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Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …

 Liberty  Comments Off on Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …
Jul 242015

Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that you’re addicted to cigarettes and you’re desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes. Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. Moreover, you’re perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means you’ll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much. You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing.

This story gives us two contrasting ways of thinking of liberty. On the one hand, one can think of liberty as the absence of obstacles external to the agent. You are free if no one is stopping you from doing whatever you might want to do. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be free. On the other hand, one can think of liberty as the presence of control on the part of the agent. To be free, you must be self-determined, which is to say that you must be able to control your own destiny in your own interests. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be unfree: you are not in control of your own destiny, as you are failing to control a passion that you yourself would rather be rid of and which is preventing you from realizing what you recognize to be your true interests. One might say that while on the first view liberty is simply about how many doors are open to the agent, on the second view it is more about going through the right doors for the right reasons.

In a famous essay first published in 1958, Isaiah Berlin called these two concepts of liberty negative and positive respectively (Berlin 1969).[1] The reason for using these labels is that in the first case liberty seems to be a mere absence of something (i.e. of obstacles, barriers, constraints or interference from others), whereas in the second case it seems to require the presence of something (i.e. of control, self-mastery, self-determination or self-realization). In Berlin’s words, we use the negative concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question What is the area within which the subject a person or group of persons is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?, whereas we use the positive concept in attempting to answer the question What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that? (1969, pp. 12122).

It is useful to think of the difference between the two concepts in terms of the difference between factors that are external and factors that are internal to the agent. While theorists of negative freedom are primarily interested in the degree to which individuals or groups suffer interference from external bodies, theorists of positive freedom are more attentive to the internal factors affecting the degree to which individuals or groups act autonomously. Given this difference, one might be tempted to think that a political philosopher should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, a concern with positive freedom being more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political and social institutions. This, however, would be premature, for among the most hotly debated issues in political philosophy are the following: Is the positive concept of freedom a political concept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on their behalf? And if so, is it desirable for the state to do so? The classic texts in the history of western political thought are divided over how these questions should be answered: theorists in the classical liberal tradition, like Constant, Humboldt, Spencer and Mill, are typically classed as answering no and therefore as defending a negative concept of political freedom; theorists that are critical of this tradition, like Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and T.H. Green, are typically classed as answering yes and as defending a positive concept of political freedom.

In its political form, positive freedom has often been thought of as necessarily achieved through a collectivity. Perhaps the clearest case is that of Rousseau’s theory of freedom, according to which individual freedom is achieved through participation in the process whereby one’s community exercises collective control over its own affairs in accordance with the general will. Put in the simplest terms, one might say that a democratic society is a free society because it is a self-determined society, and that a member of that society is free to the extent that he or she participates in its democratic process. But there are also individualist applications of the concept of positive freedom. For example, it is sometimes said that a government should aim actively to create the conditions necessary for individuals to be self-sufficient or to achieve self-realization. The negative concept of freedom, on the other hand, is most commonly assumed in liberal defences of the constitutional liberties typical of liberal-democratic societies, such as freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, and in arguments against paternalist or moralist state intervention. It is also often invoked in defences of the right to private property, although some have contested the claim that private property necessarily enhances negative liberty (Cohen, 1991, 1995).

After Berlin, the most widely cited and best developed analyses of the negative concept of liberty include Hayek (1960), Day (1971), Oppenheim (1981), Miller (1983) and Steiner (1994). Among the most prominent contemporary analyses of the positive concept of liberty are Milne (1968), Gibbs (1976), C. Taylor (1979) and Christman (1991, 2005).

Many liberals, including Berlin, have suggested that the positive concept of liberty carries with it a danger of authoritarianism. Consider the fate of a permanent and oppressed minority. Because the members of this minority participate in a democratic process characterized by majority rule, they might be said to be free on the grounds that they are members of a society exercising self-control over its own affairs. But they are oppressed, and so are surely unfree. Moreover, it is not necessary to see a society as democratic in order to see it as self-controlled; one might instead adopt an organic conception of society, according to which the collectivity is to be thought of as a living organism, and one might believe that this organism will only act rationally, will only be in control of itself, when its various parts are brought into line with some rational plan devised by its wise governors (who, to extend the metaphor, might be thought of as the organism’s brain). In this case, even the majority might be oppressed in the name of liberty.

Such justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders. Berlin, himself a liberal and writing during the cold war, was clearly moved by the way in which the apparently noble ideal of freedom as self-mastery or self-realization had been twisted and distorted by the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century most notably those of the Soviet Union so as to claim that they, rather than the liberal West, were the true champions of freedom. The slippery slope towards this paradoxical conclusion begins, according to Berlin, with the idea of a divided self. To illustrate: the smoker in our story provides a clear example of a divided self, for she is both a self that desires to get to an appointment and a self that desires to get to the tobacconists, and these two desires are in conflict. We can now enrich this story in a plausible way by adding that one of these selves the keeper of appointments is superior to the other: the self that is a keeper of appointments is thus a higher self, and the self that is a smoker is a lower self. The higher self is the rational, reflecting self, the self that is capable of moral action and of taking responsibility for what she does. This is the true self, for rational reflection and moral responsibility are the features of humans that mark them off from other animals. The lower self, on the other hand, is the self of the passions, of unreflecting desires and irrational impulses. One is free, then, when one’s higher, rational self is in control and one is not a slave to one’s passions or to one’s merely empirical self. The next step down the slippery slope consists in pointing out that some individuals are more rational than others, and can therefore know best what is in their and others’ rational interests. This allows them to say that by forcing people less rational than themselves to do the rational thing and thus to realize their true selves, they are in fact liberating them from their merely empirical desires. Occasionally, Berlin says, the defender of positive freedom will take an additional step that consists in conceiving of the self as wider than the individual and as represented by an organic social whole a tribe, a race, a church, a state, the great society of the living and the dead and the yet unborn. The true interests of the individual are to be identified with the interests of this whole, and individuals can and should be coerced into fulfilling these interests, for they would not resist coercion if they were as rational and wise as their coercers. Once I take this view, Berlin says, I am in a position to ignore the actual wishes of men or societies, to bully, oppress, torture in the name, and on behalf, of their real selves, in the secure knowledge that whatever is the true goal of man … must be identical with his freedom (Berlin 1969, pp. 13233).

Those in the negative camp try to cut off this line of reasoning at the first step, by denying that there is any necessary relation between one’s freedom and one’s desires. Since one is free to the extent that one is externally unprevented from doing things, they say, one can be free to do what one does not desire to do. If being free meant being unprevented from realizing one’s desires, then one could, again paradoxically, reduce one’s unfreedom by coming to desire fewer of the things one is unfree to do. One could become free simply by contenting oneself with one’s situation. A perfectly contented slave is perfectly free to realize all of her desires. Nevertheless, we tend to think of slavery as the opposite of freedom. More generally, freedom is not to be confused with happiness, for in logical terms there is nothing to stop a free person from being unhappy or an unfree person from being happy. The happy person might feel free, but whether they are free is another matter (Day, 1970). Negative theorists of freedom therefore tend to say not that having freedom means being unprevented from doing as one desires, but that it means being unprevented from doing whatever one might desire to do.

Some theorists of positive freedom bite the bullet and say that the contented slave is indeed free that in order to be free the individual must learn, not so much to dominate certain merely empirical desires, but to rid herself of them. She must, in other words, remove as many of her desires as possible. As Berlin puts it, if I have a wounded leg there are two methods of freeing myself from pain. One is to heal the wound. But if the cure is too difficult or uncertain, there is another method. I can get rid of the wound by cutting off my leg (1969, pp. 13536). This is the strategy of liberation adopted by ascetics, stoics and Buddhist sages. It involves a retreat into an inner citadel a soul or a purely noumenal self in which the individual is immune to any outside forces. But this state, even if it can be achieved, is not one that liberals would want to call one of freedom, for it again risks masking important forms of oppression. It is, after all, often in coming to terms with excessive external limitations in society that individuals retreat into themselves, pretending to themselves that they do not really desire the worldly goods or pleasures they have been denied. Moreover, the removal of desires may also be an effect of outside forces, such as brainwashing, which we should hardly want to call a realization of freedom.

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Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …

Eugenics – a planned evolution for life

 Eugenics  Comments Off on Eugenics – a planned evolution for life
Jul 212015

Envision every human as equal at birth; in beauty, health, mental health, social strength and intelligence. A designed evolutionary system with goals and planning would provide all of these for every human. Only then can a truly egalitarian society be obtained.

It is natural (ethical, moral, expected) behavior for the human species to modify natural processes to its advantage. As the human species learns more and more about the genetic structure of the human, and its implications in form and culture, it will apply that knowledge (make use of it). To do so is in the nature of the human. Mistakes will be made. That, also, is human. Some will use that knowledge to take unfair advantage of others. That, also, is human. The human will then learn from and overcome from those mistakes and take steps to continuously perfect the application. That, also, is human.

The first requirement for any application of genetic knowledge to the welfare and survival of the species is that each such application be technically justified beforehand. This requires that the application be pretested for validity and tested for adverse side effects. It must then be shown to have a provable net positive effect, with adequate safety margins.

The second requirement for any application of genetic knowledge to the welfare and survival of the species is that each such application be morally and ethically justified beforehand. This requires that the application be pretested for its inherent morality and all social side effects to be evaluated. It must then be shown to have a provable net positive morality, with adequate safety margins. Only then may it be applied.


It was learned from A Basis for Morality Conclusion 2 and Conclusion 4 as directed to the human species:

Since the product of life is survival, normal (expected, natural, moral, ethical) behavior within the human species is that which provides the optimum opportunity for the species survival. Individual or group behavior which supplies less than optimum opportunity for species survival, is perverted (not natural, not normal, not expected, unethical, immoral).

It was also learned from Conclusion 3 that:

The end result of life is the survival of the species (community) as opposed to the survival of the individual. In the natural process of life, the behavior and survival of the individual are subservient to the species welfare.

Considering those two conclusions as provable fact, the following text begins:

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Eugenics – a planned evolution for life

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Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self-Government

 Misc  Comments Off on Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self-Government
Apr 082015

What is Libertarianism?

Libertarians see the individual as the basic, most essential element of society. The word roughly means believer in liberty. Libertarians believe that each individual owns his or her own life and property and has the right to make his own choices about how to live his life as long as he respects the rights of others to do the same.

Liberty is one of the central lessons of world history. Virtually all the progress the human race has enjoyed during the past few centuries is due to the increasing acceptance of free markets, civil liberties and self-ownership.

Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense) and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others).

Click here to view some definitions of libertarianism.

Libertarians are not left or right or a combination of the two. Libertarians believe that on every issue you have the right to decide for yourself whats best for you and to act on that belief, so long as you simply respect the right of other people to do the same.

How does this compare with the left and right? Todays liberals tend to value personal liberty, but want significant government control of the economy. Todays conservatives tend to favor economic freedom, but want to use the government to uphold traditional values. Libertarians, in contrast, support both personal and economic liberty.

Libertarianism is the only political movement that consistently advocates a high degree of both personal and economic liberty.

Thomas Jefferson

Modern libertarianism has multiple roots, but perhaps the most important one is the minimal-government republicanism of Americas founding revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists. The core ideals of libertarianism that all men are created equal and are endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be seen in the Declaration of Independence and in the limited government established in the Constitution.

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Libertarianism – The Advocates for Self-Government

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The Skanner News – Commentary: Free Speech Hypocrisy

 Free Speech  Comments Off on The Skanner News – Commentary: Free Speech Hypocrisy
Apr 052015

Details Written by Lee A Daniels, NNPA Columnist Published: 03 April 2015

This winter the medias been ablaze with stories about racist, homophobic and sexist slurs being hurled this way and that by college students and other adults.

Revealingly, those that have captured the most attention all involve Black Americans as the targets of the racist speech or action: the members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of one prominent White fraternity singing a racist ditty that referenced lynching a Black man; the sexist slur hurled against adolescent baseball star MoNe Davis by a college baseball athlete, and the attempt by the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Texas to force that state to produce a license plate with their symbol, the Confederate battle flag, on it. This latest effort by Confederate sympathizers to obscure the racist rebellions ineradicable stain of treason in the defense of slavery, as one analyst wrote, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case last week.

The controversies have provoked a growing volume of commentary and opinion columns. Most of those Ive seen have declared that, while offensive speech and ideas are despicable, they must be tolerated in the name of freedom of expression so that society can benefit in the short- and long-term from the free flow of ideas.

Im a free-speech advocate myself. But in recent years, whenever these free-speech controversies have burst into the open, Ive increasingly noticed some important things missing from the general run of commentary and opinion columns. For one thing, I dont see them grappling with the question of why those who spout the slurs do so.

For example, shouldnt we be examining why a group of White college students, most of whom come from middle-class and upper-middle-class families, would gleefully traffick in expressions of racism?

And why a White college baseball player would feel the need to use a slur of sexual degeneracy against MoNe Davis, the 14-year-old Black American girl whose athletic prowess and off-the-field poise has won her well-deserved national attention?

Why should any public entity sanction the lies Confederate sympathizers continue to spout? The Confederacys own documents among them, the Confederate Constitution of 1861, and the individual ordinances of secession of each of the Confederate states make clear its driving force was the maintenance and expansion of its slave empire. If states that have these revenue-generating vanity-plate programs must open them to Confederate sympathizers, must they also accept the requests of drivers who want plates bearing the flags of other systems of extraordinary evil such as the Nazi flag, or the flag of ISIS too?

Part of whats bothering me is that when these controversies explode, I dont see the fierce condemnation of the values of the wrongdoers and their parents, neighborhoods and entire racial group thats standard procedure whenever some Black youth has done something wrong. Instead, I see many free speech advocates rush right past any consideration of the pain the offensive words cause to loftily order the individual and the group targets of the hate speech to ignore it or be better than the bigots.

In doing so, they deliberately ignore the reality that the old saying sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you has always been only partially true. Black American history is replete with many tragic episodes of racist slurs used to provoke and sustain racist violence. And now, the virulent online expressions of hatred against women whom misogynists feel are too assertive underscore the fact that sometimes offensive speech isnt just expression. Sometimes its used as a weapon to intimidate its target into silence.

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The Skanner News – Commentary: Free Speech Hypocrisy

Cash leads to controversy

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Cash leads to controversy
Mar 272015

The old conundrum of “free speech for me, but not for thee” is back before the nation’s highest court.

Legislative lust for cash led to a program in Texas that allowed motorists, for a $30 fee, to put their own group messages on their license plates.

But the free exercise of speech ran into a heckler’s veto, the result of which is a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether the state can veto the presence of a Confederate flag logo on a motorist’s plates.

In oral arguments this week, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said the state can veto the flag because “the First Amendment does not mean that a motorist can compel any government to place its imprimatur of the Confederate flag on its license plate.”

R. James George Jr., who represents the Sons of Confederate Veterans, countered that it’s not the state speaking, but the individual who carries his own personal message on his license plate. Besides, the state allows more than 400 specialty plates and all those messages can’t reflect state speech.

Does that means Nazis or dopers could put “Swastikas” or “Make Pot Legal” on Texas license places, asked Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Sure does, George replied. Freedom means freedom for everybody, he contended, and the state policy allowing individual groups to design their own messages applies equally to all groups.

News accounts indicate that Texas specialty license plates tout everything from favorite schools to political slogans. The state has rarely rejected a proposed design, and it might not have rejected the Confederate logo if opponents hadn’t protested at a motor vehicles department board meeting. When they said they found the logo personally offense, board members unanimously voted to prohibit it.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued, alleging the state is engaged in blatant viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. Under the viewpoint discrimination doctrine, government is not allowed to pick and choose the speech it will allow.

The Confederate flag means different things to different people. It’s no surprise that a lawyer for the NAACP calls it a “powerful symbol of the oppression of black people.” After all, the Confederate flag was the symbol of the Southern slave states during the Civil War.

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Cash leads to controversy

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"NATO's bombing no obstacle to cooperation" – FM

 NATO  Comments Off on "NATO's bombing no obstacle to cooperation" – FM
Mar 192015

Source: Tanjug

BRUSSELS — With the signing of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), Serbia “entered a new phase in relations with NATO,” said Ivica Dacic and Bratislav Gasic.

“Our neutrality is not called into question by this plan,” Dacic, who serves as Serbia’s foreign minister and deputy premier, told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

He said that “no one can change what happened 16 years ago when NATO bombed Serbia” – but that “it should not be an obstacle to building partnership relations in the future.”

Stoltenberg, said Dacic, recently spoke with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, “so further development of relations with the alliance should be expected.”

He said that he received guarantees from Stoltenberg that “no kind of Kosovo’s armed forces will have access to the north of Kosovo,”, recalling that the previous NATO chief gave similar guarantees.

Dacic said that IPAP “opens the possibility of cooperation between Serbia and NATO in many fields, including science, public diplomacy and participation in international peacekeeping operations.”

“These, of course, are not combat operations,” remarked Dacic, and explained that it means cooperation in rescue operations during natural disasters.

He said that NATO was “also important for Serbia because of KFOR and the support to the Brussels agreement,” and recalled that the KFOR commander recently met with the Serbian army chief.

Dacic said that his meeting with Stoltenberg touched on many issues, “including relations with Russia and Serbia’s role as chairman of the OSCE.”

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"NATO's bombing no obstacle to cooperation" – FM

Find hidden data on your computer with PCFerret

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on Find hidden data on your computer with PCFerret
Mar 102015

How well do you know your PC, the data it holds, how its really being used by others? PCFerret is a freeware tool for Windows Vista and later which claims it can help you find out.

Despite the intriguing pitch, PCFerret opens with a relatively ordinary system information report. It covers the core details youd expect — hardware, network, drive statistics, user accounts etc — and can be saved to HTML for easy sharing, but it cant compete with the more specialist competition.

The “Browser Media” tool is more interesting, scanning your browser caches (Firefox, Chrome, IE, Opera. Safari, Sea Monkey) for images or movies, then displaying thumbnails of the results. Could be useful for checking what others are viewing online.

A similar “Cached URLs” module checks your browser caches, and raises alerts for any URLs which contain suspect keywords. We found this raised lots of false alarms (hint: “pov” isnt just used in porn) but you can at least customize the keyword list, hopefully making it more accurate.

The Find Files By Type function is a highlight, scanning your PC and reporting on files whose content doesnt match their file extension. If someone has downloaded videos and renamed them to have a ZIP or ISO extension, say, this module should raise the alert. You could use it to detect encrypted containers, and for many other purposes, for example detecting malicious executable code which has been disguised as something else.

Theres a similar security tool in the programs “ADS Selection” feature, which scans your system to report on files with alternate data streams.

Bonus extras include a secure password creator, a file hash generator, a Tor Browser detector, and a module for managing Windows reboot operations (deleting, moving or renaming files when your system restarts).

PCFerret is an odd mix of features. It feels like the developer knows most of the individual modules arent quite as good as the best of the freeware competition, but instead of improving them, hes just bolted on something else.

But, we still think its worth downloading for the “Find Files By Type” module alone. This gives you much more control than similar programs, and makes it easy to find archives, images, hidden scripts, Registry files and more.

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Find hidden data on your computer with PCFerret

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Judge Won't Force Twitter to Reveal Anonymous Trolls

 Misc  Comments Off on Judge Won't Force Twitter to Reveal Anonymous Trolls
Mar 092015

Who is the anonymous person tweeting that Music Group Macao CEO Uli Behringer engages with prostitutes and evades taxes?

The company which supplies audio equipment including loudspeakers, amplifiers and mixers is no closer to finding out after a federal judge in San Francisco refused to order Twitter to reveal the individual(s) behind @NotUliBehringer and @FakeUli.

In a ruling on Monday, U.S. District Judge Laurel Beeler writes how she is concerned that breaching anonymity “would unduly chill speech and deter other critics from exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Yes, anonymous trolls enjoy rights too.

Last April, Music Group Macao was so concerned with them that it filed a defamation lawsuit against “John Does” over tweets that said the company “designs its products to break in 3-6 months” and “encourages domestic violence and misogyny.”

After a judge in Washington granted expedited discovery, the decision on whether or not to enforce subpoenas against Twitter landed with Judge Beeler, who got some encouragement by Twitter to make a First Amendment analysis before it blabbed.

She does so with gusto.

“The challenged speech here consists mainly of flatly derogatory statements about Music Group’s CEO, and, apparently to a lesser degree, some criticism of the company’s products that likely constitutes legitimate commercial criticism,” the judge writes.

Unflattering tweets about Music Group’s business practices and products are clearly protected by the First Amendment, she adds.

As for tweets that Behringer evades taxes or travels internationally while concealing things inside his body, Beeler says, “The first comment is troubling, the latter merely crass. But they are both onetime comments. Even the tax-evasion remark would likely be read as what it is: one rant among countless others from someone with an obvious grudge against Music Group’s CEO. The court does not think that, in the eyes of an ordinary person, this one-time comment would lower the CEO in the community’s estimation.”

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Judge Won't Force Twitter to Reveal Anonymous Trolls

Volokh Conspiracy: Hows this for a working definition of a libertarian?

 Misc  Comments Off on Volokh Conspiracy: Hows this for a working definition of a libertarian?
Feb 272015

Ilyas post about recent libertarian books of interest raised the question in the comments of what makes someone a libertarian. I doubt any two libertarians agree on the exact boundaries of libertarianism, but hows this for a working definition: A libertarian is someone who generally opposes government interference with and regulation of civil society, even when the result of such government action would be to clamp down on things the individual in question personally dislikes, finds offensive, or morally disapproves of.

Thus, for example, a libertarian who hates smoking opposes smoking bans in private restaurants, a libertarian who thinks homosexual sodomy is immoral nevertheless opposes sodomy laws, a libertarian who finds certain forms of hate speech offensive still opposes hate speech laws, a libertarian who believes in eating natural foods opposes bans or special taxes on processed foods, and a libertarian who thinks that all employers should pay a living wage nevertheless opposes living wage legislation. It doesnt matter whether the libertarian holds these positions because he believes in natural rights, for utilitarian reasons, or because he thinks God wants us to live in a libertarian society.

David Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA. He is the author of Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights Against Progressive Reform (2011); You Can’t Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws (2003);

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Volokh Conspiracy: Hows this for a working definition of a libertarian?

Patrick Harvie

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Patrick Harvie
Feb 182015

THE debate on free speech and its limits is thousands of years old, and different societies through the ages have taken very different positions.

Political power, religious authority and economic ideas can all be threatened by free speech.

For many people, that makes free speech not only an important principle, but an absolute one.

But free speech can also threaten our individual wellbeing, our lives or even our whole society, when those speaking incite others to act against us.

This tension will always exist, and the debate about free speech and its limits will keep resurfacing, never being resolved and always needing to be redefined.

We’re currently being forced to consider these issues again following the violence in Copenhagen and Paris, perpetrated by people unwilling to accept that free speech includes the freedom to criticise or mock their religion.

The responses have been both defiant and creative, with the pencil becoming a symbol of free speech.

But it’s not so long since our own laws came down on the other side of this debate.

It’s less than a decade since blasphemy, which originally carried the death penalty, was repealed in England and Wales, something which has never been done in Scotland.

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Patrick Harvie

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Meat-labeling lawsuit dismissed – Wed, 11 Feb 2015 PST

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Meat-labeling lawsuit dismissed – Wed, 11 Feb 2015 PST
Feb 122015

WASHINGTON A meat industry lawsuit that claimed federal labeling rules violated the constitutional right to free speech has beendismissed.

The industry sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 over new rules that required product packages to list the individual countries where animals were born, raised andslaughtered.

That First Amendment challenge failed at the federal district court and appeals court levels. The notice of dismissal Monday ended the suit. It leaves the remaining issues in the case to the World Trade Organization. The WTO has said that the labeling rules place an unfair burden on meat producers

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WASHINGTON A meat industry lawsuit that claimed federal labeling rules violated the constitutional right to free speech has beendismissed.

The industry sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 over new rules that required product packages to list the individual countries where animals were born, raised andslaughtered.

That First Amendment challenge failed at the federal district court and appeals court levels. The notice of dismissal Monday ended the suit. It leaves the remaining issues in the case to the World Trade Organization. The WTO has said that the labeling rules place an unfair burden on meat producers in Canada andMexico.

The USDA has appealed thatdecision.

So-called country-of-origin labeling or COOL has been a hot-button issue for U.S. ranchers and farmers, their foreign competitors, consumers and meat processors andpackagers.

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Meat-labeling lawsuit dismissed – Wed, 11 Feb 2015 PST

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House 'religious freedom' law passes on voice vote

 Misc  Comments Off on House 'religious freedom' law passes on voice vote
Feb 112015

LITTLE ROCK — A bill supporters say will strengthen First Amendment Freedom of Religion rights is on the way to the state House floor after the House Judiciary Committee backed it Tuesday.

Known as the “Conscience Protection Act,” House Bill 1228, sponsored by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, seeks to protect Arkansans from laws, ordinances, or other government rules and policies that would “burden” an individual’s right to exercise religion. Measures burdening religious beliefs would only be allowed if the government possesses a “compelling” interest in the regulation and if the regulation is the the least restrictive option.

The bill passed through by voice vote despite opposition from attorneys who argued the statute was unnecessary and would lead to a range of unforeseen legal problems. In addition, two religious leaders spoke in opposition, arguing the legislation would enable Arkansans to discriminate against gays and others.

On Tuesday, Ballinger said 19 other states and the federal government have passed similar legislation.

” [H.B. 1228] gives us a tool to balance it out and make it where the individual, the citizen, has an ability to say ‘Hold on a second, this does infringe on my First Amendment rights and so it gives them the ability to have that defense adjudicated,” Ballinger said. “What matters to me is there is an ability for someone to protect what they truly believe.”

Ballinger said the bill is a companion to Senate Bill 202, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, which passed the Senate on Monday and would bar cities or counties from passing their own anti-discrimination laws.

Eureka Springs passed that type of ordinance earlier this week, banning discrimination on the basis of sexuality.

Fayetteville’s City Council approved such an ordinance in August; voters there overturned it in in December.

“That ordinance, would it really have hurt some people and their practice of religion? It would have done it,” Ballinger said. “Fayetteville proved there is some necessity to do it. The reality is there are people who have deeply held religious beliefs that would have been required to perform some scenarios they think is inconsistent with that.”

A pair of Little Rock Presbyterian pastors, Frank LeBlanc and Marie Mainard O’Connell, testified against the bill.

House 'religious freedom' law passes on voice vote

BCOM 405 Week 2 Individual First Amendment and Journalism Pa – Video

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Free Speech and the Battle for Western Culture – Video

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Free Speech and the Battle for Western Culture
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2015 Complete SEO Guide For Blogger Blog! [100% Safe] [Enable Meta In Individual Post] – Video

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"NATO membership would improve quality of life"

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Dec 162014

Source: Tanjug

BELGRADE — Serbia’s cooperation with NATO over the past ten years did much for the area of security sector reforms, as well as in increasing military interoperability.

This is what participants of a gathering dubbed “Belgrade NATO Week” have said, adding that Serbia’s membership in the military alliance would also contribute to improving regional relations and bring a greater degree of democracy and the rule of law, as well as improve “the quality of life in our country.”

According to U.S. embassy in Belgrade political counselor Cherrie Daniels, Serbia’s official orientation towards the European Union and its path towards European integration have great significance when it comes to security sector reforms, and development of military interoperability between Serbia and its partners in the EU.

“As Serbia progress towards the EU, it will be very important to complete the process of the reform of the security sector and to establish sustainable and transparent institutions,” said Daniels, adding that Serbia made much progress over the past ten years.

She said Serbia’s priority was to implement the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which would “raise to a higher level Serbia’s relations with NATO.”

“IPAP will identify ways in which NATO can help Serbia, and it will expand relations from the military to the political level, at the same time creating a framework for cooperation in other fields. This is an important aspect for Serbia because it will provide an opportunity for sustainable reform of the security sector, which is crucial in the process of Serbia’s EU accession,” said Daniels.

Increasing military interoperability of the Serbian Army is another benefit of EU integrations, explained Daniels, underlining that joint training of Serbian soldiers with EU partners and the harmonization of standards in the defense sector will allow the country to strengthen its national security, be ready to react in emergency situations, and effectively participate in peacekeeping missions and multinational operations.

Noting that Serbia is the only country in the region that does not want to become a member of NATO, executive director of the Atlantic Council of Serbia Milovan Milosevic said he believed that much more than military cooperation is gained through membership.

“NATO is not only a military force, it is a set of values that those countries stand for, like democracy or human rights protection. Also, NATO member states receive more foreign direct investments. In Lithuania, foreign direct investments increased by 167 percent in the first year after it became a member of NATO, while those in Bulgaria increased by 97 percent, “said Milosevic.

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