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Is this libertarianism?

Home - by - January 13, 2013 - 09:00 America/New_York - 28 Comments

Long story short – Some guy was stealing information off of MIT servers that were behind a pay wall. His intent was to share the information with everyone for free. The information was largely public domain, but the paywall was inserted  because they compiled the stuff, used optical scanners, cataloged it, and put it into a searchable index. This has value. The guy was caught. He was looking at 35 years in prison.

The guy committed suicide, and of course the libertarians are now claiming it was anyone’s fault but his own. They are particularly pissed at the government for enforcing the law, and are attempting to martyr this guy who obviously had more problems than being a wrongfully accused “freedom fighter.”

I was reading about this story on the libertarian sub-Reddit. And libertarians are mad as hell and making their libertarian arguments as to why “THIS IS BULLSHIT!!”

The arguments are, for the most part, ridiculous.

I will pull a comment here and there, but trust me, these are not isolated one-off comments. This is the general consensus.

Apparently MIT didn’t want to pursue charges after the Feds were brought in. This seems to be a sticking point with many of the libertarians. This is a typical refrain-

the government should not be allowed to press charges, unless it is the victim (aka I stole a police car or some government property) . If the “Victims” do not want to pursue charges that should be the end of it. Period.

Really? So if a child rapist is caught but the little girl and/or her family decides not to press charges that should be the end of it? The victim isn’t only the girl, chucklehead, it is society. The state does not need the victim to press charges to prove the man is a rapist, just as they do not need a murder victim to press charges. (Yes, I know the victim is dead. That’s the point.)

A victim doesn’t hold the power to unleash a criminal onto society because of either, fear, coercion, monetary gain or whatever other reason they had to not pursue charges.

This “libertarian” system would also breed an environment where the richest among us could buy their way out of criminal charges if the price was right. “I realize I raped and killed your kid, but how does 2 million dollars sound?”

Here is another libertarian view that is absolutely infuriating.

F*ck any justice system that threatens someone with 35 years in jail for copying some motherf*cking bits around.

Notice this guy says “justice system.” What in God’s name is a justice system? That idiocy aside, other libertarians go on to one of their favorite topics, Intellectual Property.

Libertarians, like progressives, think that Intellectual Property “IS BULLSHIT!” But you’ll see that they have a difficult time respecting intellectual property because  it’s “just all rearranged bits.”

Theft is depriving someone of their property. Your “property” as you put it is your thought. Short of an icepick and violent access to your frontal lobe, no one can deprive you of your thought. If you don’t want your idea utilized/replicated by other minds in ways you can’t control then by all means, refuse to ever disclose it.

Some dude tries to reason (heh, libertarian joke) with this guy.

Think of it this way: I have an idea for a song, I expend intellectual effort and physical effort in recording the song, that is the produce of two different types of my labor. I own that produce just as if I made a chair and you took that chair out of my house.

To hold that intellectual property is no property at all is to destroy the very foundation of property rights.

Get a load of the comeback.

Laws are state-sanctioned violence. Laws are enforced by the threat of many armed men coming to put you in a cage or worse. That only becomes ethical once someone ELSE has violated the Non-Aggression Principle, which isn’t done in any IP “law.”

If you can steal, non aggressively, you’re not a criminal, apparently. It goes on and on until one sensitive libertarian says

Wow. I’m actually tearing up about this. F*ck that so hard

That’s a bit extreme, don’t you think

absolutely not, the loss of a life is always sad, and even worse because of malicious prosecution

I understand the victim is not pursuing any charges, though. So it’s all good, Snowflake, you can stop your crying.

Gahead libertarians, start piling on me because these guys in this sub-reddit don’t speak for you.
But before you do, here is a libertarian article that calls for FREE STUFF, just like libtards do.
UPDATE: The link under FREE STUFF, was to a site that I really did a disservice to. I’ve been corresponding with the site author and he is coming from a much different angle than I believed at first blush. His views on Intellectual Property are actually quite reasonable and logical. It’s not at all  keeping company with the philosophy of the left-leaning libertarians.



  1. sig94

    January 13th, 2013

    At first there was one and only one law and it had to do with… property rights.

    But nooooo, Eve had to go and f**k with that Tree. Must be the Serpent was a Libertarian?

    Thumb up +3

  2. persecutor

    January 13th, 2013

    There were times that it seemed that OWS and the Libertarians were kindered spirits.

    Kinda looks that way again.

    Thumb up +9

  3. Unruly Refugee

    January 13th, 2013

    If they don’t want to obey the law they should move to Mexico.

    Thumb up +3

  4. AbigailAdams

    January 13th, 2013

    This is a really interesting situation and it comes up rather coincidentally with something I’ve been recently learning about, “Radical Transparency”. Does anyone here know that term or what it means?

    An industry colleague — one whom I’ve continually questioned for her P.T. Barnum, self-aggrandizing schtick — wrote that she was a student of “Radical Transparency” on her LinkedIn profile. Having never seen the term, I decided to do a little investigating (not wanting to be scoffed at later on for not being “in the know.”)

    Bing the term and you should get a link in the first 20 or so hits to an article from 2007 in “Wired” magazine about it. Seems there has been a movement afoot for the past half decade to mainstream the idea of letting it all hang out; that is, to make public every scintilla of private information about your organization. This situation between the so-called “Libertarian” and MIT could (could) be a prime example of Radical Transparency on the march.

    It’s a radical idea and I still don’t know what to make of it, entirely. However, my gut tells me it’s the sort of “something for nothing” that only a Marxist/Socialist/Progtard would think was frilliant. The Wired article is built around the story of the CEO of Red Fin (the online realty co.) who started spilling his guts about all the dirty little secrets (his, first) about the realty biz and how it helped grow the start up when they were about to collapse. Then Southwest Airlines got in on the act of public self-humiliation and it started to catch on — the act of public immolation and its appeal to customers and outside “experts” who champion the underdogs. It’s actually quite collectivist in its approach and outcome. And the whole Radical Transparency movement started in academia — natch.

    Just a thought. This is what this story sorta sounds like. And because no one seems to be able to articulate the fundamental differences between Libertarians and anarchists, I don’t wonder that there may (may) be some confusion about the guy’s politics.

    Thumb up +5

  5. sig94

    January 13th, 2013

    Went to Jacob ex Machina’s article on Aaron Schwartz and left this:

    Talk to the universities about the cost of hosting academic work before blowing it off as trivial. I was an administrator for an optical imaging system back in the 90′s. Before spending nearly a million dollars on our system we looked at the system run by Byrd Library at Syracuse University. It was purchased through a Kellogg Foundation grant in 1989. They were scanning old, archived documents, some of them several centuries old and placing it on a Plexus disk library. There was an enormous amount of work involved doing this. They blew it up when the SA neglected to back up their indices and their system crashed; it ended up as junk and they tossed it.

    I ran a system that involved about a million scanned pages a year. We had about five or six people involved in administration, scanning, indexing and other work as well as a small fortune in maintenance contracts for the equipment. And this was to grant access to only 600 people on our network.

    Sure, the costs have come down since then and the equipment is much faster and more reliable, but there are still serious costs incurred by providing this service and you feel it has to be available to everyone? For free? Dream on. Nothing is free, someone has to pay for it. You just want someone else besides you to pay for it.

    Noteworthy Comment Thumb up +10

  6. CrustyB

    January 13th, 2013

    This is not libertarianism. Libertarianism says you free to do what you want with your own property, not other people’s. These people are part of the “everything for everybody for free” crowd. Funny how they expect to be paid after putting in a weeks work.

    Noteworthy Comment Thumb up +18

  7. cfm990

    January 13th, 2013

    I guess it’s now OK to rip off Neil Boortz and Ron Paul.

    Thumb up +3

  8. Left Coast Dan

    January 13th, 2013

    What CrustyB says – these ‘libertarians’ are co-opting the term, and do not understand (or care) what it means. Libertarianism means personal freedom, and also personal responsibility. It doesn’t mean you have any right to someone else’s stuff, the product of their work.

    Similarly, the ‘anarchists’ of the OWS crowd seemed to want more government intervention, more government giveaways. It’s all so romantic to be an anarchist – especially when you get to wear those uber-cool ‘V’ masks…

    Thumb up +8

  9. Dr. Tar

    January 13th, 2013

    There’s a strong strain of anarchy among the post you’ve selected BFH. There is also a big dose of narcissism.

    That may be the common thread between OWS and these professed Libertarians. To boil it down to its basics – “I want what I want when I want it and I don’t care who is hurt or the damage done to the rest of society so long as I get what I want.”

    I’m afraid this is the direction our culture has taken since the 60’s. We use to be “rugged individualist.” To me this meant we valued independence, respected those who improved themselves and took responsibility for their own lives. We are becoming a society of spoiled, selfish, self-centered, dependents who resentment those who still adhere to the older, more successful culture.

    Noteworthy Comment Thumb up +12

  10. KF

    January 13th, 2013

    The word libertarian seems to be going down the same hole that liberal went down 100 years ago.

    Thumb up +8

  11. historicus

    January 13th, 2013

    Libertarians are douchenozzles – just like liberals.

    Thumb up +3

  12. AbigailAdams

    January 13th, 2013

    …or it could be anarchist leftists’ effort to infiltrate the libertarian camp and discredit it.

    John Stossel and Andrew Napolitano are Libertarians, too. Stossel was (is?) a big Ron Paul supporter.

    Thumb up +5

  13. pdwalker

    January 13th, 2013

    You might be a bit harsh here.

    Read more and then decide if the governments response was appropriate.


    Thumb up +2

  14. Mark

    January 13th, 2013

    Calling yourself a libertarian doesn’t make you one. Respecting property rights is something most Libertarians would agree with. Ignoring property rights is more Anarchist. Unfortunately the difference between the Republicans and Democrats is just who’s cronies they enrich and what behaviors they want to regulate or prohibit. Neither party abides by the constitutional principals this country was founded on or truly represents the middle class any longer.

    Noteworthy Comment Thumb up +14

  15. Mr.Gates

    January 13th, 2013

    Libertarians seem as crazy as commie-libs. I had a discussion with one who thought we should provide private rooms in public libraries so people could view internet porn without disturbing others. It was either that, or we should close all the public libraries. There was no room for any other solution in her mind.

    Fortunately, our Republican county executive had the upper hand in this debate. Our county contributes $6,000,000. to a county wide library system. She told them to install filters or the money would be eliminated. The ACLU couldn’t do anything about it, because the county has NO legal obligation to fund libraries. Internet filters were installed.

    I guess closing libraries wasn’t a good option after all.

    Thumb up +2

  16. BigFurHat

    January 13th, 2013

    I’m being harsh to Swartz?
    How so?

    Thumb up +2

  17. Token

    January 13th, 2013

    There is a subculture of people who call themselves libertarians who take a heavily skewed view of intellectual property rights…skewed toward theft and parasitism. These are not libertarian values by any rational measure.

    Thumb up +6

  18. BigFurHat

    January 13th, 2013

    Sig, was your comment removed?

    Thumb up 0

  19. Steve Adams

    January 13th, 2013

    I’ve got a lot of libertarian leanings. In this case there are a couple of issue that bother me.

    1) Selective prosecution. Simple straight forward laws are good. Complex, archaic laws and prosecuted discretion leave lots of people wondering if they will be treated like David Gregory or e Duke LaCrosse team. (Not clear how much this played a role) Did MIT chose not to prosecute because of who he was?

    2) Exsessive penalties. This plays into the same issue. In this case he stole some digital bits. Still someone’s property, so return it / delete it. Pay an appropriate penalty ($ or time) and move on. MIT valued the info at $50k. 35 years and $1 mil seems like a lot.

    Interesting example of the justice system with reason enough to avoid it.

    Thumb up +1

  20. TNRWC

    January 13th, 2013

    This is not the Libertarian Ideals that I learner from CATO or reason. I don’t agree with all Libertarians ideals but Libertarians are not anti government and private property. They are anti big government and pro government protecting peoples property rights.

    Thumb up +1

  21. BigFurHat

    January 13th, 2013

    This is exactly why I framed this post with an almost complete disregard with Swartz and what the crime was and what the potential penalty was.
    It’s not at all germane to what these self-identified libertarians are ranting about over on Reddit.
    Swartz could have gotten 100 years in prison or 100 hours in prison, it doesn’t matter. These people think that it shouldn’t be a crime at all to “rearrange bytes.”
    If they didn’t get up in arms and rant if Swartz got 100 minutes in jail it would be more revealing as to what their agenda is.
    If their was an acceptable fine then it wouldn’t be principle they were arguing for, it would be for lower fees for access to other people’s property.

    Thumb up +3

  22. Wraith

    January 13th, 2013

    Crusty summed up REAL libertarianism quite succinctly. If these fools are libertarians, I’m Rosie O’Donnell.

    Thumb up +4

  23. john s

    January 13th, 2013

    Ok seriously, I have called myself a libertarian for decades and now i can’t because some dribblers on the internet have claimed the title? Are all liberals now members of OWS? I resent the wide eye anarchist wannabees usurping the word libertarian. I don’t care what some folks on a board that claims to represent libertarianism say. They don’t speak for me, so stop slandering libertarians everywhere by taking the most extreme idiots as examples of the norm. I am sure i could embarass EVERY political movement in much the same way.

    Thumb up +2

  24. C H Ingoldby

    January 13th, 2013

    Those people arguing against the concept of intellectual property do not represent all libertarians. Many libertarians fully support intellectual property rights, however there are large numbers of leftists who call themselves ‘libertarians’ who espouse all sorts of lefty rubbish.

    The, so-called, ‘left libertarians’ are basically socialists who use the guise of libertarianism to push their lefty, collectivist nonsense. Please don’t conflate them with libertarians who believe that liberty and property rights are essential for decent civilisation.

    Thumb up +2

  25. Tim

    January 13th, 2013

    I can call myself a butterfly -

    but that won’t make me pretty.

    A thing is what it is – not what it calls itself.

    Its actions define it, not its words.

    Thumb up +5

  26. sig94

    January 13th, 2013

    @Big Fur – Coulda sworn I posted it ’cause I copied it from there and pasted it here. Whatever, it’s up there now.

    Thumb up 0

  27. RosalindJ

    January 14th, 2013

  28. Lance o Lot

    January 14th, 2013

    So I guess that those arguments made Teddy Kennedy a Libertarian: Rumours circulated for years that The Clan paid off the Kopechnes

    Thumb up 0