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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Face-Off: Marc Emery and Gerry Nicholls debate what the best way to get liberty is

What's the best way to fight for liberty?

That's the question Marc Emery, columnist here at the Western Standard, and Gerry Nicholls, blogger here at the Shotgun, e-debated for us. It's a little taste of the debate that they will have in person at the Liberty Summer Seminar this upcoming weekend in Orono, Ontario (you can still register and attend). You can read the Face-Off debate here: "Face-Off: What's the best way to fight for liberty?"

Gerry is a little bit more staid and conservative than Marc is. Gerry thinks we should join advocacy groups, and support the work of think tanks like the Fraser Institute. That's the best way, he thinks, of building and promoting a culture of liberty--expose people to the ideas of liberty, make an intellectual case for liberty, and then push for liberty within the law, urging political, legal, and social change.

Marc disagrees. The best way to get liberty, he tells us, is to break unjust laws in a transparent, non-violent, and public way. Marc thinks this is really the only way we've ever seen success--think of the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, and other instances. All of these helped foment social and political change that led to more liberty. And all of them were violations of the law.

And that, says Marc, is the best way to get to liberty.

It's a timely discussion in light of the extradition proceedings against Emery (he faces the extraditioners in February of next year), and the Human Rights Commission hearings against Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, and Guy Earle (to name just a few).

All of these cases are a result of possible violations of the law. In Marc's case, we know he broke the law, and he freely admits it. In the HRC cases, we're not yet sure if there will be a judgment against any of the people I've mentioned, but we do know that, technically, people like Stephen Boisson, who wrote a letter to the editor critical of homosexuality, have broken the law. And it is possible that Ezra, Mark, and Guy will share Boisson's fate.

But would they have done something different if they had known, in advance, that the law prohibited publishing depictions of the prophet Muhammad (in Ezra's case), or publishing an excerpt from "America Alone" (in Mark's case), or responding to heckling by unleashing a torrent of anti-lesbian commentary (in Guy's case)? Suppose the law was not a vague mystery about "giving offense" and "hurting feelings," but clearly stated that you can't insult lesbians, can't publish editorial cartoons of such-and-such a sort, and can't argue about demographic shifts that threaten western values?

Would we criticize them if they did it anyways? Or would we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, in open defiance of laws that clearly undermine our freedom of speech, economic freedom, or other liberties? And if Canadians failed to raise a ruckus about the trials and the government's response, would that mean that they were wrong to break the law, or would we be criticizable for failing to stand up for their liberty?

In his rebuttal, Gerry makes it plain that, without a social and cultural foundation of support for liberty--a foundation that advocacy groups and think tanks provide--it would be next-to-impossible to generate the kind of feedback from the public that would lead to greater liberty. Without the work that these groups do, people like Ezra Levant and Marc Emery would be left to defend themselves without public support, and without the kind of clout that might actually generate changes in the law that help protect and preserve, rather than defame and defile, our personal and economic freedoms.

Read the exchange. Then drop a comment and let everyone know where you stand on the issue.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 22, 2008 in Western Standard | Permalink


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Re Marc Emery- and his late night get stoned and hallucinate historical content party..

Quote Mr. Emery ********************************
" I find it interesting that "(Work will)set you free" was the greeting at Auschwitz Extermination Camp, and its Nazi ethos that "set you free" finds so appealing..

************************************************ maybe eat some prunes and come back a little lighter, a little later because there are several other considerably less monster movie scenerio uses for the phrase "Set you free" in western culture.. And none of them are mysteries either

1) Jesus says that "the truth will SET YOU FREE"
2) the Ontario Lottery Corp claims in their ads
that "winning WILL SET YOU FREE
3)a feminine hygine product i can't readily
recall says that using " it WILL SET YOU FREE "

so there you go your highness..
I have now officially " set _you free "

Now hit that bong and pretend it didn't happen

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-22 11:05:43 PM

This stupid argument is going to go on all night. I'm going to bed. I'll finish it at work tomorrow.

Posted by: Justin Steen | 2008-07-22 11:08:20 PM

Marc is not a criminal! He sold seeds and paid taxes for the seeds he sold. The DEA had not right to arrest him, or Michelle, and Greg.

Marc you want Liberty in Canada, I know the the Cannabis Consumers of Canada have your back!

Much Love, Marc!

One Love,

Richard J. Rawlings
United States Marijuana Party
Central Illinois Cannabis Activists

Posted by: Richard Rawlings | 2008-07-22 11:09:07 PM


Thanks for your reasoned response.

Just review all the posts and you will find that much of the pro-dope crowd views their activity as a rebellion against some imagined oppression.

Jim Morrison of the Doors may have done better had he heeded his advice: “You are locked in a prison of your own design."

I see absolutely no freedom in this false rebellion against an imagined oppressor.

And, I find no long-term satisfaction in any material escape the world offers me.

People are free to do what they want in North America. This is a precious gift that we should not squander by hating imaginary enemies and acting in anti-social ways.

Freedom always carries with it a grain of responsibiliity and cannot, in itself, be absolute.

In the same way that there is no utopia to be found in any type of materialism (of which dope-smoking is a form), no particular political system is without its flaws.

Yet, part of the culture seems to be a hatred of people in responsible positions ... a position anybody has an opportunity to be in.

I'm all for counter-culture if there's an actual improvement in the overall well-being of society. I see little benefit in paranoia.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-07-22 11:12:22 PM

Terrence: We can lower the threshold for the sake of those who don't believe in full-on self-ownership (S-O), and still get the claim that marijuana ought to be legal (but not cocaine or heroin).

Modified S-O version.

1. We own ourselves.
2. There are limits on what can be done with our property.
3. One of those limits includes some harm threshold--you can do things with a probability of harming yourself at, say, 30% (anything over that is illegal, anything less than that is fine).

We can call 3. the Paternalism Principle.

4. Within the limit, you are a full self-owner, outside of the limit, you are a partial self-owner.
5. The likelihood that marijuana will harm you is less than 30%.
6. Therefore, marijuana ought to be legal.

Notice that crack, heroin, and so on, falls outside of the limit.

We can apply this very same principle to books and speech, substituting the relevant "harms" from drugs to "getting the wrong idea," or whatever.

I don't endorse this view but, in its modified version, there is at least some probability assignment that even Zebulon Pike, 419, and set you free will agree with.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-07-22 11:12:43 PM

Peter wrote:

1. We own ourselves.
2. There are limits on what can be done with our property.

How does one logically move from point 1 to point two?

Besides the normal limits regarding harm to others, what limits are there to self-ownership?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-07-22 11:22:07 PM

Uh, so what if Emery paid taxes on his sales. That does not make it legitimate. If anything it proves his stupidity because it led the DEA right to his door. As I've said before: find a better cause.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-22 11:25:49 PM

Set You Free,

"Just review all the posts and you will find that much of the pro-dope crowd views their activity as a rebellion against some imagined oppression."

True enough. Although if you look at it from their angle, the attitude is understandable:

1. They engage in an activity they think is harming no one else. For some of them, it's a part of their daily life, like smoking cigarettes might be to you or I.

2. However, for doing this activity, they can (in the United States) be put behind bars for extended periods of time. All of their property can be confiscated.

3. Given these facts, I think a little paranoia and resentment of the authorities is understandable. Also, given how our culture tends to romanticize the rebel, it makes sense that they would see themselves as one, however overblown and self-indulgent you and I might believe this to be.

What I really wanted to address before I went to bed is the notion that marijuana and other drugs might leave people less free than they would be otherwise.

There might be something to this. At the extreme, we could even speak of people becoming enslaved to themselves. But is it the role of the state to literally _force_ people to be free?

I won't say this is a contradiction in terms. But self-ownership does not require that people exercise that ownership in a way that maximizes their own freedom. It prohibits others from enslaving me, but doesn't prohibit me from squandering my freedom on useless, irrational endeavors.

It's true that freedom comes with responsibilities, chief among them recognizing and upholding the equal freedom of others. Perhaps I'm also morally required, as Immanuel Kant thought, to develop my talents and capabilities in ways incompatible with being a lazy pot smoker.

But I'm pretty sure even Kant thought that the state had no business enforcing this obligation, and neither do I. For one thing, I'm not sure how we could use the law to oblige each person to use his freedom in the best possible way. Typically, there is no single best way for me to use my freedom, but many ways, all pretty defensible; and, even if there was, I don't know if I'd trust the state to figure out what the best way to use my freedom would be.

All of this is compatible with pot smoking being a complete waste of time and freedom. But pot smokers wasting their freedom does not really diminish my freedom, does it?



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-22 11:29:50 PM

Matthew: Two is a separate premise from one. It does not logically follow from 1.

Only if we think "ownership" is always full ownership will we think that there are no legitimate non-hurting-others kinds of constraints on property.

You and I will complain about this, but the law has all sorts of limits on ownership, and what can be done with things we own. For instance, we're required to have certain kinds of plumbing, certain kinds of roofs, and so on, in homes that we own.

People who think that these sorts of limits are fine, and maintain that we still "own" our homes, will think that the same limits on self-ownership will be fine as well.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-07-22 11:32:23 PM

ZP wrote: "Uh, so what if Emery paid taxes on his sales. That does not make it legitimate. If anything it proves his stupidity because it led the DEA right to his door. As I've said before: find a better cause."

Zeb, read the debate between Emery and Nicholls. Please. All of it.

You argue that we shouldn't choose Emery because he's a sneaky criminal. Then, when it's pointed out that he's not sneaky at all, but *fully* transparent and public, you argue that that, too, is a reason not to support Emery.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-07-22 11:34:42 PM


I don't think Jaws is claiming that 2 follows from 1. What he's doing is presenting a modified, weaker version of the self-ownership thesis that might satisfy conservatives, even if full blown self-ownership does not.

If we think of property as a bundle of rights, we might also think self-ownership is a bundle of rights. And so we could have weaker or stronger forms of the self-ownership thesis depending on the number and extent of the rights contained in that bundle.

One example: we could imagine a form of self-ownership that did not contain the right to brush your hair on a certain day on Tuesday in the year 2112, but did contain all the other rights associated with full blown libertarian self-ownership. If a person advocated a package of self-ownership rights that was missing just that one, I think we could still say he was an advocate of self-ownership, albeit a weaker form of the thesis.


Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-22 11:35:20 PM

hello there PM Jaworski

thank you for presenting a 6 point plan for eternal freedom of the human race etc that you don't endorse yourself. Now you want your ethical adversaries to adopt it and possibly share it with others ?

thank you
your call is important to us-
But we regret to indorm you that the bumper sticker selection committe did not choose your entry

now go out there and have yourself
a real nice day

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-22 11:35:49 PM

Take it in the spirit that it's offered in, 419.

It's an argument, not a 6-point plan.

Whether or not I endorse it is irrelevant.

I don't want you to adopt it or share it, I am offering you an argument that you might endorse or agree with, if you were so inclined.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-07-22 11:45:50 PM


Christ, man, he's trying to find common ground between libertarians and conservatives. Typically, such an exercise will involve finding _conclusions_ the two camps share (or should share, given their starting premises), even if their starting premises differ.

If you affirm P and I affirm P*, and it turns out that both P and P* support conclusion Q, there's nothing wrong with pointing that out. And if you don't in fact find P* reasonable, just say so.

For edification: P=full self-ownership; P*=modified self-ownership; Q=marijuana should be legal.



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-22 11:47:34 PM

I hate that the stupid Western Standard gives street cred to this criminal by continually raising inane debates.

Posted by: epsilon | 2008-07-23 12:21:48 AM


In the spirit of finding common ground:

Anybody can smoke all the dope they'd like, provided ...

1) Prove to yourself it's not an addiction by quitting for, oh, two months.

2) Do not rationalize the choice by pointing out the world is f**cked up. I know the world has always been f**cked up and I needed very little ganja to learn that revelation.

3) Pay for it out of your own hard-earned money. Theft to support the addiction is likely the best place law-enforcement officers should concentrate their efforts.

4) Being a confrontational a**hole never wins points for your side.

5) Never be the first in a discussion to call the other side fascist or invoke Hitler like Emery did. Whatever respect I may have had for his viewpoint went out the window and demonstrated to me the shallowness of his analytical abilities. I have never been a National Socialist and have never aspired to be one. Got it, Marco?

6) Show some respect for the gift of freedom that your ancestors gave you. Whining about how tough you have it wins you no friends ... although it can bring you new customers.

7) It's not how you react when times are good, the true test of character is how you react when things are rough. Attitude can get you through more jams than a reefer.

8) In marketing, it's important to know what you're selling. For example, ice cream = fun. The dope dealer also knows the which button to push on the addict. Despondency. Without despondency, there cannot be a market. That is why it's important to find somebody to blame, when in fact everybody is responsible for their own misery.

9) As a follow-up to No. 8, ask yourself ‘which person in the world is most responsible for your happiness?' I would venture to guess a great majority would give themselves credit. Ask yourself ‘who is responsible for my misery' and people will inevitable blame somebody else.

10) Unlike alcohol, which will be pissed out of your system by the next morning, drugs have a way of sticking around your body ... in your fat cells, I believe. Over the long term, that has the potential of changing your fragile natural chemical balance.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-07-23 12:22:57 AM


What debate would you like the Western Standard to raise? Abortion? I think we do that.


Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-23 12:24:16 AM

Set You Free,

I like all your points. Everyone should take responsibility for themselves. Libertarians MUST recognize that by forsaking the law as a method of character control, they put the burden on everyone else to make and vocalize the moral judgments necessary if people are going to develop the kind of character necessary for everyone's flourishing.

In fact, I've got a column coming up on the Western Standard (tomorrow, hopefully) that addresses this very point. I hope you like it.

It's true that sometimes pot advocates are their worst enemies. My disappointment at the anti-Bush- ranters was one reason I commented on this thread in the first place.

I mean, please, guys, why did you have to turn the thread into a list of anti-American diatribes? I know it's hard for most Canadians to resist, but... REALLY! The United States is not the evil empire and the battle for pot legalization is not going to bring the government to its knees.

Anyway, thanks for the conversation, SYF. Very enjoyable. Have a good night.



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-23 12:31:40 AM

"I mean, please, guys, why did you have to turn the thread into a list of anti-American diatribes?"

Understandable really, isn't it? considering what is going on? come on.

"The United States is not the evil empire"

That's actually very out of touch with how the rest of the world is currently viewing it.

Posted by: DF | 2008-07-23 2:16:43 AM

Terrence, Jaws, Matthew:

Self-ownership isn't an absolute, indivisible and inalienable right. People bind themselves every day, giving up pieces of themselves or making them less free to do things in the future. They enter into contracts, they get married, they join organizations and pledge to uphold the group's principles....

Part of what it means to own something -- whether material objects or one's self -- is that one has the right to encumber it. When you buy into a condominium, you typically give up some rights over your own unit or at least the common areas in exchange for having some control over other people's units and common areas. When you get married... well, on second thought, maybe that's a bad example for the men on this blog...

Anyway, the point is that the "addiction" issue is a red herring, even when it is true. (I don't know that THC addiction is possible.) Self-owners have the right to encumber themselves if they want to, and one way they might want to is to give themselves over to an addiction (cafeine, nicotine, THC, whatever). That's not an abrogation of self-ownership; it is an expression of self-ownership. You can autonomously choose to reduce your autonomy in some areas.

As Jon Elster explained decades ago (see "Ulyses and the Sirens"), binding oneself in autonomy-reducing ways can be quite rational as a second-best strategy for less-than-perfect beings.

A legitimate concern is that some things (e.g. heroine) are so destructive that nobody could autonomously choose to become addicted to them in the first place. In that case, a person's addiction would represent a real loss of self-ownership, which *might* warrant interfering with in some way. (I say "might" because we would need a fuller moral theory and more information about the expected consequences of various methods of interference to take a definitive position in any given case. State interference is not likely to be the best method in any event, given how ham-fisted the state is on even relatively simple tasks.)

So: Another way (in addition to the one suggested by Jaws) to find a compromise between libertarians and conservatives on the issue of narcotics is to argue that some substances (marijuana) can be the product of a rational and autonomous choice to get addicted to, while others (heroine) cannot be. People who abuse certain kinds of substances are being self-destructive in a non-autonomous way, that might call for intervention. Since addiction per se is a medical problem rather than a criminal problem, the answer would seem to be setting up treatment centres for these addictions, perhaps coupled with a temporary declaration of incapacity and involuntary committal.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-07-23 2:53:13 AM

I just want to say the only victim of Marc Emery and his activities is himself, however the ones doing the damage is government. I am glad that he is willing to defy our government on our behalf. I hope more will follow in his footsteps.
We need people like him in every province. I only wish I were so brave.

Posted by: Bambi | 2008-07-23 5:54:39 AM

I remind all revolutionaries tempted to go easy on the Canadian military, there are 88 Canadian soldiers dead so far for absolutely nothing. The Canadians soldiers abroad are trying to eradicate hashish and opium, and like in Canada, each year sees more hashish and opium, and the enemies of the central government more empowered than ever. The Canadian military is an occupation army there in Afghanistan, much the way the RCMP is the occupation army here in Canada. Pushing the drug war, imposing their Christian crusader ways.

The US imperialist empire is going to crash soon and it will drag much of the world down with it. Declining empires rotted out by their own corruption, betraying the very specific mandate framed by the Founders in 1776 and 1789, are very ugly things. First the currency is debased as to be nearly worthless, then the inability to finance the military occurs, precipitating mutinies and disciplinary breakdown, then the social welfare net collapses as payments in inflated currency cause panic....

Posted by: Marc Scott Emery | 22-Jul-08 9:25:59 PM

Well March go move to Cuba or Syria then if its so harsh. Medical pot head use ya ok. All those people you sold seeds to grew those plants for medical use.
You could not enlist because you are too damed stoned all the time.
I am sick of you Marc as they pose you as a freedom fighter for a bunch of lazy welfare suck on the nanny state titty so I can smoke my dope degenerets.
You are a hero of nothing who has accomplished NOTHING! You have done no good for society at all.
I abhore what you stand for as its nothing more than a cloak to be a pot head.
Get a real job and for damn sure stay out of the CPC we dont need you!

Posted by: Merle Terleski | 2008-07-23 8:29:34 AM

The Marijuana movement has been gaining momentum for many years. It is at a equinox that will see ultimate freedom and liberty for all. Marc is on the cutting edge of this freedom movement. This is not just about a harmless weed, this is about liberty.

There are a lot of people who make a lot of money that do not want you to be free. If you are free, medicine is free, (marijuana or otherwise), information is free (books, music, movies), we are free to travel and live where we choose, and free of suffering from starvation or sickness. A world where we are all equal, not just a hand full but the whole human race.

Marc is at the for front of this movement, sacrificing his own life to make ours better

Thank you Marc, and everyone who questions authority, its up to all of us to find a suitable way to shift the global consience to freedom

Posted by: Jeff Sifa | 2008-07-23 8:32:34 AM

Marc had no passion for seeds in particular, or for growing pot. No, what he wanted was to make money somehow to fund a movement. He decided to use the prohibition of marijuana (which makes marijuana valuable/pricey) to make money to help end prohibition, hence, "Overgrow the Government" and "Plant the Seeds of Freedom". His seed catalog said so: "When you buy from Marc Emery Direct, your money will go towards ending the drug war!" I don't understand why people hate him for that?

People hate him for that Jodie because he does not give a shit what his selling those seeds does.
Its clear now he does not care either as he sold the seeds just to make money and that he indeed.
Oh yes consenting adults-plezzzz those same adults can and probably were gang members and hells angels. No passion lol-ya just sell sell sell w/o passion BS!!!
Something Marc could care less about-very selfish he is.
Now he attacks our brave military-screw him!!!
Sick of all the libertarian lot as you are all phonies.
Matthew please dont try and be a conservative when you are not and once made jokes about hoping the WS cruise would sink.
SO-CON filth?? remember that jem?? Well I and many others like me are that so-con filth and we intend to keep people like Marc out of the party.
This debate is sooo stupid as its not honest really and I am mad when this so called freedom fighter attacks our brave soldiers..i.e Marc

Posted by: Merle | 2008-07-23 8:39:28 AM

""I mean, please, guys, why did you have to turn the thread into a list of anti-American diatribes?"

Understandable really, isn't it? considering what is going on? come on.

"The United States is not the evil empire"

That's actually very out of touch with how the rest of the world is currently viewing it.

Posted by: DF | 23-Jul-08 2:16:43 AM"


Most of the world is misinformed, as are you. That America is not evil is factual. In the future GW Bush will look good and right in most of what he did.

Evil empires are Russia & China. Evil little shit-holes are Venezuela, North Korea, many middle eastern countries.

Take your pick of which of those place you wish to live in and go there. Yes as far away from the evil America as possible. And hurry you dumb shit.

Posted by: John V | 2008-07-23 9:38:49 AM

A system designed to protect individual liberty will have no punishments for any group and no privileges for any group. This has to change. We don't have to have more courts and more prisons. We need to repeal the whole war on drugs. It isn't working. We have already spent over $400 billion since the early 1970s, and it is wasted money. Prohibition didn't work. Prohibition on drugs doesn't work. So we need to come to our senses. Prohibition is absolutely a disease. We don't treat alcoholics like this. This is a disease of control, and we should orient ourselves to this. That is one way you could have equal justice under the law.

Ron Paul adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement: As adopted by the General Membership of the Republican Liberty Caucus at its Biannual Meeting held December 8, 2000.

* WHEREAS libertarian Republicans believe in limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility;
* WHEREAS we believe that government has no money nor power not derived from the consent of the people;
* WHEREAS we believe that people have the right to keep the fruits of their labor; and
* WHEREAS we believe in upholding the US Constitution as the supreme law of the land;

1. BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:While recognizing the harm that drug abuse causes society, we also recognize that government drug policy has been ineffective and has led to frightening abuses of the Bill of Rights which could affect the personal freedom of any American. We, therefore, support alternatives to the War on Drugs.
2. Per the tenth amendment to the US Constitution, matters such as drugs should be handled at the state or personal level.
3. All laws which give license to violate the Bill of Rights should be repealed.

Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC13 on Dec 8, 2000

Posted by: Christopher Goodwin | 2008-07-23 9:44:00 AM

agreed John and the sooner the better. After al;l some of these libertarian types actually think its like the former USSR here in Canda- ya ok take another toke on the bong!!!

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2008-07-23 9:45:31 AM

Merle, first, I really wish you would be less belligerent with your comments. It's just not necessary. We are all on this blog because we care passionately about ideas, but passion is not an excuse for belligerence. Just because you disagree with someone, doesn’t mean that they are arguing in bad faith.

Second, I don't understand your comment about keeping Marc Emery out of the CPC. As far as I know, he is not trying to be part of the CPC. He is simply trying to make his case to conservative-minded people, many of whom already subscribe to the anti-prohibitionist views of say the late William F. Buckley or the late Milton Friedman. Emery gave his endorsement to the Libertarian Party, so I don't think this is about the CPC. I would remind you, though, that there are many people in the CPC who are libertarians, people like Stephen Taylor with The Blogging Tories and MPs like Scott Reid.

Third, I think you know that my hostility is directed toward those on the left and the right who demand that the state engineer society in their image. I have no hostility toward freedom-minded conservatives, especially social conservatives. (I really enjoyed the perspective of our editor Joe Woodard, who was a very libertarian-leaning Catholic conservative and a champion of civil society.) In fact, I arranged for my friend Dr. Michael Wagner to speak at the Libertarian Party convention on the need for a socially conservative culture in the libertarian movement. Dr. Wagner is the author of an important book on the Christian right titled "Standing on Guard for Thee."

I have also given several speeches to libertarian audiences outlining my views on the need for a socially conservative culture in the libertarian movement. I believe that big government “crowds out” non-governmental institutions like family, church and community, and that liberty will make them vibrant again out of necessity. Civil society is a powerful but non-coercive regulator of human behaviour.

Merle, you support state intervention on issues as diverse as food safety, drugs, smoking in restaurants, etc. This is where we disagree.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-07-23 10:03:54 AM

"Most of the world is misinformed, as are you. That America is not evil is factual. In the future GW Bush will look good and right in most of what he did."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And they say tokers are delusional.

"Take your pick of which of those place you wish to live in and go there. Yes as far away from the evil America as possible. And hurry you dumb shit."

LOL, such anger, such bitterness. Such base speech. Usually when one resorts to ad-hominem its because they are on the losing side of the debate.

It might just be possible that the rest of the world, just maybe.... maybe has a point?


Posted by: DF | 2008-07-23 10:16:21 AM

Matthew I am in no way trying to defame you or anyone else or get personal.
These are things you have said in the past that I refered to. I have no respect for what Marc stands for and his attacks on our democracy and our troops. He decided to come on here and he can thus defend his pot campaign.
As for Joe Woodard well all I c

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2008-07-23 10:33:34 AM

Marc Emery is a hero of unique caliber which we do not deserve, as he stands with conviction in the face of every possible adversity and continues.

Show me a man more honest about the governments short comings and the possible dangers, by taking the long and hard road of Civil Disobedience...

Resolved: Civil disobedience is the best way to fight for liberty...

Saint Augustine said, "An unjust law is no law at all," which means I have a right, even a duty, to resist -- with violence or civil disobedience. You should pray I choose the latter.

Posted by: Christopher Goodwin | 2008-07-23 10:41:12 AM

Merle, the things I've said to you in the past are fair game for discussion. I just wish you would not misrepresent those conversations or my views.

I have always been hostile to statism, whether it comes from conservatives by way of drug prohibition, or whether it comes from the left by way of things like anti-free speech laws or gun control.

I do, however, believe our society would be freer and stay freer for longer if we fostered a socially conservative culture within a libertarian political system. Culture and government are different, of course.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-07-23 10:49:42 AM


In case you haven't cobbled together your article yet, may I make some more observations?

1) Start with the absolute fact that the society we live in offers the best chance for creativity and the almost absolute freedom in which to exercise that creativity in the history of mankind.

2) There is no such thing as freedom from responsibility. Therefore, it seems counter-productive to rebel against a system which has provided historically unprecedented freedom. Society has man-made laws and all humanity needs some form of common mores to function properly.

3) What are the alternatives to quietly smoking your dope and not bothering anybody else? Getting in other people's faces, being an a**hole and justifying your anti-social behaviour by pretending you're an artist or an activist? TIme for some blow.

4) How about overthrowing the very system which gave you these historically unprecedented freedoms? Let's see, anarchy, the carrot marxism tells you is the end result of ‘progress.' Swallow the lie and ignore the tens of millions of innocent people who have been killed by utopian totalitarians. Marxists, National Socialists, dictators of various bent. Look at the long list of long-term successful cultures which have embraced drugs even more than North America ... Jamaica, Haiti. Make up some chants, hit the streets and light up a doobie. What a hero!

5) Live a negative life in which you take delight whenever the successful go through a rough time. Point out everybody else's mistakes while ignoring your own foibles. Cheer while you can, forgetting the sacrifices of your ancestors, as you march toward political slavery to complement your chemical addiction.

6) Talk a brave game, while you continue to define yourself as inferior. Wear your inability to problem-solve as a badge of honour. You have no self-control. Other than poisoning other impressionable minds, you have no control over others, just like nobody has control over you. Dare to be stupid! Light up a reefer.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-07-23 10:52:23 AM

I have yet to see that implemented anywhere Matthew as of yet?
Anyhow smoking laws aside Marc is not someone I can support.

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2008-07-23 11:46:45 AM

once you understand what the government is tryin to do you will be amazed, unless your so brainwashed you think its a good idea to have a world government and have us all with a ID microchip that hold our money electroniclly.. the government starts the world problems and presents a solution and finishes it.. but they have planned it all. they dont care about your freedom...they dont care that marijuana has healthy properties, they dont want marijuna legal cause it makes you relize what a system you are living in. you just have to choose RIGHT NOW if you want to change they way society is. the society that has all these drugs and killing and poverty,..cause us the people hold it up and create it, just choose to not hold it up and relize that we are infinite.we are all one, this body we are in is just a space suit for cthe infinite consiousness thats all around us and the body just lets us interact with ourself,, once we relize who we really are just imagine the paradise that will arise.!!

Posted by: spencer | 2008-07-23 11:50:34 AM

It sounds to me like Marc and Gerry agree on most things but disagree on the tactics. Obviously, there are many ways to fight for liberty and they are all important. Working together to fight for freedom is great. I really wish that the people that read this blog could see that.

Pot rallies are a great example of fairly low-risk civil disobedience. Thanks to the efforts of the organizers of the Global Marijuana March, there are hundreds of rallies around the world where thousands of people toke up in public and very few people get arrested anymore. Those are very important activist events and they are the result of hard work by people like Marc Emery.

Posted by: Tanya Derbowka | 2008-07-23 11:50:55 AM

Stoner, er, spencer:

Yeah, that's the ticket.

The government stuck that joint in your mouth and made you suck.

Hang on, your ‘blame everybody else for your problem' attitude already sucks.

Do I hear a chorus of Kumbaya after the ‘we are all one" comment?

As Jed Clampett would say ... piiiiiityful.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-07-23 11:53:44 AM

Is Emery practicing civil disobedience? I don't think so.

Mahatma Gandhi outlined the following rules for civil disobedience. Let's test them.

1. A civil resister (or satyagrahi) will harbour no anger.

Emery is a very angry person. No wonder he uses drugs.

2. He will suffer the anger of the opponent.

Hardly! Emery has tried to evade responsibility and anger government officials at every turn. They, on the other hand, have endured with remarkable restraint (probably because they know they'll win in the end.)

3. In so doing he will put up with assaults from the opponent, never retaliate; but he will not submit, out of fear of punishment or the like, to any order given in anger.

See above.

4. When any person in authority seeks to arrest a civil resister, he will voluntarily submit to the arrest, and he will not resist the attachment or removal of his own property, if any, when it is sought to be confiscated by authorities.

See above.

5. If a civil resister has any property in his possession as a trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, even though in defending it he might lose his life. He will, however, never retaliate.

See above.

6. Retaliation includes swearing and cursing.

See above, even posts in this thread from both himself and his supporters.

7. Therefore a civil resister will never insult his opponent, and therefore also not take part in many of the newly coined cries which are contrary to the spirit of ahimsa (non-violence)

See the comments he made against Mr. Irwin Cotler, the Justice Minister, whom he called "A Nazi-Jew".

8. A civil resister will not salute the Union Flag, nor will he insult it or officials, English or Indian.

Emery has been openly contemptuous of both the US and Canadian flags and their authorities.

9. In the course of the struggle if anyone insults an official or commits an assault upon him, a civil resister will protect such official or officials from the insult or attack even at the risk of his life.

HA! Not likely!

The facts are clear: Emery is a criminal trying to avoid jail, not someone who is trying to change the law through civil disobedience and non-violence. Some hero! The only heroes here are the police officers and government attorneys who have put up with him. Bless their mighty souls.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-23 11:55:16 AM

Merle wrote: "I have yet to see that implemented anywhere Matthew as of yet?"

America in her early years was politically libertarian and culturally conservative. Government was tiny and constitutionally limited, and civil society was vibrant.

Merle also wrote: "Anyhow smoking laws aside Marc is not someone I can support."

Fair enough. I don't expect libertarians and conservatives to agree on everything. I would only hope that on this forum we could disagree without vitriol.

By the way, I think your last post was cut off for some reason.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-07-23 12:07:12 PM

Set You Free,

Thanks for the observations. I agree with all of them, although they're a bit outside the scope of the column I wrote. It deals instead with the claim liberals often make that conservatives lack empathy in some character-defective way.

I argue that conservatives recognize that empathy must be tempered with sound moral judgment about a person's own responsibility for his or her actions. When we pity someone but do not provide that judgment of his behavior (when warranted) we actually do him or her a disservice.

I think your observations speak to a similar concern. Freedom can't mean freedom from moral judgment, and, at least in public, we all have a reason to comply with such judgments. Personal responsibility and other "bourgeois virtues" are essential to social stability and, indeed, even to the efficient operation of the market.

I'm not convinced that occasional use of pot (and there are many occasion users, like, ahem, someone I know) gets in the way of the development of those bourgeois virtues. I wonder if the truth is somewhat in reverse: people who are unable to live worthwhile lives find substitutes for what they are missing, whether that is pot, pornography, or something else.

And that means we should perhaps pity the heavy pot smoker, but not withhold our judgment of his lifestyle. After all, that judgment is the only thing that might propel him, eventually, to change his ways.

Thanks again for the comments!



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-23 12:11:02 PM

"I wonder if the truth is somewhat in reverse: people who are unable to live worthwhile lives find substitutes for what they are missing, whether that is pot, pornography, or something else."

Isn't that up to the individual to decide?

Posted by: DF | 2008-07-23 12:43:08 PM

If nobody minds I would like to add a few comments based on personal experiences with the " happy hay". Back in the late 70s, early 80s, in grade 11, I joined some buddies in smoking a big "rocket" at lunch time and went to math class. I spent the whole period thinking the room was going to cave in, and the teacher had to know what I had been up to,let alone trying to figure out math problems. Now i'm only guessing, but I think the pot of today is just a little stronger then it was in the 80s, Some people seem to be able to function on a daily basis on that stuff, I certainly can't.

Posted by: glen | 2008-07-23 12:43:18 PM

Zeb, You are talking utter rubbish. Everything you say is complete crap.

You come off as angry, bitter and narrow minded.

Posted by: DF | 2008-07-23 12:46:33 PM


I will correct one thing.... not everything you say is crap... I'm sure you have a valid point somewhere. but your method of delivery is too filled with personal angst (its quite obvious really ) and needs a lot of work if you expect others to listen.

You sound bit like a child throwing a tantrum... just you are able to select your words with the mind of an adult. A tantrum is still a tantrum.

Posted by: DF | 2008-07-23 12:51:15 PM

I'll take that as a sign that I have scored some points. Hooray for the good guys (aka me)

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-23 12:51:26 PM

419 wrote: “Freedom great and small comes from loving thy neighbour as thyself. Go ahead Fraser Institite - think tank that one away.”

How does one go from that Christian sentiment to the view that Marc Emery should spend a lifetime in jail for selling seeds?

That’s your notion of loving thy neighbour? (You’re right. I don’t think the good people at the Fraser Institute could understand that one.)

Libertarian writer Karl Hess had as his life’s ambition to be a "good friend, good lover, good neighbor." Libertarian philosopher Henry Thoreau wrote that “I am as desirous of being a good neighbour as I am of being a bad subject.”

Hess and Thoreau followed the commandment to love they neighbour by first not insisting that the state destroy their neighbours for peaceful lifestyle choices.

Let me share a quick story about Marc Emery on his expression of love for his most wretched neighbours. Emery privately and personally financed a drug addiction treatment facility to work with heroin and alcohol addicts in the notorious Hastings area in Vancouver. He paid for treatment; he paid for nurses; he opened his home to struggling addicts; and he risked criminal prosecution for his unlicensed treatment “facility.”

Why? Because he, like Hess and Thoreau, takes seriously the commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself.

This man does not deserve to spend a lifetime in a US jail. Let him face the Canadian justice system for his so-called crimes and let our legal process run its course.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-07-23 12:55:11 PM


- sounds to me that you had too much and it wasn't used inteliigently. There are limits. Amplification can distort is pushed too hard.

Posted by: DF | 2008-07-23 12:56:28 PM

"agreed John and the sooner the better. After al;l some of these libertarian types actually think its like the former USSR here in Canda- ya ok take another toke on the bong!!!"

My first post of the day is short. All I want to say at this point is that Merle, this post puts me under the impression you are from Canada. It makes me disgusted to know we have people in our country who openly want to oppress our freedom and our rights. If you are not from Canada, then I apologize and you can disregard that last sentence and regard this one instead: you still disgust me.

Posted by: Charlie Cole | 2008-07-23 1:05:03 PM

hey Tanya Derbowka I never blamed anyone for anything..but the top people of the governments who run the world and are minipulating minds..the government dident stick the joint in my mouth,, i did..and i love marijuana..its woken me up to reality. everyone fightinig over what freedom is....true freedom we cant even imagine.no money no governents and a respect for every thing in the universe..cause you are the universe. everyone is one thing. we are still fighting wars..we are still savages in my view. but people are waking up all over the world to the truth that we are infinite we are god/trueself and we create reality. bargining with the government will never work since the entire system is not designed for true freedom..but for power, money economy, growth, survival of the fittist. as it was in the beggining so shall it be in the end. wake up people

Posted by: spencer | 2008-07-23 1:08:52 PM

Hey Zeb -- you said
"4. When any person in authority seeks to arrest a civil resister, he will voluntarily submit to the arrest, and he will not resist the attachment or removal of his own property, if any, when it is sought to be confiscated by authorities."

"On July 29, 2005, Canadian police, acting on a request from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, simultaneously raided the BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Headquarters in Vancouver and arrested Emery for extradition to the United States outside a local storefront in the community of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia where he was attending a HempFest."

He went without struggle, and there are even pictures of him in police custody taking a nice bong hit with a smile before being carted away.

Posted by: Charlie Cole | 2008-07-23 1:15:35 PM

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