur on all three accounts.

But what about policy vs. person? When choosing the legislature for your country, are personal character flaws that seem to have no bearing on the way an individual will govern important to take into consideration? Or should voting records and political philosophy be all that matters?

The Washington Post recently reported that about 40 years ago, Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore had sexual or nearly sexual encounters with several teenagers while he was in his early 30s. The worst of the allegations are that Moore temporarily dated a 14 year old girl, and that they kissed and touched over their underwear. The other accusers who have come forward were above 16, the legal age of consent in Alabama. There are no accounts of forcible rape (unless you automatically count statutory rape as forcible rape), full on intercourse, or anything more severe than touching the surface of the body. Moore has vehemently denied any illegal activity.

There is much to discuss here. First off, when two people tell contradicting stories, at least one person must be saying something untrue. Secondly, as the United States Constitution guarantees the right to presumption of innocence until guilt is proven, anything short of a conviction in a court of law leaves Moore a law-abiding citizen. The court of public opinion, however, is unburdened by these restraints. Third, at this point in the Alabama special election, it would take an incredible effort for Moore to step aside, for the GOP to nominate a new senate candidate, and for that candidate to campaign sufficiently enough to compete with the Democrat challengers. Considering the inconvenient political timing, is it fair to ask whether alleging an otherwise unknown, decades-old transgression by a lifelong public servant and public figure is politically motivated? Lastly, is it fair for the United States populace to judge 1970s Alabaman behavior by 2017 standards? Or is it possible that this was another time and another place, and applying today’s ethics to yesteryears’ is unfair?

Let’s assume the worst. Let’s say that Judge Roy Moore is lying about his personal life and subsequently calling his truth-telling accuser liar. Let’s say that allegations of misconduct ought to be believed. Let’s say that the victim has wanted to speak up about these instances for years, but has only now been able to muster up the courage. And let’s say that regardless of laws, locations, time periods, or anything other factors, what Roy Moore did was morally reprehensible and inexcusable.

What should the Alabama electorate do?

Alabama is as red as any state and has not had a Democrat serve as senator in 20 years. President Trump won over 62% of the vote there in the 2016 election. It seems safe to assume that Alabama favors the Republican agenda as the best means to promote their safety and prosperity.

If Alabama wants to be represented by a Republican, and if the only way to make sure that happens until the next senatorial election is to vote for an individual who has done something despicable and lied about it, would individual Alabamans be justified in casting their ballots for Roy Moore?

Analogies are often stupid. Here’s a very stupid one that illustrates what I’m alluding to:

You’re a member of a tribe of elves.

A tribe of dwarves is poised to topple your kingdom and enslave you and the other elves.

The only one who can stop the dwarves and save your tribe is a wizard name Roimore.

Roimore the wizard murdered your parents when you were a child and has been tormenting you about it ever since.

Do you accept Roimore’s help? Or do you succumb to the dwarves?

I told you it was stupid.

Electing a Democrat to the senate will not result in the enslavement of Alabama. Roy Moore is far from certain to affect US politics in a positive way for Alabama voters. And kissing a 14-year old girl is not as bad as mass murder.

Here’s a better analogy. Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct by several female comedians. Louis has admitted the stories are true and apologized. As a result, HBO and several other companies have parted ways with him and cancelled the releases of some of his upcoming projects.

As a fan of comedy and entertainment, this punishment seems counterproductive. Who deserves to be punished for Louis’s actions? Him or his fans? Does Louis’s behavior make his work less funny or enjoyable? It seems unfair that I lose the opportunity to enjoy Louis’s work because he did something wrong.

In Alabama, voters might be punishing themselves as much as if not more than Roy Moore if they decide not to vote for him. They would be choosing to be represented by someone who opposes their political agenda.

Part of what made me a Libertarian was losing faith in politicians, namely Barack Obama, whom I voted for twice. I learned that government is essentially a monopoly on force, that taxation is theft, and that power corrupts. Since then, I have focused on voting records and consistency in principles when choosing which politicians to support. Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash, though not technically my representatives, never disappoint me, so I trust them to vote on bills and carry out the government’s duties.

If I found out that Rand Paul robbed a liquor store as a member of a black bloc protest 40 years ago, I would still be rooting for him next time he is up for reelection. Partially because people are not whom they were 40 years ago, and partially because having Rand in congress is, in my opinion, ultimately a force for good, I would still support him after the skeleton in his closet surfaced.

I am no fan of Roy Moore. As is the case with most non-Libertarians, I agree with some of his ideas (like anti-interventionism) and disagree with others (like using government to legislate morality).

But I would not blame any Alabama voter for supporting him, and I would not see it as an endorsement of his misconduct. They would be displaying rational self-interest in an imperfect, nuanced world.


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The Person vs. The Politics: Starring Judge Roy Moore

Rhinoman: A Short Story


By Glenn Verasco

There was a 7 inch shard of windowpane lodged in Rhinoman’s right ribcage. It was thick glass from a shattered sliding door on the balcony of a 32nd floor hotel room. As he burst through the glass, his foot caught the door’s frame. It tripped him up, and gravity pulled nearly all of his 235 pound mass downwards, squeezing the upward pointing shard between his flesh and the tile floor.

He was fine, of course. Few materials were hard enough to pierce the leathery coating of Rhinoman’s vital organs. The flesh wound was excruciating, but would heal in due time.

Rhinoman cracked open a beer, flipped the television on, and slowly and carefully sunk into his couch. He grimaced with every slight twist of his torso, the shard mangling every nerve it touched. Rhinoman gently placed his beer on the couch’s arm, and drew in his hands towards the impalement.

The evening news was covering the event Rhinoman had put to an end minutes earlier. The pundits were promoting their policy agendas predictably.

The shooter’s face flashed through Rhinoman’s memory. His arms ceased and dropped down to his thighs. His face drooped, which was unusual for the stoic character.

Denying criminals their ends was not out of the ordinary for Rhinoman. Just a day earlier, he had rammed a suspect through a brick wall to save a damsel in distress. The suspect wanted to rape, the teenager was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the unthinkable would have occurred had Rhinoman not sensed the trouble. One plus one equals two.

Rhinoman knew his contemporaries, men, were weak. He understood the creature beneath his own skin long before becoming aware of his superhuman abilities.

But the shooter in the hotel room did not correspond to the evil Rhinoman typically faced. There was no visceral release, no vengeance, and no bounty to be had. He had not fallen prey to desire. Surely, death would come for the shooter. He must have known this. Had Rhinoman not gotten there first, the police would have blown him away. And surely nothing would be accomplished by the hornet-sized missiles he buried in his victims’ backs and limbs. Nothing signified efforts to achieve hallucinations of a greater good.

And this is what made Rhinoman’s leathery heart sink: it could have been him. If just once, just one day, just for a moment, Rhinoman stopped doing good, the bullets could be flying from his fingertips. Absent duty, self-esteem, devotion, and routine, Rhinoman’s capacity to inflict torment unto himself and others was tremendous. All it would take is a flinch.

The motive for evil is built into the man, and Rhinoman knew this. Man was not made to be a blessing. Man blessed the world by his own accord. Rhinoman was a traitor to his nature. And that, far more than his unusual abilities, made him a superhero.

Across the ticker at the bottom of the news broadcast were reports of a hostage situation across town from Rhinoman’s place. A glass shard, soaked in the blood of a hero, lay next to a crushed beer can on a vacated couch.


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Rhinoman: A Short Story

A Brilliant String of Thoughts from Norm Macdonald (and some okay ones from me)

I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across one of Norm Macdonald’s tweets. Here’s Norm’s tweet (which I will discuss a bit later on):

I love Norm and have spent hours listening to his stand up, podcast, and other media on YouTube, but I hadn’t been followed him on Twitter. I followed his page immediately after reading this tweet, and headed over to see what else he had been saying. I was pleasantly surprised to find a long sequence of tweets related to the Trump presidency and our current state of affairs, many of which I found to be incredibly insightful.

I’ll share Norm’s tweets now with a few thoughts of my own between each. My thoughts are my own, not Norm’s. I don’t know what takes place inside his head:

This brings the recent outrage over General John Kelly’s Civil War remarks to mind. Did Robert E. Lee believe he was doing the right thing in leading the Confederate Army? Did he weigh the options and determine that the closest he could come to righteousness would be to orchestrate a military strategy with the aim of secession from the United States of America?

Did he believe slavery was wrong? Does believing slavery is wrong 1861 Virginia, USA mean the best and most moral course of action is to drop what you are doing and become an abolitionist?

Do you think eating meat, watching porn, applauding sex reassignment surgery, and posting your political views on social media will be considered ethically acceptable forever?

The healthy and unhealthy are objectively healthy and unhealthy? Unlike, say, Republicans and Democrats, neither of which are possible to define? Republicans and Democrats are not that far off in terms of agenda? The healthy and unhealthy cannot empathize with each other for legitimate reasons while enraged political opponents are just being silly?

I was so excited for the 2016 election. Having officially made the conversion from Socialist to Libertarian, I was ready for politics and to promote my newly found truth. My positions were, in my mind, well-thought-out, persuasive, and well-intentioned.

But so many who are now involved in politics are incapable of or uninterested in rational and productive political discourse. So few of those participating have taken the time to think the issues through, to have their views challenged, and to explore new ideas. The dividing line, as opposed to individual property rights vs. collective property rights, originalist Constitutionalism vs. living documentism, or body ownership vs. legislated morality, is often Trump vs. Anti-Trump. And that is not fun.

I did not plan on defending President Trump when he won the election. I figured I would remain in the middle of the political landscape as I had been in the latter years of the Obama presidency.

But the behavior of Trump’s loudest and harshest detractors has been so despicable and so revealing that I find myself defending Trump more than criticizing him. I do not want Trump to win, but I do want those who hate him so belligerently to lose. I cannot imagine them having power over me.

Those who admonish Weinstein do not impress me. Are they perfect people?

And it’s not like anyone is taking the “maybe Weinstein isn’t an animal” position. People can say the most horrendous things about him without ever having to worry about their words being challenged. Taking something other than a pro-unequivocal-extreme-condemnation position is viewed as being pro-rape.

I wrote this within a few days of Trump’s election victory last year. It’s about challenging the Left’s self-proclaimed ownership of love.

Love Trumps Hate was always a hilarious lie.

Norm switches gears here.

I do not see Trump as simply a celebrity, though perhaps I should. I see him as someone who has been involved in politics as an activist and commenter for a very long time.

On the other hand, if Trump decides to run for re-election, I believe the Democrats would be insane not to run a celebrity against him. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would demolish Trump. Kamala Harris would be annihilated by him.

Composing a fantastic album/compelling motion picture/brilliant comedy special is hard? Sex tapes and public intoxication are easy?

The moment a celebrity dies, another is beyond ready to take its place?

Is the computer our collective consciousness online?

Ken Bone, Anthony Scaramucci, James Comey, Sean Spicer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Linda Sarsour, Sheriff David Clarke, Joy Reid, Tomi Lahren, Brian Stelter, Maxine Waters, Steve Bannon, John Podesta, Vladimir Putin, Jack Posobiec…

We need virtue. Fame is not virtue. Many are pursuing fame without ever considering virtue.

“Swiss Candidate” would be too boring to attract an audience. That’s for sure.

Norm said he heard about this a number of years ago. A number of years ago, I would not have been perceptive enough to be frightened by this idea.

There was a South Park episode that aired during Britney Spears’ “meltdown” years ago. The twist ending was that society needed to coerce celebrities into suicide via overwhelming paparazzi activity in order to reap a successful harvest. This tweet made me think of that.

Keith Olbermann, Stephen Colbert, and Rachel Maddow will be worse off when Trump is out of office.

This also makes me think of the hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of people who show up to protest small scale “Nazi” marches. What would these people do if there weren’t a handful of outright racists for them to scold? Who would they have to look down upon?

It makes me think of racism hoaxers too. Who benefits from Trump supporters spray-painting swastikas and racial slurs on public grounds? Racists or race-baiters? Trump lovers or Trump haters?

Cheers to Norm Macdonald for sharing his nuanced and wise thoughts. And I hope mine meant something to you.


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A Brilliant String of Thoughts from Norm Macdonald (and some okay ones from me)

Terrorism and Radicalization: Two Words We Must Retire

I’ve wanted to write about the abuse of the word terrorism for quite a while. The horrible shooting in Las Vegas provides another opportunity to do so.

Whenever an individual strikes a crowd with a vehicle or mows people down with a gun, I, and I assume many other people, become somewhat preoccupied with the individual’s identity. Is he a Muslim? Is he a reclusive older white man? Is he an immigrant? Is he a young Black man? Is he a sexually-frustrated young man?

Reactions by people and in the media seem to depend on the answer to these questions. If he turns out to be Muslim, many assume he is a Radical Islamic Terrorist. If he turns out to be an older white man, many assume he is a right-wing extremist. If he turns out to be an immigrant, many assume he exemplifies rampant criminal activity abroad. If he turns out to be Black, many assume is an anti-police activist. If he turns out to be a young man, many assume he used psychotropic drugs or was rejected by women.

No matter the identity, some blame the World Wide Web and other mediums for being breeding grounds for radicalization. This can lead to the dangerous suggestions that governments ought to police the internet and censor so-called hate speech, having confidence that doing so would prevent future mass murders from taking place.

The idea that someone can become radicalized is silly. Radical simply means ideologically extreme. Someone who believes that all people are equal is a radical. How can you get more extreme than all or equal? Someone who believes in the flat tax is radical. How can you get more extreme than flat? Someone who believes in single-payer healthcare is radical. How can you get more extreme than single? Someone who believes in God is radical. How can you get more extreme than God?

The only way to avoid being radical is to contradict yourself or to waffle between opinions constantly without ever taking a principled stand. And I don’t mean to deride all people who are politically or ideologically inconsistent. Perhaps there are reasons to apply certain principles in certain instances while discounting them in others. Perhaps taking a principled stance across the board is impossible, so attempting to do so is a futile effort. But the fact remains: if you’re not radical, you’re bound to be hypocritical.

What I would like to propose is an end to consideration of motive when a violent act is committed.

Of course, I do not mean that intention should be ignored. If I intend to hit a baseball, and I unintentionally injure a passerby, accusing me of assault would be ridiculous. And motive is also useful when defining the degree of an intolerable act like murder. If one plots for months to take his uncle’s life as a means of inheriting his wealth, he is more sinister than one who lashes out in a moment of rage, such as a husband coming home to his wife in bed with another man.

What I mean is that one’s overall political, religious, or social views should be ignored when one violates the rights of others. By ignoring these views, we will find that radical and terrorism are not useful words, but in fact dangerous words when courts and governments acknowledge them.

So-called Radical Islamic Terrorism is the obvious example to analyze. Outside the incredibly rare clear instances of calculated mass murder by an established, political organization, most notably the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda, murders committed by “Muslims” in the name of “Islam” are not terrorism. Terrorism is rational (which is not synonymous with good or correct). That means developed ideologies and long-term plans play a central role in its orchestration.

An individual who read something on the internet and decided to commit mass murder does not deserve the presumption of rationality. It is unimaginable for any moderately rational person to conclude that spraying bullets into a crowd without a tremendous deal of support has any chance of winding up in something other than hasty death or imprisonment via law enforcement. Individuals who make these choices are unlikely to consider the consequences of their actions with enough depth to even reach the point of asking these questions.

In short, how can one who is so incompetent as to fail to realize or even care about the inevitable result of their violence be considered radical? They aren’t thoughtful enough to be terrorists, let alone radical.

What’s more, at what point does one formally qualify as a Muslim? Or a Conservative? Or an Environmentalist? Or a Communist? Can one speak his political identity into existence? Does some supreme authority govern the criteria one must meet to be legitimately part of a social or ideological movement?

Or is it utterly subjective? And is it wholly possible that two self-proclaimed or linguistically-defined members of the same sociopolitical group have little in common in terms of underlying philosophy and agenda?

Over the past year, due to the success of populist politics and a handful of small, mainstream-media-hyped demonstrations, a popular question has been posed: is it okay to punch a Nazi?

Nazism and other forms of identity-driven Authoritarianism are certainly radical, and horrible acts of terror and violence have been committed in their names. But what makes a Nazi a Nazi? Auto-designation?

The problem with the German Nazis was not that they believed Aryans were a superior race. The problem was that they murdered 6 million Jews (and millions of others) and invaded sovereign nations. Had they committed the same crimes via another ideology, for purely practical reasons, or out of sheer boredom, the death toll and destruction would remain equally horrifying and criminal.

If a Nazi is a person who is preparing to annihilate an ethnic (or random) group of individuals (i.e., an actual Nazi), attempting to physically apprehend him is not only just, but possibly obligatory. An attack on him is an attack on terror.

But if his beliefs and words are extreme, and he has yet to harm a fly, aggression against him is an attack on free thought and free expression, not terrorism. Physically attacking an actual Nazi is not just because it combats the ideas of Nazism; it is just because it combats violence. There is no difference between murdering for the preservation of the White Race and murdering for the preservation of the environment. Murder is murder.

All in all, condemning and combating radicalization accomplishes nothing aside from putting all of our rights to free speech in jeopardy. What says your sincerely-held and innocuous beliefs won’t be deemed radical and unacceptable next?

We’re very lucky to live amongst other human beings, the vast majority of whom are too preoccupied with survival and happiness to consider extreme acts of violence. Don’t let rarities like actual terrorism drive our existence further away from perfection.

Terrorism and Radicalization: Two Words We Must Retire

The Official 2017 Guide to Avoiding Offensive Halloween Costumes

Halloween is one of the year’s most exciting holidays. Unfortunately, insensitivity and intolerance have been clouding the joyous occasion in the form of offensive Halloween costumes for decades. In 2017, more and more people are waking up to the hatred on constant display every October 31st. Momentum is heading in the direction of social justice and equality.

Before you select your Halloween costume this year, have a look at the following list of common costumes that promote hatred and bigotry, so you can be sure to find a more inclusive Halloween costume idea:



Vampires are often associated with the Romanian region of Transylvania. Dressing up as a vampire for Halloween perpetuates the stereotypes that all Romanians drink blood and have no reflection. This is not true of all Romanians.



Dressing up as a zombie may seem innocent, but it’s actually insensitive to groups whose ancestors suffered through the Bubonic Plague and other pandemic diseases (ex: Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, the Americas). Illness is not something to be made light of.


bed sheet phantom

Thinking of going with a simple ghost costume? Think again. Many people have had a friend or family member pass away within the past quarter century, and a ghost costume could trigger unwanted memories. This applies to angel and devil costumes (for deceased Democrats and Republicans, respectively) as well.



It should be obvious that pirate costumes are out of the question as plundering is not something to be celebrated. Plunder is just plain wrong.

Bunny Rabbit


Bunny rabbit costumes may have been socially acceptable before 1953. But since the launch of Playboy Magazine, bunny rabbits have come to represent mass exploitation and objectification of women. Women who dress as bunny rabbits are kowtowing to the patriarchy whether they like it or not.



Princess costumes encourage harmful gender roles and stereotypes. The misogynistic “ess” assures that princes will aways come before princesses alphabetically, an oft-overlooked reinforcement of male superiority that remains deeply ingrained within our society.

Firefighter, Police Officer, etc.


Firefighter, police officer, soldier, professional athlete, cowboy, and superhero costumes are a gross embodiment of hyper-toxic masculinity. These costumes should be avoided at all costs.



There are children starving in Africa. Get it? Got it? Good.



Dressing up as a witch may remind some people of Hillary Clinton. This could cause seizures and even strokes among those of us living under the reign of a Nazi, fascist, white supremacist, rapist, Russian agent named Donald Drumpf.

A Better Alternative


Instead of causing offense by wearing one of the aforementioned costumes, why not celebrate our rich diversity by dressing as a Native American, a Vietnamese rice farmer, a Geisha, a mariachi performer, a Hasidic Jew, Princess Moana, a German Nazi, a Radical Islamic Terrorist, Caitlyn Jenner, or a minstrel show dancer.

Let’s make cultural sensitivity the name of the game this Halloween!


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The Official 2017 Guide to Avoiding Offensive Halloween Costumes