On Violence

I really have no impressive educational qualifications to be a writer for a blog that is comprised of individuals discussing the philosophy of voluntaryism.  I’ve not finished my college degree (yet) and I haven’t even spent much time reading the works of people who philosophize about the precise things I write about.

What I have that I do believe makes my perspective unique is that for eleven years of my life I had the ability to initiate violence against peaceful people without repercussions.  I got paid for it.  Paid well.  I elected, though, to give up a stable career with a generous retirement package because of the answer to the following question.  The following question you can ask any person (or ask yourself) and instantly determine if they too (or you) are a voluntaryist.

DO YOU BELIEVE VIOLENCE SHOULD BE USED TO SOLVE NON-VIOLENT PROBLEMS?

How can anyone calling themselves a moral person answer that question in any manner but “no?”

I know a great deal of people who read this blog are people who either firmly dislike what is being discussed here, work in law enforcement and are collecting intel, or live in Keene and are generally curious as to what all the ruckus is about.  If you yourself are a peaceful person and you spend time getting to know the people involved in the Free State Project, Free Keene, or just the liberty movement in general you eventually will find yourself in the same situation which landed me here.

Violence is wrong, right?

It is important that society have order to it.  To believe that voluntaryists (I am proud to identify myself as one) support chaos is to believe in something that simply isn’t true.  Society has complex problems and these problems need to be addressed.  The absolute worst (and uncreative) way to address complicated non-violent societal problems is to continue to do what is done today.  That, of course, is using violence.

Today I was reading a thread on the NH Liberty Alliance web forum.  The thread was on the issue of lowering the drinking age to 18. I posted a reply to the topic saying that I think that if a law is introduced in the NH General Court which would lower the drinking age that someone should testify in favor of the bill by reading off the names of all of the 18-20 year old people who died while serving in the military since 2001.  I’d love to hear the bureaucrats who show up to oppose the legislation answer questions about how someone isn’t adult enough to enjoy a cold beer but they are adult enough to carry a machine-gun, die, kill people, and have their legs blown off in Iraq and Afghanistan while following the orders of politicians in Washington.

This thread on the NHLA forum caused me to think about a particular societal problem I was called on to address one night while on-duty.

The societal problem: a 17 year old and a 19 year old consuming alcohol.

The societal solution: violence.

I was dispatched to a house party where there was a report of underage drinking.  Indeed the report was accurate as there was a house full of people peacefully consuming alcohol.  After arresting (stealing the freedom of) a peaceful 19 year old that I found inside consuming liquor and placing him in the rear of a police cruiser the search of the house continued.  Sometime during the search I learned that the 19 year old decided that he did not want to have his freedom taken away so he kicked out the back window of the police car and ran off on foot.  With the assistance of a police dog I was able to track down the young adult who was running through the woods with his 17 year old brother.  As I grabbed onto the 19 year old to re-arrest him, the 17 year old defended his brother by putting me in a choke hold.

I fell to the ground and twisted the 17 year old on top of me.  I punched him in the face, poked him in his eyes, and pushed him off of me.  I got up and extended my portable baton and whacked the 17 year old in the back of the legs.  He went down.  Obviously.

Both were eventually restrained and hauled away.  The societal problem of individuals under the age of 21 consuming liquor was addressed in the way that society does its addressing.

Please, with a straight face…  tell me that I didn’t use violence to solve a non-violent problem.  You may say to yourself that the violence I used was in response to the violence the 17 year old used.  Fair point, but the 17 year old was only using violence towards me to defend his brother after I initiated violence against his brother in the first place.  How can a person claim that they (me, in that situation) have a right to defend themselves against the defensive violence a person uses to protect themselves or others from the violence that person (me) initiated in the first place?  That’s like a kidnapper claiming to be justified in shooting someone who brandishes a knife after the kidnapper tries to shove them in the back of a sketchy black van.

The law for normal people makes perfect sense.

627:4 Physical Force in Defense of a Person

I. A person is justified in using non-deadly force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful, non-deadly force by such other person, and he may use a degree of such force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose. However, such force is not justifiable if:

(b) He was the initial aggressor, unless after such aggression he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so, but the latter notwithstanding continues the use or threat of unlawful, non-deadly force; or

Translation: you can’t use violence and then claim the moral high ground in using violence to protect yourself against retaliatory violence.

Shouldn’t people have the right to defend themselves from all violent people?

If you’re a legislator in New Hampshire reading this, you’re the one with the ability to put a leash on the unnecessary violence that is used to solve these problems.

As I freely admit: I’m no great voluntaryism philosopher.  I also don’t want people to abuse alcohol, at any age.  I don’t have answers to the questions about how our society can address the complicated problems that we as human beings face.

Thankfully, others do.

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4 Comments

  1. Excellent post, Bradley. It's testimonies like this that will help change the hearts and minds of moral men and women.

  2. Just commenting to say thanks for sharing this Brad. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I am with you in believing that there should be less laws telling us how to live our life. I see one flaw in you logic that though. If an officer arresting somebody is considered initiating violence, therefore unjustifiable and immoral, then nobody could be arrested for stealing or other non-violent property crimes. While the government has way too many laws limiting our freedom, not all crimes against other people are violent in the traditional sense.

    Perhaps a better question would be "DO YOU BELIEVE VIOLENCE SHOULD BE USED TO SOLVE problems that do not involve another innocent citizen?

  4. Thank you for tthe comments, folks.

    Bill, that is an excellent point. I should have been more clear about my meaning of "violence."

    "Aggression" should have been the word I used.

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