If those women were really oppressed, someone would have tended to have freed them by then.

by John Holbo on April 13, 2010

Having made one non-libertarian-related post, I can now say, with a good conscience, that Bryan Caplan has responded to his critics. It is a wonder to behold.

I will make two notes. (No doubt you yourself will come to have your own favorite moments.) First, a lot of the trouble here obviously rotates around the issue of systematic social oppression. Caplan barrels straight through like so: “there’s a fundamental human right to non-violently pressure and refuse to associate with others.” That hardly speaks to real concerns about violence. But beyond that Caplan doesn’t notice that, even if he’s right about this fundamental human right, he’s no longer even defending the proposition that women were more free in the 1880’s, never mind successfully defending it. He’s defending the proposition that there is a fundamental right, which can be exercised, systematically, to make women much less free, that was better protected in the 1880’s. So if women value this libertarian right more than freedom, they might rationally prefer that sort of society. But even so, they should hardly regard themselves as more free, for enjoying this right. Rather, they should regard themselves as (rationally) sacrificing liberty, a lesser value, for love of libertarianism, a higher value and separate jar of pickles altogether

J.S. Mill had some things to say on the subject. From On Liberty:

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant – society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it – its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

It is possible to object – I take it Caplan would – that limiting people’s rights to ‘act the tyrant’ in a collective, social sense, is illegitimate. But that is not to say that Mill is wrong about the ‘fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply’ bits. He obviously isn’t.

Now of course Caplan does dispute the ‘fewer means of escape’ bit, and in the most delightful way. “Market forces have a strong tendency to weed out discrimination.” It’s like the old cartoon with the two economists. “Hey look, $20.” “If that were really there, someone would have found it by now.” In this case: “Hey look, oppressed women in 1880.” Post title writes itself. As a method of doing empirical history, this leaves a lot to be desired, I should think.

{ 112 comments }

1

Anna B 04.13.10 at 10:22 am

I’m sorry to comment off-topic, but: nn the Netherlands, the highest body of judges has just decided that the Reformed Party should allow women to be included in their candidate lists. Most women in the party are appalled. I’m confused. (I probably need a man to tell me what to think.) Could someone give the CT take on this?

2

Walt 04.13.10 at 10:52 am

Well now that libertarianism has been subjected to the ultimate reductio ad absurdum, and has been definitively refuted (since Caplan’s posts can never be topped in the self-refutation department), what do we do now with all this extra spare time we have?

3

Belle Waring 04.13.10 at 10:53 am

I keep thinking of responding to this…and then I keep thinking, what the fucking fuck? Don’t I have better things to do, like think about greasy black marsh mud? In South Carolina where my dad lives, there are several types of mud in the saltwater marsh, one of which is a peculiarly oily blackish-gray, and not only fetid with decomposed marsh grass roots but brutally slippery, such that if you step on a patch without realizing it you are likely to fall right on your ass with your hand on a pile of oyster shells, which will give you long, shallow but jagged cuts. And the cuts get full of mud too! Damn but that smarts. I think I’ma just think about that for a while; it’s more restful than considering whether anyone, anywhere, might be this much of a godforsaken moron, even a libertarian.

4

Matt 04.13.10 at 10:55 am

This might be a good time to point the theoretically inclined to Samuel Freeman’s excellent (in my opinion) article from a few years ago, “Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism is not a Liberal View” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 30, 2 (Spring 2002), 105-151. It’s long, but does an excellent job of showing how Caplan-style views (Caplan’s not discussed himself) differ from liberal views, even from classical liberal views that are often confused with libertarianism. The non-theoretically inclined can just read Caplan to see how libertarianism isn’t a liberal, or even a plausible, view.

5

Popeye 04.13.10 at 11:15 am

But in Caplan’s own mind he’s some kind of brilliant intellectual, maybe in the 99th percentile of the IQ distribution, and his commitment to the truth is so strong that he’s not afraid to embrace unpopular realities. So there.

6

Grim 04.13.10 at 11:29 am

Are you saying, Popeye, that this is yet one more example of blithe Dunning-Kruger ?

Personally, I think Belle’s comment says all that needs to be said. After all, what is the logical response to blind recourse to non sequitur ? A long and tedious dissertation on the reasons why what Caplan says have no applicability to this planet and this (our) species ? Or gracious segue into a forceful, and highly applicable, sequitur ?

7

Kevin Donoghue 04.13.10 at 11:32 am

Belle is right. If thou sink too deep into the greasy black marsh mud, the mud will sink into thee. Actually, Greasy Black Marsh Mud wouldn’t be a bad title for a blog about libertarians.

8

Ray 04.13.10 at 11:37 am

It’s just bizarre.
Women had no legal recourse against marital rape and no way of contracting independently. Just like women of today (!), if they were unhappy with these matters, they could talk them over with their husbands. (“Dearest, about this raping me thing…”)

And if that didn’t work… well, divorce was much harder, so, er…

On the plus side, women couldn’t own anything, so no taxes! In your face, the state!

9

Heur 04.13.10 at 11:43 am

This has now become more about Caplan attempting to demonstrate that he’s clever-his point by point refutations remind me of a legal brief for a hopeless position-than any real engagement. Or, alternatively, to amend my previous theory, Caplan has a really good friend who once donated a kidney, half a liver, co-signed his mortgage, and knows about his secret crush on Sarah Palin, whom Caplan is now repaying.

Holbo’s criticism above and Levy’s refutation in the comments on Caplan’s site are pretty conclusive.

I wonder whether this will evolve into one of those rare moments where someone says, “Yeah, I was really wrong about that. Thanks for pointing it out.”

10

Jim Henley 04.13.10 at 11:51 am

This post makes it even more crushingly obvious than the last that Caplan has no actual historical knowledge to bring to bear on this topic. Every one of his “I thinks” or “I doubts” or “But how manys” is a pontoon-bridge of assumption over an abyss of fact. He doesn’t know. Hey, I don’t either! Late 19th-Century social and legal history isn’t my field. (My field is, um, full of pretty butterflies!) But Caplan has the economist’s disease of imagining that pesky “facts” are irrelevant in the face of economistic inference.

11

Jim Henley 04.13.10 at 11:54 am

Like, you could even punk him, probably. Post that he’s ignoring the fact that women weren’t allowed to be airship pilots. Wait for him to triumphantly object that [Google informs him] that, according to Cherie Priest, Briar Wilkes, a woman, was one of the most celebrated airship pilots of the age. http://goo.gl/ause

12

J— 04.13.10 at 12:12 pm

As a method of doing empirical history…

This Caplan leaves to his critics. His is speculation, deduction from doctrine, and the occasional Google search. It’s good to be a Cato scholar!

13

Mike 04.13.10 at 12:16 pm

I love it how Kaplan says that market forces lead to the eradication of discrimination and then cites this dubious argument to a class example he taught. Not actual historical examples but rather some scenario he thought up so he could teach it in Libertopia, aka the Econ dept at GMU. What a waste.

14

Phil 04.13.10 at 12:29 pm

Fun fact: marital rape was criminalised in the UK in 1994.

Here’s the view of a senior High Court judge, Glanville Williams, writing in 1991: “Occasionally some husband continues to exercise what he regards as his right when his wife refuses him, the refusal most probably resulting from the fact that the pair have had a tiff. … The fearsome stigma of rape is too great a punishment for husbands who use their strength in these circumstances.”
He went on to say that he’d talked it through with his wife, and she agreed entirely.

And here’s the view of John Stuart Mill, writing in 1869:

“However brutal a tyrant [a woman] may unfortunately be chained to … he can claim from her and enforce the lowest degradation of a human being, that of being made the instrument of an animal function contrary to her inclination.”

But presumably if she hadn’t wanted… no, not funny.

What was that about the greasy black mud again?

15

Jeffrey Katz 04.13.10 at 12:33 pm

lolertarians… sigh

Has anybody seen Bryan Caplan’s website? It’s pretty awesome:

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/

16

Adam Roberts 04.13.10 at 12:35 pm

The astonishing thing about this, for me, is the way Caplan argues a factual case as if it were a counterfactual one. It’s one thing to say ‘if the world were like this, then (eg) women would be better off …’ But it’s quite another to make specific claims about a very well-documented historical period, when there’s plenty of evidence that directly contadicts such claims. One commentor at his blog even tries to refute him on counterfactual terms. Nice try, but really there’s no need. Caplan isn’t talking about a notional Desertopia; he’s talking about actual countries and actual people.

17

Anon 04.13.10 at 12:48 pm

Guys, leave him alone on this one – you just risk making arses of yourselves on one minor point or the other. Far better to let his claim be, so that every time any one brings up his name again you can just laugh him off as “that guy who thought women were more free in the 1880’s”

18

Jacob T. Levy 04.13.10 at 12:49 pm

This is the kind of thing that I hesitate to say in a CT comments thread lest I become the red meat, but: in my view Bryan is clearly wrong *even on libertarian grounds,* and even on narrowly-formal libertarian grounds (e.g. without invoking Kerry Howley’s culture-of-freedom idea). The contortions he’s having to go through in order to deny that massive restrictions on formal, legal, individual liberties actually count– the selective invocation of extra-formal considerations like marital comity, without admitting in extra-formal considerations like a patriarchal public culture– are very telling. His mistakes (at least in this case) aren’t libertarian mistakes per se.

Someday I have to argue with Matt about that Freeman article– but I don’t even think it’s relevant here, because I really don’t think what’s going on has much to do with libertarianism.

19

Bloix 04.13.10 at 1:00 pm

#9 – Caplan is not talking about the real 1880’s. He is talking about the 1880’s in his own head. Theefore he does not need historical knowledge about the real 1880’s. He explores the imaginary 1880’s by posing questions to himself, and the answers, of course, are self-evident.

20

Popeye 04.13.10 at 1:01 pm

I don’t think Caplan is quite done yet — he’s only been discussing the 1880s. But he’s supposedly making a comparison between the 1880s and today. So I eagerly await his discussion of how women are not as free today. His insights into Sex and the City must be spectacular.

21

David in NY 04.13.10 at 1:06 pm

After all, what is the logical response to blind recourse to non sequitur ? A long and tedious dissertation on the reasons why what Caplan says have no applicability to this planet and this (our) species ? Or gracious segue into a forceful, and highly applicable, sequitur ?

Difficult questions, but really, Belle did answer them:

I keep thinking of responding to this…and then I keep thinking, what the fucking fuck? Don’t I have better things to do, like think about greasy black marsh mud?

I’m inclined to declare the thread over. Nothing, really, more to say.

22

David in NY 04.13.10 at 1:08 pm

Oh, I take that back. If it’s scathing and funny, fire away.

23

Ray 04.13.10 at 1:15 pm

His insights into Sex and the City must be spectacular.

You realise he has never actually seen an episode of Sex and the City, right?

24

Doctor Science 04.13.10 at 1:15 pm

Jacob:

I agree with you that Caplan is wrong on even the most narrowly, property-focused libertarian grounds. I disagree with you about whether this has anything to do with libertarianism: I think it does, and it is most revealing.

Caplan is trying to argue that Gilded Age women weren’t made unfree by restrictions on their economic and legal freedom. Yet the ostensible core of his (and the Cato Institute’s) version of libertarianism is perfect economic and legal freedom for all. His worm-like wriggling is because he’s trying to paint a lack of libertarian freedom as a high point of libertarian freedom. Naturally, this is a problem; perhaps he hopes to distract the onlookers by his wriggling. (hint: ew.)

It will be interesting to see if anyone wakes up and realizes that the Cato Institute is pushing plutocracy, not libertarianism. My bet is that it won’t be Caplan.

25

J— 04.13.10 at 1:16 pm

His mistakes (at least in this case) aren’t libertarian mistakes per se.

Yes. As Henley notes above in #10, Caplan blasts forward with a blithe disregard for historical context as an analytical badge of honor, a distinction over which libertarians enjoy no monopoly.

26

J— 04.13.10 at 1:18 pm

You realise he has never actually seen an episode of Sex and the City, right?

In this context, that’s a plus not a minus.

27

Ben Alpers 04.13.10 at 1:22 pm

Has anybody seen Bryan Caplan’s website? It’s pretty awesome

From said website:
Read my graphic novel Amore Infernale

Er….no thanks!

28

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 1:32 pm

I sometimes wonder why many so libertarians appear to inherently assume they’d actually move up the food chain in their dream society.

Unless yer a super survivalist/deep green/Unabomber hermit type, you do have spend some time co-operating with others for more to your life than just bargaining with grunts and gold for vital resources.

You need social hacking attributes like empathy, imagination and persuasion – all noticeably missing from the output of many prominent libertarians theseaday.

29

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 04.13.10 at 1:32 pm

Far better to let his claim be, so that every time any one brings up his name again you can just laugh him off as “that guy who thought women were more free in the 1880’s”

Anon: I’d prefer to refer to Bryan Caplan as the asshole who thinks marital rape is an almost entirely symbolic issue. This is from the first paragraph:

1. I’m ignoring marital rape. To be blunt, this issue is almost entirely symbolic. While it’s a heinous crime, I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands. And even if I’m dead wrong, the modern U.S. is scarcely better. Marital rape is now illegal in all 50 states, but it’s rarely prosecuted and leads to very few convictions.

Great weaseling: “I’m right, and even if I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter, and even if it does, the modern United States is just as bad”. After that, I refused to read any more. His last post was enough to persuade me he was just a fool, but this paragraph alone showed how contemptible Bryan Caplan was.

30

Timothy Burke 04.13.10 at 1:35 pm

Really, just fucking amazing.

If some 21-year old bombed on schnapps was posting on his blog at 2am from his mother’s basement about how he totally googled it and there’s nothing on the internetz about men raping people in the long-timey ago when there were gas lamps and Sherlock Holmes and shit like that and so down with the governments because back when they didn’t have any governments and shit life was much better oh no gotta go night shift job at Walmart is starting in a minutes bet some cop is going to bust me for drunk driving FUCKING governments that didn’t used to happen either back then you could drink schnapps all day and drive your horse anywhere you wanted

Well, you could understand it.

But really, that you don’t instantly have your Ph.D revoked for saying, “I googled for ’19th Century marital rape’ and didn’t find it! So not an issue!”… I wondered if maybe somewhere deep down inside there was some tiny bit of capacity to feel professional or personal embarassment for saying such a thing. Then I looked at his homepage. No, no there is not. It’s enough to make one wish for a nanny state that would at least exercise totalitarian control over the choice of page backgrounds, fonts and color schemes.

31

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 1:39 pm

32

Ceri B. 04.13.10 at 1:40 pm

Belle Waring, meet Timothy Burke. Timothy, Belle. I believe you two know who each other are, at least? I’m afraid that Belle’s wise words on mud will have to share with Timothy’s wise words on revocation the honor of winning this whole discussion. Sorry. Maybe you can have some sort of ideal competition for a sole victor?

33

chris y 04.13.10 at 1:46 pm

While it’s a heinous crime, I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands.

It was clearly a sufficiently well known problem for Galsworthy to make it a central plot device at the beginning of the next century.

34

ScentOfViolets 04.13.10 at 1:53 pm

But in Caplan’s own mind he’s some kind of brilliant intellectual, maybe in the 99th percentile of the IQ distribution, and his commitment to the truth is so strong that he’s not afraid to embrace unpopular realities. So there.

Apropos of Caplan in particular and libertarians in general (ie, this is entirely relevant), what happens at this point is that he will crow that the fact so many people disagree with him on this issue just proves that he really is eversomuchmore smarter than the rest of us.

And contrary to what someone has implied above, I do think that libertarians carry this refusal to admit error to extremes not found in more reality-based groups.

35

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 1:59 pm

“It was clearly a sufficiently well known problem for Galsworthy to make it a central plot device at the beginning of the next century.”

Not mention a lot of middle brow best selling Victorian fiction, such as Wilkie Collins, Dickens, et al, often alluded to such matters , especially in plots about woman cheated out of inheritance or status through caddish pricks forced upon them.

Caplan also reminds me here too of the old (40+ years) tabloid newspaper convention of calling ‘rape’ ‘assault’ which would lead to paras like “The accused is alleged to have thrown her down the stairs and then assaulted her.”

36

John Meredith 04.13.10 at 2:13 pm

“It will be interesting to see if anyone wakes up and realizes that the Cato Institute is pushing plutocracy, not libertarianism. My bet is that it won’t be Caplan.”

Wasn’t this ball set rolling in the first place by the Cato Institute’s Will Wilkinson critiquing the idea of ‘the golden age’?

37

Bloix 04.13.10 at 2:13 pm

“I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands.”

You can call this a lack of empathy, or the absence of a historical imagination, or whatever you want – it’s very common, and it arises from the utter inability to put oneself in a context other than one’s actual personal situation. Caplan’s imaginary 19th century marriage is just like his own marriage except with funny clothes and no TV.

38

Barry 04.13.10 at 2:21 pm

Adding on to Bloix and Ceri B.’s comments, note that Bryan stated: “While it’s a heinous crime, I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands. “

I understand that his blog post was not expected to be a peer-reviewed article with pages of cites, he doesn’t give *any* reason for believing what he said – he’s making a comment from a totally uninformed personal opinion about how women felt about marital rape, in a very different society, under very different rules. In a time when the idea of ‘marital rape’ would have been seen as an laughable oxymoron to the people who ran society, and made/enforced the rules.

39

Doctor Science 04.13.10 at 2:22 pm

John Meredith:

Actually, it was Boaz, who’s an even bigger cheese on the Cato board. This makes the power dynamics even more popcorn-worthy: will there be a rift? reconciliation and cow-towing to the purse strings? expulsion of heretics? I can’t wait.

40

Russell L. Carter 04.13.10 at 2:28 pm

Look people, it’s 2010. Crooked Timber and its antecedents have been humiliating this kind of vapid bullshitter for almost a decade. He surely could not have written what he did not knowing what was going to happen, right? It has to be a spoof.

I’m betting that he threw up that retro home page in the last couple of days just to make the overall performance more vivid and outrageous.

Right?

41

David in NY 04.13.10 at 2:34 pm

The whole curve of the libertarian arguments is interesting. Boaz writes in order to give libertarianism some shred of respectability, correctly concluding that the notion that woman, blacks, immigrants, etc., were more free in those days was woefully undefendable. Then, guys like Caplan rush in to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

Fun.

42

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 2:41 pm

“Crooked Timber and its antecedents have been humiliating this kind of vapid bullshitter for almost a decade.”

Libertarians. The lab rats of comment threads. Because there’s some arguments even a rat won’t make with straight whiskers.

43

J— 04.13.10 at 2:51 pm

parse should be along soon to take offense to all this mean talk about libertarians. For shame!

44

Anderson 04.13.10 at 3:05 pm

I disagree with you about whether this has anything to do with libertarianism: I think it does, and it is most revealing.

That’s my own take; I can believe that Prof. Levy, if he be a libertarian, holds that position on ascetically intellectual grounds, but I suspect the libertarian hoi polloi of just wanting to elevate selfish assholery to a political dogma. Ordinarily I have some misgivings about this suspicion’s being a mere prejudice, but then for instance I see these Bryan Caplan posts.

45

mpowell 04.13.10 at 3:10 pm

Two views here: First, this is some kind of jumping the shark moment for Cato or libertarianism, right? Second, it’s nice of these guys to identify for us who should be taken seriously in the future and who can be safely ignored.

46

Phil 04.13.10 at 3:10 pm

he’s making a comment from a totally uninformed personal opinion about how women felt about marital rape, in a very different society, under very different rules

In one sense I agree with Caplan – I too doubt that more than a small fraction of American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands. What fraction of American women in 1880 actually were raped by their husbands – or, more to the point, submitted to what we would now regard as being raped by their husbands – is a completely different question. But presumably Caplan wouldn’t take the “if most people think [neutral X] means [coercive Y] then it’s reasonable for that to be the default rule” trick that far…

47

Brad DeLong 04.13.10 at 3:13 pm

RED MEAT! RED MEAT! RED MEAT! RED MEAT! RED MEAT! RED MEAT! RED MEAT! RED MEAT!

I see Jacob Levy is up there saying that Bryan Caplan is NO TRUE SCOTSMAN!!!!

Sorry, Jacob, but he plays the bagpipes. “Libertarian” applies not to what you think libertarians ought to say, but what really existing libertarians do say.

Which reminds me of Peter Theil, whom I last saw showcased at the Cato Institute thus: “The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron…. [T]he mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country…. (1) Cyberspace…. (2) Outer space…. (3) Seasteading…”

48

John Meredith 04.13.10 at 3:21 pm

“I see Jacob Levy is up there saying that Bryan Caplan is NO TRUE SCOTSMAN”

He might be as Scottish as a Mars Bar pickled in Buckfast, but Boaz and Wilkinson are presumably as entitled to the clan tartan as he is and they fundamentally disagree with him, so these particular issues cannot be defining of Scottishness, can they? In other words, Jacob is right, no?

49

John Meredith 04.13.10 at 3:24 pm

“What fraction of American women in 1880 actually were raped by their husbands”

More to the point would be how many more were raped by their husbands than are today, since the issue is relative gains or declines in freedom. Do we really think that legislation against marital rape has significantly reduced its incidence? I really don’t know.

50

ScentOfViolets 04.13.10 at 3:35 pm

He might be as Scottish as a Mars Bar pickled in Buckfast, but Boaz and Wilkinson are presumably as entitled to the clan tartan as he is and they fundamentally disagree with him, so these particular issues cannot be defining of Scottishness, can they? In other words, Jacob is right, no?

Well no, Jacob is not right. Otherwise, like with HCR where there was a designated MOTW (Monster of the Week) to block crucial reforms, what you have is a group of people who take turns not being a “real” libertarian. So today Caplan is the Outkast, tomorrow it will be someone else and he’ll be magically restored to a member in good standing. If you want Caplan to be set apart from the real Slim Shady’s, I would think that at a minimum you’d have to have other “real” libertarians say that he isn’t one of them. Do you think that’s going to happen?

51

Gwen 04.13.10 at 3:50 pm

More to the point would be how many more were raped by their husbands than are today, since the issue is relative gains or declines in freedom. Do we really think that legislation against marital rape has significantly reduced its incidence? I really don’t know.

Incidence isn’t the only issue, though I agree it’s an important one. Current Western societies provide a mechanism of escape from marital rape (via economic, social, and political power unavailable to women in the 1880s), a mechanism for the criminal prosecution of marital rape as rape, and have basically re-conceptualised marriage in such a way as to exclude rape from being one of the standard benefits [and re-conceptualised rape as a crime against a woman’s autonomy, which she retained whether married or unmarried – the link to the coverture rule is hopefully obvious]. Those changes benefit women across the board, because they alter the context in which their relationships are lived and their position as legal subjects. There’s obviously a lot of room for improvement, but the situation is unambiguously better than it was in 1880 even though we can’t tell if the specific incidence of that specific crime has gone up or down.

52

Doctor Science 04.13.10 at 3:55 pm

John Meredith:

Do we really think that legislation against marital rape has significantly reduced its incidence? I really don’t know.

Good grief. That’s not how it works, dude. Legislation against marital rape is only *possible* because it has already been reduced in both incidence and acceptability. The law is helping along a social change that has already done most of the work.

But since libertarians don’t believe in society or human relationships, only laws and contracts, I don’t know if they can even perceive social change.

My scientific curiousity does wonder what’s in Caplan’s graphic novel, and if it is indeed porn, and how a professor can have porn on his personal website. Did the tenure committee read it? a horrifying thought. Or is it up there because he has tenure already? I’m not looking, because I figure a graphic novel put together by someone whose website is styled in Vintage 1999 Geocities will make my eyes jump out of my face and run for shelter.

53

someguy 04.13.10 at 4:03 pm

Heur,

No. I find it fascinating how unwilling people are to just admit they were wrong.

John Holbo,

Good for you. He saved you the trouble of building a strawman. Have you ever read Space Viking by H. Beam Piper? I think it would make you laugh.

All,

Wasn’t there a murder case in the 1800s where the defense was my husband told me to do it? Maybe I am confusing fiction and history but I thought there was and it was a close call. Maybe if we could present that to Bryan it might get thru. The whole stick thumb thing doesn’t seem to be making any impact.

54

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 4:10 pm

“Has anybody seen Bryan Caplan’s website? It’s pretty awesome
From said website:
“Read my graphic novel Amore Infernale”

Just downloaded it and AIEEE!!??!! Teh goggles, theyz do nothing!!??!

It’s impossible to convey just bad it is in every possible way. And just bad bad, not even cheap shot funny campy bad.

Tho’ I reckon just a few snippets of the dialogue and directions should impart a solid whiff of just what a glutinous decaying mess it is.

“I doubt the story is that simple, Khoklov. Her rescuer said he saw two humans fall in. Why can’t anyone find the body? “

“The Ambassador’s right. The Verona fire department dredged the river – nothing. I want some answers. “

“Then I suggest we suit up. Poor little rich girl’s psychiatrist will not allow three nobodies to question her.”

*Brain wave effect coming from head.*

“I cannot wholely agree. I peered into his backpack. He’s got a month’s supply of grass inside. We are wasting time. I’m going back to work. I suggest you two do the
same. According to Italian labor law, is still possible to fire us.”

*Van smashes into Juliet. Romeo disappears from sight.*

“How do you say, “Stick fork in her because she is done”?”

*Pull back. Heroes in costume behind doctor.”

“You kept your head longer than any girl in the past six centuries. After all, he was Romeo.”

And coming soon from the same creative fountainhead – “The Train Of The Nibelung”!

I’d like to think it was some kinda knowning Cremaster Guy Maddinesque grotesquerie but the utter absence of any aesthetic nounce, wit or energy in the execution belies this.

55

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 4:17 pm

And whatever beliefs he may have the meritocracy of individual excellence obviously doesn’t extend to his choice of website designer.
http://www.bcaplan.com/

Some bottles you can judge by the label design.

56

chrismealy 04.13.10 at 4:19 pm

I want to know more about this greasy black marsh mud. How did it get so greasy?

57

Jeffrey Katz 04.13.10 at 4:23 pm

What these guys like Wilkinson and Levy need to do, if they are serious about being respectable, is drop the term “libertarian” and start calling themselves “Classic Liberal” , “Negative Liberal” or something like that (assuming that they want to distance themselves from the contemporary meaning of “liberal” in the media).

DeLong is right. Those of us who dabble in economics have known what has finally been displayed here for a long time. From what I can tell, the vast majority of libertarians are basically either paid hacks on wing-nut welfare, or silly dupes that have issues with their mothers. Those who share similar economic views, but who are not Randian nutbars tend to call themselves “New Classical” economists.

58

rickstersherpa 04.13.10 at 4:27 pm

Nabokov has moved into a tie with Belle Waring and Timothy Burke for the best comment on this thread. I will steal this line, “Libertarians: the lab rats of comments threads. Because there’s some arguments even a rat won’t make with straight whiskers.” for future use.

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Jacob T. Levy 04.13.10 at 4:34 pm

NB: I am not making the “no true Scotsman” move.

I am denying that Bryan’s position here is a libertarian position; I’m not denying that Bryan is a libertarian.

I have the odd belief that I can describe myself by a label, recognize that other people are describable by that label, think that some of those people are mistaken about important things, and yet still think that the label applies to them and to me.

A different case: the Confederatistas who seem to think that state action to abolish slavery, by virtue of being state action, reduced freedom. In that case,

a) I think the mistake *is* a distinctively libertarian mistake– even though it’s *wrong* on libertarian terms, it’s clear enough what the connection is between that mutilated view and libertarianism. I suspect that every interesting normative idea has some pathological variants like this, and people who hold normative views ought to pay attention to their pathological variants, and be open to reconsidering their own views in light of them. (But without hoping that they’ll somehow acquire a view that *can’t* have any pathological variants.)

b) And in that case I’ll make the no-true-Scotsman claim. Even though the Confederatista is using words and concepts recognizable to libertarianism, they’ve inverted its moral content, and they’re No True Libertarians. (Still recognizing that there’s a connection between their views and my own, and that calling them No True Libertarians doesn’t absolve me of the responsibility to worry about that connection.)

But I don’t think this case is like that in either sense. “Coverture = freedom” isn’t some sick perversion of a libertarian idea. It’s from another world altogether.

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Nabakov 04.13.10 at 4:40 pm

Thankee rickstersherpa. Y’know it’s actually quite surprising no libertarian movement has adopted that irresponsible, irrepressible survivor the rat as their emblem.

But yes, that would involve self-deprecating humour, another social hacking attribute that most libertarians sorely lack.

Still waiting for someone to write the parodic missing link between Atlas Shrugged and Flowers For Algernon.

61

Megan 04.13.10 at 4:49 pm

[T]he mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country…. (1) Cyberspace…. (2) Outer space…. (3) Seasteading…”

Sometimes I think that libertarians don’t actually want icky girls in their awesome space clubhouse.

62

Nabakov 04.13.10 at 4:53 pm

“Sometimes I think that libertarians don’t actually want icky girls in their awesome space clubhouse.”

But what about “comfort women” shuttled in. Bound to be a market for that.

63

Brad DeLong 04.13.10 at 4:54 pm

Jacob Levy writes: “NB: I am not making the ‘no true Scotsman’ move. I am denying that Bryan’s position here is a libertarian position; I’m not denying that Bryan is a libertarian…”

And William F. Buckley’s love for segregation was not a conservative position. And Michael Oakeshott’s fear of voting ovaries was not a conservative position. And Edmund Burke’s contempt for the Jews was not a conservative position either.

There is an extremely strong elective affinity between right-conservatism and contempt for violations of some people’s rights–for, as Arnold Kling does, classifying infringements on his rights as denials of liberty while infringements on the rights of people who don’t look much like him are simply “group status” issues. There is also an extremely strong elective affinity between left-radicalism and a desire to order people around.

This is what makes it hard to teach our undergraduates to take seriously either the left-radical doctrine that a vanguard party armed with the key of knowledge that is the correct theory of history can lead us to utopia, or pretty much any right-wing doctrine standing athwart history calling “stop.” I think this is a feature–that there are interesting reasons for this elective affinity, and our undergraduates are wise to take these doctrines to be unserious. You think this is a bug.

64

lemuel pitkin 04.13.10 at 4:57 pm

Still waiting for someone to write the parodic missing link between Atlas Shrugged and Flowers For Algernon.

I suppose I’m the only one here who ever saw “Ayn Rand Gives Me a Boner” at the Annoyance Theater in Chicago?

65

Alice de Tocqueville 04.13.10 at 5:10 pm

“I peered into his backpack. He’s got a month’s supply of grass inside.”

For at least some people, that would be a huge, but pretty light, backpack!

66

Mitchell Coffey 04.13.10 at 5:29 pm


chris y:
It was clearly a sufficiently well known problem for Galsworthy to make it a central plot device at the beginning of the next century.

Not only did Galsworthy make it a central plot device, but his point in using this device was to link the husband’s legally sanctioned physical dominion over his wife with the era’s private property absolutism; the marital rapist of Galsworthy novel was none other than the book’s eponymous “Many of Property.”

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tigris 04.13.10 at 5:32 pm

“I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands.”

And I doubt more than a small fraction were worried about losing the freedom to be driven to total financial ruin due to foolish speculative investments by others.

68

roac 04.13.10 at 5:38 pm

Detaching myself for a moment from the prevailing snark to address Jacob Levy on his own terms: What does a true libertarian believe? Specifically, must or may a libertarian believe that it is a terrible infringement on individual liberty for the State to prevent A from voluntarily contracting to be B’s slave in perpetuity? (Topic recently referenced in some thread here, I can’t be bothered to hunt it down.)

Alternatively, I see people in kilts arguing on the internet that A should be allowed to sell a kidney to B. Why would a libertarian not also believe that A should be allowed to sell his heart to B (nor immediate delivery, that is, not as a future interest) — thereby validating the Yiddish saying that “If the rich could pay other people to die for them, a poor man could make a nice living”?

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Jacob T. Levy 04.13.10 at 5:49 pm

Specifically, must or may a libertarian believe that it is a terrible infringement on individual liberty for the State to prevent A from voluntarily contracting to be B’s slave in perpetuity?

They may believe that. Most don’t, so I don’t think “must” pertains. I think it’s a mistaken belief, but it’s a recognizably libertarian mistake.

They may not, and must not, think that the answer to that question matters in the slightest for our evaluation of American chattel slavery, or for any slavery into which people are born, or for almost any slavery that has existed in the last 1500 years.

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Jeffrey Katz 04.13.10 at 6:12 pm

Jacob,

What exactly differentiates libertarianism from Millian liberalism besides recognizably libertarian mistakes?

71

Gareth Rees 04.13.10 at 6:15 pm

Still waiting for someone to write the parodic missing link between Atlas Shrugged and Flowers For Algernon.

But while you’re waiting, you might enjoy the missing link between Atlas Shrugged and Anthem

72

Anderson 04.13.10 at 6:20 pm

There is an extremely strong elective affinity between right-conservatism and contempt for violations of some people’s rights

The problem for DeLong’s argument here is that any number of Good Guys can be adduced who had contempt for various peoples and their rights. Kant for instance had no good opinion of black people. Seizing on weaknesses is questionable rhetoric.

The better question is, for instance, did Oakeshott’s or Burke’s own principles convict them of their prejudices, and do Caplan’s own principles refute his weird defense of coverture?

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James Wimberley 04.13.10 at 6:28 pm

Doctos Science in 39: ¨…cow-towing…¨
I thought this traditional rural sport was banned in 1723, after gamblers discovered it was to easy to rig by doping the subject into amiable cooperation or obstinate resistance.

74

Rich Puchalsky 04.13.10 at 6:38 pm

I’ve been avoiding these libertarian threads, despite being at one time a persistent anti-libertarian arguer (or flamer, if you prefer). Ask Henley.

Why? Because I think that U.S.-libertarianism effectively died during the last Bush years. I mean, you’d think that this would be a great time for libertarianism, right? Obama is proving to be just as bad as Bush was on civil liberties, so people should be signing up for libertarianism in droves. Well, no. Because when it came time to show what they actually supported, a large majority of libertarians showed that they really were pretty happy with Bush-style conservatism, aggressive war, and all the rest. Going libertarian now because of civil liberties would be like deciding that you should look into Christian-identified politics because you’ve heard that they really support peace. The Bush years demolished their market fundamentalism while also revealing their supposed care for civil rights to be a fraud.

Given that they now, I think, have definitively no chance of getting anywhere with their deluded doctrine, I don’t see the point in snarking at them. Sure, Caplan’s views on women are pretty icky, but people don’t go to KKK Web sites and repost their claims and critique them. His historical views are pretty nutty, but people don’t go to Flat Earth sites and say “Look — the Earth is really round!” Just let him do his thing and go on to someone who actually matters.

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dsquared 04.13.10 at 6:40 pm

1. The fact that an economics professor is saying that he can show that a law is irrelevant because there weren’t many prosecutions under it, makes little baby Jon von Neumann cry.

2. As I said on the other thread, be a little cuter and you can see where this is really going. What possible profit is there in arguing that the 1880s in America were a libertarian paradise? None. But consider that the exact same arguments could be used to prove that Saudi Arabia today is a libertarian state where women enjoy the utmost freedoms (they don’t pay tax! And those adultery-beheading laws are rarely enforced!), and you can see why this might be a very, very profitable line of argument to be advancing indeed.

Seriously, though, anyone who was attempting to find common ground between libertarianism and Islamism would need to use exactly these formulations to get over “the women problem”. Caplan might not be intending this, but well, the purpose of a system is what it does.

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J— 04.13.10 at 6:45 pm

What possible profit is there in arguing that the 1880s in America were a libertarian paradise? None.

In the US context, it’s pre-Progressive Era and pre-New Deal so it just has to be better, empirical evidence be damned.

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Matt 04.13.10 at 6:52 pm

The problem for DeLong’s argument here is that any number of Good Guys can be adduced who had contempt for various peoples and their rights.

Right. I’m teaching Mill’s “A Few Words on Non-Intervention” today and, well, his views on “barbarous” societies, and how they really need to be “civilized” by Englishmen are not all that attractive. They were probably convenient views for one employed by the East India Company to hold, though.

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Jacob T. Levy 04.13.10 at 7:06 pm

“The fact that an economics professor is saying that he can show that a law is irrelevant because there weren’t many prosecutions under it, makes little baby Jon von Neumann cry.”

dsquared, thanks for that– as far as I’m concerned, the most entertaining moment of the whole exchange (in part because it’s clearly right).

79

Timothy Burke 04.13.10 at 7:34 pm

Jesus, I let my contempt for stupidity loose and now Rich Puchalsky is here to wave people off and let the poor little libertarian alone, arguing that it just isn’t worth it engage bad ideas on the Internet. It’s like Freaky Friday.

80

fishbane 04.13.10 at 7:34 pm

I think, just to back away from larger arguments, there’s one that’s worth paying a bit of attenton to.

Namely, has Caplan had a normal relationship? I have no idea if he’s straight, married, or whatever. But assuming he’s done something like the normal thing, pair-bonding with someone, at least for a time, he must be aware that the desire to fuck is not automagically concommitant.

Now, there are a lot of negotiations involved here, and I do think that there is good reason to not look at other’s arrangements too closely. But if, for instance, Levy is willing to accept that slavery happened to be co-incident with white masters fucking black women, then I think it isn’t strange to ask how other matrimonial arrangements worked. And, for the record, it is worth notiong that fucking slaves against their will was the norm.

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Jacob T. Levy 04.13.10 at 7:40 pm

Huh? In that last paragraph did fishbane mean “Caplan” instead of “Levy”?

Not that I think it matters, but Caplan is married with children. He’s been married for, IIRC, more than ten years.

82

Gwen 04.13.10 at 7:56 pm

From the latest post: Marriage was voluntary, and voluntarily-accepted constraints do not infringe liberty, so appearances notwithstanding, married women were as free as unmarried women.

Uh huh. I’m getting a little tired of this thought experiment of deciding whether the world would really be a much worse place if my husband could rape me with impunity. Seriously? I’m not sure why I engaged in good faith in the first place, but – as someone who has met rape victims and is from a traditional culture where these concepts aren’t all that academic – I’m really, really done. At this point, I find this is more offensive and hurtful than it is interesting.

83

jre 04.13.10 at 8:10 pm

Has anybody seen Bryan Caplan’s website? It’s pretty awesome.
Aieeeee! I think a Triffid just spat in my eye!

“Read my graphic novel Amore Infernale”
Ow, ow ow ow sweet Jesus fuckityfuckfuck! I can still see out of the other eye!

84

Jeffrey Katz 04.13.10 at 8:33 pm

Crooked Timber book event: Bryan Caplan / Amore Infernale

Please? Pretty please?

85

J— 04.13.10 at 8:38 pm

Crooked Timber book event: Bryan Caplan / Amore Infernale

We can do this! I downloaded the pdf two nights ago and am ready to go. If other people commit to reading it, I’m in.

86

leederick 04.13.10 at 8:39 pm

“Fun fact: marital rape was criminalised in the UK in 1994.”

Is this really entirely accurate?

It strikes me as being like saying that assault occasioning actual bodily harm was criminalised in England in 1861. True in a sense: a specific law made that specific act a specific crime in 1861. But at the same time also false: in that the implication that you could lawfully assault someone occasioning actual bodily harm prior to that date isn’t correct.

It’s true that husbands could only be prosecuted for rape quite recently, but people are pushing it too far when they try to make out that women had no legal defences against being raped by their husbands until recently. There were other laws contraining people’s actions. There’s a whole load of myths being set up about the past by both sides here.

87

Gwen 04.13.10 at 9:05 pm

Is this really entirely accurate?

I don’t think so, no. To begin with, the relevant date is 1991: that’s the date of the decision of the House of Lords in R v R, which you can read here if you like. Lord Keith gives us a neat summary of the ridiculous state of the previous law, which was pretty confused but seems to have been that you couldn’t be convicted for raping for your wife, but you could be convicted (a) as an accessory to someone else’s rape of her and (b) for assault if you committed acts of force prior to sexual intercourse and (c) for sexual assault if you committed acts other than penetrative sexual intercourse. Good times. But there are at least three reported cases that I’m aware of, pre R v R, where the rule was applied and meant that a man who had raped his wife could not be convicted of any crime or had to be convicted of a crime attracting a lesser sentence. And you have to take into account the effect of the so-called ‘rule’ on the decisions of the police and Crown Prosecution Service in determining whether a rape case should be prosecuted: prior to 1991, a case where a man had ‘only’ had sex with his wife without her consent would not have been worth taking to court. But of course, none of this is relevant to Caplan’s theory because it mattered very little to a woman like Mrs Morgan, for example, in the case of DPP v Morgan [1976] , that her husband was was convicted as the accessory to the violent rape committed by his friends (who he had incited to rape her, after they’d had a fight). Presumably her freedom was more affected by the high taxes in that terrible pre-Thatcher era.

88

Alison P 04.13.10 at 9:25 pm

I think you are mistaken leederick. There was for example the famous case in the 1980s where a man smashed his wife’s front door down and raped her, and the police prosecuted him for damage to the door. You are right that there are other laws, and I imagine that technically successful prosecutions could have been brought on other charges of assault and bodily harm, in perhaps ever single case. However, I think the police and prosecution service were not minded to make these prosecutions. You may remember the great hostility there was to the change in the law, and this hostility reflects the widespread, if not majority, feeling that to prosecute these cases was wrong, disruptive of family life etc. It is my recollection that the change in the law preceded the change of values, at least among more conservative parts of society such as the police and the church (and the judiciary – see Phil’s quote).

89

fishbane 04.13.10 at 9:45 pm

My mistake – I did not mean to reference Levy in my third paragraph.

90

Gwen 04.13.10 at 9:47 pm

Alison,

It’s worth noting that this was a change instituted by the judiciary, not one that they reluctantly responded to. The 1994 Act merely gave statutory recognition to that decision, it doesn’t take away (for example) its retrospective effect. But I agree with you that the effect of the rule, while it existed, has to be considered in terms of the chilling effect on police investigations, prosecutions and even reporting rates; not just actual convictions.

91

Phil 04.13.10 at 9:56 pm

Gwen – yes, I’d forgotten R v R in 1991; you’re right to say that that marked the end of the marital exception, even if it didn’t make it to the statute-book until 1994. Other than that I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with. The dreadful Morgan case, of course, also led to a change in the law regarding assumed consent – “sincere belief” on the man’s part that the woman had consented used to be a defence against the charge of rape. (The eponymous Morgan had told his friends that his wife liked it rough and would pretend to protest, fight back, scream for help etc.) Glanville Williams was against that change, too.

I’m just re-reading the words “voluntarily-accepted constraints do not infringe liberty” and reeling quietly. Of course, taken literally this would mean that being born into a position of limited wealth and power does infringe liberty, but presumably when most people accept disparities of wealth and power it’s reasonable to treat them as the default rule, or something. (Hey, I just made that up all by myself!)

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Phil 04.13.10 at 10:04 pm

the chilling effect on police investigations, prosecutions and even reporting rates

Reporting rates most of all – what would you report? There would have had to be serious violence involved before the police or the courts would take it seriously.

Some time in the 1950s or 1960s, my mother once told me, she was counselling a friend who’d made a bad marriage: he drank, he abused her, he beat her, but what could you do? And he raped her when he felt like it, but what could you do? There seemed to be no prospect of prosecuting the guy or even getting a divorce. Until she confided in my mother that he raped her anally, whereupon my mother told her that that was a different matter; the same laws which legalised marital rape made anal intercourse illegal even within marriage. (It was legalised in 1994, symmetrically enough.) Happy ending: she got her divorce.

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Gwen 04.13.10 at 10:06 pm

Phil,

Sorry, I wasn’t clear at all. I’m not disagreeing with you. I was intending to say – and, rereading my comment, completely failed to say – that, apart from the minor detail of the date of the change, you were right; in relation to leederick’s argument that the rules can’t have been that bad or had such negative effects for such a long time, I was trying to point out that they were shockingly bad.

And I cited DPP v Morgan only because I’m still angry about the assertions apparently being made by Bryan Caplan about the triviality of rape law (as compared to the deep significance of tax law) — the facts of that case seem to me the clearest possible example of a situation where it would have been a horror for the law not to give Mrs Morgan whatever legal redress it could. And then I got distracted by legal pedantry.

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Lee A. Arnold 04.13.10 at 11:13 pm

“I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction American women in 1880 worried about being raped by their husbands.”

What do you think that fraction was? 20%, 30%? Let’s take another form of sexual abuse in another time — the present. In the United States around 1/4 of all females are sexually abused by the age of 18. Around 1/6 of all males are sexually abused by 18. That means around 1/5 of the population (20%) should do jail time. Now cast your mind back to when women had no rights and no voice. 50%, 60%?

95

JLR 04.14.10 at 12:23 am

“What do you think that fraction was? 20%, 30%? Let’s take another form of sexual abuse in another time—the present.”

I’m sure if we work hard enough, we can come up with some explanation that the current high rate is almost wholly due to the perverse effects of government intervention, and thus the rate in 1880 must have been much lower.

96

Brandon T. 04.14.10 at 1:35 am

Sorting through the crap in these comments is unbelievable. Speaking as an academic and first-time visitor, I suppose it would be awesome to accumulate groupies to mock people I don’t agree with. Ho ho–libertarians! They don’t like girls! Ho ho! Hey Caplan….NERD!! Ho ho! Hey McArdle–I mean, McStooopid!! Ho ho!

Killer blog!

97

Brandon T. 04.14.10 at 1:46 am

Wait a second–you moderate these comments? You read them and say, “Hey, these are pretty good”?!?

98

Lee A. Arnold 04.14.10 at 1:58 am

The Reagan-Thatcher narrative pegs it to the Rise of Licentiousness in the 1960’s. Didn’t a conservative writer just bring that out again, to explain the abuse by priests? I fear that in reality all statistics of sexual abuse may be nearly constants, and lack of voice has equalled lack of reportage. There is a reportage problem now, so we can surmise that history even recent history is quickly remote. The Church and the 60’s both taught love.

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Davis 04.14.10 at 5:28 am

Gwen – yes, I’d forgotten R v R in 1991; you’re right to say that that marked the end of the marital exception, even if it didn’t make it to the statute-book until 1994.

So in that case, North Carolina wins – according to the Wiki, its legislature finally got around to eliminating the marital exception in 1993.

100

Martha Bridegam 04.14.10 at 7:08 am

We’re not done with coverture as a de facto effect — a lot of widows still find themselves saying, “Oh, Henry always handled all the financial things.” And I find our damn California tax return refers to the first person on the tax return — traditionally the husband, as the “taxpayer,” and the second person — traditionally the wife of course — as the “spouse.” Wot, I don’t pay taxes too?

101

Anarcho 04.14.10 at 8:21 am

As I mentioned on a previous thread, Carole Pateman really should be read in regards to this issue. Her Sexual Contract is an extended critique of “Libertarian” ideology (i.e., Propertarianism or what she calls “contractarianism”). This is a good introduction to her analysis:

Self-Ownership and Property in the Person

Caplan is following in the grand tradition of propertarians ignoring genuine restrictions in individual freedom. Robert Nozick and Walter Block both defended voluntary slavery, for example. The latter also argued:

“Consider the sexual harassment which continually occurs between a secretary and a boss . . . while objectionable to many women, [it] is not a coercive action. It is rather part of a package deal in which the secretary agrees to all aspects of the job when she agrees to accept the job, and especially when she agrees to keep the job. The office is, after all, private property. The secretary does not have to remain if the ‘coercion’ is objectionable.”

Why? For the same reason they deny exploitation of workers by bosses — they “own” themselves and have signed a contract selling their “property” in their own person. That this also means selling their liberty is lost on them, or of no consequence. Hence the apparent paradox of “libertarians” defending obviously oppressive institutions and acts. Yet, logically given their ideology, there is no paradox in “libertarians” defending, for example, voluntary slavery (also see David Ellerman’s classic satire The Libertarian Case for Slavery).

That is why anarchists (and other genuine libertarians) call them propertarians — and are annoyed that they have tried to appropriate the term “libertarian” for their ideology. We have, after all, been using it since 1858! Once you realise that the propertarians are not really interested in liberty but rather property, their apparently strange positions start to make sense.

102

bad Jim 04.14.10 at 9:10 am

Liberty peaked back in eighteen and eighty.
Droit du seigneur was the joy of the laity
Power implied the consent of the lady.

Liberty dripped down in tropical trickles,
Riches were pooling in puddles of nickles,
Sausages, side arms and jars full of pickles.

103

bad Jim 04.14.10 at 10:58 am

And a cigar.

104

chris 04.14.10 at 2:29 pm

In the United States around 1/4 of all females are sexually abused by the age of 18. Around 1/6 of all males are sexually abused by 18. That means around 1/5 of the population (20%) should do jail time.

Hold on a minute — aren’t you confusing the number of victims with the number of abusers? I don’t see any reason to assume that they would be the same number — serial abusers are pretty common AFAIK. (Although, of course, it’s possible for the same victim to be abused by multiple abusers, too.)

105

Lee A. Arnold 04.14.10 at 2:54 pm

Chris: “aren’t you confusing the number of victims with the number of abusers?”

Most of the sexual abuses of people under the age of 18 are performed by “a family member” or “a friend of the family.”

106

Doug K 04.14.10 at 5:09 pm

Belle, thank you – actually I like thinking about greasy black mud and oyster shells, since it brings me into the saltwater marshes which in a state of nature are quite appealing places. It was a refreshing change from thinking about the continued flourishing of libertarians..

107

chris 04.14.10 at 7:10 pm

@105: I don’t see how that addresses my point. Most people have more than one family member, and almost everyone is a friend of more than one family.

Maybe I’m just wrong about the number of serial abusers compared to those who abuse only one victim (sensationalist bias?), but IMO you shouldn’t just *assume* that the numbers in each category are equal.

108

jre 04.14.10 at 7:49 pm

@97: Wait a second—you moderate these comments?

I think they just check our punctuation.

109

Substance McGravitas 04.14.10 at 8:07 pm

Might there be a libertarian argument to make against making fun of libertarians?

110

Steve LaBonne 04.14.10 at 8:23 pm

Might there be a libertarian argument to make against making fun of libertarians?

Easy. To attack libertarians is to attack economic freedom so blah blah.

111

cs 04.14.10 at 8:50 pm

To Brandon T #96:

You are describing a tiny minority of posts here as if they are typical.

Out of this entire thread, I can only see three or four comments that disparage libertarians as personally inferior in some way. About the same number say personally demeaning things about Caplan. I couldn’t find any posts that make fun of McArdle’s name. On the McArdle thread, on a quick skim I found four (out of 160+) posts that make fun of McArdle’s name.

So shove it, you geeky pompous libertarian freak.

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Lee A. Arnold 04.14.10 at 11:15 pm

chris @107 – Fair enough and I don’t know the statistics on serial abusers. I just guessed that repeaters would tend to be complained about more, even by their own families, and so there would be more arrests and trials. About one in five people is victimized, but I feel that I don’t read a commensurate amount of headlines! Almost an apparent lack of sensationalism in other words. Serial actors could be protected by institutions of course, but even in the Catholic church’s “current” scandal, it is a very small number of priests.

If you add the people who know about it but don’t take action, I’ll bet there are even more guilty.

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