11 Feb 2010

Guilt By Association: How Does One Draw the Line?

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When I was in San Jose, at dinner the issue of giving talks to various types of crowds came up. The issue was, is it ever inappropriate (either morally or just strategically) for an antiwar libertarian to give a talk to a particular group?

Obviously we are assuming the speaker agrees wholeheartedly with what he or she will say at the event. But the issue is, should a speaker ever decline an invitation due to the forum?

For example, I wouldn’t give a talk at a Klan rally.

However, Mark Brady pushed us a bit, and said it would be fine for us to give a talk at a Marxist rally, and we agreed. The difference was, there would be no danger of any outsider misinterpreting our talk as a personal endorsement of the group’s activities.

Also, it might be OK to be even at a Klan rally, if it were a debate and you were saying why racial codes or whatever were bad, and your opponent was defending them. In other words, it might be OK (though still iffy) if you were not welcomed by the people at the Klan rally.

Finally, does it affect your answer whether the speaker is being paid, or is promoting a book or something?


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