Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Julian Assange Rape Case

This is a follow-on to my discussion of anarchy and heinous crimes. Rape is certainly a heinous crime, and as I have expressed support for Julian Assange in the past, I think I need to do what I can to show that I do not condone either rape or fornication. And, of course, there is the question of the relationship between the rape charges and the leaks that put Mr. Assange's name in the public eye.

While I would not want my daughters to date the likes of Julian Assange, I would not hesitate to have him as an overnight house guest. From what I can tell about the situation, he is no stranger to casual sex, but if it is true that the women he is accused of raping were seen with him afterwards in cordial settings, I have a hard time believing he actually forced himself on them. If he didn't force himself on them, he is still sexually immoral, but not all sexual immorality is rape. I have no fear that the females in my family would engage in consensual sex with him, nor do I fear that he would rape any of them.

I believe that a woman has the right to say no to sex at any time. The bedroom scene from A Man and a Woman comes to mind: they're in bed naked (this was the early 1960s, so we only saw their heads and his bare shoulders, but I think the inference is reasonable) and he's on top of her and she says no. That's her right, or more properly, once she says no, he has no right to proceed with intercourse.

Again, I don't think the guys I want my daughters with need anything from them they can't get from six feet away until they've committed their lives to them, and a woman who is willingly naked in bed with a man she's not married to has already given away far too much, but I don't regard "temporary insanity due to arousal" as a legitimate reason for a man to force himself on an unwilling woman. So even if Mr. Assange climbed into bed with reasonable basis for assuming that those women were OK with him having unprotected intercourse with them, if they said at the last split second that they wanted him to use a condom or the deal was off and he went ahead unsheathed, then he has committed rape.

Let's assume the worst, that the understanding when these women went to bed with him was that he would use a condom but he forced himself on them. Now what?

As Gary North has written, the primary concern for those dealing with crimes should be the welfare of past and likely future victims of crimes. The best solution will, of course, exact restitution from the perpetrator to his victims, which include the victim of the crime itself and those involved in resolving the situation. The paragon of such a situation is the resolution of a theft by the thief paying back what he stole to the victim, plus compensation for the victim's lost time at work, damage to property, etc., as well as payment to those who tracked down the perpetrator, heard the trial, and supervised the payment of restitution.

Rape, and especially date rape, is unlike theft in that one does not damage a tangible object in the same way as one does when one, say, steals a car, sells it in pieces, and spends the money, so it is difficult to assign a monetary or other physical value to the damage. (If the victim becomes pregnant or sustains cuts, rips, or bruises, these are clearly matters of paternity and battery and should be treated as such.) But clearly the woman has been violated: how does one measure the extent of the violation?

This question cannot be answered by any government court. There are so many variables that writing, let alone passing, a law that would cover all of them would be all but impossible. To take one reasonable example: if the man says at dinner that he doesn't like condoms but the woman, unbeknownst to the man, is distracted at the moment by a passing thought and the statement doesn't register, and she is the one who offers the wine after they get to her apartment, and it isn't until after fifteen minutes of foreplay that she remembers to ask him to put on the condom, but by then he has assumed that her lack of reaction at dinner means that their sex is to be unprotected and .... How can any legislature write that down or any jury sort it out? (Good grief—who would want to?)

So how does such a victim get justice? For that matter, how does the perpetrator get justice by not being treated the same as someone who climbs in the window and rapes total strangers?

Again, only anarchism provides the answer. The victim and the perpetrator agree on an arbitrator (an individual or a group), whose decision will be final. Such an arbitrator would be known to both parties and trusted because of his ability to ask the right questions and make fair decisions. Refusal by either party to engage in arbitration or to abide by the terms of the settlement would result in that party being considered an outlaw and therefore liable to attack with impunity by the other.

As such a system came into being, people would band together with those of like minds, so both parties would likely have what Stefan Molyneux calls dispute resolution organizations (DROs) to arrange the arbitration, and the "trial" would more likely be a discussion between the organizations the parties belonged to, with the parties called on to provide their views of the facts of the case. The victim's DRO would be working to see that its customer was compensated for her hardships and would likely also provide suggestions or directives for changes in her lifestyle so she not be victimized again in the future. The perpetrator's DRO, after compensating the victim, would definitely protect its other customers by making sure that the perpetrator did not repeat his misdeed, perhaps even to the point of declaring him an outlaw and canceling his membership in the organization, thus leaving him open to execution by the victim's DRO.

To be brief, I don't know what the result of this trial under anarchism would be, but a greater mind than mine—and I'm sorry, but I don't know whose it was—has said that when the process is good, the result will be also. The means is an end in itself. Just means will yield just ends. Otherwise we are left with doing evil in the hopes that good will result, which violates a clear teaching of scripture (Ro 3:8).

The elephant in the room of the Assange case is, of course, that the women did not come forward with their accusations until after Mr. Assange was wanted by Uncle Sam for the Wikileaks. Are the women really acting on their own, or are they Uncle Sam's agents, willing or otherwise? Is this part of a plot to land Mr. Assange in the same kind of torture cell that Bradley Manning now occupies?

I don't know, but my guess is that if Mr. Assange is sent to Sweden to face rape charges, he will be incarcerated there, and once incarcerated he will be extradited to the US and tortured. I could be wrong—one could say that the British are more likely to extradite him than the Swedes—but I see the British role—and I believe the whole thing is a stage play—as that of the neutral party keeping the factions from coming to blows, at least for now. I expect them eventually to hand him over to the US directly, or if not, to the Swedes.

How much more believable the whole thing would be if an independent arbitrator, agreed to by both parties in the rape case, were to hear the arguments on both sides and render a decision. Mr. Assange could stay in Britain, the women could stay in Sweden, the hearings could take place using encrypted video conferencing software, and once the decision came down, we would find out for sure what the parties were made of by their willingness to abide by it.

As it is, the rape case is inextricable from the leaks case, and in the latter we have a small organization facing the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. And while that empire has found itself unable in the past to defeat small organizations like the Viet Cong, al-Qaeda, and numerous drug cartels, it has certainly managed to spill a lot of innocent blood in its futile attempts to do so. This does not bode well for anyone's future.

When it comes to bloodshed, nobody does it better than the state. If you want the antithesis of bloodshed, look to the antithesis of the state.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wikileaks II

(This is a response to the last comment by Anonymous to my previous post.)

I have attempted to answer your questions, but either you don't agree with my answers, which is your choice, or, if you think the substance of my answer was the Hillary Clinton comment, I'm not making clear the difference between a substantial answer and an attempt at comic relief.

So let me try again: all humans have the right to go to hell. Period. Anything more than that is grace. God has allowed us life at all by grace. He has made rules for our benefit: don't kill (i.e., violate people's bodies), steal (i.e., violate their property), commit adultery (i.e., violate their trust), or bear false witness (i.e., violate their reputations). To the degree that people do that, they will enjoy justice, peace, and prosperity according to their willingness to serve their neighbors.

The only time God allows us to suspend these prohibitions is when a person has violated them, and then only to the degree that we either force the perpetrator to make restitution or execute the perpetrator of a crime for which restitution is impossible.

Let me expand on a point I made in a response to your earlier comment and go through just one action our government has undertaken that as far as I'm concerned negates its claims to godly authority and therefore to secrecy or confidence of any kind.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Uncle Sam told us peons that if Vietnam went communist all Southeast Asia would follow and we would be either doomed or involved in an even worse war than the one we were fighting in Vietnam. A few years ago, government documents were declassified that showed that the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which Congress passed in 1968 in lieu of a constitutional declaration of war, was based on a lie: the incident that it was supposed to be a response to had never happened. Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War, before his death this year said the same thing.

So sixty thousand US soldiers, many of whom were drafted—sent over there under threat of imprisonment if they refused to go—died violent deaths, many more were maimed, a million Vietnamese died, more were maimed and made homeless, and the land was so devastated that decades later defoliants kept crops from growing and people were being killed by leftover land mines. All this because Uncle Sam lied and people believed him. And, of course, Vietnam went communist, but the worst regime in Southeast Asia today is not communist, it's Myanmar, and we are not threatened by any children of the Viet Cong, ideological or otherwise. Daniel Ellsburg knew the situation and released the Pentagon Papers in 1970, but no one paid any attention. Had there been a Bradley Manning in the Pentagon in 1968 and people had believed him, almost all that carnage could have been avoided.

As for the present wars, media giant Dan Rather has made a rather startling admission that is probably not front-page news in the mainstream press (part of which I count Fox News): "There was a fear in every newsroom in America . . . a fear of losing your job . . . the fear of being stuck with some label, unpatriotic or otherwise." It would appear that the government and its lapdog media are lying to us today and Bradley Manning has done us a favor of allowing us to see just what lies Uncle Sam is telling us now so we can tell him we won't take it anymore.

I place the blame for most of our society's problems on our government's violations of our rights and list them in my original post. I could have added to the list the existence of nuclear and biological weapons of mass murder: what biblical justification is there for taking people's money and using it to pay scientists to develop weapons that cannot help but violate the principles of just war every time they are used? If you're going to justify the development of the weapons in the first place, you have to factor in the inevitability of those weapons eventually falling into the hands of people you don't like, and, as you say, that's not a pleasant thought.

I also answered the question about North Korea: our government has no business interfering in those negotiations. If you are so convinced that North Korean soldiers shouldn't march into South Korea's killing machines, in the name of Jesus take your own money, go there, stand in front of them, and tell them to turn around and go home. You wouldn't have a hard time convincing me to go with you. But I'm not convinced that you have the right to vote money out of my pocket to send soldiers over there, and if they choose to march and die by the millions, that's their problem, not mine.

Finally, it's not the government that's keeping VX gas away from the public. As I said, it looks to me like anyone with the prerequisite knowledge of chemistry and enough motivation could make it given information available on the Web. That goes also for primitive nuclear bombs. The important thing is the motivation. Bill Gates doesn't have the motivation to pay someone to build a nuke. And, as the incidents with the underwear bomber, the Fort Dix wannabe bombers, the Times Square wannabe bomber, the Michigan wannabe bombers, and the Portland Christmas tree wannabe bomber have all shown, what motivates them to attempt bombings is US-government-sponsored murder in Muslim lands. (All these guys but the Times Square guy were recruited by US government agents who lit their fires by talking about US actions overseas, not our wealth, freedom, or degeneracy at home; the other acted on his own, but for the same reason.)

Have I answered the question yet? Maybe you need to rephrase the question.

Friday, December 17, 2010


From a correspondent:

The [Wikileaks] have undermined the relationship between our nation and other nations, and now they aren't willing to send us confidential documents, including negotiations. Aren't we conducting sensitive negotiations in the North Korean part of the world right now? Is the Pentagon allowed to keep things secret from the people such as how to construct nuclear weaponry? VX gas? if they didn't keep secrets, we would have many more biological weapons on the streets.

You've asked a reasonable set of questions. They deserve a principled set of answers. I'll state my principles first and then apply them.

First, Christians are to do everything for the glory of God. Only God, his word, his church, and his people are eternal. Anything that gets in the way of the God's kingdom is expendable. We know we are serving his kingdom when we obey his word; there is no other test.

Second, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means treating them the way we want to be treated. At the base, that means that we don't do to them what we don't want done to us: we leave their bodies and property alone; we don't violate them directly, by proxy, or by deceit. Again, we know we are serving our neighbors when we are obeying the word of God and not doing to them anything we would not want them to do to us.

I don't need to tell you that North Korea does not live by these principles, but I may need to remind you that Uncle Sam also violates them: he takes your tax money and uses it to facilitate abortions; he touches the genitals and other private parts of men, women, and young children at airports; he has taken the capital that businessmen who could otherwise have hired a certain intelligent graduate of an exclusive Christian college and given it to some of the richest people the world has ever known, first through loan guarantees and then through bailouts; he has destroyed the doctor–patient relationship that was the mainstay of community health through fascist and now socialized medicine, as well as the cohesion of the family through Social Security and "public" schools. He has arrogated to himself the right to determine what you may and may not (under penalty of jail) put in your body or look at or read. He tortures people accused—not convicted—of crimes. He reads your e-mail, and he keeps track of every Web site you visit, everywhere you go, and every purchase you make.

(To the last of which you no doubt say, "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear." To which I say, if Uncle Sam has done nothing wrong, he has nothing to fear from Bradley Manning.)

Does he do this for the glory of God? Or is it more likely that he's looking out for himself and those in his inner circle? Do we not agree that to ask that question is to answer it?

So why is he negotiating with North Korea? What business is it of ours what North Korea does? Is Uncle Sam about to bring the kingdom of God to North Korea?

It's a little-known fact that when US soldiers first went to Korea in 1945—years before what we think of as the Korean War—they were resisted forcibly by South Koreans. Needless to say, those Koreans didn't live to tell their side of the story.

And that was over 50 years ago. Why are US soldiers still there? South Korea has a world-class economy; North Korea is a well-armed pauper. Why don't we leave the Koreans to sort out their differences? "South Korea might go communist." So what? Vietnam went communist, but that didn't stop me from having a Vietnamese guest for dinner a while back or wearing shoes made in Vietnam today.

What good would it do North Korea to bomb us? If they come here under the banner of "what's yours is yours; let's make a deal," they would be as welcome as immigrants were a century or so ago (and, as anti-immigration politicians who get caught hiring illegals demonstrate, still are today), and they wouldn't have to hide in a fortress to keep from being IED'd by "insurgents."

Why would they invade if there were, as Yamamoto put it, "an armed American behind every blade of grass"? "Ah, but Americans aren't all armed." Could that have anything to do with Uncle Sam's ban on private citizens owning heavy arms?

"But if we could own combat weapons, America would become a war zone." Only if America is the dirt under our feet: America is the idea that people have the right to life, liberty, and property, and Americans don't use weapons offensively. If the US were to become a war zone, it's because the church hasn't done its job to convince people that God's ways are best, even for nonbelievers. And Uncle Sam certainly isn't putting that word out.

Uncle Sam is not doing what the Torah says he should be doing—forcing those who violate others' bodies and property to make restitution to their victimvs, and executing those for whose crimes restitution is impossible (and yes, I'm leaving aside for the moment my claim that the Torah does not allow for what we know as a state)—and he is doing a lot of things he shouldn't be doing. In fact, if we knew more of what he's doing but keeping secret from us, we might be motivated enough to tell the emperor he has no clothes and laugh so hard at his nakedness that he beats a retreat. If only we had someone with access to his secrets....

As for the building of nuclear weapons and development of VX gas, use of both of those weapons systems necessarily violates the just war theory requirement that noncombatants not be targeted. If A fears B and so acts in such a way that may or may not stop B but will certainly kill C, who is otherwise not involved, he is a murderer. I assume you didn't vote for Obama, so this should make my point: If the Iranians were to fear Obama and so engage in a pre-emptive that cost you your eyesight, wouldn't you cry out for God to hold them morally accountable? That's what Uncle Sam has done to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, at least 70 percent of those who have gone through the hell of Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.

If Germany had had a Bradley Manning in 1938, there might not have been an Auschwitz. For that matter, if there had been a Bradley Manning in Wilson's White House in 1917, the US might not have gotten involved in the War to End All Wars, and there might not have been a Hitler to begin with.

As Crovelli put it, if the system from Manning's immediate superiors to the White House is involved in murder and cover-up, where should he have gone with the information he had? Isn't the biblical course of action to bring these things to light (Pr 24:12; Ep 5:12-14)?

What is Uncle Sam using all those secrets to protect us from?

Communism? With Obama in the White House and the GOP preaching Obamunism Lite, what do we lose if we lose that we haven't already lost?

Are you afraid you'll have to wear a burqa? I like grokking cleavages at least as much as the next guy, but I'm not proud to say it. Maybe burqas would make life easier for me. I'm not a woman, but I think I'd prefer wearing a burqa to being felt up at the airport. Oh, I forgot: they feel up women in burqas, too.

Bankruptcy? Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the debt alone will cost as much as the entire federal budget before long.

Back to principles: Are we spreading the kingdom of God by supporting Uncle Sam's activities? Or are we spreading the predations of a government run amok? Does Uncle Sam treat our neighbors the way we would want to be treated?

I say no, yes, and no. If you disagree, rejoice! You're in the majority (Mt 7:13). I just hope that when your heroes get their way they don't decide I'm more valuable to them alive than dead, because I think that when that day comes the living will envy the dead (Re 9:6). I gather that Bradley Manning already does.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Changing My Name

I got called a name the other day by a very intelligent, decent human being. I don't take personal offense at it, but it has reminded me that the labels people wear can cause confusion; we can't know what people stand for just by looking at what they call themselves.

In this case, a coworker was expressing frustration at the resistance he was getting to his efforts to promote recycling in the office. After living for almost two decades in a village where we could drink from the streams, I'm appalled to live where the water is polluted. And even Penn and Teller admit that some recycling (notably aluminum cans) is effective, so I wanted to help my coworker's case for a cleaner environment by laying blame for the sheer volume of unnecessary trash our society produces at the door of the perverse incentives that result from government subsidies for trash disposal. I noted that the trash collection system we're subject to is fascist—i.e., government sweetheart deals for private corporations—denounced it, and encouraged my coworker to keep at his efforts.

Well, my coworker lost no time in distancing himself from "Henry's right-wing agenda." To which I replied, "Since when is someone who opposes censorship, corporate welfare, and imperialist war right wing?" (How could I not have included the war on drugs?) His reply was that libertarians are the "most rightwing of social democrats."

So I was treated to a self-confessing anti-establishment left winger distancing himself from my denunciation of "right wing" fascism! Why? Because he didn't like my "implication that government services promote sloth." So he would prefer a fascist system (or perhaps a socialist system, with government employees picking up the trash), the fight against the negative results of which he has found somewhat frustrating, to a free market that eliminates the incentives to produce needless trash.

My point isn't to belittle my coworker, who, as I said, is intelligent and trying hard to do what is right. Rather, I'm noting that I wear a label that people don't understand. Eric Peters has addressed the issue of left, right, and libertarian quite well, but I wonder if it isn't time for people like me to find a new label. has come up with "anarcho-capitalist," a term coined by Murray Rothbard, but both anarchism and capitalism are so misunderstood that combining them can only compound the problem. My coworker could be forgiven for thinking our fascist trash system is capitalist, given that so many "capitalists" have no trouble receiving corporate welfare. And the original anarchists, those of the Bakunin stripe, did not believe in private property. So as much as I like what Rockwell and friends mean by it, I don't find the term helpful.

I've come up with the term neighborist, but I don't expect it to go anywhere. It certainly describes the view Rothbardians—I suspect that Rothbard, as was Martin Luther, would be appalled to have his name attached to a movement—hold: all people are equal, bodies and property are not to be violated, and no one has the right to do to others anything those others cannot do in return. It follows that we don't acknowledge the legitimacy of the state, the fiction that gives some people privileges that others don't have. We don't divide our fellow human beings into "fellow citizens" and "aliens"; all are our neighbors (some better than others), and we get what we need and want from them through voluntary exchange, whether it be money, friendship, sex, or potato chips.

If you're asking, "What's wrong with just calling yourself a Christian?" go to the head of the class. This blog isn't about libertarianism or any other ism; it's about obeying Jesus and extending his reign over at least part of a world that is becoming more hellish by the day.

Unfortunately, if you ask most people today what a Christian is, few will answer that a Christian believes that God made all people, that people have rebelled against God, that God somehow became a man in a backwoods village and died to pay for the sins of those rebels, and that he now sends his people to invite their neighbors to leave their living deaths and come to eternal life. I suspect that most believe that we stand for racism, corporate welfare, and imperialist war. Oh, and we hate booze almost as much as we hate sex.

I have heard that a deserter was once brought to Alexander the Great (Thug). Upon learning that the deserter's name was also Alexander, the thug snapped, "Either change your behavior or change your name."

I can't find any good names change mine to.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Prayer for Julian Assange and Bradley Manning

Almighty and ever-living God, from whom no acts or thoughts are hidden, I ask you to bless Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

I realize that Julian Assange is unrepentant about his violation of your marriage covenant. But I have also violated that standard by nature and by choice, and as I trust in your forgiveness and power to give me an obedient heart, I ask that you bless him in the same way. I ask that somewhere in the system that imprisons Mssrs. Assange and Manning there be someone who knows you, someone who can talk to them about the weighty earthly matters for which they have sacrificed their freedom, someone who can lead them to consider the eternal consequences of rebellion against you and turn to Jesus, the only source of forgiveness for their rebellion.

Your holy word says that your people have nothing to fear from the truth, that the truth of Christ's sinless life, atoning death, and life-giving resurrection will make us free from sin and death. Yet our experience tells us that freedom also comes from the unchanging everyday truths of mathematics, physics, and biology that have enabled so many to live far beyond subsistence level.

Mssrs. Assange and Manning have given their freedom to promote the truth. These truths are inconvenient for those in power, and so our rulers have mustered raw power and influence to imprison the truth bearers. Those whose actions have killed thousands of innocent people have used the possibility that some of their friends might be endangered when the truth comes out as an excuse to further add to their evil by imprisoning those who have brought to light shameful deeds done in secret.

All truth is your truth. All truth points to your existence, your purity, your mercy, your sovereignty, and the goodness of your law. Thank you for those who have revealed the truth about our rulers. May your people, who have trusted those rulers in ways that rival their devotion to you, no longer put their trust in the authorities and powers of this dark world and instead resolve to serve you and your kingdom wholeheartedly as your ambassadors to a world dead in trespasses and sins.

May I also throw off the sins that entangle me and prove my faith by my deeds.

May Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, who are suffering so much because they have brought cold water to your people, become disciples and so receive a disciple's reward.

For the sake of Christ and his kingdom, amen.