- Created: 29 October 2011
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It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.
-- Eric Hoffer
Recently former judge Andrew Napolitano paid Jon Stewart on the Daily Show a visit to promote his book, It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom. Pseudo libertarian Napolitano and bona fide liberal Stewart immediately got into it. In an out of body moment, Napolitano started listing the natural rights that we all have and stated that we have the right to murder, which government then properly acts to restrict (even though he was using that to oddly make the point that government is an evil institution). For the whole sorry show in which this interview takes place, you can watch it here.
Judge, we have the right to life, liberty and property, a priori to the existence of any government or similar criminal organizations. Since rights are a bi-product of our human nature, we all have the same rights or we have none at all, for if I have a right that you do not, then we must be of different species. For me to have the right to life, I must respect that right in others otherwise I will find my right to life quickly separated from my person. And so goes it for all the rights we have. If I do not respect those rights in others, I effectively relinquish them for myself. I have the right to defend myself not the right to initiate an act of murder on another human being. What could you possibly have been thinking?
OK, so the judge had a momentary brain fart. After all, it's not like he's used to being on TV in highly pressurized arguments over ideology! As the argument continued, Stewart made the tried and true liberal (and dare I say even conservative) arguments about all the good things government does for us like building roads (yea Jon how did the autobahn we built in the 50's and 60's work out for the inner cities by facilitating white flight – that was a real public service) or helping the poor and disadvantage (or the losers as Stewart referred to them).
Stewart kept putting up straw arguments and Napolitano kept ignored them by trying to make other points - probably things he remembered from writing in his book! Judge you've got to listen to the other guy's argument in order to knock it down. Stewart kept coming back to the folks who fail in our society and how we should help them. The judge might have pointed out that few people who fail are incapable of learning and that a certain amount of failure along the way is a better learning tool than success, as I'm sure Mr. Stewart has learned along his way in life. By minimizing the consequences of error and failure through government action (i.e. by the use of force), we insure that it will continue to happen. By perpetuating a master/dependency relationship, the dependent is less likely to break out of the dependency we create for him. Liberalism like Stewart's is a combination of ignorance about the way human behavior works (and is usually accompanied by an abysmal understanding of science and economics) coupled with a condescension that they know better than almost everyone else, except perhaps other smarter liberals.
Napolitano and Stewart have one thing in common. The are both good entertainers. I've heard Napolitano speak in person and he can raise the roof (literally) with freedom sounding rhetoric. Stewart is a master of the parody, often of his liberal brethren. In both cases at the end of the day their prescriptions must be taken with a hefty dose of skepticism or as the bard said, "it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."