Letters to the Editor: August 5, 2004
Praise for Martha
Just a quick note. Thanks a million for the piece on Martha Stewart. You tied together a lot of salient points in a short space. Personally, I love Martha Stewart. As a homemaker, I've learned an immense amount from her. The thought of the feds actually putting this woman in one of their prisons is as disgusting as any atrocity they have committed.
-- Patrick Lilly, July 23
The Abortion Debate
While your reply to Norm Olsen and criticism of LPCO is well-warranted, I think that the inclusion of the "right" to an abortion as a libertarian principle in your arguments is misplaced. Libertarians for Life would likely also disagree with your inclusion of this as a principle. I do understand how true libertarians can end up on either side ("pro life" or "pro choice"). It is a matter of the demarcation of life -- when a human becomes a human with rights and not something lesser, without rights -- and that demarcation is not something defined by libertarian principle (it's defined by moral principles and references outside of libertarianism).
I've heard basic Libertarian principles summarized as: Individuals have the right to do whatever they want, as long as it does not infringe/trespass on the rights of others.
Obviously women have the right to choose what to do with their body, but that right (by definition) would not extend to the killing of another human. The real point of debate is if the fetus/unborn is a human yet or not. If it is human, she has no right to murder, if it is not, she has every right to abort. To refuse to acknowledge this aspect of the debate between pro-choice and pro-life camps, and ignore the possibility of the rights of the unborn, is quite irresponsible. This, however, is exactly what you did:
"His comments seem to suggest that he would allow abortion only in 'extreme cases' (as decided by whom?), rather than as a general right women have over their own bodies."
The purpose of this e-mail isn't to argue about when a human becomes a human (that is the true core issue in the life vs. choice debate), but to weed out what is a poor and misguided point in your otherwise clear and reasoned critique. The issue of abortion isn't simply about the rights of the woman, it must also consider the rights of the child and when that life (and the affiliated rights) might begin. To state that abortion is a right is a basic libertarian principle is incorrect (unless, of course, you have firm, indisputable evidence that THE morally objective demarcation of life and liberty occurs sometime after fertilization).
Ari Armstrong replies: A quick Google search will bring up extensive discussion of the abortion issue on my web page.
While it would obviously be nice to see government, as a rule and not an exception, respect private property rights, it is refreshing to see this particular instance of injustice eventually rectified. It is disappointing that it took $20,000+ in legal fees and enough public interest and opinion that the city council members likely knew they had no other option if they wanted to remain city council members.
It is also quite nice to see a publication that frequently encourages nanny-state programs and politics to their official opinion in the private property rights camp, and to see a community support that right. This now-widespread understanding of the impacts of some government laws on property rights, in itself, is a worthwhile fruit of the Rules' fight and community members' activism. A slight twinkle of hope for property rights in this state.
Hopefully people will begin to put two and two together, see the overall impact and implications, and come to the realization that it's theft even if the property owner is a corporation and even if that theft would accomplish something they see as positive (ability to separate personal desires from the desire to accomplish it through the government).