Armstrong Replies to Gresh Concerning Stanley

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Armstrong Replies to Gresh Concerning Stanley

by Ari Armstrong, August 26, 2002

In an August 22 e-mail later distributed via the Stanley Scoop, Steve Gresh argued the board of the Libertarian Party of Colorado should not remove Rick Stanley as a candidate.

Gresh asks, "[H]as [Stanley] merely reacted to/responded to/replied to/expressed a need to defend himself and others from an initiation of force that has been committed by government against him and others? I weigh the evidence in favor of the latter conclusion."

But Gresh's "conclusion" fails to take into account the following line, which was forwarded by Stanley: "Imagine every cop, every lawyer, every judge, every meter maid, every clerk, Media worker, every DMV, every government employee- collaborators in treason in 72 hour period, that shows their face is blown away for treason." To this horrifying endorsement of murder in the streets, Stanley replied, "Thank you very much for your comments. I will forward and when the day comes, and it will, America will be be prepared for the traitors day in the people's court." (For details, see http://www.freecolorado.com/2002/08/rsvote.html.)

It is simply false that every lawyer, "Media worker," etc. has initiated force. Nor do such people necessarily even work for government. The e-mail Stanley forwarded has nothing to do with self-defense, and everything to do with the initiation of violence of the worst kind.

Gresh asks, "By the standards that most people use to assess the intent of written or spoken words, could Rick's expression have been more diplomatic or politically correct? Sure." Diplomatic? Politically correct? Gresh writes as if we're discussing some trivial matter of decorum! The e-mail Stanley forwarded advocates MURDER! Stanley thanked the author of the e-mail and said the day would come when the events described in the e-mail come to pass! Diplomacy would not have somehow made Stanley's message more acceptable.

Gresh argues that, if Stanley is removed, "I think it's very unlikely that a replacement candidate who could come anywhere near Rick's positive name recognition could be found at this late date."

Positive name recognition? Let's review briefly. Stanley has made major news for forwarding a racist e-mail, claiming the smiley-face bombs might be a government conspiracy, and forwarding an e-mail advocating murder. This sort of media exposure does not translate into positive name recognition.

Gresh lectures the board:

If you haven't already considered this likely outcome of removing Rick, then I hope you give serious consideration to the likelihood that all future Libertarian candidates must be absolute anarchists to pass our purity test. Here are a few examples that come to mind to illustrate what I mean: Constitutional imposts and excise taxes to fund a Constitutional national defense are an INITIATION OF FORCE. Taxpayer-funding of compensation for elected officeholders' time and taxpayer-funding of the maintenance of capitols or courthouses are an INITIATION OF FORCE. Taxpayer-funding of police to enforce laws and a judicial system to try cases that involve murder, battery, and theft are an INITIATION OF FORCE. Any future Libertarian candidate (Z) who advocates (or fails to denounce when asked) any form of taxation for any of those governmental functions (X) will be in violation of the Libertarian Party's Statement of Principles (Y) and should be removed, too.

I admit that this last argument against removing Rick as our candidate might be a bit hyperbolic. However, aren't most of the arguments in favor of removing Rick as our candidate a bit hyperbolic, too? Hyperbole and hysteria are incompatible with calm, libertarian rationality.

But the complaints against Stanley are not "hyperbolic." They are straight forwarded and rooted in the evidence. On the other hand, Gresh's argument is both hyperbolic and silly. First, one need not be an anarchist to advocate the repeal of all taxes. Many libertarians who advocate the minimal state believe government can be funded voluntarily. Second, many libertarians argue a minimal state is the necessary precondition for banning the initiation of force, therefore minimal taxes to fund the minimal state are potentially necessary to achieve a rights-respecting society.

No LP candidate will ever be removed for advocating minimal taxes, so long as the candidate's position is defended by a plausible libertarian theory. Gresh's fears are hysterical at best. The argument over minimal taxes versus no taxes is hardly analogous to the argument over murder! The point could not be more obvious: murder is fundamentally contrary to libertarian principles. Removing Stanley does not place the LP on the precipice of a slippery slope. On the contrary. Failure to remove Stanley would set the stage for supposedly Libertarian candidates to advocate whatever anti-libertarian notions they pleased.

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