We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Stephanie DuPont drops a clanger

Stephanie DuPont has suggested that the female guests at the British Blogger Bash were ‘paid escorts’. Two were computer programers at the top end of their professions, one was a manager with the English National Opera, one was a TV producer and one runs a hotel and a small data services operation.

Stephanie is obviously just jealous she was not invited to the bash, or maybe she is looking for a spanking to relieve the tedium of being Brian Linse’s gopher. Yes, she strikes me as the kinky type, that must be it.

At the Brit Blogger Bash: elegant, articulate and easy on the eyes

What’s truth got to do with it?

Rob Smith writes in with an view of the stupidity that transcends mere national borders.

David Carr preaches to a deaf, dumb and blind audience when he presents the gospel truth about the necessity of private gun ownership in a free and peaceful country. As an American, I have witnessed countless assaults on my Second Amendment Constitutional rights by anti-gun fanatics who are totally convinced that guns themselves are evil. No logical argument, no perfect example and no amount of evidence will ever dissuade these people from believing that they are saintly and correct. They hate guns, they fear guns and that’s all they need to know.

What is happening now in Great Britain happened in Chicago, Washington, DC, and every other American city that banned gun ownership by private citizens. Murder rates doubled. Burglaries skyrocketed. Crime ran rampant. But the people who banned the guns don’t see that their actions caused the problem. No, they attack the problem they created by demanding more gun laws.

I reside in the great state of Georgia, where the town of Kennesaw made national news in 1982 by passing a law requiring every head of household to own a firearm. (Okay– a lot of that was a political stunt pulled by the mayor after Morton Grove, Illinois made national headlines by banning private handgun ownership. Morton Grove didn’t see an increase in crime, but 80% of the people in Morton Grove didn’t turn in their guns, either.) When they heard that Kennesaw was about to REQUIRE gun ownership, news reporters and anti-gun hand-wringers immediately left Morton Grove and descended on Kennesaw, where they all predicted a New Dodge City, with shoot-outs on the streets and gutters running red with blood if the law passed.

It passed. From 1981 to 1985, violent crime dropped 71% in Kennesaw. Burglaries dropped 65%. Between 1981 and 1993, the population of Kennesaw doubled and burglaries dropped 16%. Nobody reports the success of the law because the results run contrary to “conventional wisdom” about how private citizens behave when they own guns and how criminals react to that fact.

I have heard that the definition of a fool is someone who repeats a mistake, hoping for a different result the next time. Anti-gun fanatics are fools. The deaf dumb and blind never learn.

Rob Smith

Been there, seen that

I was aware Donald Rumsfeld was in the Pentagon at the time the Al Qaeda kamikazi’s struck, but I did not realize he had experienced the full glories of middle eastern hospitality. He said the following in an interview with Sir John Keegan of the Telegraph, who had shared some of those same “glorious” times in Beirut:

DONALD RUMSFELD: The fellow who finally got me out of there was Brigadier General Carl Steiner, who was then head of our special forces and was travelling with me for a period.

He is quite well known today as a terrific person. But we ended up, we’d been trapped in there for three or four days where they were shelling the house we were in. And we got in the car and there was all this crazy driving. My wife took some Dramamine. She was in there with me that whole time.

We ended up in your Embassy on those wooden pews that are in the front, where all the people come in to get visas? And she had taken two or three Dramamine and fell completely asleep in a flak jacket. And I can still picture her, just out cold from the Dramamine, waiting for a helicopter to come in, and the only place we could go was your Embassy, before we got out of there.

Secretary Rumsfeld’s CV for his current job is even better than I had ever imagined. No wonder he understands there is no safety in any form of engagement with al Qaeda and their ilk that does not leave them laid in rows on the ground.

The interview is in the online Telegraph and well worth a read.

Capitalist Chicks hatch…

The Capitalist Chicks site has had a major update, featuring interesting articles (including one from Samizdata’s capitalist non-chick David Carr), the beginnings of a picture gallery and other good things, such as…

The spirit of freedom

I’m still catching up on the backlog of email and work from my several days absence. Even so, this item from the Opinion Journal must be shared. These words from a woman who has just lost her husband and father of her unborn child should be an inspiration to us all.

Here is an excerpt from the statement issued by Pearl’s widow, Mariane a few days ago:

From this act of barbarism, terrorists expect all of us to bow our heads and retreat as victims forever threatened by their ruthlessness. What terrorists forget is that they may seize the life of an innocent man or the lives of many innocent people as they did on Sept. 11, but they cannot claim the spirit or faith of individual human beings.

The terrorists who say they killed my husband may have taken his life, but they did not take his spirit. Danny is my life. They may have taken my life, but they did not take my spirit.

I promise you that the terrorists did not defeat my husband no matter what they did to him, nor did they succeed in seizing his dignity or value as a human being. As his wife, I feel proud of Danny. I trust that our struggle will ultimately serve the greater purpose of resisting those evil people casting a shadow upon our world.

As I said “long ago” in the days after… we are all front line soldiers now.

I’m proud to serve with this woman.

More phun phooling with philosophers

I thought I would try the same test Perry tried to see where I was rated. I too was surprised to see some of the influences attributed in the listing though the top three seem about right for me.

1.  Rand   (100%)
2.  Nietzsche   (91%)
3.  Hume   (84%)
4.  Sartre   (80%)
5.  Stoics   (80%)
6.  Kant   (69%)
7.  Hobbes   (68%)
8.  Prescriptivism   (64%)
9.  Spinoza   (57%)
10.  Mill   (54%)
11.  Cynics   (53%)
12.  Aristotle   (51%)
13.  Plato   (49%)
14.  Bentham   (46%)
15.  Epicureans   (44%)
16.  Augustine   (40%)
17.  Ockham   (38%)
18.  Aquinas   (35%)
19.  Noddings   (22%)

And some worms do turn

In the early Spring of 1998, when I was still a jobbing scriptwriter, I was invited to a showbiz party held in the home of a TV producer who had hired me to work on some his projects. During the course of the evening I got into conversation with an actress who had just finished filming an episode of a TV cop drama. She told me that she had been trained to handle a gun convincingly and I replied that that was the type of training we could all do with and for real. I could not have caused her more offence if I had stuck my hand up her skirt.

“So you think we should all go around shooting each other then?” she exclaimed.

That’s what it is like over here. Anti-self-defence is the default position. It is the accepted norm. It is so universal and unquestioned that even unarmed self-defence is often referred to as ‘vigilantism’. It is uncivilised and neanderthal. We don’t need to defend ourselves; we have our marvelous police to do that for us.

Prior to today, promoting the right to bear arms was only marginally less controversial than promoting legalised child sex abuse. Given that context, the appreance of this column may reasonably be regarded as something of a turning point.

“Given this scandalous situation, it is time for the Government to confer a new right on the people: the right to bear arms. Gun control in this country is in any case a joke. There is far more gun crime now than there was before the idiotic law passed by the Major government to ban handguns after the Dunblane massacre”

One has to be living in Britain to appreciate exactly how ground-breaking that statement is and it is made all the more significant by the source. Simon Heffer is not a Libertarian, he is more of a traditional paleo-Conservative but he is a high-profile commentator and is generally regarded as a serious voice. He is the kind of man TV producers want on their talk shows when they need a bit of gravitas. He can be excoriated and villified and, indeed, he will be both but he can’t be ignored and that matters.

Despite this pleasing development, I have a quibble and an important quibble. Mr. Heffer invokes the state to grant us a right to bear arms. This is wrong. It is not a licence and what the government gives, the government can take away again. We already have a right to bear arms, bestowed upon us by our ancient common law heritage and exercisable by the mere act of being born. All the government has done is to deprive us of it. Now, if Mr. Heffer can get his head around that concept as well, we will really be cooking with gas.

That said, he is to be heartily congratulated for saying what was, up till now, not even thinkable. In doing so, he has prised open a door that was previously glued shut, nailed over and padlocked. The restoration of our common law rights is still a journey of a thousand miles but the first few steps have been taken.

On-line philosophy bot

The Ethical Philosophy Selector is an amusing attempt to see what a person’s philosophical influences are. Many blogs seem to be taking the test so I thought “what the heck”… My results leave me rather bemused given my dislike for Sartre.

1.  Rand   (100%)
2.  Mill   (90%)
3.  Sartre   (75%)
4.  Epicureans   (73%)
5.  Kant   (73%)
6.  Nietzsche   (70%)
7.  Bentham   (69%)
8.  Prescriptivism   (65%)
9.  Aristotle   (61%)
10.  Stoics   (60%)
11.  Aquinas   (59%)
12.  Hume   (56%)
13.  Augustine   (53%)
14.  Plato   (48%)
15.  Spinoza   (48%)
16.  Cynics   (47%)
17.  Hobbes   (47%)
18.  Ockham   (33%)
19.  Noddings   (23%)

This cannot possibly happen

Courteous policemen, red telephone kiosks, afternoon tea, cap-doffing and genteel bucolic stability. That is the cartoon image that many non-British people seem to have of Britain.

I don’t suppose they will want to read this

“Gun crimes during the first 10 months of the annual period have trebled in most of the urban areas which have so far submitted statistics to the Home Office. Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said gun gangs were spreading across the country whereas, until recently, they were confined to a handful of London boroughs”

Drug running, gun culture, drive-by shootings, rampant robbery, burglary and car-crime. Not very ‘Mary Poppins’ is it?

I would, ideally, like to write something satirical and witty about all this but I can’t. First of all, because the galloping erosion of our civil society is no laughing matter. Secondly, I am just too furious. I am furious at the way that the failure of one government prohibition (drugs) reinforces the failure of another government prohibition (guns) and to the detriment of all.

But I am even more furious at the despicable lies that were foisted on us during the campaign to ban private gun ownership. “It will make the streets of Britain safer” they said; “It will put an end to gun culture” they promised; “It will reduce crime” they assured us; “Criminals will find it harder to procure weapons” they proclaimed.

Ad-hoc justification was heaped upon egregious falsehood by every politician, pundit, lobbyist, talking-head and self-appointed ‘expert’ as they all jostled with each other for a place in the Pantheon of the Righteous.

But they won the day. It was no-contest. We few voices of principled reason were pilloried as apologists for child-murderers and psychopaths and who wants to line up with people like that?

So you foreigners can just disabuse yourselves of any lingering image of ‘genteel Britain’. This is a country where, on one side we have a national police force that is overstretched, politically hamstrung, misdirected and, like all nationalised industries, primarily concerned with protecting their own monopoly. They have guns. On the other side, we have growing gangs of ruthless and violent bandits set loose in a playground of grabbable booty. They have guns. In between, is the hard-working, law-abiding taxpayer, naked, and hoping for the best.

I do not believe that this is what was intended.

Samizdata slogan of the day

Typically, one attacks beliefs as ‘simple’ when it isn’t feasible to attack them as ‘wrong’.
Glenn Reynolds

Not just fact-checking of ‘asses’…

But also kicking of ‘asses’ is going on, being conducted by a militia of many blogs. I was away from my computer for a while and then checked Matt Welch‘s wonderful blog and could not believe my eyes…he has become Slobo-Google central. The true nature of Slobodan Milosevic’s vile apologists is laid open to the world. A few weeks ago their words which libeled the very dead themselves in their mass graves made me weep with helpless fury.

But Matt has shown that by their own words, they are revealed for what they are. Each of those google search links on Matt’s blog is a badge of honour for the bloggers who have done them. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad any more.

Go on, punkski, make my day!

I always believed that I would have to live a very, very long time indeed to witness better laws in Russia than we have in Britain. Well, I am a mere sapling of 40 and, to my not inconsiderable amazement, that day has arrived.

“On Friday the State Duma passed amendments to the Criminal Code that are to increase the rights of the Russians for self-defense. For example, a new norm has appeared: “if an attack has posed a threat to the life, the harm to the assailant can not be treated as a crime”

Contrast this to the situation in Britain, where, despite a right to self-defence being enshrined in law, the police act with almost indecent haste against any citizen that manages to successfully take advantage of it. And, lest we forget, British citizens may have this wonderful theoretical right to self-defence but they are forbidden to wield so much as a toothpick to exercise it with.

I would like to believe that this change of heart by Russian politicians has come about as a result of some great degree of enlightenment but the truth seems far more prosaic.

“The crime rate has considerably increased in Russia, and law enforcement authorities fail to cope with it. The passing of the amendments means, the government, probably rather unwillingly, has to shift the defense of lives on the people themselves”

Facts on the ground have a knack of knocking high-minded ideals off of their lofty perches. If people feel themselves to be in danger they will defend themselves regardless of what the laws say and that puts politicians in a dilemma: do they preside over a state of mass disobedience and resultant loss of legitimacy or do they relent and give the people what they demand?

The answer from Russia seems to be that they relent and give the people what they demand. But, we all know what people are like; give them an inch they demand a mile. Now that Boris and Irina have a meaningful right to defend themselves they will beg the question, what with? How long, I wonder, until the State Duma is ‘reluctantly’ allowing Russians the right to bear arms?

A point of principle all Libertarians understand as a given is that self-defence is a right not a licence. It it is not within the gift of politicians either to bestow it or expropriate it. But I would be churlish to nitpick over this news. Given the way Russia was ruled just a few short years ago, I can only applaud enthusiastically.