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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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Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.


Posted by: set you free | 2008-07-27 10:06:03 PM

419 Said:
"The governmet is not an invading foreign force - it is the democratically shaped tool of the society you are in..and collectiovely, your fellows ahc decided prohibition of certain sibstances are the way to fo. Same socio-political mechanism that is trying to eliminate every stray speck of asbstoes. mercury, heavy metal. spray for mosquitos, inocilate against diseases.. etc etc.."

This is where you and I definately part company.
This "Democratically Shaped Tool" is the same process by which these things were allowed in the first place. The same process by which we are all test subjects for paharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists. This "tool" is, according to you benevolent and giving. Whereas I hold that the government has never given anyone, anything that it didn't steal from someone else. Democracy itself does not honor individual rights and liberties but treats the population as a mass. This leads us to such idiotic theories such as "Group Rights" and "Multiculturalism" both of which are astoundingly against "Individual Rights". In other words, Socialist. And Socialism is a disease that creates an ant hill mentality.
Sorry 419, I'll take liberty and individual rights and responsibility over that every time.

Posted by: JC | 2008-07-28 6:26:20 AM

What a sour, paranoid little world you live in

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-28 7:40:32 AM

What a sour, paranoid little world you live in

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-28 7:40:36 AM


Kinda confirms expected behaviours when brain areas controlling emotion and memory shrinks by 12% and fear and aggression shrinks 7%.

Increasing paranoia is the logical result.

Tracking it back though, the dope dealer needs to sell despondency and hopelessness with the promise the drug will mask this inability to problem-solve.

What better way to sell despondency than chipping away at a political system which gave them the freedom to destroy themselves in the first place?

In less open societies ie, those which do not embrace traditional Judeo-Christian values, their activities would be tolerated even less.

Since there's only one planet they can live on, they are doomed to live in a prison of their own design.

Their sense of oppression is not anybody else's fault .. it is ingrained within them.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-07-28 10:03:59 AM

sick people need drugs

I think the human race is tired of the excuses druggies offer as to why they use
>> NON habit forming substances. So the qiestion is, if you are not physically compelled to use cannabis, then why do you fuck yourself up on it?

If you know excretion times are so long. why do you overmedicate? Why do so many of you never come down ?

Yes, other cultures who have known cannabis for millenia are the hardest hitters enforcing the drug laws,, The Christian / Judiac culture is the softest on drug offenders.. We don't execute traffickers or relapsed users here.

its lucky for Emery he is not being extraditd to any of these other nations he boasted he shipped pot seeds to.. lucky for him the Americans got to him first.

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-28 11:48:42 AM

"So the qiestion is, if you are not physically compelled to use cannabis, then why do you fuck yourself up on it?"

Cause its fuckin funnnnnnn!!!
419, SYF, and Zeb, I'm done with this argument. You've heard my opinion many times, you've heard my logic, and you've heard my reasoning.

Time will tell.

Posted by: Charlie Cole | 2008-07-28 12:04:15 PM

Mr Cole- we actually did hear your argument many tims, it seems to be a hybrid collage of all the classic stoner rants that do not address simple points.

Maybe this explains why nobody is buying the stoner hybrid collage: it is too heavy on the emotional entitlement and way way too thin on rational insight.

So far the stoners have achieved nothing- the laws against dopetopia are ramping up for an even a harder slap down. I guess you put way too much credibility into the Marc Emery miracle-- and look what's happening to him ?

I guess you could always hope this spiril down all swirls into a Joan of Arc scenerio and historyin th next century history paints the stoner resistance like the dream seeking opium consumer noisy minority who were pretty much erraced in the aftermath of the 19th C Opium Wars.. impared, irrational & in everybody elses way all their lives..


Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-28 4:25:36 PM

Marc Emery is perfectly correct to use Rosa Parks
in his argument for liberty.

Rosa Parks wanted equal treatment under the law the same as white people.

Marijuana users want equal treatment
under the law
to NOT be prosecuted and punished
for using marijuana
because it is Equally as dangerous
or LESS dangerous
than other legal products
such as TOBACCO and
ALCOHOLIC beverages for adults.


Cris Ericson http://crisericson.com

Posted by: Ms. Cris Ericson | 2008-07-28 6:50:23 PM


While I disagree, That is one of the most balanced and effective arguments put forward on this thread since it started. It is clear, succinct and makes its point well. Well done.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-28 7:04:40 PM

The law says
"obtain a permit for pot use" - it's very clear

and if you don't have a permit, and you get busted you will receive equal treatment- just like everyone else involved with unauthorised production or distribition of a controlled substance. If you don;t approve of the law as it is at present, then work to change the law.

If the Rosa Parks standard was applied accurately, she would not be growing pot-
as cannabis is contraband for everybody. Unless they have a proper permit, and some people apply for and receive permits. So it is entirely possible to produce, distribite or consume cannabis with a permit.
If one race or gender was allowed to grow and sell pot and Rosa parks was not, based on her race or gender- then you could argue she was not being treated equally.

Marc Emery was treated equally - he broke the law and was arrested and charged just like anyone else. Nothing cruel or unusual here..and he pleaded guilty to all charges : I don't know if Rosa Parks pleaded guilty to her charges

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-28 8:13:59 PM

419: they like to take the spirit of Rosa Parks without understanding what it took for the Montgomery Bus Boycott to succeed in ending segregation. What do these stoners have that the rest of society needs, that they can withhold from the rest of us? Montgomery's black population stayed off the buses for over a year, costing the city and the bus company millions. I can't see the stoners being able to do the same and succeeding.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-28 8:38:33 PM

Som can anyone tell me if Ms parks pleaded guilty or not to her charges ? and what punishment did she receive ? I am not an American or of that era, but I am aware that there was tremendous organization to accomplish the legislation that ended racial discrimination in the USA & and other world nations as well/

Is Marc Emery in the same league as Rosa Parks ?
I don't think so, not even close. At least his self comparrisons to Ghandi, Nelson Mandella and Dr King has sort of stopped. That's a big plus

Will the stoners come together and attract quality support and change the world recreational drug laws?
I doubt that even more than the consecration of St. Marc Parks here- and even if they did.. Mr Emery will likely be in jail for a looooooooooong time while this pot liberation is all sloooooooooooowly shaping up..

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-28 9:07:53 PM

419: I'm not sure how she pleaded, but she was found guilty and fined $14 (yes!). My belief is that her lawyer, a white man named Clifford Durr who was a staunch opponent of segregation, wanted it that way so he could appeal. Her appeal of the charge led to the fight against segregation.

You're quite right - Emery's self-comparisons to Mandela, Gandhi and King are ridiculous. He's more like Mumia Abu-Jamal, who plead not guilty and tried to use his trials (plural) to demonstrate his cause. As we all know, he failed miserably. He's a cause celebre only among death penalty opponents.

The stoners lack sufficient economic power to make political change, pure and simple. They lack numbers most of all, in spite of what they claim. They are so ill-organized and led - no doubt because of their drug habits - that they will remain powerless for the foreseeable future. Emery better like prison because that's where he's going for a while.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-28 9:35:56 PM

Rosa Parks bus rider superstar was fined $14 - ---------- that's it?
Then the entire bus seating drama was just a city bi-law infraction. Sure it was drama to start the ball rolling for other freedom issues , but in itself ,her crusade started out from a $14 bi law infraction. I can only assume she paid her bus fare and sat down before the Shit hit the fan

Mr Emery on the other hand- willingly broke International narcotic laws..those are felonies,, heavy heavy offences-- he turned a huge profit and worked with others ( on going criminal organization ) to realise this goal.

I sure hope he doesn't pull any of this mirror image time machine oppression fanclub stuff in court. If he does, the prosecution might well outjoke him and refer to him as the reincarnation of .......Jim Bakker of the PTL club..
80s' era Disgraced TV Evangalist-

and if Marcs' charming wife makes any more dumbass hysterical comments - she can be his reincarnated sidekick mascara fountain ...Tammy Fae Bakker..

Google them and see for yourself how well they fit in that comparrisson lineup. but go ahead stoners, wear that t shirt and fire up the bong..
what will you do to save this 420 millionare?

Posted by: 419 | 2008-07-29 8:15:06 AM

Wow what a pile of crap a guy has to read through to get to the end of this page. If we piled just the crap coming from 419, zebulon pike and set you free in one pile we could climb to the top of it and try to drop stuff down onto the peak of mount everest.

I especially like the stuff about rounding us all up into camps, no you are not all like past Nazi's and fascists, you just want a "better" world right? How could we have ever concluded that you were fascists?

I can understand why the pro-pot legalization crowd would want to use pseudonyms to protect their identities, we are the targets of a witch hunt, so to protect ourselves and our families it is sometimes necessary to be anonymous as possible, but what about you self righteous statists? The only reason I can see for you hiding behind a screenname is because the views and ideas you spout are stupid, hateful and embarassing, and admitting that you have these views would expose you for the ignorant, bigoted half-wits that you are.

I havn't read anything enlightening or useful in any of the posts from the oppression supporters. Nothing but insults and attacks. Wipeheads, potheads, stoners, whatever term you like today is not far removed from you other favorite standby's like nigger, raghead, or faggot.

I'm glad that Jodie outed 419's real identity. I think that everyone who advocates for oppression of another group of people should have to identify themselves and face those people that they advocate harming. My guess is a lot less people would spout as much ignorance as you three if you knew we could identify you and strike back.

I don't buy into this whole peaceful revolution being able to change things, i think it will take a lot of us identifying people like you and literally beating you till you piss all over yourselves. I believe we have the right to defend our freedoms with as much force as is necessary. Your attacks on us as a people justify a violent response in my opinion. Freedom's are pretty much never given to us, we must take them by force.

Marc Emery is a civil rights hero, all you anonymous critics are cowards and your uninformed opinions are worthless.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2008-07-31 2:53:45 PM

So Dr Greenthumb.

will you put $10 on this or what?

Posted by: 419 | 2008-08-01 9:04:36 PM

Pardon my bluntness, but Marc Emery is a clueless. Twit.

You don't fight for Liberty at all, you simply live free. Set a good example and arrange all your affairs, including your political party, to SHOW people how to live as a free man. In other words, don't tell me - show me. Set a good example. Marc Emery has failed miserably at that, resorting to censorship and other Stalinist tactics within every political party he has ever had any influence in. He is a BAD example and poor role model and not very libertarian. Unfortunately, there are way too many like-minded corrupt individuals in the Libertarian Parties also, and that needs to change. The members need to investigate before they elect the leaders of their party, and think seriously about the problem of self-governance and what can be done to address the structural flaws in our democratic systems.

Now watch them flame me and demand I be banned from this forum too! (Which proves my point, of course.)

Posted by: Ken Wiebe | 2008-08-15 8:33:51 PM

Mr. Wiebe- this is an interesting point you raise.. there is no flamin' here now that the vague letist crybabies have moved on..

1) is it ok for Libertarians to break international controlled substance laws?

2) If so, what is their justification when they do?

3) Does a good libertarian accept their fate if they get busted and punished or whine and blame government?

4) is it OK for a libretarian to rake in $15,000,000.00 selling weed seeds to Americans and other offshore criminal underclass buyers?

5) where, please do you imagine is the line between enlightened libretarian philosophy and the antics of the inane criminal underlass frolicking in the golden sewer of the pot black marketplace?

6) would you like to join our betting pool ?
we give tremendous payout if Emery gets off and walks free.. not _one of the BC3 whipehead supporters will put one cent behind their pipedream position..

Posted by: 419 | 2008-08-15 11:00:20 PM

I will do my best to give you a principled, consistent, sensible libertarian answer. I base my answers on the contractarian libertarian principles subscribed to by VILA members.

1) International controlled substance laws are like any other law, they should only apply to those who accept being bound (and defended) by them. I'm not sure who might actually need to be defended by the international drug laws, but whoever they are they should feel free to do so - and to be bound by them. Obviously, Mr. Emery is not one of those.

2) No justification is required. Nobody needs to justify the personal consumption of anything, and subscribing to the theory that government permission is required is a quick route to tyranny.It is purely a matter of free men exercising their liberty and best judgment.

3) A good libertarian practices what he preaches. Libertarianism is a philosophy that must be lived in order to be real. It is no mere theory, to be preached to others. (This is the part that Marc Emery and his NDP cronies do not understand.)

4)It probably is not okay to take advantage of poor people or engage in business dealings with dangerous criminals. However, in today's political climate, it isn't clear who the real criminals are. The "underclasses" are not children in need of illusory government protection, they are adults who should be free to make their own mistakes and learn from them.

5) That's poetic, but I'm not sure what you are asking. Last time I checked, frolicing in sewers (however unsanitary) wasn't unlawful. And no good reason why it should be.

6) I am not a gambler. Thanks anyhow. I am no fan of Mr. Emery, I think he is (politically-speaking) a clueless twit. Neither am I a fan of the US war on some substances, or the Canadian government slavish obedience. I suggest you do some research into what organization is the single largest purveyor of drugs in the world, and ask why they would want to keep drugs illegal - and use the power of government to squelch competition.

Back to you.

Posted by: ken wiebe | 2008-08-16 3:10:28 PM

I consider myself part libertarian and part objectivist, and thus I like to think my thinking is toward objectivity. I can't say I am an obectivist 'proper' because I have had no training to be an objectivist but from what I understand of it, I really agree with Objectivism. So, as much as I understand libertarianism, I agree with a lot of it, thus the libertarian-objectivist mix for me.

For me, initiating force is always wrong no matter who does it. My neighbour, the government, or people on welfare etc. Not initiating force is always right.

Part of being free is making a pact, as it were, with all the people on earth, that says "I won't initiate force against you and you won't intitiate force against me", and the end result of that is freedom. Political freedom, intellectual freedom and personal freedom. At least thats how I see it.

I want to comment on something Marc Emery said about laws.

As I understand it, a law will do one of two things,

1) it will initiate force (thus attack freedom)


2) it will will not initiate force (thus defend freedom).

Another way to say this is, every law either supports freedom, or attacks freedom, there is no third alternative. This is true about every law ever written, or those which will be written.

So when Emery said " ... the reality is that all law represents civil war against the people." I had to disagree with him.

The laws which do not initiate force are what I call freedom laws and thus those laws do not represent "civil war against the people".

Laws which do initiate force do represent "civil war against the people.", and there are many many laws written that way.

So, I think its a mistake to say that " ... all law represents civil war against the people." It ignores the laws which don't initiate force and some of those have been passed. Those laws have made our lives easier.

As our country slides into a state of anti-freedom (thus embracing dictatorship-tyranny-communism type thinking and actions and laws), more and more laws are passed that initiate force against people, such as taxes, banned smoking in public places, hiding cigarette displays, banning trans fats, gag laws etc.

Passing laws that initiate force is what dictatorships do, thats why they are dictatorships. They pass so many of these laws it cripples their economy and thus they cripple people and as a result, their citizens live in poverty. Dictatorial laws attack the nature of the human being.

I understand how easy it is to focus solely on the "bad laws", I've done it myself. yet, it's the "good laws" that must be passed and the bad ones struck down, this will help to create a free country, and eventually a free world.

As I write this, I feel the need to mention just how important reason is in all of this. By reason I mean logical thinking. Without it, we are all in for more tyranny, dictatorship and suffering.

Dictatorships are illogical, and so is socialism and tyranny, it is only on the grounds of reason that these horrible forms of government can be stopped. Ultimately reason (logical thinking) stops poverty and starvation and wars.

I agree with Gerry Nicholls when he said that " ... in my view the best way to win the "war of ideas" is through persuasion."

To me it means using logical thinking to pass knowledge on to as many people as possible. Again, for me, THAT is the first step in preserving our freedom then expanding it.

When the right people have the right ideas (and enough of them), bad laws will be struck down and good laws will be passed, our economy will thrive and dictatorship, tyranny and communism will be dismissed out-of-hand as it should be.

Posted by: Freeman | 2008-08-27 10:37:26 AM

I agree that Ayn Rand had one good idea, and there is one good thing that serious libertarians can (and should) adopt from Objectivism. The rest of it is troublesome, incoherent, and cause more problems that it solves for libertarians. Most serious Objectivists appear to have a bit of a tyrannnical streak, and I think a lot of the so-called "neo-cons" are Objectivists.

Unfortunately, the entire "initiation of force" theory is useless. It has had the unfortunate effect of leading many libertarians down a philosophical blind alley. It's failry easy to demonstrate this, but I rarely bother anymore. Adherents of tht theory become very distressed (and often hostile) when it is demonstrated that believing the "initian of force" theory creates internal contradictions that shatter the believer's illusion of "reason".

If you want see a coherent theoretical foundation for libertarianism, read Jan Narveson's books. Jan is a crappy politician, but he's a very good philosopher.

Posted by: Ken Wiebe | 2008-08-27 11:28:20 PM


Dear Ken.

I see that you disagree with the idea that says "the initiation of force is wrong". Another way to say this is, that you argree that the initiation of force is right.

So, to remain consistent in your thinking you would have to say that, all initiation of force is "good".

This means, you would see no wrong in someone raping a child, because in order to rape, a person had to initiate force to do it, and you are in favor of initiating force.

This means you would see no wrong in a husband beating or killing his wife, because in order to beat\kill her, a person had to initate force to do it, and you are in favor of initiating force.

This means you would see no wrong in the stabbing and beheading of the fellow who was on a greyhound bus last month, because in order to kill him, a person had to initiate force to do it, and you are in favor of initiating force.

So when you said "... the entire "initiation of force" theory is useless." it means you are useless. It means you certainly support criminal activity in your thoughts if not in your deeds.

That was a very stupid post on your part.

Posted by: Freeman | 2008-09-10 12:33:39 PM

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