Monthly Archives: July 2014

Is Josh Tolley a Totalitarian?

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A person in the Idaho liberty movement encouraged me to check out radio host Josh Tolley, saying that he ought to be promoted as a media personality who supports liberty. I subscribed to his YouTube channel and watched a video every so often (or rather listened to his videos, which are mostly excerpts from his radio show that rotate still images instead of actually being video). However, the one to which I listened today was rather disturbing. It is entitled “Bible Vs Constitution: Only One Supports Freedom (it’s not the one you think).” You can see it below:

Josh Tolley interviews Ted R. Weiland, the pastor of Christian Covenant Fellowship in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and who wrote a book called Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution: A Biblical Perspective. Mr. Weiland argues that the US Constitution is not inspired by Judeo-Christian values or Biblical law, but not for the reasons one might think. Rather, the reason that the US Constitution is anti-Christian is because it fails to establish a nation-state theocracy that enforces the Mosaic Law.

In the above-mentioned book, there is a chapter dedicated to each of the articles in the US Constitution, as well as one for each of the amendments. In this interview, Weiland mentions the arguments he makes against the First Amendment, particularly freedom of religion. If it weren’t for this anti-Christian provision, he says, we wouldn’t see the rise of Islam or polytheism in the United States. “But wouldn’t this mean forced conversions?” a caller asks. Forced conversions are not real conversions, Weiland replies, but we are talking about the government and not individuals and there is a big difference. So here we have the obvious indication that Weiland is a statist totalitarian: he believes something that would be absolutely morally reprehensible for an individual to do is a duty of the state. And yet Tolley does not bother to challenge this point.

Weiland also claims that under what he believes to be a Biblical government, there would be almost no need for prisons. Before you think,” Wow, this guy must really be progressive,” please note that the reason why is the immediate execution of those convicted of capital crimes and the payment of restitution to victims of non-capital crimes (who are summarily executed if they fail to pay restitution). When a caller asks about whether it is just for offenders who fail to pay restitution to be executed, Weiland replies that such a penalty would rarely, if ever, be enforced. Why, whoever would choose not to pay restitution must have a death wish, he claims. But if we are to accept that reasoning, we would have to say that people would rarely, if ever, do anything that incurred the death penalty, which is 1) not true in practice and 2) sounds like a basis for totalitarianism: just have the death penalty for all undesirable behaviors and they will go away!

Weiland also seems very confident in his Biblical interpretation skills, as he says most Christians are wrong in how they believe Jesus freed us from the requirements of the Mosaic Law. Not so, says he, we still need to stone adulterers and homosexuals. If we only followed God’s perfect law (strictly enforced by the state), we wouldn’t have any of the social problems we have today. Weiland shows the tendencies common among totalitarians: he believes in an earthly utopia brought about by state power and he is clearly willing to execute people to reach his objectives.

And even through all this, interviewing someone who is obviously not a libertarian and shows many of the signs of being a totalitarian, Josh Tolley expresses no disagreement with anything Weiland says. In fact, he wants to have him on his show again. What are we to think of Josh Tolley?

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Is Police Brutality Systemic or Anecdotal?

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I came across an interesting piece on The American Conservative arguing the proposition that police brutality is not just anecdotal, but systemic. If we think of the incentives facing police officers, this shouldn’t be too surprising. If you’re in a job where there is an above-average likelihood where you will be required to engage in the use of force and the certainty of punishment should you use excessive force is rather low, there is a greater chance, all else equal, that you will use excessive force. Add into the mix that police officers are self-selected from people who find the ability to use physical force on the job an attractive proposition. Furthermore, there are institutional incentives for police officers to disregard misconduct by their fellow officers, as they face retaliation in the forms of ostracism among other police officers, a smaller chance of promotion, and even the threat of physical force should they report this misconduct.

Thus, to say police brutality is systemic is not to say that all or even the majority of police officers are bad. It is talking about the system (thus, “systemic). And, again, these are the kinds of things we should expect from monopolies, which police departments are: you cannot fire them and you have no choice but to pay them unless you skip town.

Ultimately, I would encourage everyone to treat the institution of government policing with a bit more scrutiny than it typically receives. It may be the case that you live in a place that has a relatively well-functioning police department, and if that’s the case, be grateful. But realize that not all departments have the same good institutional culture and if it does not, it is incredibly hard to fix, due to its monopoly status.

H/T to disobey.tumblr.com