When Nonviolence Isn't Enough

Does the right to self-defense apply against agents of the state?


In August 2017, Richard Hubbard III stopped at a red light in Euclid, Ohio, but his front bumper went a few feet past the white line. The cops pulled him over. That's no surprise: Police in Euclid, Cleveland Heights, and the surrounding cash-strapped towns strictly enforce traffic rules. But officers didn't just give the driver a ticket.

The police demanded Hubbard—a black man—step out of his vehicle. Dashcam footage shows that he calmly complied. Yet one officer immediately spun Hubbard around, bent his arm, and slammed him against his Hyundai. He flipped Hubbard again, punched him in the face, and kicked his groin. Hubbard screamed and put his arms up to protect himself. The other officer joined in.

They threw Hubbard to the ground but continued to punch, hammer, and kick him. When he tried to protect his face, they chanted the informal motto of American police, "Stop resisting!" Even when Hubbard was subdued, prostrate with his hands behind his back and two large officers pinning him down, one officer continued to pummel his skull.

Imagine you witness the whole thing. A thought occurs to you: You're armed. You could shoot the officers, perhaps saving Hubbard's life or preventing him from being maimed and disabled. May you do so?

Below, I defend a controversial answer: Yes, you may. Shooting the cops in this case is dangerous—they may send a SWAT team to kill you—and in many places it's illegal. But it is nevertheless morally permissible, indeed heroic and admirable. You have the right to defend yourself and others from state injustice, even when government agents act ex officio and follow the law.

Normally it's wrong to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, manipulate, destroy property, or attack people. But commonsense morality as well as the common law hold that such actions are permissible in self-defense or in defense of others. The basic principle is that you may use deception or violence when you are not the initial aggressor and when you reasonably believe such actions are necessary to protect yourself or others from imminent, severe injury from an aggressor. You may lie to the murderer at the door. You may smash the windows of the would-be kidnapper's car. You may kill a violent attacker when you reasonably fear for your life.

Now ask: Does it make a difference if the murderer at the door or the kidnapper is a lawfully appointed member of the U.S. government, acting in his or her capacity as an agent?

Civil Disobedience

Discussions of resistance to state injustice often focus on civil disobedience. Think of Henry David Thoreau refusing to pay taxes that would support slavery or the American attack on Mexico. Think of Martin Luther King Jr. and countless other civil rights protesters allowing themselves to be jailed or beaten. Think of unmasked protesters tearing down Confederate statues in the light of day.

Civil disobedience is a public act aimed at social change. A civil disobedient openly defies some law or regulation with the goal of changing the laws or how the laws are enforced. Frequently, citizens engaging in civil disobedience accept punishment, not because they respect the law but because doing so helps ensure outsiders can see they are well-intentioned.

But justifiable resistance needn't aim at changing the law, reforming dysfunctional institutions, or replacing bad leaders. Sometimes, people resist simply to prevent an immediate injustice. If you stop a would-be rapist, you aren't thereby aiming to end the patriarchy, eliminate rape culture, or get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. You're just trying to stop that rape. Similarly, if you shoot Officer Michael Amiott as he bludgeons Richard Hubbard, you're trying to save Hubbard's life, not reform American police tactics, express that black lives matter, or fix Euclid's financial woes.

Resisting the police in this case is an instance of defensive action, not civil disobedience. You engage in defensive action when you use deception, destruction, subterfuge, or violence to stop a wrongdoer from committing an unjust or deeply harmful act.

Don't confuse defensive action with revolution or violent social change. I argue we may defend ourselves or others from immediate threats of injustice. But I don't necessarily recommend we use violence, subterfuge, or deceit to change the form of government, who rules, what the laws are, or how those laws are enforced.

Strategic nonviolence, civil disobedience, protests, and elections are often the most effective ways to induce lasting social change. Violence can be a good way to stop immediate violence, but it's rarely a good way to fix a systematic problem. It is rarely a first resort, though it may not exactly be a last resort either.

However, we shouldn't assume strategic nonviolence of the sort Martin Luther King practiced always works in isolation. Charles Cobb Jr. in This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed (Basic Books) and Akinyele Omowale Umoja in We Will Shoot Back (NYU Press) both provide strong evidence that "nonviolent" civil rights activism succeeded (as much as it has) only because of earlier acts of violent self-defense. Whites initially responded by beating, killing, and lynching blacks. Armed black militias fought back, sometimes by killing cops or National Guardsmen. Once whites learned that blacks would respond in kind, they turned to less violent forms of oppression, and more blacks embraced the nonviolent tactics with which we are familiar. But the authors argue this nonviolence would have been impossible had blacks not violently defended themselves first.

Special Immunity

Here's a philosophical exercise: Imagine a civilian commits an injustice, the kind of injustice against which it's permissible to use deception, subterfuge, or violence to defend yourself or others. Imagine thugs beat up a drunken trucker, the mafia hacks into people's computers and phones, or your neighbor throws people in his basement to punish them for smoking pot. Now imagine the same situation, except the perpetrators are government agents acting in their capacity as such: The police beat Rodney King, the National Security Administration hacks your phone and email without a warrant, or the sheriff arrests you for pot possession. Does that change things?

Most people think it does. But that's puzzling. According to the prevailing view, our rights to life, liberty, personal autonomy, property, and happiness can disappear by political fiat. My neighbors can eliminate my right to defend myself and others by granting someone an elected office. This view holds that defensive violence, deception, destruction, and subterfuge are regulated by different moral principles when it comes to government agents than they are in other contexts.

Most people seem to subscribe to what I call the Special Immunity Thesis: the idea that the set of conditions under which it is permissible, in self-defense or defense of others, to deceive, lie to, sabotage, attack, or kill a government agent is much more stringently constrained than the set of conditions under which it is permissible to deceive, lie to, sabotage, attack, or kill a private civilian.

On the flip side, we have what I call the Moral Parity Thesis: the idea that, very simply, you have the same right of self-defense against government agents as you do against civilians. Officials have no special moral status that immunizes them from defensive actions. When they commit injustices of any sort, it is morally permissible for us, as private individuals, to treat them the same way we would treat private individuals committing those same injustices. Whatever we may do to private individuals, we may do to government officials. We may respond to governmental injustice in exactly the same ways as private injustice.

The Moral Parity Thesis has radical implications. It means you may assassinate leaders to stop them from launching unjust wars. You may fight back against a police officer who arrests you for something that shouldn't be a crime—e.g., marijuana possession or homosexuality. You may escape from jail if mistakenly convicted or convicted of a bogus crime. Your business may lie about its compliance with an unfair regulation and evade excessive taxes. A jury or judge may nullify an unjust statute by refusing to convict those who break it. The Moral Parity Thesis vindicates helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who threatened to kill fellow American soldiers to stop them from killing civilians during the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. It vindicates Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for sharing at least some state secrets. It vindicates government agents who sabotage unjust efforts from within.

My basic argument is simple: By default, we should accept the Moral Parity Thesis, unless we can find some good reason to believe the Special Immunity Thesis instead. Upon inspection, though, the arguments for the Special Immunity Thesis fall flat. Governments and their agents aren't magic.

Government Authority

Some people think it's obvious why the government and its agents enjoy special immunity. They say that governments, or at least democratic governments, have a special moral power called authority. Authority means that when the government issues certain commands, edicts, regulations, or laws, it thereby creates in the rest of us a moral duty to obey.

To be clear, for a government to have authority, this means you must have a duty to obey its laws because they are the law, not simply because the laws happen to coincide with pre-existing obligations. For instance, suppose I walk around downtown Washington, D.C., shouting, "I, Jason Brennan, hereby command you not to kill people!" Bystanders would indeed have a duty not to kill people, but not because I said so. My "command" is morally inert. But most people think government commands are different. When the government commands you not to smoke pot, you thereby acquire a duty not to do so.

This argument—that governmental special immunity rests upon political authority—has two major problems. One is that there's little reason to think governments have authority, period. The other is that even if governments have some authority, there's little reason to think they have the authority to violate our rights, abuse their power, or cause us severe harm.

You may kill a violent attacker when you reasonably fear for your life. Does it make a difference if the murderer at the door is a lawfully appointed member of the U.S. government?

Philosophers have spent 2,500 years trying, and failing, to justify the idea that governments have authority. But—and this seems to be the consensus in philosophy today—none of the arguments really works. For instance, your sixth-grade civics teacher probably told you that government has authority because of a "social contract." You agree to obey, and the government agrees to protect you. But the social contract metaphor falls apart. Contracts are voluntary, but you never consented to and have no right or opportunity to opt out of the "contract" with your government. Contracts require mutual exchange, but U.S. courts have repeatedly ruled that the government has no obligation to protect you, even if you pay your taxes and obey the laws. Plus, even if you were to agree to a social contract, you'd have no good reason to give up your right of self-defense against government abuse. Even absolutist Leviathan author Thomas Hobbes thought such rights remain with the people.

Other philosophers, such as H.L.A. Hart and John Rawls, say that government authority arises from a duty of fair play. They say your neighbors help provide beneficial public goods. When they do so, since you benefit, you should do your share.

The fair play theory may explain why a person should pay taxes and serve on juries. But it would be bizarre to say, "You benefit from some of the public goods the state provides. In order to avoid unfairly free riding on the efforts of others to provide those public goods, you must not only pay taxes, but you must allow the president to exterminate and forcibly relocate Native American tribes. You must let police choke subdued and handcuffed men to death. You must allow Congress to wage war at will. You must allow the police to arrest you for smoking pot or selling Big Gulps." Those things have nothing to do with paying your fair share, playing fair, or avoiding free riding.

Anyone who wants to defend the Special Immunity Thesis on the basis of government authority has a serious burden. It's not enough to justify a general kind of government authority. One must instead explain why democratic officials have the specific authority to commit severe injustices—the kinds of injustices where it would be valid for us to use violence, subterfuge, or deception against civilians if the civilians were to try to commit them.

Suppose a police officer, following the Fugitive Slave Act, arrests an escaped slave in antebellum America. Suppose I shoot the police officer in order to free the slave. Even if we suppose that the U.S. federal government in the 1850s was authoritative overall, it's implausible that citizens had a duty specifically to let it enforce human slavery. Until I see a compelling argument for a theory that says otherwise, I'd regard it as a reductio of any purported theory of authority that it implies I must let police officers behave in such a way.

Other Arguments

Maybe governments have authority over some issues, but that doesn't justify granting their officials special immunity from defensive action. So let's go looking for other possible reasons to believe the Special Immunity Thesis.

Some people say that we should not resist government injustice but use peaceful methods instead. We may vote the bastards out, vote in better bastards, protest, write letters, or post scathing memes on Facebook.

Of course, it's a basic rule of self-defense that we cannot use violence if peaceful alternatives are just as effective; violence is allowed only if necessary. That holds regardless of whether you're defending yourself from abusive police or an abusive spouse. But more fundamentally, this argument misses the point. Remember, defensive actions are about stopping an immediate injustice from occurring, not about altering the rules or affecting who rules. Voting blocs sometimes change bad laws. Protesting sometimes gets a local police department to hire better staff or offer better training. But in the heat of the moment, as Officer Daniel Pantaleo chokes Eric Garner to death, you're not going to save him by writing a letter to a newspaper editor.

Some people say that the Moral Parity Thesis is dangerous, because too many people will bungle it up. According to this objection, the problem isn't with the principle of self-defense; it's that we're bad at applying it. People will mistakenly conclude that they may lie, deceive, or resist police even when they should not. I should keep my mouth shut lest I induce you all to start firebombing Congress.

But if anything, this objection gets the psychology backward. In real life, most people are deferential cowards—all too willing to abide the gassing of Jews, torturing of prisoners, or bombing of innocent civilians because their governments order it. Few people stand up for themselves or others against officials in positions of authority. If anything, proponents of the Special Immunity Thesis should keep their mouths shut, lest they corrupt us even further. People are far more likely to obey Stalin when they should have deposed him than they are to stand up to a cop when they should have backed down.

Still others say that we must not defend against government officials because we have a prohibition against vigilante justice in our society. The idea is that when a stable, workable, and fair public system of justice is in place, we must let it handle criminal justice matters rather than take justice into our own hands.

Fair enough, but also irrelevant. Sure, if the police are saving your neighbor from being mugged, you shouldn't intervene. They probably will handle the situation more competently than you. But if the police ignore or simply cannot stop the mugging, you may intervene. In the case of civil forfeiture—laws that allow police to seize your property on the thinnest of pretenses, and laws that make it nearly impossible for you to recover seized property after the fact—the police themselves just are the muggers. In 2008, the Douglas County, Nebraska, sheriff's department seized $63,530 from a man named Mark Brewer, even though Brewer could show he had obtained the cash through legal means. The officers never charged Brewer with a crime, not even a moving violation. But despite ample proof the money was legitimate, he never got it back. He would have been justified in treating those officers like carjackers.

Others say these ideas are dangerous because governments might respond badly to the resistance. If citizens defend themselves, the state might double down on its oppression.

Indeed it may, though we should be careful in assessing how this affects our duties. Imagine a bully says to you, "If you don't give me your lunch money, I'll beat up two other kids and take theirs." Does his credible threat eliminate your right of self-defense?

If anything, there's reason to think that those worries about potential fallout don't apply so strongly to democratic governments. Sure, police respond to resistance with increased violence and militarization. Most people think it would have been justified, however, to assassinate Mao or Hitler. Yet historically, dictatorships have responded to assassinations by killing civilians and crushing civil rights. When Fanny Kaplan tried but failed to kill Lenin, Lenin unleashed the Red Terror.

In contrast, when democratic leaders are assassinated, not much happens. Four U.S. presidents and 13 congresspersons have been killed, and a few others have been targets. None of these events caused humanitarian disasters or terror purges. The U.S. government has committed and continues to commit many atrocities, but not in response to assassinations. When the IRA murdered Member of Parliament Ian Gow in 1990, the British did not respond by killing innocent Irish citizens, even though the British have a long history of killing innocent Irish people. When Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986, the government convicted a suspect of the murder, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.

Just Following Orders?

Suppose your neighbor becomes convinced sugar is horrible for you. He threatens to lock you in a closet for 30 days if he catches you with cupcakes. Now suppose the government outlaws sweet treats and makes the same threat. Is there any reason to view these cases differently?

Police officers enforcing the law may think they have no choice. After all, "We the People" make the law, with some help from our duly elected representatives, appointed officials, and various lobbyists. The police promise to enforce whatever laws we hand them.

This view of policing fundamentally misunderstands moral responsibility. It's true that we sometimes ask soldiers, police, bureaucrats, and others to enforce unjust laws. We the People often deserve the blame for creating bad laws. But police can—and should—say no. Better yet, they should lie and say yes but then choose not to enforce the bad laws. Government agents don't relinquish personal moral responsibility by agreeing to wear a uniform in exchange for a paycheck.

Making a promise to obey superiors or to follow legal codes does not relieve us of our moral duties. Suppose I tell my frequent co-author Bas van der Vossen that I promise to heed his commands in exchange for a salary and medical benefits. If he then orders me to hack the neighbors' emails, I don't get to say, "Well, shucks, I promised." Other people's rights don't disappear because I made a deal. Promises to follow orders can constrain our personal freedom, but they cannot override or eliminate our pre-existing moral obligations.

Government agents sometimes work for our benefit. Cops assume a great deal of risk (if not as much risk as lumberjacks, farmers, fishers, roofers, truck drivers, or construction workers, judging by the fatality numbers). Congresspeople, generals, and presidents accept stressful jobs with grave responsibility. We should honor what government does for us. How dare we do any less?

At the same time, officials also take on a greater than normal obligation to protect rather than violate our rights. How dare government agents do any less? And if they do dare to violate our rights, then they—not we—should suffer the consequences.

NEXT: Brickbat: Looking Out for the Children

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  1. Preemptively?

    1. Per US government precedent yes, if they have weapons of mass destruction.

  2. How does moral parity allow for justice then? If someone is punished after the fact, a year after the illegal act was committed, that’s not defense. If you compare it to private citizens, it’d be like if someone hits you, then you walk away, then come back a year later and hit them back.

    1. Pebar, you argument reveals how little “punishment” has to do with Justice.

  3. “We the People often deserve the blame for creating bad laws. But police can?and should?say no. Better yet, they should lie and say yes but then choose not to enforce the bad laws.”

    The problem with that is if the executive has unlimited ability to ignore the legislative branch, it will not stop there, and the executive becomes the sole law, and law enforcement is then dictatorial and/or arbitrary. The US system of governance is an attempt to put some tension between the branches of government to make them oversee each other. This is breaking down at the policing level because far too much deference is given to police already by the legislature and the courts.

    Brennan wants to tear down fences without understanding why they exist.

    1. The executive and police officers themselves (at least in my state) take an oath to the state and US Constitutions. If the can show laws violate that oath then they should have no legal obligation to uphold them. I’m fact they should have a moral obligation to ignore them.

      1. “In fact” we really need an edit button.

        1. There’s nothing in the constitution allowing for an edit button.

    2. That’s a legitimate concern. But working for the state isn’t a valid excuse for immoral behavior in my book. What an individual does ought to be judged the same whether they are acting as an agent of the state or as a private person. Locking someone up for drug possession because it’s the law is no more morally excusable than if I locked someone in my basement just because I feel like it. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

      1. The point is if it becomes normal order rather than extraordinary circumstances it becomes a breakdown of checks and balances another kind of danger.

        The question of how you hold the authority accountable is an endless problem.

    3. That fence has perpetuated massive law enforcement moral violations. From chasing run away slaves to fining people for too tall grass to the drug war.

      Maybe we ought to take a long hard look at its actual value. ‘Just following orders’ isn’t an acceptable defense to moral wrongs in any part of American society – except law enforcement.

    4. I noted that on the slavery comment. The People of the Southern states — not all of them surely — insisted that slavery was a moral good, a religious good, a sensible good, a personal property right, and that tyranny was govt force to end slavery.

      They went so far is to push legislature and judiciary to try to make anti-slavery Free States illegal. Something I complicated read about the first use of Substantive Due Process and the struggles of a slave to win his freedom after he had already been free for a time, but didn’t claim that in the right state at the right time.

      I also note that while democratic (republican) government can be accused of being a sham, or at least accused of being as dysfunctional and arbitrary as much of the general population wrt which rights are acceptable, and police can be kind or dishonorable, the historical alternative was Genghis Khan, Muslim hordes invading Europe, the Church (both big ones), and truly tyrannical hereditary monarchy.

      Voting and writing decrees or letters typically didn’t work in those situations either. You just hoped to avoid the tyrants as much as possible.

      Part 2 of this comment next

    5. part 2 of comment about slavery

      ALSO, back in the olden times, the purpose of Tax Collection was to transfer resources to the King or Govt, such as food for the royals and their Army. Govt wanted a portion of SCARCE goods. Around the late 1800s to early 1900s, a new crisis was emerging that made Karl Marx chortle, which was the economic problem of ABUNDANCE … and with it, falling profits. Industry could produce more food and everything else than the total of all domestic customers were willing or able to purchase.

      At that point, the Govt took several actions, including forcing open foreign countries for finished American goods, so they wouldn’t need to be sold at much of a discount. The other thing was that Govt Spending was employed to directly purchase the Surplus for various purposes including military. Eventually, Tax Collection wasn’t to transfer anything of value to the Govt — only its own IOUs — but that was vital for a national currency to “work”, after govt decided to end the Fixed Exchange Rate policy of discount price handouts to gold investors.

      In other words, Big Capitalism == Big Government.
      These ideas, such as on Corporate Law were pointed out first on Free Republic (back when they had libertarians before Dubya conservatives kicked them out) and also Murray Rothbard and some New Left Historians.

  4. This is high school-level analysis where it’s assumed that we always know exactly what’s going on when we see people doing something in our presence. Is it moral to shoot cops who are actively abusing an innocent citizen? Maybe. Are you sure the guy didn’t pull a gun on them just before you came on the scene? If he did, how much beating is enough to subdue him? When do they cross into unjustifiable brutality? If you walked in on George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, which one is the bad guy? It depends on whether you walk in when Zimmerman is getting out of his car, when he’s confronting Martin, when Martin is beating his head into the sidewalk, or when he’s shooting Martin. If cops are subject to the same moral rules as everyone else (and I don’t disagree on that) then witnessing a police encounter is equally fraught.

    Mumia Abu-Jamal shot a cop and said it was morally justified resistance. How’d that work out for everyone? I’d rather that the person witnessing police brutality film it so we can all judge it later. There has been more progress, faster, on police brutality since cell phone cameras became common than there was in all of human history prior.

    1. According to Zimmerman’s testimony, he did not confront Martin. Martin attacked him.

      1. That wasn’t Zimmerman’s testimony.

        1. OK, you’re probably right. It was, however, his defense’s version of events which was never contradicted by the State.

          1. It was essentially what Zimmerman told the Sanford police in his statement after the incident. That was basically why he was released after being questioned.

      2. And we should accept his self-serving testimony why?

        1. The physical evidence that Martin was on top of Zim when he was shot.

        2. Because the state had no evidence to prove his story false.

          Innocent until proven guilty, burden of proof is on the state.

          And the available evidence supported Zimmerman.

          1. Possibly because Zimmerman killed the only other witness. If you get in a fight without bystanders and you kill your adversary, your odds in court probably improve. Just sayin’.

            1. Except for the phone call little Trayvon made to a friend right before where he told her that he was going to “fuck up the old white guy that was following him” or words to that affect. You can check the transcripts from the trial for the exact words.

              The injuries that Zimmerman suffered and the nature of Martin’s wound are consistent with Zimmerman’s statement and the evidence presented at the trial.

              That said, the case is an example of the kind of cautionary tale that needs to be considered when acting in self defense or to back to the beginning of the episode, when acting in civic minded zeal in the pursuit of some kind of neighborhood safety.

              1. Like most issues, what you believe about the case depends on whether you have listened to the political evidence or the factual evidence.

            2. Nope. The physical evidence showed that gun shot residue was on Martins shirt, but NOT on his body. This combination of facts can only occur when Martin’s torso is in a horizontal position, and not when in a vertical one. This coincides with Zimmerman’s claim that Martin was on top of him, beating his head into the concrete. (There are photos of the back of Zimmerman’s head showing lacerations consistent with that statement)

              Martin was a POS out casing houses to burgle, and Zimmerman did the world a favor.

              1. Careful, comments like that will get you banned from owning a firearm if new york gets their way and get to access social media and use commments as a basis to ban ownership.

                ….for our own safety 🙁

    2. Completely agree

    3. Are you sure the guy didn’t pull a gun on them just before you came on the scene? If he did, how much beating is enough to subdue him?

      That’s irrelevant. If they’re sitting on him, with his hands behind his back, and punching him in the head, he’s already subdued.

      1. If they’re sitting on him, with his hands behind his back, and punching him in the head, he’s already subdued.

        That’s your supposition. The next guy who comes along might say the suspect could be coked up and about to throw the officers off, grab a gun and shoot them, and therefore they should just shoot him first. And I might see this and say why are they sitting on him? That’s excessive, he could have asthma and not be able to breathe like that. Someone else will point out that most of us can’t realistically tell the difference between “beating” and “subduing” a suspect, short of something obvious like the cop shooting the suspect in the back of the head while the suspect is already on the ground. See the problem?

        Violence may sometimes be justified, but what the article proposes is to have everyone make a snap decision to employ violence based on whatever they think they are seeing in the moment. The reason we have police in the first place is to ‘arrest’ i.e. stop people who are disturbing the peace, so that a judge and jury can hash out the situation at leisure. The fact that police are also flawed humans and some will be bad apples isn’t a reason to throw out the whole idea of justice, which is what would functionally happen.

        1. Dashcam footage shows that he calmly complied.

          You must’ve missed that sentence.

          1. If I’m walking up on a scene of potential police brutality, it doesn’t matter what the dascam saw and recorded, it matters what information I, the half-witness, has access to.

            It’s not like I can say “time-out, I want to see the dashcam footage so I know whether or not to kill you, or walk on and let you finish doing your jobs.”

      2. Bullshit.

        How could he have shot him if his hands were behind his back?

        Zimmerman’s story had glaring holes. The biggest one being the when the gun came into play. According to him it was in his waistband. If that’s the case in order for Martin to ‘grab for his gun’ like he claims Martin would had to stop pummeling him and get up enough to grab the gun that was ‘concealed’ in his waistband.

        Yeah. Not buying that.

        It’s far more likely that Zimmerman had pulled his gun out already to try to detain Martin and a fight ensued over the gun. That would certainly explain why witnesses claim it sounded like the kid was screaming for help.

        1. You’re actually arguing that Martin attacked a man armed with a gun for no reason, somehow gained the upper hand and then was shot?

          You seem delusional and willing to make any bullshit argument against Zimmerman.

          The evidence overwhelmingly indicates Zimmerman pulled the gun and shot Martin in self defense after he was attacked and being severely beaten. He should never have been charged. His prosecution was racist and unjust.

          1. See my other comment on the physical evidence.

        2. No one claimed that Zimmerman’s hands were “behind his back”; that is from a completely different comment.

          The Zimmerman defense scenario was that Martin attacked Zimmerman and had him on the ground and was on top of him. The State never produced any evidence that contradicted that claim.

          The state’s forensic team were forced to admit that the scenario presented by the expert witnesses hired by the Zimmerman defense team was completely consistent with the evidence that they had collected.

          That is why six jurors voted for acquittal.

    4. And speaking of high school level analysis, you aren’t really adding much to the conversation. Yeah, you might guess wrong when trying to defend somebody’s life. That really doesn’t affect the moral calculus though. You are morally justified in using violence to defend the rights of others. If you get it wrong, then you suffer the consequences.

    5. When do they cross into unjustifiable brutality?

      When they use more force than the minimum necessary to control the person they are arresting. As you point out, this might not be completely obvious to a casual observer. But I think it’s pretty clear in a lot of cases.

    6. In all seriousness, it has gotten to the point that we need to tell the Police “Either YOU punish cops who go over the line – and no bullshit about ‘qualified immunity’ or ‘all proceedures were followd’ – or WE will punish them. And you won’t like option 2.”

    7. “when he’s confronting Martin”

      There is no evidence to that.

      Only Zimmerman and Martin know exactly how it went down and Martin is dead but the evidence I’m aware of suggests Martin attacked Zimmerman after having reached the safety of his father’s house before returning to confront Zimmerman (testimony of the girlfriend).

      1. The girlfriend Rachel Jeantel told the court and the Piers Morgan show that Trayvon Martin had lost sight of Zimmerman for over a minute and reached the back of the Brandy Green (father’s girlfriend) home where he was staying. But instead of going in, he turned around and went back looking for Zimmerman, Rachel and Trayvon had decided that Zimmerman was a homo rapist and Trayvon needed to go whoop his ass with Rachel on the phone to hear it.. (According to Rachel, that’s what new school does, not go inside the house, lock the door, call Dad, call 911, that’s old school. New school whoops ass.)

        Zimmerman was waiting for responding officers to arrive as instructed by dispatch, at the top of T in the sidewalks so he see them whichever of the two entrances to the community they took. Which is where Trayvon initiated whoop ass on Zimmerman.

        That was the evidence heard in a court of law, that is ignored by those who prefer the rhetoric of the court of public opinion and the spin of the Crump legal team.

        Very early in the media coverage I read Brandy had said Trayvon had made it to the backdoor of her house and she could not understand how he ended up dead so far away. Then Brandy Green disappeared from the narrative. Until evidence was produced at trial.

        1. Those are all the things that I referred to above but you have cataloged them in much more accurate detail than I did.

          Thank you.

  5. If cops were held to any kind of standard of decency by Prosecutors and the Justice System, these kinds of conundrums would be few and far between.

    One solid year of cops getting the book thrown at them, you’d see cops towing lions all over the place.

    1. I’ve never seen a cop tow a lion.

      You’re absolutely correct though. Instead of prosecuting cops they disrespect our flag by drawing blue lines on it. The irony being that the flag represents the opposite of police unity in the face of often tyrannical members on the force.

    2. You’re Rrrrrrrright!

  6. Practically speaking, you absolutely cannot stop police violence with violence and live to enjoy your moral superiority. This is why police violence must be judged much more harshly than other violent assault. The victim or witnesses have, in effect, no right to self defense.

    Think of the beating death of Kelly Thomas. Everyone knows it was unjustified. There was video footage of the event. And yet the gang who killed him escaped the justice you and I would have suffered. And any witness who tried to intervene and save the young man’s life would be himself behind bars, best outcome possible.

    1. Very well said.

      1.…..index.html with respect to the abused black man… Seems they are almost always black men… From the beginning of the article. One of the offending cops had been dumped from a previous job for similar offenses. This is a HUGE part of the problem… Violent asshole cops who are NOT properly held accountable! Then they can go right on being assholes! THAT is why we even have to start thinking about defending ourselves or others from asshole cops, is there are far more of them still on the job, then there should be!

        1. You cannot stop an asshole from being an asshole. We can stop them from being cops, but apparently there is enough solidarity in thy he cop community that they are unable to sanitize their hiring practices.

          1. I find it amusing that you imagine that they want to sanitized their hiring practices.

            1. Cops are unionists big time. They tend to think in “us versus them” even if some of their “us” makes them look bad as a whole.

              1. It’s not just the unionists among the rank and file. Many PDs seem to be actively looking for boarder line sociopaths/psychopaths, and they have set up their training protocols to push those people over the line.

        2. Seems like you only hear about this when they can finagle it into black men vs white cops…


    2. Freedom isnt free.

      Sometimes you have to take as many government thugs with you as you defend yourself from tyranny.

      It sucks, but after that happens enough the government stop or think twice before attacking Americans for no Constitutional reason.

    3. “The victim or witnesses have, in effect, no right to self defense”

      In the Ruby Ridge trial, Kevin Harris was acquitted of murder in the shooting of US Marshal Bill Degan when the only grounds for acquittal was defense of himself and Sammy Weaver (who was killed by a shot in the back)

      In Tennessee, a deputy called in off duty, turned his radio off, and drove with an armed buddy who was a retired cop into the driveway of a pair of brothers he had grudge against with guns blazing. The brothers were acquitted on grounds of self defense. The Houston brothers were real pricks and later ended up going to prison for other reasons.

      But still.

      Unchecked jack booted thuggery will have consequences. Not all jurors are Big Brother lovers.

      1. There are cases I agree but how much did each of those victims lose defending themselves (a second time) in a court of law when no charges should have been filed in the first place?

  7. As a practical matter if the idea is self defense it’s a terrible idea to risk yourself and the guy being beaten by shooting the criminal cops.

    1. You may be morally right, but you will also be legally and perhaps literally destroyed.

  8. Start filming, duck behind a car, and fire a shot in the air. Pigs will stop beating and look around, call backup. When cops question you tell them shot appeared to come from vehicle driving by. (Better to just get away if you can)

    1. ‘At that juncture I heard what I thought was another officer discharge his weapon at the resisting subject. Fearing for my life, I also discharged my service weapon and ended the threat.’

      ‘Good shoot; carry on.’

  9. By the way, the Ohio police officer who assaulted the motorist in the story was fired for his actions, but not for long.

  10. The moral case was made in the Declaration of Independence, not yet repealed, and derives from the legislating power properly residing in the people by inalienable rights granted from “nature’s god”, revocable by them, and which makes the people sovereign and the government their servants–when the sovereignty of the people is usurped by government, for Americans, it is their duty to “throw it off”:

    That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends (the inalienable rights of the people), it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

  11. Morally, yes, you have the right to shoot the cops in that situation.

    Legally, in some jurisdictions, you might have the authority to shoot the cops in that situation.

    Functionally, if you shoot the cops in that situation, you won’t ever even make it to the jail, let alone stand trial. If they’re willing to go hammer town on some dude for not stopping at a sign properly, they’ll call out the National Guard if they have to to make sure you die for killing some of the Brother Officers. If you’re going to fight The Biggest Gang, you have to be prepared to fight all of them, from every jurisdiction in the country. The Thin Blue Line will just keep sending in troops, and eventually, they’ll get you.

    Which doesn’t mean it might not be the right thing to do some day. But just be prepared to die, and have your family / housemate / everyone in your apartment building die, too.

    1. I didnt agree with Koresh but that dude knew how to get Americans on his side.

      Shoot the ATF agents trying to violate the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear Arms and get them to retreat. Then when you dont give up after having prepared for the apocalypse, die in a blaze of glory.

      1. As far as I understand it, Branch Davidians did not fire the first shot. So that scenario was a very clear cut case of self defense.

      2. The Branch Davidians did not shoot the ATF agents that were killed there. Video evidence strongly suggests that it was other ATF agents that shot them.

        Oh. I nearly forgot. The 4 agents that were killed were previously Secret Service agents that had previously been assigned to protective detail for then POTUS Bill Clinton.

    2. The cops would surrender long before then. I don’t know how many of their deaths it’d take. Maybe just 10 of them, & then every single cop in the country drops their gun, throws away their badge & uniform, & hides. Maybe it’d take 100, maybe even 1,000, hard to tell.

      But the best way to do it would be by stealth & terror. Have them drop dead by mysterious causes. Let the rumors fly. Is their food poisoned, or their drink? Will it be a slit throat or garrotting, or an early death by apparent natural causes?

  12. […]
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ? That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ? That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. ?

    1. Be careful…some of your compatriots have complained the DoI is some leftist garbage and was written to be against Trump.

      Your friends aren’t very smart.

      1. The meme that a survey showed a lot of people polled believed the Declaration of Independence was a radical manifesto started in the 1960s (probably due to an actual survey finding that). Way to go TDS.

  13. You in fact do have the right to self defense against police officers and these recognizes it. But if you count with your fingers you’re probably not going to need to remove both mittens to add up how many times someone killed a police officer, knowing that it was a police officer, and it was recognized as justified self defense.

    But in theory if a cop comes after you in a way that makes it clear he’s just trying to kill you in an extra legal manner not arrest you, and you don’t have an alternative means to protect yourself like keeping the door locked or running away, and if you can prove this in court then both morally and legally you’d be justified in killing him.

    As a practical matter it would be a bad idea to do this unless it really was a case of your life or his.

    1. True, we do have a legal “right” to defend ourselves and to resist an unlawful arrest; but if you were the clients attorney and perched on their should in such an incident, I’m thinking you would advise them to resort to such force only in the event of being presented with a literal life or death circumstance, because they are quite likely to end up executed as a “cop killer” regardless.

      1. Yes. That’s exactly what I said.

        Nonetheless on extremely rare occasion people do go free after killing cops in self defense.

  14. You in fact do have the right to self defense against police officers and these recognizes it. But if you count with your fingers you’re probably not going to need to remove both mittens to add up how many times someone killed a police officer, knowing that it was a police officer, and it was recognized as justified self defense.

    But in theory if a cop comes after you in a way that makes it clear he’s just trying to kill you in an extra legal manner not arrest you, and you don’t have an alternative means to protect yourself like keeping the door locked or running away, and if you can prove this in court then both morally and legally you’d be justified in killing him.

    As a practical matter it would be a bad idea to do this unless it really was a case of your life or his.

  15. You in fact do have the right to self defense against police officers and these recognizes it. But if you count with your fingers you’re probably not going to need to remove both mittens to add up how many times someone killed a police officer, knowing that it was a police officer, and it was recognized as justified self defense.

    But in theory if a cop comes after you in a way that makes it clear he’s just trying to kill you in an extra legal manner not arrest you, and you don’t have an alternative means to protect yourself like keeping the door locked or running away, and if you can prove this in court then both morally and legally you’d be justified in killing him.

    As a practical matter it would be a bad idea to do this unless it really was a case of your life or his.

  16. You in fact do have the right to self defense against police officers and these recognizes it. But if you count with your fingers you’re probably not going to need to remove both mittens to add up how many times someone killed a police officer, knowing that it was a police officer, and it was recognized as justified self defense.

    But in theory if a cop comes after you in a way that makes it clear he’s just trying to kill you in an extra legal manner not arrest you, and you don’t have an alternative means to protect yourself like keeping the door locked or running away, and if you can prove this in court then both morally and legally you’d be justified in killing him.

    As a practical matter it would be a bad idea to do this unless it really was a case of your life or his.

    1. But do we have a right to protect ourselves from squirrels?

      1. Especially the squirrels. They steal nuts.

  17. Just finished reading EPITATH, A NOVEL OF THE O.K. CORRAL by Mary Doria Russell which concerns a very controversial situation which was either four duly-sworn lawmen doing their job as the Republican Mayor of Tombstone directly ordered them to do it, or four Democrat cow boys who righteously resisted illegal orders from the Earp clan whom the cowboys with reason suspected were out to gun them down in the first place.

    There have been two extremely strongly maintained sides to this story for 135 years. Choose sides back then and you were in for the long haul as the killing had only begun that afternoon at the corral. Wyatt Earp’s fabled vendetta ride is something tourists with a week to spend on horseback and a lot of cash can replicate with guides, although of course the pampered greenhorns only experience a tiny slice of the hardships on the brutal endurance chase that nearly killed Doc Holliday.

  18. Now as for the specific example used in the article, even if it wasn’t cops you’d probably want to start with ordering them to stop and warning them to stop or you’ll shoot. After all you aren’t in immediate danger and the victim is unlikely to live or die based on a few extra seconds* to deliver a warning and most criminals cops or otherwise aren’t anxious to continue their crime in the presence of a witness, especially an armed witness.

    But if you’re confident that there is no valid reason for the beating and that the victim is likely to die from the beating and they refuse to stop when told to and there’s no other reasonable way to stop them, then you’d be morally justified in shooting the cops, though you’re still going to prison. In a theoretical sense you would probably be legally justified in shooting them too, but proving it would be insanely difficult if not flat out impossible.

    * I mean certainly the fatal blow could be struck in the exact second you happen on the scene, but chances are it was either already delivered or had yet to be delivered.

  19. Moral Parity Thesis; great idea if you want to commit suicide by cop and hope to go down as some kind of hero for it

  20. As for the general idea of cops are just ordinary people and have no special rights so why are they allowed to kidnap you and lock you in a cell, that’s just silly.

    Or rather contemplating whether or why we allow governments any authority isn’t silly, but if you’re a zero government libertarian then of course copd have no right to arrest you, courts can’t try people for crimes, if you want to enforce a contract you’ll have to do it yourself. If there’s no valid government whatsoever do you have the moral right to self defense from people who have no legitimate authority? Well duh, of course you do. You also don’t have to pay taxes, or obey zoning, and if you’re neighbor robs you, you can break into his house take your stuff back and maybe beat him up a little if he objects. The jury’s out on whether you can lock him in your basement for the misdeed.

    If you’re a minimal government libertarian you’re obligated to try and go through legal means to resolve your problems first. People do civil disobedience when the law fails them, not before they even tried the law. If a cop is about to assassinate you, you don’t have the ability to try other legal means of resolving the issue. If they’re merely arresting you, even wrongly, you’ll have your chance to plead your case. Now you may say there are practical difficulties with mounting a legal defense and the system is weighted against you, but there are more practical difficulties with resisting arrest, especially violently.

  21. What a nass. Such a pity that the evolution of justice and prosperity over time finally produces a clown like this.

  22. Wait– there’s more to this?

    According to a police report, the motorist, Richard Hubbard III, was pulled over for driving without using signals and also accused of driving with a suspended license. When Amiott opened the car door and ordered the driver out, Hubbard got out and tried to walk away.

    A struggle ensued between the two men and a second officer tried to subdue Hubbard. The second officer used a stun gun on Hubbard ? but also accidentally hit his partner with the stun gun, the report said. Hubbard yelled several racist slurs at the officers, the report said.

    The video shows Amiott and another officer trying to handcuff Hubbard and punching him repeatedly. Hubbard appears to continually resist arrest.

    Hubbard’s girlfriend, the female passenger in the video, slaps the ground as she screams at Hubbard to stop resisting. He does not.

    “Bae, stop! Bae, listen to me,” Tirado Caraballo says repeatedly.


    1. con’t

      The officers are heard repeatedly yelling, “Stop fighting.”

      Hubbard is asked to roll over on his stomach. He doesn’t.

      He is heard telling his girlfriend to capture the altercation on cell phone video.

      “Babe, record this,” he says. “Look, they’re punching me.”

      Hubbard and his passenger are also heard in the video telling the officers he does not have a gun.

      Hubbard was charged with misdemeanors, including resisting officers, driving on a suspended license and a traffic infraction.

      So he wasn’t stopped for having his bumper a bit past the white line at a stop?

      Gods above Reason stop doing this. Stop leading with narrative convenient lies.

      Lead with the thing that shoots your argument to shit and debunk it. Tear it apart to make your point. THAT makes the message stick.

      Leading with a lie insinuates that you CAN’T provide the truth. That you DON”T have the evidence needed to make your point.

      There are all kinds of ways to factually illustrate the problems with police and with policing in this country. This article isn’t one of them.

      1. Death while Black and having a suspended license.

        I once had a suspended license. I did sometimes drive with the suspended license. But being White I never feared that I could be killed for that. But here is Azathoth defending the police for killing someone for driving with a suspended license.

      2. Probably not a particularly good example of a time to kill the cops.

        Which is invariably a problem with jumping in the help a person in distress. Often very difficult to know just who is the aggressor and the defender, and blasting away like Yosemite Sam will either get you killed or on death row [if you’re lucky].

        1. Which makes this about the worst advice I have ever read from an otherwise legitimate publication.

        1. Sorry. My pistol would stay in its holster. This is not an clear example

  23. Yes, you have the moral right to stop the police. Yes, you will die as a result of yoru morality. Welcome to Paradise, where moral people go after the police kill them for defending an innocent from from violence.

  24. 1/2
    You have introduced the Moral Parity and Special Immunity theories. Allow me to put forth another.
    The Tended Garden.
    The police are not employed to ensure justice, but rather to ensure the conditions by which normal life may proceed with the fewest issues. That stores may open without expectation of being emptied without payment. That homes may stand unmolested, most of the time. That the conditions of modern life do not descend into a state of feudalism where the biggest take everything for themselves with no, or few, hurdles. If you do not subscribe to Anarchy as the ideal, and it appears you do not, since you acknowledge that most people will stand by rather than stand up, then the cops provide the assurance that tomorrow will be more or less like today, and that your neighbor won’t decide he wants your house to add to his own, and unilaterally act to secure your property for himself, since he has more might than you, and might makes right.

    Again I say, the police operate to maintain the status quo, and since most people are happy, or at least reasonably comfortable, with the status quo, they give license to the cops to do what is necessary to maintain it, even tolerating some injustice in the furtherance of their untroubled lives.

    1. 2/2
      While it would certainly be right and just to intercede on the behalf of a benighted individual, even against, or even especially against, those who are entrusted with special power, if there is even the hint that by doing so, you open up the floodgates of discomfort for those who are comfortable with things as they are, they will retaliate against you.

  25. The purpose of government is to place the retaliatory use of force under objective law. The problem is when the government initiates force. The solution is to prohibit it from doing so.

    1. Maybe with, like, and overarching government. Kinda like how disease has been used to treat disease in the past.

  26. ” the informal motto of American police, “Stop resisting!”

    I prefer the more formal version, “I need you to stop resisting!”

  27. Justice comes out the barrel of a gun.

    1. As does political power, sayeth the Chairman.

  28. It would have been moral for anyone in Germany to kill Hitler (even before the war officially started),

    no difference to the cop example that opened this article.

    Other circumstances may be more grey but the principle remains the same – an ILLEGAL immediate threat to life or limb justifies a violent response.

    The Branch Davidians were morally in the right even in the initial firefight – the search warrant was illegal, the ATF came armed and (evidence suggests) fired first.

    1. Hitler actually survived 3 or 4 assasination attempts.

      1. Gerald Ford survived at least two.

      2. Check out the story of Operation Foxley, the British Special Operations Executive plan to kill Hitler. I have read they decided not to because almost everyone in line to replace him would make better decisions than he had made in running the German war effort.

  29. ARTICLE I.

    Declaration of Rights.

    Section 1. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.

    Section 2. That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

  30. I yearn to see a story of police abuse end with “citizen’s arrest”.

  31. Resisting violent state action may be morally correct, but it is also extremely dangerous. You want to survive the encounters with out-of-control cops, not get shot for resisting. You don’t want state agents to know what you are thinking, because that too, can get you put in jail.

    If you exercise a right without regard to how you may be punished for doing so, you may become a martyr, rather than enjoying life and the freedom that you do have. That’s a choice people have to face every day and should think about sooner, rather than after the fact. Doing what’s right could get you sent to prison, even for life, or it could get you killed.

  32. Just another “Tragedy of the Commons” problem. I notice leftists always try and throw police / fire into their examples of socialism/communism while not even realizing they are State/City/County implemented.

    But seriously – Considering this article makes me wonder why Police / Fire isn’t outsourced, held accountable as civil servants by local governments who aren’t in bed with them. Consider how the police force might change if the company (i.e. police outsourced) contract will be renewed or denied by government on every fiscal year.

  33. I’ve lost track of how many rants I’ve read that are similar to the above. Every author speaks like a slave, ( see “The Anatomy of Slavespeak” @ ) therefore can never address the underlying issues. “Governments” and “States” don’t exist so cannot act. Humans act and are solely responsible for their actions. Once enough people get that through their heads, “The Government” and “The State” will no longer be accepted as the master or the scapegoat.
    The frustration with the mind controlled staying mind controlled exists because there are not enough people who realize that : “It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It” ~ Upton Sinclair

  34. We sure as hell know that when Tom and the boys signed their names to…

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    …they a) weren’t having a laugh, and b) the situation tax-wise, regulation-wise, and any-other-wise was a lot more liberal than it is now, and by a very long shot, yet they were miffed enough to started shootin’.

    They essentially wrote themselves a permission slip. The above is a self-signed warrant to evict the state. It’s a clear principle upon which to proceed. And that principle has been transgressed countless times since then.

    Seems to me those stockinged wig-wearers had a little more about them than the current crop has. But the fact is, things just ain’t that bad. You swipe right to arrange a fuck and pizza delivery has never been quicker.

    This is Rome and it’s the Third Century. Diocletian is still in short pants. Long time left in this game.

  35. How would an observing person, practically speaking, know that the police were using excessive force in a traffic stop? The person would have to be well versed in the law, especially in regard to what constitutes excessive force, AND would have to necessarily have an almost omniscient access to the facts at hand, including, in the current state of things, knowledge of the thoughts of the police.

    I’m not defending police here, nor police brutality… I just think for a casual observer to have enough info to make a decision to interfere in a traffic stop is … unlikely.

  36. Well, if you have to answer to a higher morality, you have to take action. Of course the guy with a gun who’s watching you aim at a group of police will have to answer to his sense of higher morality as well.

  37. The lead story does not seem to match the facts , I went to the story and he was not so innocent or non violent.

  38. I agree with most of what what Brennan writes, but there are a couple of things that bother me. In particular, the suggestion that it is okay to escape from jail if wrongfully convicted. The problem here is that you are substituting your own opinion for that of the legal system.

    Why is that a problem? Because Nemo iudex in causa sua: No man shall be a judge in his own cause. If you can substitute your own opinion of your guilt or innocence for that of a jury, then there is no criminal justice. [That might not be entirely a bad thing. Restorative justice, where the criminal compensates the victim(s), is closer to the libertarian ideal. But… how can Robert Bowers ever compensate the 11 people he murdered?] As the saying goes, the prisons are full of innocent men.

    Some particularly difficult situations: A kills B. A asserts self-defense, but the jury doesn’t believe him. Maybe A had other options — retreat, for example. Or not escalating the situation to the point where lethal force became necessary. But A _still_ believes that he acted in self-defense. So he escapes from prison. Maybe he kills a guard or two in the process. Is he still morally justified? After all, he used force to defend his “right” to be free from an “unjustified” imprisonment.

  39. “Whites initially responded by beating, killing, and lynching blacks. Armed black militias fought back, sometimes by killing cops or National Guardsmen. Once whites learned that blacks would respond in kind, they turned to less violent forms of oppression, and more blacks embraced the nonviolent tactics ”

    Someone is delusional. This feeds the line that is wasn’t white liberals who gave blacks their civil rights – blacks took them for themselves, without white volution. Fantasy.

  40. Armed blacks did indeed fight back against racist forces. Individually and in militias.

    “The work of the Negro militias varied substantially, oscillating with Republican fortunes. In several states, they were barely worth mentioning. Alabama never deployed its Negro militia, even at the height of Klan violence in the state. In Florida, Republican governor Harrison Reed went through the motions of organizing a Negro militia but avoided using them for fear of white backlash. In other states, Negro militias marched mainly as a political show.62 But in some places, Negro militias fought in significant episodes of political violence, supporting the programs of Republican governors to ends that were sometimes detached from the immediate interests of black folk.”
    ? Negros and the Gun

  41. You might have the -right- to do it, but it’s also suicide and a stupid fucking thing to do unless your goal is to be a modern viral-digital-martyr, IF the police release it. If that is your goal then go for it.

  42. This is the most laborious piece of shit article I’ve read in a long, long time. It you can get away with fighting back, do it. If not, get an attorney and ask for a jury trial, and sue the policeman for his crime against you.

  43. As long as we contract out the responsibility to maintain infrastructure, enforce our laws and protect the vulnerable, we will experience occasionally the abuse of our trust.

    This is human nature. Nobody is perfect, most not even close. It’s a wonder we can even perceive the concept of trust.

    But we are good at coming up with technical solutions to our social shortcomings. Accepting them is another story.

    We have the technology to wear micro recording devices that store our recoded memories offsite in the cloud. We only need the right to use them everywhere we go.

    There is nothing to be confiscated and destroyed by the corrupt, caught in the act, whose behaviour will be reviewed from many angles by the court and public opinion.

    This will change our behaviour because it is the truth that threatens our social weakness.

    Don’t be afraid of this technology. It will change the world for the better, trust me.

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  45. IF THE FACTS HERE ARE ACCURATE on Mr. Hubbard’s encounter, the officers involved should lose their jobs, be permanently barred from working in law enforcement, and be prosecuted for both assault plus likely for civil rights violations and maybe even hate crimes.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  46. This article is crap. What is described is pure anarchy (not a good kind). What is really put forth is that if you don’t agree with a law then you can fight back against it. The example here is pot, but substitute any law.

    By the author’s argument, the only opinion on what is right vs. what is wrong is the individual’s opinion. And that the individual can fight back if trying to be arrested for violating any law they feel is unfair (unjust).

    1. “By the author’s argument, the only opinion on what is right vs. what is wrong is the individual’s opinion.”

      Well, that’s anarchy in a nutshell. See, you don’t get to define anarchy because as soon as you have it, the definition goes out the window. The definition is only your opinion. You might as well define bad taste.

  47. The fact that it may be morally correct in no way suggests that it would be a good idea. In fact in most current circumstances it would be a very bad idea. That is, if you want to stay out of jail or stay alive..

    It also puts one in league with nut cases like Chris Cantwell or Adam Kokesh. One of the reasons I didn’t go to the last Libertopia was because Kokesh was supposedly going to be there. It would have been crawling with govt. agents. No, thanks.

    Frankly I am far more interested in hearing about what is *practical.* IMO libertarians spend far too much time on theory and not nearly enough on what is practical. What steps might take us closer to a more libertarian society rather than pie in the sky by and by.

  48. Of course it’s moral to use violence against agents of the state. But it’s rarely effective or practical, and that’s the *real* problem.

  49. 1
    Nope. Just nope. The author’s dismissal of authority is just creepy. Civilization is a mile wide but an inch deep. He wants Average Joe Schomoes going around playing Vigilante Joe, assaulting people for “committing an injustice”.
    The sheriff arresting you for pot possession isn’t “committing an injustice”. Get over yourself! I’m libertarian and want all drugs to be legal, but if you get arrested in X jurisdiction for possessing a drug that’s illegal in said jurisdiction, then you got what’s coming to you. Not every law you disagree with is “injustice”. Most lefties see the free market and wealth disparity as injustice. Should their moral revulsion towards wealth inequality make their violence against the state permissible? What’s injustice to them isn’t injustice to you, and vice-versa. Homosexuality shouldn’t be a crime to YOU; to a paleoconservative, you’ve just caused deep revulsion to a prim-and-proper society by engaging in such repulsive acts of sodomy, you’ve hurt people, and therefore you deserve to be punished. By your logic, Robin Hood was right to do his thing because, ultimately, he was just correcting an injustice.
    “My neighbors can eliminate my right to defend myself and others by granting someone an elected office.” — Yes, they can. They very much can. If there are ten people in the room, and seven of them don’t want you to own gun, then they’ll gang up on you and deprive you of your gun. Unless you convince them not to.

    1. 2

      Your “rights” are whatever the majority wants it to be. We don’t want 16-year-olds to vote, therefore 16-year-olds won’t be voting. Certain states don’t want felons to vote, then felons won’t be voting. Certain states don’t allow women to have abortions in most stages of the pregnancy, then they won’t have that right. It doesn’t matter whether those things are just or not; they may be unjust to you, but to most people, they’re pretty legit (“16-year-olds aren’t mature”, “we should discourage crime”, “that’s just baby killin'”). You want to violently go against the will of the majority? Then the majority will clamp down on you.

      The reason most people don’t go around righting wrongs with their revolver is because they can’t. They’ll get weeded out pretty quickly, if not by the authorities put in place by the majorities, then by those very majority mobs that made those laws or accepted those rule to begin with. When MLK did his thing, the North was already overwhelmingly against segregation. Then the Alabama bombings tipped some more people to that side in the West and Midwest, then LBJ, and MLK just rode the wave. Violent acts or not, he had a pretty huge mob behind him. If he could truly sweep the nation, he would’ve done it in the 1930s.

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        Plenty of people try to “correct injustices” through violent acts, all the time. You think you’re the first one to think of it? What do you think we refer to as “terrorism”? Did Timothy McVeigh have his way? That guy killed him some Jews because he thought they were being unjust to him flooding the country with non-whites. Then what? Did he achieve anything? No, because the majority is cool with immigration. And there’s nothing he can do about it.

        Those kids on that Hogg shooting who made a ruckus about guns. Whatever happened to them? Weren’t they supposed to, like, start some revolution or something? Have guns banned or at least severely restricted? How come nothing changed? Seriously, besides a few symbolic laws on guns in this or that state, not much has changed. Why haven’t they with their tens of thousands of ralliers effect any change? I’ll tell you why: because we – evil Muricans who are supposedly cool with school shootings – love our guns! A majority still wants guns. So what are you gonna do about it?! What’s “good” and what’s “evil” is whatever the mob decides it is.

        1. 4

          Same for women getting the vote. If men don’t want to give you the vote, then there isn’t much you can do about it. And the best example of that is Saudi Arabia. If enough people don’t want you to drive, then, b*tch, you’re not gonna drive! That’s what’s moral right now! Women’s rights are almost wholly dependent on the chauvinist-to-whiteknight ratio in the population. It’s just that once the ratio starts tipping comfortably enough in favor of the white knights, then they can afford to start making protests and demands and such.

          There was one group over twenty years ago that vandalized some corporations doing testing on animals. And when you read their writings, they were hoping to ignite some sort of popular, animal rights revolt against the businesses who engaged in it. And that’s what’s baffling about it, is how people get so into their causes and their bubbles that they think thousands if not millions will get worked up over lipstick on monkeys. So needless to say, that didn’t pan out. Why? Because most people are cool with lipsticks being tried on monkeys before their wives. And if they weren’t, it would’ve been known and challenged long ago anyway. So the mob said, “Not only we won’t change a thing, but we’ll keep it legal for at least twenty more years, and then some more years just for good measure. ” And it has indeed been legal in the fifty states ever since, and those businesses still making the good bucks.

          1. 5/5

            Even the world’s supposed dictators like Bashar and Putin have wide popular support behind them that they stand on. Hitler, Castro, Stalin, Lenin, the Bolshevik Revolution, all of those had either a comfortable majority sympathy behind or a majority dislike towards the former regimes (Nicholas II, Louis XVI, etc.), some only in the beginning, but most even well into their ruling. No exception. Why? Because the mob always has its way eventually, some way or another. And a lot of people try to take them on violently, but fail, because they don’t have the numbers.

            The mob always wins. The most you can do within it is nudge it and pull it to your direction by having as much people and pull as many strings and tugs as you can. The rest is just fantasy.

            1. You’re pretty much right. In the end the majority, or at least a disproportionately powerful plurality, of the population always wins. Morality in any objective sense never really even comes into play! It is might makes right at the end of the day.

              Which isn’t to say that violence isn’t sometimes justifiable, just that one should understand you will probably lose if you don’t have enough people on your side.

              Manufacturing consent is in fact exactly what has destroyed America today. The left took control of the media, education, etc and have manipulated peoples minds to genuinely support all their horrid ideas… And much to the chagrin of libertarians and the right, nobody really cares that they’re morally wrong about most things… Because there are enough of them where we can’t really do anything about it.

              Eventually we’ll have to either change their minds peacefully, OR resort to violence against them. Again, might makes right, whether that is changing minds and gaining might without violence, OR forcing it on them.

  50. You may lie to the murderer at the door. You may smash the windows of the would-be kidnapper’s car.

  51. “Think of unmasked protesters tearing down Confederate statues in the light of day.”

    Seriously brah? There’s quite a bit of difference between your other examples, and destroying property. Property the majority of the American public does not want removed, BTW. GTFO with that SJW bullshit!

    As far as the general topic at hand: Yes, using violence to defend yourself is morally right, even against the state… But in practice, you better be ready for the consequences! Because you will get fucked.

    This is why individual action in the regard is kind of a losing game… It really does need to be a mass of people doing it, because that’s the only way you really have a shot at getting anything done.

    As far as things go, I don’t believe in the more pacifist pussy interpretations of the NAP many libertarians seem to.

    I think violence is 110% okay in some circumstances. When a government becomes too tyrannical, it IS ones right, or even duty, to violently overthrow it. It’s always hard to pin down when the line is crossed of course, but there is a line somewhere out there. Individual “lone wolf” crazy person shit is not really cool… But organized revolt is a universal human right when being oppressed.

    Anybody who doesn’t think this is the case should consider that we’d have that hag Queen Elizabeth on our money still if not for some pretty awesome dudes who agreed with me 200 odd years ago… Just sayin’.

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