13 Jan 2014

Two Police Officers Acquitted in Kelly Thomas Beating Case

Big Brother, Pacifism, Police, private law 146 Comments

Two officers were acquitted by a jury, and the D.A. is not going to bring charges against a third.

In case this one flew under your radar, here’s the video. If you listen closely, at around 15:20 the cop says, “Now, see my fists?…I’m getting ready to f*** you up.”

This is the now-iconic photo of Thomas, who died 5 days later in the hospital: [EDIT: removed because Google doesn’t like it.]

Last thing for all of the Rothbardians reading: Strictly speaking, [added:] arguably you (and I) don’t support agents of the State locking anybody up. So, how do you process something like this? (I’m not saying it’s an impossible situation, I’m just noting that the initial reaction of a lot of anarchists is to be outraged that these cops aren’t going to prison for life–and that’s a bit ironic.)

146 Responses to “Two Police Officers Acquitted in Kelly Thomas Beating Case”

  1. Dan says:

    “If the cops who murdered Kelly Thomas don’t belong in prison, then no one belongs in prison. And perhaps they don’t belong in prison. But the soundness of my statement stands.” Anthony Gregory

    • Cosmo Kramer says:

      Exactly. Compare the actions of some that are in prison with those of these officers.

  2. Wheylous says:

    Ostracize them until they can’t be ostracized any more.

  3. Samuel Wonacot says:

    After reading this post, I guess I really don’t understand the Rothbardian position. I know that Rothbardians think the state, and, by consequence, the police, ought to be eliminated and turned over to the market, but are you really saying that, right now, the state shouldn’t be prosecuting and locking up murderers, rapists, and thieves?

    I mean, I know the here and now is a difficult thing for libertarians to deal with, but I’m fairly confident I could dig up statements by Rothbard to the effect that, since we have the state, it ought to be, at the very most, locking up the aggressors, instead of, you know, sitting idly by while criminals (actual, violent criminals) run free.

    So, now I’m all kinds of confused.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Samuel Wonacot I amended the post. Yes, for sure a Rothbardian would think, “GIVEN that the State is going to lock people up, I’d rather it be murderers than pot smokers.” But that’s not the same thing as saying, “I think it’s a good idea for the State to imprison person X rather than not, all else equal.”

      But like I said, I amended the post since maybe other Rothbardians would disagree with me.

    • Gamble says:

      Just for fun I would send over my private agency to settle the score with these uniformed jerks.

      Hows that for the here and now, you state loving ignoramus…

    • Samson Corwell says:

      Honestly, some of Rothbard’s opinions on criminal justice actually entail a rejection of certain protections that people have under the Constitution and current case law.

      • Ben B says:

        Yes, rejections of those constitutional protections given to agents of the State, such as arresting people who haven’t been proven guilty of any crime; and this is simply legalized kidnapping. Or, at least if they do detain an accused person, and he turns out to be innocent, then the innocent man should be able to file kidnapping charges against his aggressors (the police, prosecution, etc.). Or, at least he should be able to sue his kidnappers for monetary restitution at their own expense (not at the taxpayers; of course, their own salaries are also at the expense of the taxpayers).

    • Colonel Serfdom says:

      My take on the Rothbardian system is that people like this should be non-coercively shunned. Private businesses should refuse to transact with them. People who own roads shouldn’t let them travel on them. Since the vast majority of people would be unwilling to let them on their property or sell them anything, they’d be forced to live among other very shady people on the outskirts of society or try to eke out a living on the land.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Haha, “eke out a living.”

        That’s how the country was built.

  4. Liberty Jerk says:

    “initial reaction of a lot of anarchists is to be outraged that these cops aren’t going to prison for life”

    Where are these outraged anarchists for prisons? It’s the judge who creates the sentence.
    Why soft on cops? These gangs ruin everything.

  5. Rocco Stanzione says:

    Prison sentences are a poor substitute for justice, but this is poorer by far.

  6. Abhi Mallick says:

    For heinous crimes one could always consider them outlaws for violating a hypothetical voluntaristic legal covenant. The ultimate punishment would thereby not be “positive” but “negative”, rendering them outside the protection of the law. It does surprise me how few “Rothbardians” and others have cottoned onto this idea. There was quite a good presentation at Grove City College talking about a real life example of such a legal system:


    • Ken B says:

      Or Plantagenet England, where it worked so well.

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    I don’t see how the jury’s reaction is much different than hipster Keynesians saying:

    If you are suspicious of Abraham Lincoln, you are going to have a hard time convincing me you care more about liberty than me.

    Both demonstrate a bizarre, unshakable and near-religious belief in a “natural” right and ability of state actors to make things right through the brutalization and murder of society’s “enemies” of the moment. There is also the same utterly callous disregard for and dehumanization of the victims of the state’s “therapy”. Keynesian economics reflects the same type of attitudes by callously ignoring the brutal employment of police force to inflict their cures on a public that Keynesians deem to stupid and crass to be left alone to live their lives in peace.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      How successful was your law practice, Bob?

      I ask because this goes well beyond just disagreeing with me. You’re awful at drawing inferences and constructing arguments. I’m amazed you even got your law degree, much less that you can use it to put food on the table.

      I don’t know much about the practice of law, though. Presumably there are lawyers that too more paperwork type stuff. Is that what you do?

      All I can say is that the people of Michigan dodged a bullet in 2010. Granted, the bullet was aimed at the sky by a crazed Yosemite Sam type… but still – they dodged a bullet.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        *do more paperwork type stuff

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        How many votes did you end up getting?

      • Casual Reader says:

        So, Roddis is not your friend, am I right?

      • Anonymous says:


        I have to say that I disagree with your response to BR’s post (and most of his posts here, and elsewhere, in general). I believe he is VERY adept at drawing inferences and constructing arguments.

        The rest of your post is ad hominem intellectual laziness.

      • Ken B says:

        “You’re awful at drawing inferences ”
        Impossible to deny when he calls Daniel Kuehn a hipster!


        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          That was the deepest cut of all.

          Oh wait… then there was that “utterly callous disregard for and dehumanization of the victims of the state’s “therapy”” thing.

      • RPLong says:


        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          Can’t figure this out due to the lack of specificity. Are you “jeezing” at me questioning Bob’s ability to make a strong argument and its implications for a law career or Bob accusing me of utterly callous disregard for dehumanization by the state?

          • RPLong says:

            I’m saying “Jeez” because your response to Bob Roddis is shockingly personal and uncalled for.

            • Daniel Kuehn says:

              I don’t get you RPLong.

              How in this exchange do you get so worked up about me saying he doesn’t make good arguments and bringing his law career into it of all things?

              How do you respond “jeez” to me and not him?

              You never cease to amaze me. On the surface you’re pretty reasonable seeming, but probe a little and it all comes apart.

              When a guy says I have a near-religious belief in the right of the state to brutalize and murder its enemies in a post on police murdering a homeless man and getting away with it I’M GOING TO QUESTION HIS ABILITY TO MAKE ARGUMENTS, and I MAY get a little personal.

              If you were any kind of decent, you would too.

            • Daniel Kuehn says:

              Bob Roddis is a vile man. He’s cruel and he can’t disagree with someone without acting like this. His least anti-social go-to answer is to accuse people of blanket ignorance when they disagree with him (“No Keynesian has ever understood….”), which strongly suggests he doesn’t have the capacity to construct real arguments.

              He’s a net cost on this blog, which is one of the few good blogs out there where you can read and talk to a Rothbardian with an excellent grasp of and healthy respect for mainstream economics.

              He got personal. I just didn’t take it lying down.

              • RPLong says:


              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Are you shocked again? Am I being uncalled for again?

              • Larry says:


                You’re obviously a reasonably intelligent young man, but I have to concur with RPLong; you’ve gone too far in your criticism of Bob Roddis.

                Is what he says a true intellectual barrier to you or is it your prejudice and bias towards his worldview?

              • Ken B says:

                Maybe not as much as RPLong but I am a little non-plussed at your reaction. Not that Roddis didn’t attack you exactly the way you think he did, and not that I think his comment was anything but a typical off-the-mark cheap shot. But Roddis’s slime was confined to your stated positions not his biography. I think he can be safely dismissed but if not it’s best to reply in kind, hsi stated positions — this is a man who boasted he’d like to shame war widows after all — where there is ample amunition and not make it about personal attributes (unless funny!).

              • Ken B says:

                typo “your biography”

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                How sensitive is the biography here? I question his capacity to perform his chosen profession? I think he’d make an awful judge?

                I feel like I’m missing something… are these hugely sensitive claims?

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                If Bob Roddis made an argument against one of my economic views and then questioned how I could ever put food on the table being an economist I’d think it would be a hard-hitting comment but nothing hugely offensive. It’s trash talk of course. Not the notable contribution to the discussion, though.

              • Ken B says:

                Well there’s this: “I’m amazed you even got your law degree, much less that you can use it to put food on the table.”
                Aside from anything else you know this is a bad conclusion! Roddis has an obsession with some Rothbardian notions, but could be quite sharp outside that. Look at Murphy and imagine someone who read only his religion, ID, Kontradictions, or conspiracy threads. They might wonder how he got a degree in basketweaving. Yet Bob is actually a smart, educated guy. He’s just off kileter on a few topics. Roddis is too, combined I grant you with a certain rotweiler quality).
                Not a big deal, I’m not saying Jeez like RP, as I understand your substance. Just question some of the style is all.

              • RPLong says:

                When did a simple “jeez” become such a big deal? Something has to be lost in translation, because where I come from, “jeez” is a casual, non-vulgar, non-aghast way to express mild surprise.

                At any rate, Roddis did not call Kuehn “a vile man.” There is a question of perspective.

                No one disputes a right to self-defense, but I don’t pull a guy’s fingers off with rusty pliers if he steals my wallet, you know?

              • Ken B says:

                “Rusty Pliers”? RP.

                Jeez ….

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                RPLong –
                1. Not a big deal. Who said it was?

                2. Mildly annoying and majorly baffling where your outrage and concern gets directed. Your history for that sort of thing amps up the annoying a little. I’m not sure whether it reduces or increases how baffling it is.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                The whole problem, RPLong, is that I am the one supposed to be the one holding the rusty pliers in your metaphor.

                That is unhinged from reality.

              • RPLong says:

                Well, Kuehn, seeing as how we’re all airing our grievances today, would it kill you to pause for a couple of minutes before hitting the “Submit” button to make sure you don’t have anything more to say?

                Part of what’s making you look bad here is the fact that you have written 12 comments to anyone else’s 1. Take a page from Ken B’s book. Note that he can make short work of most of us in usually 10 words or less. We can’t all be Ken-B-witty or Bob-Murphy-witty, but we can at least take time to reconsider something before we say it.

                If you had taken the time to reconsider, I am confident you would have thought twice before etching the phrase “Bob Roddis is a vile man” into the permanent architecture of the internet. And while I don’t expect you to admit your mistake, you could at least make a mental note for the future:

                1 – Pause
                2 – Reconsider posting
                3 – Hit “Submit” when confident that you are adding more than you are detracting.

                If I have to admit my own guilt in this realm to convince you, then let me be the first to say that I’m speaking from experience. You will find my comments have improved dramatically since 2008 or so.

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                ARRRGGGGHHHH there is no way to point out the problems with that Ryan without being sucked into the mire, so I won’t.

                Let me say this –
                1. I don’t regret the “vile” thing one bit. He is. More people need to tell him that and maybe he’ll stop.

                2. Email me if you have detailed thoughts on my commenting and how it’s received. I’m not sure why you’re talking about that here.

              • RPLong says:

                There’s nothing to email about. It’s hard to believe that over the years you’ve never posted a comment that you later regretted posting.

                It’s also hard to believe that calling an internet stranger a vile man on an economics blog won’t some day be one of those things you later regret.

                But hey – it’s your 12 comments, not mine.

              • Samson Corwell says:

                Ken B. wrote:

                […]this is a man who boasted he’d like to shame war widows after all[…]

                Say what?

              • Ken B says:

                Well, not just war widows. Those who stood in church to applaud servicemen, or had servicemen in their family. But that includes war widows.
                Look at the post and Rodiss’s reply to Bob’s post. The subject was those who did the standing.

            • Daniel Kuehn says:

              Sorry, Bob Murphy, for cluttering up the comment space with all this. But the first step is getting rid of guys like Bob Roddis – then we can actually talk about, for example, justice in a Rothbardian society (I’d mostly be an onlooker to that discussion… don’t know much about it). But I’m not going to fucking take it lying down when someone just prances in and takes a shot like that at me.

        • Matt G says:

          Daniel Kuehn is a good guy, and the discourse at this blog is often edifying. I hope RPM does both a favor by sending this thread down the memory hole.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            Fine by me on the thread.

            Roddis got the message. As far as I’m concerned he should pack up.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              I’m not going anywhere. As in litigation, when my opponent loses it and goes ape****, I assume I have won the argument.

              Further, almost the entire essence of contemporary Austro-libertarianism is that Keynesianism is not only the primary cause of our economic and political troubles but contributes and facilitates endless war and looting of the masses by the elite. How can one say that in a “nice way”? How can those two sides meet in the middle?

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                1. Bob Roddis takes advantage of an awful tragedy and injustice in a post about a horribly brutalized man to accuse an individual commenter of embracing brutalization and murder by the state.

                2. Said commenter gets pissed off by the vileness of it all.

                3. Bob Roddis concludes that the fact that he pissed someone off means he won.

                This is unreal. I don’t understand what goes on in your head, Bob. Go away.

              • Ken B says:

                1 is where I don’t quite agree, though I see why you feel that way. Roddis referred to your publicly stated, and never disavowed, positions. I agree it’s rubbish, but it’s fair-game rubbish as it were. The locus of connection is your ideas, not you.
                I think for example it’s quite fair for you, as you have done, to refer to Bob’s pacifism in the face of the Taliban, and to link that to other issues provocatively. The problem with Roddis’s attack is that it’s crap, not that it’s personal.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                <Bob’s pacifism in the face of the Taliban

                What a silly position for me to take, especially when the Taliban are swarming into Michigan across the Detroit River from Canada at this very moment.

              • Ken B says:

                Other Bob. Mea culpa.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        A year ago, I wrote on DK’s blog:

        Kuehn’s paper is consistent with the Rothbardian narrative that the Fed was created by the elite for the elite and to allow them to fund wars without real time taxation of the public. Further, Kuehn demonstrates that the problems of 1920 were caused when the government changed gears after the war in attempting to unwind its massive wartime interference in the market. Those problems of price distortion were repaired fairly quickly without significant government interference by the market actors themselves.

        The lesson to be learned from the event was that, as always, the market does not and did not fail and that these types of problems are always caused by government interference in the market. Further, these government inflicted problems must be and can be repaired fairly quickly by market actors. The statists that infest the educational system and media do not even want to think about such an analysis and that is why it is rarely publicized.

        To clarify, I further wrote:

        1. Kuehn’s paper is consistent with the Rothbardian narrative;

        2. Kuehn demonstrates that the problems of 1920 were caused when the government changed gears after the war in attempting to unwind its massive wartime interference in the market; and

        3. THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM THE EVENT was that [not “Kuehn’s paper shows that”], as always, the market does not and did not fail and that these types of problems are always caused by government interference in the market.

        DK responded a few inches down:

        Daniel Kuehn January 24, 2013 at 6:34 AM
        For what it’s worth (hopefully worth something!) I agree with Roddis’s #1, somewhat agree with #2 (government was not the only cause, and the governmental cause I cite is far more Friedman and Keynes than it is Rothbard!), and I strongly disagree with his #3.


        To me, that reaction seems pretty callous about the horrors of war and their relation to funny money funding. I’m not sure that saying so is a “personal attack” as opposed to strong opposition to policies promoted and defended.

        • Ken B says:

          Warfare has declined since the Fed was created. The world is getting more peaceful. Should we blame the Fed?

          Not that some here won’t blame the Fed for Berchtold and Moltke; it was the same shadowy forces who control the Fed who put them in power …

          This “warfare welfare state” mantra is nothing but a bogus attempt to imply supporters of welfare are somehow war mongers. Ironic coming from Rothbardians on a thread about police beatings I submit.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            Warfare has declined since the Fed was created.

            Except for WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War I, Iraq, Afghanistan along with the permanent military industrial complex.

            Social democracy means that no one’s property is safe from being grabbed by the majority and such looting is always up for bid by statist politicians. As such, we now have perpetual war around the globe, and the universal surveillance state. The Messianic State curing domestic and “foreign problems”.


            • Ken B says:

              Just curious, which of those wars do you blame on the fed?
              You made a factual claim. It is wrong.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                DK writes: During World War I federal expenditures ballooned and although the new income tax was able to partially finance the war effort, most of the financing was done through federal borrowing and by the highly accommodating monetary policy of the Federal Reserve. The role of the Federal Reserve at this time was expressed unambiguously by the New York Federal Reserve Bank Governor Benjamin Strong, who told a Congressional committee in 1921 that ‘I feel that I, or the bank at least, was their [the Treasury’s] agent and servant in those matters’ and further added that the wartime inflation caused by the low interest rates maintained by the bank were ‘inevitable, unescapable, and necessary’ for prosecuting the war (Strong, 1930) [emphasis added}


              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Those quotes around inevitable, unescapable, and necessary mean I am quoting Benjamin Strong, Bob.

                Believe it or not, I do not rule on the merits of involvement in WWI in that paper one way or another.

            • Samson Corwell says:

              Yeah, those Scandinavians are real warmongers. /sarc

              Seriously, don’t you think pinning all of that on one thing is a bit of a stretch? I don’t get it with Rothbardians and their hatred of Keynes (which isn’t to say I’m a Keynesian). It’s a strange thing to blame an economist for the world’s ills in issues unrelated to economics.

              • Ken B says:

                Sampson, that’s because The General Theory was actually written by the devil before time began, and is inscribed on stone tablets in hell. Keynes was just the final revelation.

              • Ben B says:

                Do you have to be a warmonger, in order to enable warmongers?

              • Samson Corwell says:

                Do you have to be a warmonger, in order to enable warmongers?

                What freakin’ planet are you living on?

          • Bob Roddis says:

            Abraham Lincoln printed greenbacks at a staggering rate during the Civil War.


      • Bob Roddis says:

        Please also note that DK apparently supports the ability of the president to murder American citizens without charges or trial (opposition to which he labels “dumb”) because it was OK for Lincoln to wage a terror war upon the civilians of Mississippi without filing charges.


        That just sounds so….. callous.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      The “hipster” thing comes from here:


      For very interesting perspective on Ryan Murphy’s life’s work, read this.

      He frames his anti-hipsterism as a criticism of status-signaling.

    • Samson Corwell says:

      Both demonstrate a bizarre, unshakable and near-religious belief in a “natural” right and ability of state actors to make things right through the brutalization and murder of society’s “enemies” of the moment.

      There are abuses, but it is impossible to fully eliminate them. You are also totally mischaracterizing people’s attitudes about these matters.

      Keynesian economics reflects the same type of attitudes by callously ignoring the brutal employment of police force to inflict their cures on a public that Keynesians deem to stupid and crass to be left alone to live their lives in peace.

      Hilarious. How in the world does economics relate to jurisprudence?

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Lawyers always told me that you cannot collect interest on unpaid alimony awards in Michigan. That was true until the statute was amended in 1987 but that was still a wive’s tale even after the amendment. It was my interpretation of the new law that pre and post judgment interest at the rate of 12% per annum must be added to a 1982 award of alimony unpaid as of 1990 by the physician ex-husband. So my garnishment of the ex husband included the appropriate calculation of interest. He hired BIG FIRM Miller Johnson to smack me down in court seeking sanctions against me for requesting an award of interest. The trial judge said that everybody knows you can’t collect interest on alimony. He awarded the principle amount but no interest and denied the request for sanctions. Both sides appealed. Guest what happened?

      Lesson: Always listen to wive’s tales.

  8. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    I remember a few months back there was some controversy over this cafe in Portland, OR that put up a sign saying essentially “Cops not welcome here.” It was mostly the flag-waving crowd who declared this cafe was obviously run by america-hating Commies and who tried to shame and ostracize the cafe itself, but as far as I know, they never reversed that policy.

    Maybe if we start seeing more of that, it would help. Perhaps people would be less likely to become police officers if they knew it would make them villains in the eyes of the public, rather than heroes. I’ve always maintained that if I ever started some sort of business I would offer a “private industry discount,” but only because I’m sure a “police/military/bureaucrat surcharge” would be considered illegal.

  9. Matt Tanous says:

    “I’m just noting that the initial reaction of a lot of anarchists is to be outraged that these cops aren’t going to prison for life”

    I’m not upset these men are not going to jail. I’m upset these men are paying no price whatsoever because a “jury of their peers” (read: citizenry scared witless by such violence by ‘their protectors’ or indoctrinated to basically worship state actors like police) found them ‘not guilty’ despite video evidence wherein they are CLEARLY GUILTY of assaulting a man that, while mentally ill, posed no actual threat to them.

    As far as I know, the Rothbardian “answer” to such a crime is heavy restitution required towards the family of the deceased, and/or ostracization amounting to “house imprisonment” (because if I owned a road, any travel on it by murderers such as these would not be permitted – strictly a “no murderers” road).

    • Cosmo Kramer says:

      Seriously though. How hard would it have been to place Kelly in a cop car? Instead, they did why they did.

      The police have a different set of rules and the sheep just go along with it.

      We see the sheep defend cops like this because “you’re just supposed to do what the cops say”, whether it is legal or is illegal on the cops behalf.

      With more mobile cameras about, we are increasing the pressure on police to do the right thing. It always amazes me how a cop gets furious when we simply exercise our rights.

  10. RPLong says:

    For whatever reason, most an-caps seem to prefer settling this kind of thing with a posse.

    • Ken B says:


    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      A posse eh?

      You mean a group of heavily armed thugs living among us whose natural response to any perceived injustice is violent retribution, and whose power and authority goes unquestioned and unchallenged?

      Yeah, it would be a real shame if we ever had one of THOSE in America…

      • RPLong says:

        Yep, that’s the kind of argument to which I was alluding. Thanks for helping me make my point. 🙂

    • Ken B says:

      Some time ago I noted that cult leaders fall into two groups, lovers and smiters. Rothbard — definitely a smiter.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        He sure doth smite the evil warmongering “progressives” good (intentionally using the adjective “good” as an adverb to show I’m from “the street”).

        In contrast to older historians who regarded World War I as the destruction of progressive reform, I am convinced that the war came to the United States as the “fulfillment,” the culmination, the veritable apotheosis of progressivism in American life.[1] I regard progressivism as basically a movement on behalf of Big Government in all walks of the economy and society, in a fusion or coalition between various groups of big businessmen, led by the House of Morgan, and rising groups of technocratic and statist intellectuals.


      • Bob Roddis says:

        In this paper, I would like to concentrate on an area that Professor Higgs relatively neglects: the coming to power during the war of the various groups of progressive intellectuals.[2] I use the term “intellectual” in the broad sense penetratingly described by F.A. Hayek: that is, not merely theorists and academicians, but also all manner of opinion-molders in society — writers, journalists, preachers, scientists, activists of all sort — what Hayek calls “secondhand dealers in ideas.”[3] Most of these intellectuals, of whatever strand or occupation, were either dedicated, messianic postmillennial pietists or else former pietists, born in a deeply pietist home, who, though now secularized, still possessed an intense messianic belief in national and world salvation through Big Government. But, in addition, oddly but characteristically, most combined in their thought and agitation messianic moral or religious fervor with an empirical, allegedly “value-free,” and strictly “scientific” devotion to social science. Whether it be the medical profession’s combined scientific and moralistic devotion to stamping out sin or a similar position among economists or philosophers, this blend is typical of progressive intellectuals.


        There is no better epigraph for the remainder of this paper than a congratulatory note sent to President Wilson after the delivery of his war message on April 2, 1917. The note was sent by Wilson’s son-in-law and fellow Southern pietist and progressive, Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo, a man who had spent his entire life as an industrialist in New York City, solidly in the J.P. Morgan ambit. McAdoo wrote to Wilson: “You have done a great thing nobly! I firmly believe that it is God’s will that America should do this transcendent service for humanity throughout the world and that you are His chosen instrument.”[6] It was not a sentiment with which the president could disagree.


  11. JC says:

    Question re: Rothbardian take on this issue

    In a Rothbardian/private property order, would a homeless, destitute man, presumably trespassing on and allegedly vandalizing private property as was initially reported in the complaint that brought the police into this situation, not essentially be fair game for this kind of treatment, albeit at the hands of private security agents or whatever analog to police was in use in the the hypothetical Rothbardian world? He clearly didn’t have the means to hire his own private defense agency nor would I expect any to accept him as a client given his history and circumstances.

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      Would you continue to patronize a private defense company that was known to savagely and brutally beat to death people for petty crimes such as trespassing and vandalism?

      I certainly wouldn’t. This would be a PR disaster for any company that depends on paying customers purchasing their services voluntarily.

      Of course, such concerns are completely irrelevant to government police. How much people like them doesn’t affect their salary one iota. PR to them is an annoyance, not a legitimate concern.

      • Samson Corwell says:

        Would you continue to patronize a private defense company that was known to savagely and brutally beat to death people for petty crimes such as trespassing and vandalism?

        Some people certainly would. You should join us in the real world.

        Of course, such concerns are completely irrelevant to government police. How much people like them doesn’t affect their salary one iota. PR to them is an annoyance, not a legitimate concern.

        That is why there is a system of checks and balances in place. It is impossible to eliminate all abuse, so there will be trouble from time to time.

      • JC says:

        I might not, but I think a lot of people would, particularly if the beating victim were a member of some marginalized segment of the population as in this case.

        If it became a serious PR issue, such a firm might discipline, maybe even fire, the agents involved and maybe make some window dressing moves to implement remedial training for the rest of it’s employees. Which is exactly what the PD did here.

        But in terms of the kind of legal order envisioned by Rothbard, wouldn’t someone like Kelly Thomas, a homeless, schizophrenic with a lengthy criminal record, probably fit the profile of an “outlaw”, bereft of any legal protection and thus, as I said, fair game for this kind of treatment?

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          Whether he’s outside of LEGAL protection or not isn’t so much the issue. In a Rothbardian society, reputation would probably be just as valuable as currency, and regardless of whether a beating such as this was “legal” or not, the reputation of the firm would surely suffer greatly.

          Even if “some people” aren’t upset by it and continue to patronize them, that’s still a pretty awful development for them. We currently live in an environment, even under the state, where if someone who happens to be a waiter at Applebees does so much as tweets a racist joke, they’ll likely be fired because Applebees is that damn concerned about its reputation.

          Even under the state, companies go well out of their way to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of any and all potential consumers, even though I’m sure there are plenty of people who would still eat at Applebees even if their employees made racist jokes. In a Rothbardian society, this would only be magnified. A private defense company would have a hard time attracting a large amount of customers if they intentionally limited their customer base to “people who are totally cool with us beating the crap out of homeless people for no good reason.”

          • JC says:

            ‘A private defense company would have a hard time attracting a large amount of customers if they intentionally limited their customer base to “people who are totally cool with us beating the crap out of homeless people for no good reason.”’

            But this is an empirical claim, and one that you haven’t presented any real evidence to support.

            the contrary there are millions of people out there who don’t care at all about what happened to Kelly Thomas and at least some who think he got what what was coming to him.

            So, it would appear that maybe lots of people would be willing to accept the occasional incident like this, at least if they thought the agency in question was otherwise effective at protecting their property from criminals and outlaws.

            Moreover, the “for no good reason” condition doesn’t remotely apply here. The police confronted Thomas in response to a complaint for trespassing an vandalism by a local business. He wasn’t just someone they randomly chose to beat.

            So, would customers be willing to contract with a private defense company marketing toward “people who are totally cool with us beating the crap out of homeless people that have a long history of antisocial and criminal behavior and that our clients report to us are actively trespassing and vandalizing your property”? We can’t say for sure because again this is an empirical question, but it seems highly likely that people would indeed be perfectly willing to hire such an agency.

            • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

              I would suggest to you that one of the reasons a lot of people don’t care about this particular case is that government has conditioned them to be apathetic to these matters.

              And what motivation do people really have to follow the police? It’s not like you can select different police if you don’t like the ones you have. They have a monopoly. Whether you get upset or not is irrelevant.

              People do painstaking research on what car they should buy because they have a choice of many different cars. If there was only one car available for sale (y halo thar East Germany), then “Car and Driver Magazine” probably stops existing.

              There’s not much to be gained by getting outraged at police abuses, because there isn’t really much of anything we can do to stop them. This situation creates additional apathy, and I would suggest to you that’s an intentionally designed feature of the state. They want us to be hopeless and apathetic. They want us to be thinking “Well, there’s no alternative to this, so why waste my valuable time reading about police abuses.”

              I’d also like to say that even if you’re completely right. Even if a Rothbardian society would do nothing to prevent this. If a private defense company would engage in similar abuse just as often, and similar numbers of the public would care then as they do now, it would STILL be a net good, because those who DID in fact disagree with it COULD in fact opt out of supporting such immoral behavior.

              Even if me cancelling my subscription to “Homeless Beaters Police Service” doesn’t bankrupt them, I will sleep a little sounder knowing that MY hard earned money is no longer going towards beating homeless people. That’s a net benefit to me, and I assume I’m not the only one who feels that way. I’ll subscribe to Bob Murphy’s Pacifist Police Service where we give criminals a stern talking to and a lecture on the non-aggression principle.

              • Ken B says:

                Could Kelly Thomas opt out when approached by Murray’s Removal And Beating Services?

              • JC says:

                I agree, that would be a net plus for such a system, and such a result might even tend to reduce the number and severity of incidents such as this compared to the present situation, which would be great. My overall point is that in an an-cap world, for this specific case I don’t necessarily think things would have played out much differently either in terms of the outcome for Thomas or for officers. I don’t really think there is a clear cut purely ancap case against the officers, beyond the inherent illegitimacy of the their employer as a compulsory monopolist.

                I see to many libertarians who argue as if the market will solve all problems. Utopia is never an option. I think that in many ways such an order would likely resemble what we have now, though in many ways things would be better as well. Injustices will still occur, though perhaps they would occur less often or be less severe.

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                Ah, well in that case JC, I think we’re mostly in agreement. Utopians (of any stripe) are the most dangerous people around. He who promises heaven will surely bring hell.

                My personal belief is that yeah, under a Rothbardian society, we’d still confront many of the same problems we do today, they would just be somewhat lesser in severity, and individual freedom would be greatly increased. Some people (like me) see that as an end in and of itself. Others don’t seem to care either way.

                I think the AnCap “case” against the officers is all about reputation. Here are my arguments.

                1. In an AnCap society, people would more closely follow police abuses, because “police” would be a good they regularly shop for. Consider all the commercials we have for car insurance. If GEICO was known to torture innocent puppies, don’t you think Allstate would probably tell us about it? There are no commercials for police because you don’t get to pick your police.

                2. The entire legal system of an AnCap society would be reputation based, and would likely rely on an insurance-based model. Who would insure these cops after this incident? Not only would they never get to be cops again, I suspect they’d have a hard time finding any employment at all. Assuming everyone carried “personal liability” insurance, it would be hard for them to even get that. If local landlords were allowed to do so, they might refuse to rent to these guys. If you owned a cafe, you could refuse to serve them based on this. I recall a few weeks ago (not sure if it was ever posted on Free Advice or not) some very small town had to shut down it’s police department because repeated claims of excessive force caused their insurance company to refuse to continue their coverage. The same could happen here.

                There would still be violence in Rothbardia. There would still be tragedies and injustices. I just happen to believe we would have more, and better ways of mitigating them than we do under the current statist regime.

              • Samson Corwell says:

                He who promises heaven will surely bring hell.

                This sentence is awesome. I hope you don’t mind if I steal it and use again.

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                Samson – It’s not my sentence. I heard it from conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager, who I’m pretty sure as quoting some historical figure, but I cannot for the life of me remember who…

                (oh and I also can’t get this comment to appear in the right place)

              • Ken B says:

                Ambrose Bierce, from his definition of marriage. But probably others before him.

    • Samson Corwell says:

      Rothbardianism does not eliminate the state. It merely transforms it.

      • Samson Corwell says:

        So, the rest of you guys are “filthy statists” like the rest of us.

      • Ken B says:

        Worse, it unleashes it.

        It’s not like private justice, wergild, and outlawery don’t have a track record. 14th century Italy, downtown Baltimore, the streets of Laramie and Sicily all come trippingly to the tongue.

        But this time it will be different!

        • Samson Corwell says:

          Worse, it unleashes it.

          The definition they use for “the state” is also a terrible one. From Wikipedia:

          Weber intended his statement as an observation, stating that it has not always been the case that the connection between the state and the use of physical force has been so close. He uses the examples of feudalism, where private warfare was permitted under certain conditions, and of Church courts, which had sole jurisdiction over some types of offenses, especially heresy (from the religion in question) and sexual offenses (thus the nickname “bawdy courts”).

          All of the envisioned communities that I’ve seen anarcho-capitalists describe would in reality be city-states.

  12. Eduardo Bellani says:

    I think this article [1 ]is appropos in this discussion

    Jim Davis; Punishment; http://strike-the-root.com/punishment

    • Ken B says:

      Well worth reading. Cracked, but revealing.

      • Eduardo Bellani says:

        ‘Cracked, but revealing’
        Care to elaborate on that?

      • Ken B says:

        Cracked: not sound.
        And revealing as laying out clearly the thought processes of the Rothbardians.

        Just as one small example. One conclusion we get from this for example, is that if you’re rich and prone to rape it’s better to seek accomplices and exploit economies of scale. A gang rape by 10 cannot be ten times as traumatic as the first rape. You get a bundle discount.
        Something cracked there, and it’s revealing Rothbardians don’t see it.

        Reasoning from simple minded premises is no substitute for careful moral and consequential analysis.

        • Eduardo Bellani says:

          ‘Cracked: not sound.’

          I was interested in the why and how it is cracked, not the definition
          of the term itself.

          I’m now also curious about how you took a consequentialist justification
          for gang rape out of a discussion of punishment in a society without
          the state. Care to elaborate on that as well?


          • Ken B says:

            I take it you didn’t read the article you linked. It discussed how to deal with rape. That approach has logical implications, one of which I drew out.

            • Eduardo Bellani says:

              Ahh, you were talking about the example of the article. Sorry for my lack of perception, I though you were justifying gang rape using a cost benefit analysis.

              I’m still curious as to why you would think that any court system would consider a lesser damage for a victim to be raped by a gang than by a single individual. Its my view that the damage would be exponentially greater. But I guess that’s a consequentialist point to be defined by a court, right?

              • Ken B says:

                I spill ink on your suit. I suspect that if I spill ten times as much ink the damages are less than 10 as much. Thus if I enjoy inking people, and the only sanction I face is paying for the damages, nothing punitive or for deterrent effect, that there is thus created an incentive for me to band with other like-minded inkers, to descend upon you in a flock, and to all of us ink you before you get a new suit. We exploit economies of scale and get a bundle discount.

              • Eduardo Bellani says:

                In your suit example, what difference does it make to the victim?

                I suspect the reputation of the inkers would take a hit, though.

                As to the gang rape, I think your analogy breaks down. The point of the article is to make the victim whole, as much as possible. I hope we can agree that there is considerable more damage in case of gang rape than a ‘normal’ rape. But again, that would be the task of a jury/judge to decide.

                PS: Sorry that I had to reply to myself, could not find a link to reply directly to you.

    • Harold says:

      I found this snippet interesting “there being no government to prevent it, most potential victims will choose to be armed, ” The assumption that most people will choose to be armed suggests that most people will feel the need to be armed, and a very dangerous society.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        Armed people are not inherently dangerous. The statistics on this are pretty conclusive.

        • Ken B says:

          That’s not Harold’s point. He is noting that if they *feel the need* to be armed it is because the society is unsafe enough to warrant the expense and bother of arming.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            Fair enough.

            But Harold seems to be making the point that without government, society would be more dangerous.

            I believe the point of the statement he quotes is to say that “In ANY society [government or no government] most potential victims of crime would choose to be armed, but when government is around, it often prevents them.”

            Most of the people I know who choose not to own firearms do so because they are personally opposed to it, not because “I don’t need them, because society is so safe, thanks to the government!”

            • Harold says:

              One should not extrapolate to a general conclusions from the experience we have of people we know. Particularly when speculating about a radically different society.

        • Harold says:

          But dangerous people are more dangerous if they are armed.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            But they’re less dangerous *to me* if I am armed.

            They’re also less dangerous if they know that large portions of their potential victims are armed.

            • Harold says:

              Are you saying that the safest society is one where everyone is armed?

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                Under the realistic qualifier that weapons exist and we won’t be able to stop 100% of the population from having them, yes.

                If you’re asking me to imagine a utopia where I was given god-like powers and I could snap my fingers and eliminate all guns from the world… maybe. But even then we’d still have knives. And even if I snapped my fingers again and eliminated all the knives, the bigger and stronger could still beat people to death or stone them or what have you.

                I don’t know that a “world without weapons” is possible, even WITH god-like powers, because “weapon” is incredibly vague and plenty of useful, every-day items can become one.

                I suppose the safest possible society would be one where all the “good people” had guns and all the “bad people” didn’t. I suppose with god-like powers we could determine that.

                But in the real world, I do indeed believe everyone having guns would be safer than the current situation in many jurisdictions, where only criminals and the government (which overlaps pretty frequently) have them.

  13. Hunt says:

    But in all seriousness, they could have hog tied him or even tazed him. Seems that the police were looking for any reason to get physical.

  14. Ken B says:

    We progress by inches. A thread about a man brutally beaten to death, and at least we’re not discussing the calculation problem.

    • Richie says:

      The thread’s still young. Not even 100 comments yet. I wonder if “fixprices” or “economic calculation” pops up, will Dr. Murphy follow through with his promise of zapping comments?

  15. Bob Murphy says:

    I was traveling all day yesterday and couldn’t moderate these comments. I think some of you need to sit in the corner and think about what you posted.

  16. Carl says:

    Rothbard is a cult leader! Keynes is a cult leader! Any significant/popular writer must lead a cult. Keynesian/Rothbardian positions are not merely wrong, they are “myths” to be busted!

    God you yanks are so melodramatic. It is tiresome. You all sound like frenzied preachers.


    • Ken B says:

      Carl, read the Rothbard links here, or the strike the root link, and tell me honestly you don’t get a strong whiff of the cult.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I was unaware that Ken B was a “yank”. A cult leader, perhaps. But not a “yank”.

        • Ken B says:

          Indeed. “Jerk” has been used but is not a perfect synonym.

    • Richie says:


    • Bob Roddis says:
      • Samson Corwell says:

        In general, I think that she was a better philosopher than Rothbard.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      I’ve never claimed that Keynes led a “cult”. I’ve claimed that he perpetuated a hoax.

  17. Bob Roddis says:

    Thanks to the Tom Woods Show today, I learned about The Golden Rule News Network which switches the identities of nations who perpetuate and suffer atrocities in an attempt to make Americans less callous about American atrocities.


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