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BRG253

Did I wrong this person?

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In fact, the word "evil" was applied in a post by DavidOdden.
That is correct. There are only two fundamental poles of moral evaluation: "good", and "evil". Since when does Objectivism hold that "evil" only refers to Hitler, Stalin and Al Qaida? Do you believe that taxation, theft, debauchery, assault and Barak Obama are "the good"?

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That is correct. There are only two fundamental poles of moral evaluation: "good", and "evil". Since when does Objectivism hold that "evil" only refers to Hitler, Stalin and Al Qaida? Do you believe that taxation, theft, debauchery, assault and Barak Obama are "the good"?

I trust the "you," right above, refers to Claire, not me.

Mindy

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It is your prerogative to do whatever you can get away with to minimize the effect of this injustice on your life. The punishment in any proper justice system would sentence you at most to a fine for a property crime with no human damage, and jail time only if you could not pay. 100 hours of slavery? You have no moral obligation to respect this coerced contract.

What I find more worthy of note is the responses of the apologists for the state. If King George had decreed that carriage drivers buy licenses to use the streets, you would have been the Tories chiding your Whiggish compatriots for protesting the edict. I believe this is a good concretization of the trichotomy identified by Matt Stone and Trey Parker in Team America: World Police: (Pardon the language)

Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. ... But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes.

After years of coping with the status quo by following the unjust laws in order to avoid punishment, some Objectivists will become so bitter that they envy those of us with the courage to stand up for ourselves. They stand up as loud defenders of the status quo ("rule of law"), excoriating anyone with the chutzpah to defy injustice.

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The punishment in any proper justice system would sentence you at most to a fine for a property crime with no human damage, and jail time only if you could not pay.
Just to be clear, while this is a common libertarian position, it is not an Objectivist one. If you're interested, searching for "retributive justice" or something similar should bring up some threads.

Also, mind your tone or get lost.

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Ayn Rand wrote nothing about restorative vs retributive justice, so neither is a part of Objectivism. Regardless of this debate, 100 hours of slavery is disproportionate to the crime, and paying a fine ought to have been an option.

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Ayn Rand wrote nothing about restorative vs retributive justice, so neither is a part of Objectivism. Regardless of this debate, 100 hours of slavery is disproportionate to the crime, and paying a fine ought to have been an option.

Eskimos have thirty-some terms for snow. Robert Frost had one. Did he not write of a snowy evening in the woods? Rand wrote about justice.

Your opinion as to what sentence was appropriate is strongly held. Is it as strongly substantiated?

Mindy

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Regardless of this debate, 100 hours of slavery is disproportionate to the crime, and paying a fine ought to have been an option.
That's part of the mythology that imprisonment is never a proper punishment. One of the absurd results of that theory of crime is that attempted murder yields nothing more that a stern warning "You better not do that again!". Is that what you're advocating? Regardless, 100 hours is not slavery. In fact 100 hours of service is the light alternative to imprisonment, which garners up to 6 months in prison. It is typical of the apologists for anarchism to decry any use of the government to protect the rights of the individual as "statism".

However: regarding the "chutzpah to defy injustice", that would constitute openly and honestly declaring to the government "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on: you fascists will never get me to serve your cause", rather than lying multiply. I think the OP now grasps that fact. Maybe some day you will too.

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That's part of the mythology that imprisonment is never a proper punishment. One of the absurd results of that theory of crime is that attempted murder yields nothing more that a stern warning "You better not do that again!". Is that what you're advocating? Regardless, 100 hours is not slavery. In fact 100 hours of service is the light alternative to imprisonment, which garners up to 6 months in prison. It is typical of the apologists for anarchism to decry any use of the government to protect the rights of the individual as "statism".

Well, actually, attempted murder is a threat of committing force, which is almost (perhaps equally?) bad as committing the force itself. So the punishment for attempted murder would have to be just somewhat less than the punishment for murder (so, maybe not execution, but maybe 20 years in a work-camp or something like that). It would take a serious misunderstanding of the meaning "initiation of force" to claim that all "attempted" crimes should just get warnings. That wouldn't make any sense at all. Also, any coerced work may be called "slavery" (though perhaps better would be "indentured servitude"?).

Though, 100 hours of slavery/service (only four days), isn't that bad. I mean, that'd be, say, 2 weeks of jail time or time in a work camp (or community service), if each day counted as eight hours. That's not that long really at all. Seems roughly proportionate to the crime. So while I disagree with your reasoning David, I agree that 100 hours of slavery/service is probably an appropriate punishment.

I'm curious, do you think 6 months in prison is justified for this crime though? I would think something on the order of a couple weeks would be more appropriate (which is part of why I think 100 hours is about right, give or take say a factor of two).

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I disagree that one should follow government road rules, in principle at least. Government-controlled roads is an illigitimate arrangement that can yield only convoluted "agreements" with its "customers" over its usage. Which otherwise pro-free-market-roads advocate can decide which rules would otherwise be legit for private roads? How could he tell for sure, and why wouldn't he just be advocating instead the removal of government control?

As far as changing the roads as they are now: how do we change these rules? Not by taking our business elsewhere, but through a lengthy, costly law-changing process that is not likely to yield results due to the state revenue conflict of interest. Not to mention, the results would still be illigitimate by definition: how would we know they were the right free-market rules? The government runs the roads with revenue in mind, from the speed limit to the suspension procedures, not with safety or a customer's interests in mind. Why would someone advocate following these rules with that in mind?

The only (moral) solution is to use one's best judgement concerning safety, while doing one's best not to get caught when that judgement contradicts current laws. I recognize that properly illegal activities happen on the road, such as property and life damage or endangerment, but those should already be covered under separate laws.

My answer to the OP: the reason for your suspension largely determines the morality of your trying to do anything you can to minimize the negative outcome. "Speeding" isn't the same as driving drunk or too asleep to notice anything, isn't the same as a hundred legitimate reasons for not paying a ticket (leading to suspension). A suspension could be acquired due to five cops with nothing better to do than decide that you didn't stop at a stop sign (two points multiplied by six instances: twelve-point suspension), followed by six judges (or six of the same judge) upholding it. You may have actually stopped all of those times, but these particular government employees are dishonest, and the expense of fighting it is too great (time, court costs, uncertain outcome). Do those condemning the OP know something like this happens, frequently? Or how about the countless fees associated with the BMV (more baseless government mandates concerning the roads), not to mention (government-forced) insurance premiums spiking.

I do not see how the OP is wrong for trying to minimize these escalating, dishonest, baseless side effects of government road laws. It IS easy to get caught up in government-bashing when one first discovers its real evils, but I think this is a case of legitimate bashing. The volunteer's attitudes and beliefs are a side-issue to whether one should follow laws which cannot be proven to be right. Do I understand correctly those condemning the OP? That the only proper solution to improper government control and laws is to follow them until they can be changed within the system? What if it is impossible for an individual to change the system for another ten years? Should he just suffer those years? What if it is speculative that the system will ever be changed?

Edited by JASKN

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One thing that I think might have been mentioned above, by one poster or other (my apologies for not looking up the quote), is that if nothing else the OP cheated himself and sacrificed his precious time, not the state. If I was sentenced to 100 hours of community service (which I agree with DO and others is a rather reasonable, light sentence), I would at least have the self-respect to choose something I would enjoy/care about, like working at the animal shelter or telling stories to old people or helping coach a kids' ball team, things like that. In my opinion, even IF we grant the OP every premise of his (that his sentence was unjust and that he owed nothing to his volunteer supervisor), his actions in this tale say nothing good about his character. It wasn't cute and it wasn't funny, it was just a childish and stupid waste of your OWN time not to follow through on your commitment. You also do come off as a bit of a whiner. I'm not going to wag my finger at you and say "bad, bad boy" but honestly perhaps you should consider just growing up a bit.

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My answer to the OP: the reason for your suspension largely determines the morality of your trying to do anything you can to minimize the negative outcome. "Speeding" isn't the same as driving drunk or too asleep to notice anything, isn't the same as a hundred legitimate reasons for not paying a ticket (leading to suspension). A suspension could be acquired due to five cops with nothing better to do than decide that you didn't stop at a stop sign (two points multiplied by six instances: twelve-point suspension), followed by six judges (or six of the same judge) upholding it. You may have actually stopped all of those times, but these particular government employees are dishonest, and the expense of fighting it is too great (time, court costs, uncertain outcome). Do those condemning the OP know something like this happens, frequently?
The responses assumed that the suspension (and whatever got him caught again driving on the suspended licence) were likely to be based on real wrong-doing. What you say is possible, of course; but, the OP did not mention any such facts. He didn't mention being treated unfairly according to the law, nor did he mention a specific law being bad (something that ought not to be on the books). The focus of his reasoning was the fact that the government owned roads, and on the particular values of his supervisor.

Bad cops and so on happen. In the context of limited info, people will use their experience as a starting point. My own judgement goes something like this: driving in the U.S. for 15 years, I've been stopped 3 times, and it has always been for actually breaking a rule. One of those times was over-zealous policing where I got the impression the cop just wanted to earn money for his city; but, one of the other three times the cop let me off with a short lecture -- so it balances out. I regularly go at real traffic speeds, not racing past folk but in the 4th quartile. Of course, I understand age and so on matter, and a younger male could be more likely to have a cop mark him down for something. Yet, in my judgement, the cops generally and ordinarily stop people for actual violations of the road-rules, and are not extraordinarily unreasonable. This, coupled with the fact that the OP said nothing to the contrary makes me guess he probably did do something real to end up with a suspended licence. Still, if the poster comes back and says: "I forgot to mention that my licence was suspended for the following illegitimate reason", that could change the complexion of the whole thing.

Of course even if the OP deserved the penalty, shirking the work-sentence does not make him Peter Keating, much less Toohey! In fact, in that case, his bigger legitimate fault may lie in whatever way he was really endangering people's live. (As for his broader character, most single forum threads provide very limited information to make reliable judgments about a person who is posting. Mostly the legitimate judgments are about the specific actions being discussed, which might be indicative of something broader about the person, once one has a broader picture.)

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The responses assumed that the suspension (and whatever got him caught again driving on the suspended licence) were likely to be based on real wrong-doing.

[...]

Bad cops and so on happen. In the context of limited info, people will use their experience as a starting point. My own judgement goes something like this:

I suppose it is obvious that my experience goes something like, "I've been suspended for not doing something wrong, many of the cops had superiority issues coupled with poor judgement, and it's a sore spot for me." Granted, my experience in my hometown Ohio city was more similar to your experience.

Still, the point being made against the OP's original judgement that one should follow road rules under the current government system on principle does not make sense to me, for the other reasons I wrote previously.

Side point: I thought this was great advice generally, not just for this situation:

When one finds oneself in a situation that cannot be changed, there is nothing to be gained from sulking about it; the best approach is to accept things that one cannot change and instead of converting them into dead-zones of blank-out nothingness, to ask what best you can get from the situation. Squeeze as much value out it as you can out of life. Hark back to the supervisor's remark: "Attitude is everything". It may not be everything, but it can make all the difference to one's happiness in a given situation.

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I disagree that one should follow government road rules, in principle at least. Government-controlled roads is an illigitimate arrangement that can yield only convoluted "agreements" with its "customers" over its usage. Which otherwise pro-free-market-roads advocate can decide which rules would otherwise be legit for private roads? How could he tell for sure, and why wouldn't he just be advocating instead the removal of government control?
Nobody needs to engage in any hypothetical conjectures as to what the rules would be in some other context and then apply them to this context. If there is enough of a market for alternatives A versus B, then it would be impossible to reach a rational conclusion as to what things "would be like". In a free society, the owner might decide to impose rule C, for whatever reason, and as the owner, he has the right to use his judgment. The principle is that the owner gets to set the rules. Now, to contextualize the question of the right of owners and anarchic conduct by people who do not like the rules, let me quote from CUI's "The Cashing-In: The Student 'Rebellion'", where the topic is doing bad thing on state university property.

"In any undertaking or establishment involving more than one man, it is the owner or owners who set the rules and terms of appropriate conduct; the rest of the participants are free to go elsewhere and seek different terms, if they do not agree. There can be no such thing as the right to act on whim, to be exercised by some participants at the expense of others."

"There can be no such thing as the right to an unrestricted freedom of speech (or of action) on someone else's property. The fact that the University at Berkeley is owned by the state, merely complicates the issue, but does not alter it. The owners of a state university are the voters and taxpayers of that state. The University administration, appointed (directly or indirectly) by an elected official, is, theoretically, the agent of the owners—and has to act as such, so long as state universities exist. (Whether they should exist, is a different question.)"

It is agreed that the government should not tax people, and that it should not be constructing and building roads, but it does. The fact that the government does something that it should not do does not negate the fact that the government does own the roads and it is the government, not the individual student, errh, driver, who decides what the rules "really" are.

Here is an analogy. The government has built and continues to fund universities through taxation, and taxation is clearly improper. That fact does not legitimize open season by way of forgiving all sorts of immoral behavior -- theft, forgery, cheating on exams -- by appeal to the fact that it is a government university. You cannot legitimize plagiarism by saying "I'm not bound by these arbitrary rules that I don't agree with, because they might not exist in a purely laissez-faire society". You cannot legitimize forging a diploma which you did not earn (because you did not complete the requirements) on the grounds that "I disagree with these degree requirements, and because this is a government institution, I don't have to do anything that I don't agree with since the university has no right to impose rules, which is because the state has no right to tax citizens".

The reasons for license suspension typically include drunk driving, reckless driving or a half-dozen speeding tickets. IMO these are the type of conditions under which a person would rationally be physically barred from entering a private road. They do not include anything like "guilty of insider trading", "driving without a tie" or "tax evasion" which would not be rationally related to driving. Thus in principle, one should follow these rules, since they are established by the owner, they are not irrational ("I don't like it" doesn't render a rule irrational), and in a civilized society, interactions between individuals follow principles (known as rules).

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Still, the point being made against the OP's original judgement that one should follow road rules under the current government system on principle does not make sense to me, for the other reasons I wrote previously.
... as long as one does not approach the arena with a pragmatism that rationalizes anything one feels like.You're not advocating that; but, I'm just laying down that borderline. One has to be wary of the notion that "if this were private, the owner would make this particular rule (the one that I think he ought to make)". Imagine if Apple was government-owned and people said: "No private owner would stop me from 'jail-breaking' ". A private owner will not make all rules the way I like them and a private owner may not even have only good and logical rules at any point in time. Edited by softwareNerd

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Mindy, sorry, I'm confused. What volunteerism values? He didn't volunteer. He was sentenced to community service because he broke the law (it's beside the point whether the law is right or wrong.) That was a punishment. It wasn't his place to agree or disagree with it. He needed to serve the time. If he wanted to challenge the law, he lost. The law's a powerful bitch, which is why most of us abide by it.

Personally, I think he's trying to take the phylosophic high road after being careless with his license renewal and then petulant about being made to live with the consequences.

That's a ridiculous claim that it's wrong to challenge the law. He should have filed an appeal and gotten the government to pay for all aspects of that appeal. And by that I mean not that the taxpayers should pay for it but that whatever money is budgeted for law enforcement should go to aid his defense.

Regardless, you shouldn't bargain for your rights. They're your rights, after all. What you have done by accepting community service and then not doing it is declared your rights a gray area. Negotiating with a guy who has a gun to your head isn't moral, it's cowardly. You should make a choice and either abide by the decision all the way and not try to get out of it, or absolutely refuse the punishment as openly as possible and threatened to challenge it using legal procedures.

To do otherwise is to offer a compromise of your life to the government.

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Sorry if I wasn't clear, TurginAl. Of course we should and must challenge the law. What I meant was that such a challenge usually leads to consequences, and not always good ones.

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I disagree that one should follow government road rules, in principle at least.

That depends on the rules. The rules which are aimed at protecting other people (as opposed to environmental ones) are legitimate. Not because the government is the rightful owner of the road, though. They're obviously not, and the moral principle "one should respect another's property rights" does not apply.

But there is another reason, I'll try to explain it as best I can, in the next three paragraphs. The short version is this: Given that private roads do not and cannot exist, it is in our best interest to have the government regulate traffic on the roads, otherwise they would be unusable. Therefor, we should obey those regulations, on principle. Here's the long version:

In the context of modern day America, public roads are either supervised by the government, or by no one at all. These are the two options we face. Obviously, it is wrong that these circumstances, in which these are the only two options, have been imposed to us. But they have, and now we are faced with trying to find the best solution to our problem, within this narrow context.

The solution to this narrow problem does not depend on whether the way we came to need a solution was right or wrong. It was wrong, but that doesn't change the fact that we need a solution, at least for the time being. So we might as well forget what caused the problem, and (to even better crystallize what the problem is) imagine nothing caused it. Let's imagine roads are a naturally occurring phenomenon, and they have no owner. For some naturally occurring reason they are impossible to own.

In that situation (which is our situation, since it is, at least for the time being, a given that we cannot have privately owned roads), the US as a nation needs a solution. And that solution can only be a legal one, through a government which must pass laws to save lives. They are, in this narrow context, legitimate laws, since they are aimed at protecting people's right to life. The alternative (not having them) would be awful.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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I have not read all of these other posts BRG253 but I find it insulting you consider yourself an Objectivist. It seems to be you are simply using the philosophy for your own personal hedonistic ends. Those ends being.... a lazy bum that wants to violate laws that are in place for a reason, license suspension because of some offense serious enough to legitimate that action and either choosing not to or failing to successfully challenge it in court(i.e. you having violated some other important law or broken more minor ones enough times to make the state believe that you are not fit to operate a vehicle, which can easily harm other individuals with improper use, until you learn to get it together).

Regardless of the views of this man that ran the one-man volunteer business, you cheated him. That is what happened here, you made a contract with him by choosing to do your community hours with him, you led him to believe you would do what was asked of you for the required amount of hours and decided to cheat your way out of it. You cheated him and are justifying it using Objectivist philosophy inappropriately to support your ends. By the way, driving on a suspended license and cheating your volunteer hours are not in your self-interest and your pathetic justifications for those things is quite appalling to me personally.

I had my drivers license suspended for 6 months not long ago and recently got my license back. The fact of the matter is you did something to deserve losing your privilege of driving, I was mature enough to admit this fact about myself (don't be fooled, driving is a civil privilege and not a right), and from that point on you have been spinning further down the drain from the looks of things. Oh and guess what, I felt that, in certain respects concerning my stopping on the road the charge of OWI (Operating while intoxicated) was unjust, as I had no alcohol in my system, but rather marijuana, was using my turn signals/stopping appropriately which the officers had seen.. etc. but had made one other mistake (which is what got me pulled over). I challenged it in court and got my OWI charge (I live in Iowa, where they have been ramping up the consequences of intoxicated driving, including first offenses, so it would have seriously sucked) and it was dropped down to a public intox, big difference.

So yes, you have wronged this person, and Ayn Rand would have told you the same thing, though I imagine it would have been in a much more colorful way than anyone here has provided, just as was the case when she challenged hedonists and pragmatists of your sort in her writings. You are not an Objectivist, you belong in the Libertarian party. If you want to justify your inappropriate actions please do it with your own justifications, not ours.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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That was a punishment. It wasn't his place to agree or disagree with it. He needed to serve the time. If he wanted to challenge the law, he lost.

I agree with this to an extent, in a more clear interpretation.

He has the right to agree or disagree with it. However he clearly acted against his own rational self-interest in this endeavor, multiple times. If he felt that the punishments placed on him for a law he disagreed with were inappropriate, then he should have challenged it in court. His issue was with the state, not some random man running a volunteer organization, regardless of how altruistic that man might have been, and it was clearly wrong for him to take what he felt as an injustice out on that man, or to evade and cheat on a punishment that was most likely fitting if he failed to successfully challenge the court ruling. Once you have made an honest attempt at challenging it in court, if you lost, then it is time to admit that you just have to suck it up and deal with it, there is nothing more to be done, or that can be done, that will not adversely effect people that do not deserve such negative effects as a part of your "personal grudge" against the state.

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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I still think that unless he made some "honor system" pledge, it was up to his "jailer" to see he did the work. He is justly sentenced, but he doesn't have to wield the lash himself. Why isn't this sound?

Mindy

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I still think that unless he made some "honor system" pledge, it was up to his "jailer" to see he did the work. He is justly sentenced, but he doesn't have to wield the lash himself. Why isn't this sound?

I'm tempted to agree. Though perhaps I can explain the problem in this way:

It is in your rational interest to see those who violate others rights punished (there are all the arguments for that already). You have violated someone's rights (in this hypothetical). Therefore, it is in your rational interest for you to be punished. Doing what is in your interest is good. So cooperating with the punishment is good.

So, if you choose to be a good person, cooperate. If not (which is quite possible, even likely, since you violated someone's rights), then don't.

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