The hullabaloo over statements written by Mary Ruwart

As a known supporter of another potential Libertarian Party presidential candidate, it has been difficult for me to decide how to handle the recent controversy surrounding statements Mary Ruwart has been accused of writing. At one end of the spectrum, people are leaving comments suggesting that I’m covering up the whole issue. Some people are merely asking me to address the issue. Some are saying that it isn’t an issue at all. Some have asked me to not allow certain people to post comments at Third Party Watch.

At issue are statements that Mary Ruwart made regarding age of consent laws for child sexual activity. The brouhaha stated with this blog comment, which quickly spread to other threads on this site.

I’ve decided the best approach for me to make is to cover how other people are dealing with the story. From Reason’s Hit&Run:

An anonymous commenter at the invaluable Third Party Watch posted a series of quotes on child sex allegedly from left-libertarian presidential candidate Mary Ruwart’s book Short Answers to the Tough Questions. I’ve looked through the book, and, yes: This is Ruwart’s response to the question “How can a libertarian argue against child pornography?”

"Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have
the right to make that decision as well, even if it's
distasteful to us personally. Some children will make
poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and
drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography,
the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing
the incentives for parents to use children against their
will."

According to Reason, the comments exposing this issue are “pretty smear-y,” but “it’s accurate to say that Ruwart argued against at least anti-child pornography law and at most laws covering statutory rape.”

Here are a few comments being left in defense of Ruwart:

  • I don’t agree with the answer that Dr. Ruwart is quoted as giving to that last one—and I’m far from the only libertarian who would disagree with that answer. However, I think that the major defect in the answer is not that she wants kids to have sex (I doubt that she does), but rather that she’s attempting to apply a “short answers to tough questions” approach to a question that can’t be handled with a short answer.
  • First of all, why should child pornography be illegal? Libertarian theory rests upon the concept that for a crime to exist, there must be a victim. While the photos depict an act of aggression, the possession of the photos harms no one. Certainly, the person collecting them could be seen as rather questionable, but so could a person who collects pictures of dead people or watches slasher flicks. There all sick in one way or another. An argument against this could be that the child owns the copyright or some such, but that would be a very different crime with very different penalties.
  • Every society of which I’ve read, including those without formal governments, has considered capacity to be a required element in a contract, limiting the ability of children to consent to anything. The notion that any libertarian minarchist or anarchist believes there is no such element should be assumed to be false in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Citations by anonymous people that haven’t been verified are not evidence.

From Ruwart’s opposition:

  • All I want to ask is this: why are we giving spin advice to someone who is an anarchist and represents the most radical view possible within the LP? Shouldn’t we consider WHY we would even want someone like this representing the party? Anarchism IS NOT THE SAME as libertarianism.
  • Mary Ruwart’s views on child pornography and child sex are beyond the pale. I was thinking she would make a nice VP candidate, but not now… ...She may have a Ph.D. in biophysics, but she flunked the basic course on common sense.
  • I wonder what Shane Cory has to say about this Bullshit…because if it’s true…then you guys win. I will not associate with this level of trash…

For the record (I’ve already had two members of the media contact me since the story broke), I support laws which protect young children from sexual predators. The opinions expressed in various comments at this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the writers and other key people associated with Third Party Watch.

144 Responses to “The hullabaloo over statements written by Mary Ruwart”

  1. G.E. Says:

    Okay, so Mary asserts the FACT that making child pornography illegal results in higher prices and greater profits for child pornographers. She is not explicitly or really even implicitly saying that child porn should be legal. Elsewhere, she asserts another FACT that children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well—and I’m taking this to mean “children” who actually have the capacity to consent, and who do so without coercion. . . and she’s not necessarily even talking about sexual acts between children and adults. These are some very politically incorrect statements, so of course, the PC speech Nazis are all up in arms.

    Meanwhile, we have another candidate who calls for the boycott of Chinese goods because of what China is doing in Tibet—with no regard to the fact that he is a) not dictator of the world, b) boycotting China will only hurt innocent Chinese people and your own wallet, and c) there is nothing but moral hypocrisy in boycotting China while continuing to support the U.S. This person is also pro-Fed, pro-income tax, pro-protectionism in general, and says that abortion-clinic protesters are the greatest threat to America, while holding up Roe v. Wade and the 14th amendment.

    And we have another “potential” candidate who is a fascist FraudTaxer, anti-intellectual, nonconstitutionalist deathmonger—who also happens to pay the salary of this site’s proprietor.

    And we have another candidate who is for national healthcare and Maoist democratic centralism.

    And we have another candidate who endorsed McCain/Lieberman and believes in the war on “Islamo-fascism” due to his dedication to his racial homeland, Zionist Israel.

    Who else?

    Mary’s comments are politically incorrect, but largely factual (not even opinions), and certainly more nuanced than the trouble with the rest of the bunch.

  2. Geoffrey the Liberator Says:

    My understanding, at least in the Libertarian circles in Europe (and we are much more open sexually than you purist yanks), is society shall protect those that are not able to protect themselves.

    Thus, in this case, society must decide at what age is one responsible for their own actions and no longer need the protection of state. In the EU, for the most part, that is 16. In North America it appears to be 18-21.

    Does Ms. Ruwart think that this needs to be lowered to a European standard of 16, or does she feel that even a 10 year old or a sexually mature 8 year old (I am told all those Mc Donald’s in the US are causing your girls of even 8-9 to get little breasts) no longer needs this protection? How about the other candidates, what is their position on this?

    How does she feel about the polygamy ranch in Texas? Is it OK when a young girl, no matter what her age, has her first menstrual cycle, that she is then married off and has sex, in perhaps a public forum, with a senior member of the church perhaps old enough to be her grandfather, whether she wants to or not? What is the other candidates take on the ranch situation and the unfortunate children effected?

    I believe these are all good questions we all must ask of anyone representing the Libertarian Movement as a public figure such as your Presidential Candidate.

  3. G.E. Says:

    Here is why the purchase and possession of child pornography is an act of aggression and should be illegal: If I were to hire a man to kill my wife, who would be committing the act of aggression? Most libertarians would agree that both the man who pulled the trigger and the man (me) who conspired to have it happen would be guilty of murder. By hiring the triggerman, I’m sending a market signal (directly) that there is a demand for my wife’s murder, and thereby directly causing the act to come into being. Child pornography works the same way—by purchasing materials which depict actual incidents of child sex abuse (or any other act of aggression), I am in essence hiring the perpetrators to commit the act. The only difference is I pay up front for the murder, and I pay after the fact for the child porn. Child pornographers are more “entrepreneurial” than hitmen, but particularly with a steady stream of customers, the result is exactly the same. A market signal is being sent to commit an act of aggression, and the act comes into being as a direct result of that signal.

  4. disinter Says:

    Some have asked me to not allow certain people to post comments at Third Party Watch.

    I can almost guarantee that is coming from the freedom-loving CP nutjobs.

  5. Tom Bryant Says:

    There’s a big difference between a 5 year old consenting and a 16 year old consenting (illegal in most states), although both are considered children by the law. I don’t think that someone magically is able to make adult decisions when they hit the age of consent – especially when the age of consent ranges from 14 to 18 depending on the state.

    I think we’d all agree that a 5 years cannot consent, but it gets a bit blurry when you get into the teenage years. People mature at drastically different rates, both physically and mentally. A 16 year old may be mature enough to consent, but her 17 year old friend not be mature enough. I certainly don’t have the perfect answer.

    I believe that is what Mary is talking about, the 16 year old child not the 5 year old child.

    To make this issue even more confusing, the law is not consistent. A 15 year old and a 14 year old can legal sex with each other, but the 15 year old cannot have sex with an 18 year old. Either the child can consent or not.

    And even worse, with camera phone and vid cams, teenagers are taking nude photos of themselves to send to their girlfriend/boyfriends – which is a serious child pornography charge. I remember a story earlier this year where a 14 year old got busted for taking a picture of herself naked to send to her smiliarly aged boyfriend.

    I agree with need laws to protect the 5 year old from the creepy old man next door, but I don’t think we need to be tossing a 14 year old into prison for sending a dirty picture to her boyfriend.

  6. Tom Says:

    S.G. thanks, I think. A sad, dark day for the LP.

    Ruwart must withdraw now before the mainstream media really fan the flames. Hell, it might be too late already.

    I’m too stunned to believe this is happening. For those of you defending this tripe …Leave with her and form you own anarchist party …call yourselves Ruwartarians. But get the hell out of the Libertarian pary.

  7. matt Says:

    If limited government means anything, it will include the power to forbid and punish the sexual exploitation of children.

    Have there been excesses in the way enforcement has been handled? Of course there have; we’re talking about the government here. I just don’t line up with Ms. Ruwart on this issue, and I’m certain that having her as the nominee would make the LP look even worse than it does.

  8. Susan Hogarth Says:

    My understanding, at least in the Libertarian circles in Europe (and we are much more open sexually than you purist yanks), is society shall protect those that are not able to protect themselves.

    I cannot of course speak for Mary Ruwart, but among American libertarians this is the understanding as well. But we are careful to differentiate the concept of ‘society’ from the concept of ‘government’, so that saying that there should not be, for example, a law against X, does not by any means suggest that X should be tolerated by society.

    I think this is the source of much of the angst on display here. It’s difficult to get out of the habit of thinking in statist terms. Even this thorny subject can be the source of a deeper understanding of what freedom means and what its consequences will be.

    As Libertarians, we are committed to the notion that the consequences of freedom will be beneficial to all peaceful people. But it’s good for us to remember that individual freedom implies individual responsibility, and there is no better reminder than the deep concern for children that all humans naturally feel.

  9. Peter Orvetti Says:

    Has the Ruwart campaign responded to all this yet? This is exactly the sort of thing a campaign needs “rapid response” for. I am a “moderate” Libertarian and had assumed I’d vote LP if the party nominates someone I’m comfortable with (Kubby, Ruwart, maybe Phillies). I’m now not sure I’m comfortable with Dr. Ruwart anymore.

  10. Jeff Wartman Says:

    If Ruwart is the nominee, this quote will be used to destroy her.

    Whether or not one could make opaque, philosophical arguments about the nuance of Ruwart’s argument is irrelevant. The relevant point is that the mainstream of this country will never, ever take seriously someone who made that quote.

    At this point, a Ruwart nomination has the potential to completely and utterly destroy the LP in the eyes of the general public, not because of any justified reason, but because of this quote.

  11. Chuck Moulton Says:

    Ah, the old children’s rights vs. paternalism (or “parental rights”) debate… I fall squarely on the side of children’s rights and I don’t care if that’s unpopular. The Libertarian Party removed the children’s rights position from its platform in 1996.

    18 is an arbitrary age, as is 21. I don’t believe all people over 18 are mature and I don’t believe all people under 18 are immature. I don’t believe someone suddenly has a fundamental change on his 18th birthday conferring some revelation of understanding about how the world works and the intellectual capacity to consent to contracts.

    It is unconscionable that partners of sexually active teenagers (such as an 18 year old and 17 year old in a loving relationship with one another) can be identified by parents who dislike them, reported to the police, tried under a strict liability standard rather than negligence (meaning unawareness of age of partner is no defense), locked up many years for rape, and put on a sexual predator list for life.

    Bright line rules on consent based on age are bad policy plain and simple. It would be far better to look at the totality of the circumstances to evaluate whether a person had the intellectual and developmental capacity and the maturity to consent to sexual activity or enter into a contract. Of course with a 5 year old that would be quite unlikely.

    When rights are taken away, the first targets are invariably those who can’t vote: children, immigrants, and felons. “Won’t someone please think of the children!” is that rallying cry of the nanny state that wants a pretext for regulating everyone.

    I refuse to accept the canard that Constitutional rights don’t apply to children.

    More libertarians should get involved with the youth rights movement by joining the National Youth Rights Association and Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions.

    http://www.youthrights.org/
    http://www.asfar.org/

  12. Old Whig Says:

    Susan

    If x is not tolerated by society but is not illegal, what is the recourse? Vigilantism? What if someone is simply accused, perhaps falsely? I can see a cycle of violence starting this way.

    That’s why I cannot support anarchism. We should have as little government as we can get away with, but til people become angels, anarchy will not work.

    O.W.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Gordon,

    I feel your pain. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to belabor this issue any more than necessary, but it’s probably too late. Now Ruwart will be forced to elaborate her position … and Barr will have to actually take a position instead of avoiding the issues (as usual) while scoring a few race-baiting points (see “Dixon, Marcus”).

  14. johncjackson Says:

    These are multiple issues.

    Child sex, meaning sex between children is one thing. Like if two 13 year olds have sex. These children willingly participate in sex.

    A 5 year old, or even a 13 year old having sex with an adult is another thing.

    And child pornography is yet another. I am not a child porn expert like Pete Townshend, but I think child porn is consumed by adult pedophiles.

    GE is right on the economic stuff and even some of the more distasteful stuff, but politically saying things like this ( even in specific context) is political suicide and at some level indefensible. Saying children participate in sex and can consent at some point is one thing. Appearing to support child porn is something else.

    Maybe I am not “pure” enough a libertarian as I do support some laws in society. When I think of things like “community justice” I tend to think of lynchings, racially/sexually/religious/other motivated crimes commited under the guise of “’justice” and so on. I know this is a wetdream for some LRC types. At the risk of being “elitist” the government is pretty fucked up, but at least we have some semblance of due process, rule of law,etc. I would not want to live in an environment of complete vigilante rule. Which is really what you advocate if you say there should be no laws. You are placing the law in the hands of the same idiots who vote.

    I advocate fewer laws for sure. Should getting rid of child porn laws be one of them? uh, maybe/maybe not. It certainly should be way down the list though. And I sure as hell wouldnt get rid of laws against child molestation, rape, murder, and property crimes.

  15. Brian Holtz Says:

    Sigh. Well, at least Ruwart has settled for us the question of how radicals interpret this sentence from the vaunted 2004 platform: “We call for the repeal of all laws that restrict anyone, including children, from engaging in voluntary exchanges of goods, services or information regarding human sexuality, reproduction, birth control or related medical or biological technologies.”

    To the credit of Ruwart (and of Phillies, who posted the entirety when he broke the story), she included a sentence not quoted in Gordon’s blog entry above: “Children forced to participate in sexual acts have the same rights and recourse as a rape victim. We can and should prosecute their oppressors.” One wonders who the anarchist Ruwart would imagine pressing such prosecutions in cases where the parents were complicit in the forcing. Does she address this question anywhere in her ouevre?

    This revelation seriously undermines the claim of Ruwart fans that she’s a gold-standard popularizer of “plumbline” radical libertarianism. She apparently needs to learn about one standard principle of generic libertarianism, and one standard principle of anarcholibertarianism.

    The first principle was expressed in the old platform thus: “Children always have the right to establish their maturity by assuming administration and protection of their own rights, ending dependency upon their parents or other guardians, and assuming all responsibilities of adulthood.” Chuck is right about bright lines, and I would phrase it this way: “Communities may choose the age, between 14 and 18 years, at which a person is no longer rebuttably presumed to be a child, and instead is rebuttably presumed to be an adult.”

    The second principle is the anarcholibertarian idea (defended by Walter Block) that if parents abrogate their right (not obligation—quelle horreur!) to protect and nurture their children, then anyone else may “homestead” that right and file a lawsuit (in a private court) to assume guardianship rights over the children. That theory may sound good in the Loyola University faculty lounge, but it’s problematic on the LP presidential campaign trail—to say nothing of the Real World where many children are being abused or even tortured while their parents look the other way. Or participate.

  16. disinter Says:

    I don’t think that someone magically is able to make adult decisions when they hit the age of consent

    Yes, because your idea of what an “adult decision” is is FAR superior to everyone elses.

  17. Susan Hogarth Says:

    If x is not tolerated by society but is not illegal, what is the recourse?

    There are different levels of recourse, starting with customary disapproval (which is WAY stronger than most people credit until you think about it – when’s the last time you saw someone picking his nose in public? Is there a law against it?) and proceeding through voluntary but explicit agreements to what you would call ‘vigilantism’. Although vigilantism has a bad name, it is inherently no worse a system than elaborate government courts/police, and – I would argue – much better in many respects.

    What if someone is simply accused, perhaps falsely?

    Let’s say you accuse me (falsely) of molesting my (hypothetical) child, and attempt to raise a group to apprehend me and deliver justice. Those people are undertaking a serious – and potentially expensive – task that will leave THEM the guilty parties if I am in fact shown to be innocent. Most people under such circumstances are going to need really good evidence that I am guilty before they undertake such responsibility.

    But let’s look at the situation at present. Say you accuse me of molesting my child. The child is taken from me without question, placed in a foster home, and months and months of misery all around ensues. No problem for you, since there are no repercussions should you turn out to be mistaken or to have knowingly falsely accused me (oh, we could go through years more of courts, I suppose… some ‘justice’ ... what good does it do me?). Since you have little accountability for your accusation and expect others to be forced to bear the cost of obtaining justice, you will be quick to call for it – too quick. Before making such a serious accusation and taking action on it, you should be willing to take responsibility for obtaining justice.

    I can see a cycle of violence starting this way.

    This is already the situation, as I’ve outlined above. But presently the violence is dispersed through society by the force of government. So because it’s a little less obvious than an old-fashioned family feud, some people think it’s more civilized. It’s not. Institutionalizing such violence and forcing everyone to be party to it makes us all less civilized.

    Freedom will not give us an aggression-free world; what it can do is reduce the institutionalization of aggression. But it’s not necessary to postulate absence of government to apply these principles – even a reduction in the scope of government’s control over that most vital good, justice, can provide great blessings. Trials should be faster, no one should be forced to testify, and an accuser should be held responsible for damages form false accusations.

  18. disinter Says:

    Ruwart must withdraw now before the mainstream media really fan the flames.

    You are assuming they cover LP news.

  19. Jason Gatties Says:

    GE is starting to annoy me. There was no need to take a shot at Stephen Gordon here.

  20. disinter Says:

    Chuck Moulton – well said!

  21. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Brian,

    You suggest, as a standard:

    “Communities may choose the age, between 14 and 18 years, at which a person is no longer rebuttably presumed to be a child, and instead is rebuttably presumed to be an adult.”

    Interestingly, that’s not much different than the standard I proposed here.

    However, the more I think about it, the more I think it might be best to just go with the American way: If a prosecutor believes a rape has occurred, let the prosecutor prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of the accused’s peers. If the prosecutor’s case involves the alleged victim being incompetent to consent, rather than having withheld consent, that would be one of the things to be proven. Does anyone believe there’s a jury in the country that wouldn’t convict a 50-year-old who claimed sex with a five-year-old was “consensual?”

  22. brian Says:

    it’s amazing to me how uneducated many so-called “libertarians” are on their own philosophy. the whole thing is based on the principle of non-aggression toward person and property. “child”, “adult” – it doesn’t matter! no one has the right to aggress against non-aggressors and no one has the right to force their ideals on others, period. a mandatory age of consent, as explained above, is ridiculous. i don’t get to choose how you live your life, even if you’re making decisions i REALLY don’t like. so, if a 12 year old is physically mature, decides to start having sex with a 13 year old or a 30 year old, it is none of my business regardless of how distasteful i might find it. i don’t own other people!

    also, in defense of libertarian anarchism: which anarchist have you ever heard of advocating a society of vigilante justice? i’ll answer that: none. so if this is your view of the philosophy and theory behind the ideal after a cursory thought of it, do yourself a favor and at least get somewhat educated on the subject! at least then you won’t make yourself out to be a fool if you continue to disagree with it.

    please cut me some slack on my exasperation! apologies ahead of time!

  23. Jim Lesczynski Says:

    I agree with Chuck Moulton on the problems with a bright line application of age of consent. I attended a lecture by Dr. Thomas Szasz once, where he addressed this issue. Szasz advocated that in the case of alleged victims over the arbitrary age, the prosecutor should have to prove that the victim was incapable of giving consent (e.g., an adult who is severely mentally retarded). For those below the arbitrary age, the defense would have to prove to a jury’s satisfaction that the alleged victim was capable of giving consent.

    I would also like to see the pre-1996 children’s rights plank added back to the LP platform.

  24. Old Whig Says:

    Susan

    I agree with much of what you say, especially the last paragraph.

    Brian

    I don’t expect any sane anarchist to advocate vigilantism. It will just happen. I would expect that same sane anarchist to be the first to be shocked and disappointed at the results of his success. I am familiar with the theory and philosophy of anarchism. I was a LP activist in the 80’s after all (Yes, I am an old Fart, er… I mean Whig).

    When the government is stealing a mile from us we shouldn’t argue over inches. (I confess to being guilty of this. It can be fun if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.)

    O.W.

  25. Fred C. Says:

    I think this bit sums it up best:

    “However, I think that the major defect in the answer is not that she wants kids to have sex (I doubt that she does), but rather that she’s attempting to apply a “short answers to tough questions” approach to a question that can’t be handled with a short answer.”

    A lot of people here are giving thoughtful answers to the question of age of majority and the rights of children. Ruwart didn’t give us anything approaching a thoughtful discussion of alternative systems or the underlying perspectives. Instead she gave a lightly-qualified gross oversimplification; a short answer to a tough question that really deserved a whole lot more.

    She’s also created a perception, fair or not, that she wants to liberalize kiddy porn, and did so by using the same market argument many libertarians use against simple vice. When a normal says to a libertarian “but then you’ll be able to buy weed at the liquor store,” the libertarian can easily say “so what?” You can’t say “so what” to the sexual exploitation of minors.

    “Does anyone believe there’s a jury in the country that wouldn’t convict a 50-year-old who claimed sex with a five-year-old was “consensual?” ”

    The jury that never got called, because the tape they found was legal and commercially available, the kid wasn’t just too young to consent but also too young to testify effectively, and the 50-year-old was technically the child’s guardian. That might not be Ruwart’s vision, but it’s the one she’s projected.

  26. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I think it’s worth noting that while Mary Ruwart was trying to explore and explain the implications, benefits, and responsibilities inherent in freedom, Bob Barr was voting for an expensive federally-funded bill to incarcerate more juveniles:

    http://www.ontheissues.org/HouseVote/Party_1999-233.htm

    I’d rather be in the position of explaining that saying something should not be illegal does not mean you support it, then having to explain how voting for massive federal incarceration programs is supposed to make government less powerful and children safer.

  27. LifeMember Says:

    I asked the question on a thread last night and no one was brave enough to answer it. Gordon probably worded it better than I did: “I support laws which protect young children from sexual predators.”

    Here is my question for each person reading this thread.

    Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?

    No long explanations required, all I want is a simple yes or no answer. Again, here’s the really simple question.

    Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?

  28. Sean Scallon Says:

    Good thing this is being revealed now instead of after she’s nomainted, like Bednarik’s tax records and driver’s license four years ago. The last thing the LP needs is another dark horse nominee with lots of suprises in store for the unspecting delegates who choose her.

    The whole statement is pretty creepy in itself. Do you honestly think children get paid to do this? Who is she kidding?

    Again, it’s these social issue questions that keep tripping up the LP and prevent it from grabbing libertarian leaning Republican and Democrats. Nominate Ms. Ruwart and you’ll be nominating another “pure” libertarian and you will be also consiging yourself to less than 400,000 votes. If that.

  29. brian Says:

    “I don’t expect any sane anarchist to advocate vigilantism. It will just happen.”

    i don’t think that there’s any evidence to show that this is true but,

    “When the government is stealing a mile from us we shouldn’t argue over inches.”

    i totally agree with this. but i don’t think that discussing ideas is a bad thing as long as it’s civil and constructive, or as you say, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. i just appreciate the chance to have these conversations!

  30. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?

    Can you explain how a law can protect a child from anything?

    I support anything which protects young children from harm. But no law in history has ever stopped a bullet, and for darn sure no law has ever stopped a person who preys on children.

    Are you suggesting that an individual needs legal sanction in order to defend children? Because that’s a dangerous path. “Sorry, ma’am, but defending your child is the province of the law. You should have called the police rather than shoot that pedophile. Off to jail with you! We’ll find a nice foster home for your already-traumatized child, I’m sure.”

  31. brian Says:

    lifemember,

    no one will answer the question because it’s impossible to answer. there are too many assumptions that contradict in the minds of libertarians.

    the question assumes that:
    1) laws can protect children from sexual predators, which they cannot. they can only hold accountable those who have already committed such crimes.

    2) we can all agree on what a “child” is.

    3) we can all agree on what a “sexual predator” is.

    i support protecting children, but so-called “laws” imply a one-size-fits-all-non-solution to the issue, guaranteeing that some will be tyrannized by them and i absolutely do not support that.

  32. Old Whig Says:

    Lifemember: Yes

    “Sorry ‘bout your child ma’am, but there’s no law ‘gainst it. Guess you’ll just have to shoot him, if he and his buddies don’t shoot you first.”

    O.W.

  33. matt Says:

    But we are careful to differentiate the concept of ‘society’ from the concept of ‘government’, so that saying that there should not be, for example, a law against X, does not by any means suggest that X should be tolerated by society.

    Can you explain how a law can protect a child from anything?

    Susan, if you and Ms. Ruwart want to make the argument that laws shouldn’t exist, then that’s fine. It’s fascinating, and while I disagree, I believe that some good might eventually come from that line of thinking.

    What is impossible, however, is for someone to argue, with a straight face, that someone who doesn’t believe in laws should be the primary law-executor of the nation. Of course, that is the President’s job description.

    I’d happily vote for LP anarchists to be seated in the legislature, because all they’d do there would be to vote against laws. Since almost all new laws are bad, that would be fine, and I’d happily do it.

    When, however, you nominate someone who doesn’t even believe in laws or the government to head the government and execute laws, you are not acting in good faith with the american public, millions of whom do believe in laws and government, and only vote for the LP because they want less of both.

  34. Bill Crain Says:

    This is a thoughtful, reasonable discussion, the kind of thing you might hear at a meeting of an exceptionally good platform committee. These sorts of conversations can and should go on all the time, here at TPW and within the LP.

    Try this in an American election, though, and it will all be lost in a deluge of noise that will make our ears bleed.

  35. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Susan, if you and Ms. Ruwart want to make the argument that laws shouldn’t exist, then that’s fine. ...

    When, however, you nominate someone who doesn’t even believe in laws or the government to head the government and execute laws, you are not acting in good faith with the american public, millions of whom do believe in laws and government, and only vote for the LP because they want less of both.

    If I haven’t been clear enough; I am not speaking for Ruwart here – only myself.

    It seems to me that someone who wants ‘less of both’ laws and government would want to vote for someone who never proposes or supports a new law nor any new government without exception. Because anything less is not making government smaller, but is only (at best) slowing the growth of government.

  36. Jose C. Says:

    “Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?”

    Yes.

  37. Justin Grover Says:

    Regardless of the principle of the thing, Mary Ruwart’s answer to this issue was poorly written for this era of the “sound bite.”

    It will be too hard to ‘take back’ or ‘clarify’ such language in a national campaign.

    A real shame. :/

  38. interesting Says:

    It seems to me that someone who wants ‘less of both’ laws and government would want to vote for someone who never proposes or supports a new law nor any new government without exception. Because anything less is not making government smaller, but is only (at best) slowing the growth of government.

    I’d gladly support such a candidate. It’d make me happy if I could vote a straight ticket of such people. What I don’t want, however, is the removal of certain existing laws from the books.

    Specifically, those against theft, murder, and sexual exploitation should be retained. Anarchists are great, but I’d rather vote for

  39. Susan Hogarth Says:

    It will be too hard to ‘take back’ or ‘clarify’ such language in a national campaign.

    Reality check time.

    We have three major candidates who have said that bombing civilian populations is an option that should not be taken off the table. At least one of these candidates has threatened ‘obliteration’ of civilian populations in retaliation for the hypothetical aggression of their government. At least one of these candidates is being sold as the ‘peace candidate’.

    These are the folks that should be ‘taking back’ their bloodthirsty language.

  40. Stefan Says:

    JUst as a general remark: I heard in Sweden, where prostitution is banned as far as I know, in case a client is found with a prostitute, the client, and not the prostitute is prosecuted.

    I’m sorry that this issue is being played up in this sensation and superficial world. As Thomas has said Mary would be forced to give her reaction, but one wonders why David Weigel with reason has not first taken up the issue with Mary Ruwart herself, asked for clarification, before publicly writing about the issue. One should know the whole context Dr. Ruwart was writing the book, and not isolate a sentence or passage. The issue moves to child psychology and development, which is certainly a difficult issue regarding the age, where a line has to be drawn, but a line has to be drawn as a child can decide about which sort of sweets he or she like, but it is a totally different issue with regard to this most personal and influential act in any person’s development: a child cannot really have a clear they have a clear idea about this and can be easily manipulated to consent, without understanding the consequences.

  41. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Ruwart’s view illustrates to me the limitations of the atomistic anarcho-capitalism. If the answer is “child porn => OK,” then it’s time to check premises.

    As always, IMO.

  42. Jose C. Says:

    Susan:

    Question: I am sure there are behaviors you would consider immoral, unethical, and wrong.

    Are there any condition(s) under which you would say that a 50 year old man having consensual sex with a six year old girl is okay? That is the issue. That is what Mary seems to be saying. If the act is consensual it is not wrong no matter the age of the participants.

    Society has decided differently. Society has decided that behavior is immoral, unethical, wrong, and against the law.

  43. Fred C. Says:

    “One should know the whole context Dr. Ruwart was writing the book, and not isolate a sentence or passage.”

    Go to amazon.com and click “search inside this book”. The chapter “Children’s Rights” goes from page 41-45. Context given.

  44. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Ruwart’s view illustrates to me the limitations of the atomistic anarcho-capitalism. If the answer is “child porn => OK,” then it’s time to check premises.

    Robert’s comment illustrates for me the limitations of … well, of Robert. It is discouraging to see that even after it’s been pointed out, he still makes the error of interpreting “X should not be illegal” as “X is OK”. With ‘friends’ like this to mangle our message, we needn’t spend much time looking for enemies.

  45. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Susan:

    Question: I am sure there are behaviors you would consider immoral, unethical, and wrong.

    Certainly.

    Are there any condition(s) under which you would say that a 50 year old man having consensual sex with a six year old girl is okay?

    I don’t think it’s possible to have consensual sex with a six-year old.

    That is the issue. That is what Mary seems to be saying. If the act is consensual it is not wrong no matter the age of the participants.

    I don’t that in fact that is what she’s saying, and I certainly wouldn’t say it. I’m no expert in childhood, but I’ve never met a six-year-old who is capable of true consent or even understanding of sexual acts. It’s possible there is one out there. But what I would say – not sure about Ruwart – is that anyone who is capable of consent to such acts and is living independently of parental/guardian authority ought to be free to make such choices.

    Society has decided differently. Society has decided that behavior is immoral, unethical, wrong, and against the law.

    Society declares it immoral and unethical. Government declares it against the law. We should be wary of laws as a method of controlling behavior, because they are both less effective at changing behavior and more easily changed by minority special interests.

  46. LifeMember Says:

    I asked a simple yes or no question: Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?

    Since then, several people have answered “Yes.” The people taking Mary Ruwart’s side refuse to answer “No,” but provide drawn out arguments or attack Reason.

    Based on this, do you think this is a reasonable statement: Susan Hogarth, brian and Stefan refuse to support laws which protect young children from sexual predators.

    Also, do you think this statement is fair game: Mary Ruwart refuses to support laws which protect young children from sexual predators.

  47. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Lifer,

    You are being unreasonable. You ask a question whose premises the people you want to get an answer from reject. When they try to patiently explain this to you, you complain they are not cooperating.

    Have you stopped beating your wife?

  48. Justin Grover Says:

    “These are the folks that should be ‘taking back’ their bloodthirsty language.”

    Ms. Hogarth:

    Respectfully, I am not in need of a “reality check.” Many people consider war a horrific thing, to say nothing of the bombing of innocents, myself included.

    Yet, we as a culture accept war on many grounds.

    If asked “Are there circumstances in which bombing civilians is acceptable or excusable?” many, many Americans would say “Yes . . .” followed by a qualification.

    If asked “Are there circumstances in which having sex with a preteen child is acceptable or excusable?” I would wager 99.95% of Americans would Say “No” with varying vehemence.

    To be clear, I am not even arguing for or against what she wrote, and am making no qualification on her principle. I am, however, stating that regardless of what we (libertarians, anarchists, all) feel, the ‘voting public’ will not stand for a qualification or explanation of her writing. That, sadly, makes her a liability to our Party.

    If she were to become our nominee, any credible Libertarian candidate in the country would be assaulted with questions about child molestation, child porn and the like.

    I will even take that further, saying I’m tempted to write and ask for her to withdraw her candidacy. If she is even a front runner, this will be an issue.

    I won’t speak for the rest of everywhere, but here in Oregon we have a golden opportunity- many state level races will be run between a Libertarian and a Democrat, including Attorney General. I would hate to have that opportunity poisoned by forcing us on the defensive about an issue which many libertarians are split on.

  49. David F. Nolan Says:

    I like Mary Ruwart, and consider her a valuable asset in the ongoing battle for individual liberty. However, this current flap over her statements regarding children’s rights and sexual behavior illustrates why it is difficult for an anarchist to seek public office. If you stick to anarchist principles consistently, you’re bound to take positions which will shock and horrify a great many people. I am not an anarchist, and never have been, so I can take positions that an honest anarchist could not take – as I did in my 2006 Congressional campaign. My views were still seen as radical by many people, but at least I did not have to defend anarchy.

  50. Chuck Moulton Says:

    In my opinion the problem act is the child exploitation, not the viewing of a picture or videotape of it. It’s not illegal to possess pictures of people shoplifting or even pictures of someone murdering another person. I believe there is nothing inherently contradictory about being in favor of laws protecting children against exploitation while being against laws that punish victimless acts such as possessing or viewing photographs.

    I know that’s an unpopular position. It’s unpopular partly due to cultural norms in this country and partly because most people seem to think everything bad or morally questionable should be illegal. I don’t smoke or drink alcohol or take drugs or shoot guns, but I don’t believe those things should be illegal. Others may have a problem with the fact that I eat meat and transfats and sugary foods, but I hope they aren’t able to translate their moral or nanny outrage into laws against those things.

  51. Fred C. Says:

    Having found and read the chapter now, I see that Ruwart does go to some length in addressing the issue of majority. Here’s a gem on page 42:

    “In the case of an abused infant, a concerned neighbor or relative could assume temporary guardianship and, if necessary, petition the court on the child’s behalf.”

    Apparently there is a point where a child isn’t completely responsible for itself, and can see guardianship transferred without its consent to concerned outsiders. Looks like it’s not a matter of childhood turning into adulthood, but infancy turning into childhood. Better than nothing?

    In trying to reconcile this with other statements in the chapter, I’m forced to guess that the age of consent is in the eyes of the predator:

    “In practice, you would decide if the child was old enough to enter into a contract with you.” (p.44)

    That’s not a call I think we should be letting pedophiles make. Am I so unlibertarian in this? Am I just such a dead-wrong statist that I can’t get past my hang-ups about grown-ups diddling toddlers, and a state (should it exist) that gives them a wink and a nod when they start circulating tapes?

  52. Catholic Trotskyist Says:

    Life Member, the answer to your questions is “yes.”

    Ruwart should have never discussed that in her book. I do believe that children should have more rights on some issues, and perhaps teenagers should not be punished in most cases. What is important to note is that the prevalance of sexual immorality is destroying our society, and this has to be stopped. Fortunately, Barack Obama is much better on this issue than John McCain.

  53. Fred C. Says:

    Chuck: GE has a good post on this thread, 3rd from the top, that gets a little deeper into the problems with child porn than simple possession of a photo or video.

    I would add that when a child is victimized, the distribution of his or her victimization is an additional injury to him or her. But I’m not sure if there’s a legal basis against having one’s unconsented traumas recorded and publicized.

  54. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Quoth LifeMember:

    “Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?”

    Yes.

    Quoth Susan:

    “Can you explain how a law can protect a child from anything?”

    Yes, I can.

  55. Brian Holtz Says:

    LifeMember, Susan is correct in pointing out that your question smuggles in an assumption that laws can protect children. Don’t give her that loophole, because she won’t be embarrassed to take it. The question you need to ask is: “Is it morally acceptable for a community to use a democratic process of majority (but not universal) assent to legislate a uniform rule embedding an assumption that the ability to give informed sexual consent is a function of age?” Ruwart and Hogarth will necessarily answer “no”, because (as I understand it) they claim it is never morally acceptable for a community to legislate anything except by universal consensus. Further, Hogarth believes (as far as I can tell) that the LP and its candidates should never claim that it is morally acceptable for a community to legislate anything—even protection of life, liberty, and property—except by universal consensus.

    And if Susan says I’ve misunderstood her, then note carefully whether she actually clarifies what she thinks the LP and its candidates should be allowed to say about the ability of the community to legislate without universal consensus.

    Bill, the current Platform cycle has all along been featuring discussions like this—and even better ones. :-) For the info I’ve been able to smuggle out of PlatCom’s private discussions, see http://libertarianmajority.net/. Also, search at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LPplatform-discuss for phrases like

    Kuznets curves
    Duverger’s Law
    abortion evictionism
    free rider problem
    club goods
    Tiebout sorting
    free variables in libertarian theory
    Euthyphro dilemma
    Pigovian taxes
    Nash-Cournot equilibrium
    Kaldor-Hicks efficiency
    moral hazard
    negative externalities
    natural monopoly
    Trolley Problem
    land value tax
    public choice theory
    geolibertarian
    Pareto optimality
    Prisoner’s Dilemma
    Allais paradox
    Coase theorem
    asymmetric information
    Arrow’s theorem
    Green tax shift
    corporate personhood

    The 2008 Platform Committee has a pretty diverse and intelligent group of people on it, and I think that shows in the quality of the language we’ve sifted and rescued from a dozen past platforms.

  56. Tom Says:

    Anarchist are just the pathetic tools of the real statis.

    No progress towards freedom at all cost. That’s what they really want.

    Demoralize, disrupt and create fear. Those are their tactics.

    The list is growing and becoming more and more clear who they are.

  57. LifeMember Says:

    Mr. Knapp, Jose C. and Old Whig,

    Thank you for restoring my faith in the LP a little bit.

  58. Bill Woolsey Says:

    Many libertarians have seen their role as describing the ideal libertarian soiciety.

    And, many libertarians believe that each aspect of such a society must be deduced from some simple principle. Generally, the nonagression principle and private property rights.

    Few LP Presidential candidates have campaigned in this way. From looking at her website, I don’t think Ruwart is atypical.

    But, there are candidates who have written things on “the libertarian philosophy” Ruwart is one.

    As long as the campaign is not a threat, I doubt “the media” will pay much attention to anything she says, much less dredge up her efforts to describe how thorny issues will be resolved in an ideal libertarian society.

    I do think it suggests that she would be a poor VP for Barr. If he is even perceived as a serious threat to McCain, it would be used.

    Anyway, I think it is not surprising that most of the posts on this thread is about how to deal with this issue.

    My view is that it should not be dealt with. Status quo and no proposal for change in the context of the 2008 election for President. If libertarian scholars want to deal with it.. fine.

    It my opinion that there are many more pressing issues than the injustice of legal punishment of a 17 year old for an affair with a 14 year old. And things go downhill from there.

  59. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Susan,

    Thanks for helping me to clarify my shorthand, which most readers would likely have gotten. Child porn is both NOT OK and should be illegal.

    If that makes me a statist, so be it. Hold high the right to make and participate in child porn all you want, but this one is a close second to the private nuke rights view that some atomistic anarcho-capitalists espouse.

    Provocative, interesting views. Not mine, limited as I am.

    Politics is far more like poetry than physics, and this child porn stanza does not ring true…for me, and I suspect for most of humankind.

  60. LifeMember Says:

    This does not fit on a bumper sticker, will not be asked by a reporter, or be on the mind of a typical voter:

    “Is it morally acceptable for a community to use a democratic process of majority (but not universal) assent to legislate a uniform rule embedding an assumption that the ability to give informed sexual consent is a function of age?”

    This will: Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?

    If she were to become our nominee, any credible Libertarian candidate in the country would be assaulted with questions about child molestation, child porn and the like.

    I will even take that further, saying I’m tempted to write and ask for her to withdraw her candidacy. If she is even a front runner, this will be an issue.

    Please write her and ask for her to withdraw for the sake of other Libertarian candidates. I think I will.

  61. Tom Says:

    Lifer I wouldn’t jump to quick on Knapps bandwagon. Last night he was defending the Ruwart kiddie porn position like it was his own. (different thread) She’s his bud remember?

    talk about flip flopping. Knapp says, “However the more I think about it the more it “might” be best to go with the American way.”

    How nice of you Tom.

    Most of these morons don’t have children and it shows.

  62. LifeMember Says:

    You are being unreasonable. You ask a question whose premises the people you want to get an answer from reject. When they try to patiently explain this to you, you complain they are not cooperating.

    Have you stopped beating your wife?

    Is this question a better one for anarchists: Do you support the elimination of all government laws, including those which protect property rights, outlaw murder and rape, protect the right to act in self defense and the prohibit full grown adults from having sexual relations with very young children?

  63. David Gaines Says:

    This whole brouhaha is exactly why I left the Libertarian Party and it is exactly why, when exposed to deep scrutiny, any Libertarian presidential candidate who follows this philosophy to its logical conclusion is going to be, essentially, made into a laughingstock. I’ll never forget Ron Paul’s squirmy hemming and hawing during a TV interview a few months ago when he was asked to give a yes or no answer as to whether he advocated abolishing Medicare. And that doesn’t even come CLOSE to the caving in of the Libertarian Party THIS reasoning would produce if someone presented it on a nationwide TV broadcast.

    The one libertarian maxim with which I still agree, from Dr. Peter Breggin, is that in this country children are treated like adults and adults are treated like children. Children are NOT adults. We can argue about the appropriate age at which to make the conversion from a legal standpoint, but virtually everybody agrees that there ought to be an age, period.

    As for Susan Hogarth’s gem {{ no law in history has ever stopped a bullet, and for darn sure no law has ever stopped a person who preys on children. }}:

    I’ve always admired the zero-sum-game, veins-are-bulging absolutes with which libertarians make their arguments regarding laws. I don’t think it would be that difficult to cite the numerous statutes that have made it essentially impossible in numerous cases for certain bullets to enter certain people’s brains, because obtaining the device that uses said bullets was rendered impossible. Or the countless children (we’ll never know, will we?) who were NOT preyed upon because of certain laws that made it so difficult to do so that it was either not worth the effort or the person was deterred because of the risk involved.

  64. Tom Says:

    Hograth is no libertarian. She just hides under our label. She’s a kiddie porn apologiest! God bless her to pieces.

  65. Jeremy Young Says:

    Tom Knapp, I think your guy Kubby just got new life breathed into his campaign. Am I right?

    LifeMember: Yes. But since I’m not a libertarian, that doesn’t help you much.

  66. stopdrugwar Says:

    I am an anarchist but I realize there is a difference between possible and damned near impossible. There is little point, IMHO, in being a political party if we are going to squander our energy on unwinable battles.

    Mary Ruwart was unelectible before the brewhaha about her principled stand on child pornography. So if we’re going with Ruwart, nothing has changed. Our goal has to be modest because Ruwart, much as I love her and agree with her positions, is going to be almost as ignored by the media and electorate as Badnarik.

    So waht is our goal in running a presidential candidate? winning the election? Nope. Winning hearts, minds and new members? Yeah. Helping downline candidates get votes? Yeah. Winning threshhold vote totals that get us ballot status? Yeah.

    Who best accomplishes these goals? IMHO, it’s Bob Barr. That’s who I’m voting for. Should Ruwart, Kubby or WAR win, I’m still busting tail to get them votes and coverage but we just our making our job harder.

  67. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Quoth the Tom who doesn’t use a last name:

    “Lifer I wouldn’t jump to quick on Knapps bandwagon. Last night he was defending the Ruwart kiddie porn position like it was his own.”

    Actually, no, I linked to an article I wrote some time ago, which defends a VERY different position than that imputed to Ruwart in the brief excerpt under discussion.

    “talk about flip flopping. Knapp says, ‘However the more I think about it the more it “might” be best to go with the American way.’

    “How nice of you Tom.”

    Thank you very much. Of course, the American way is presumption of innocence and a requirement that a prosecutor prove his case. Drawing a number out of a hat and forcing juries to treat that number, rather than the evidence, as proof that an alleged victim was incompetent to consent is about as far from the American way as it’s possible to get.

    Jeremy,

    You write:

    “Tom Knapp, I think your guy Kubby just got new life breathed into his campaign. Am I right?”

    The conventional wisdom seems to be that if Dr. Ruwart tanks, the main beneficiary of her dispersing support will be Kubby—especially if she takes Barr down with her, which would likely be the case. I wouldn’t bet on her tanking, however.

  68. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Quoth Bob Capozzi:

    “Child porn is both NOT OK and should be illegal.”

    OK, so please explain why you oppose conveying restitution to victims of child molestation by awarding them property rights in the graphic records of said crime.

    Is it that you hate children generally, or that you hate victimized children in particular, or that you hate child molestors enough that you’re willing to do further harm their victims because it makes you feel better, or something else?

  69. Fred C. Says:

    “especially if she takes Barr down with her, which would likely be the case.”

    I don’t get it. Clarify, please?

  70. Jeremy Young Says:

    Tom Knapp, thanks for your response. I think I missed something. What would Ruwart’s comments have to do with Barr?

  71. Stefan Says:

    LifeMember: Under no circumstances would I not refuse to support laws which protect young children from sexual predators, very much quite the contrary! I would favor very strict laws, and personally I would say 18 – 21, not 16, but that is only me. The effects of such a traumatic experience on a child constitute a sort of psychiological murder.

    Fred: thank you for the reference, I will have a look. With context I also meant the issue Stephen Gordon has mentioned: “she’s attempting to apply a “short answers to tough questions” approach to a question that can’t be handled with a short answer”. But one can still say one would not have answered in the same way. I do not know if Mary has children or whether she thought too “academic in isolation of the real world” on this? She has mentioned child pornography, not child prostitution as well (reason refer to statutary rape). The question is where do you draw the line, and what do you understand under “child performers”, which does not include rape, in any case not necessarily? Pictoral exploitation of a child could also be seen as very harmful to the child in some way. The answer is indeed too short, not mentioned. She should have qualified the definition of the age of the child, as leaving it open and lead to a lot of misunderstanding and damage.

    Does she tend to be anarchist in her other writing, on other subjects? We need this “context” also to understand better how she is reasoning. Perhaps she used the wrote words/formulation.

    I oppose any anarchism, the difference toward libertarianism is very clear. The government cannot prescribe a good moral behavior, what people should believe. In this case of child abuse, the liberty-right of the child is clearly infringed and should be acted upon. Mary Ruwart would have to clear the issue up soon, hopefully satisfactorily. My arguments was that Weigel should first have discussed Ruwart’s reaction to this before writing an article, especially as he has not discussed other issues of Mary and does not know much about her. I can fully understand that Stephen Gordon had to respond to reason’s article and post something and is handled very fair and balanced.
    http://www.votemary2008.com/node/49

    With the context of the FLDS - where having intercourse with a child would be seen as marriage by the sect, but this would be against the law and the law takes precedence. The way the law is excersized is also important and can be complicated. In Africa there are even men with Aids that think you can be cured if you have intercourse with a virgin, and then often a minor, even a 3 year old child.

    One wonders whether she writes anything on this theme in her book about healing and whether this book could provide any clarity.

  72. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Fred,

    If age of consent is going to be an issue, then it’s going to be an issue—and Barr’s got a problem with that issue, insofar as he takes “no position” on whether or not it is proper to sentence an 18-year-old high school student to prison for ten years for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old (nearly 16) classmate.

    Hey, I’m all for discussing the issues—and if we have to discuss this issue with Barr in the spotlight, I guaran-damn-tee you that that discussion will include photographs of the 18-year-old, the 15-year-old … and Bob Barr standing at a podium in front of a Confederate flag.

  73. Sean Scallon Says:

    Oh I see. So when the Libertarian Convention rolls round next month the great issue dividing Libertarians and influencing their votes for their presidential nominee will not be Iraq, the War on Terror, rising prices, the weak dollar, the Federal Reserve, not even deciminializing marijuana or legalizing prostitution.

    No, the great issue that will be discussed is the consentual age of child sex.

    Will there be barf bags given out on the convention floor?

  74. Stefan Says:

    Bill Woolsey: totally agree with your thought/statements. The media would like to “expose” such issues and misuse them. Ruwart should just have a single sentence short explanation/clarification ready about it, in case she is asked. I personally think along a Barr-Ruwart line and concentrating on the main issues. I am sure this issue is also the last issue Mary would think about addressing in her campaign. She may be asked about it in a radio-interview, and then the issue should directly be dealt with without any need or use to ask it again. The sun will set over it.

    Personally I think classical liberalism, libertarianism is a philosophy that allows views that differs vastly from your own, but there are also parameters and a context which should be taken into account. Government cannot prescribe to society norms, but it also cannot act in a vacuum, it should act with moral institutions like church and other institutions. There should be a relative separation between church (or religious institutions) and state, but not an absolute one. Society is not perfect and we have seen the Catholic church with regard to some priest have not set the right example. Nonetheless the family, religious institutions etc. should set the moral example for society how to live.
    It is about positive freedom, e.g. freedom to, and not negative freedom (freedom from). Society cannot function without values, which make the anarchist view of the state useless, there are necessary restrictions on us, often for our own good.

    With regard to the moral problem of child pornography, the problem cannot only be dealt with by law, but also by the moral example set, by religious and human values.

  75. ElfNinosMom Says:

    LifeMember: Absolutely, I support laws which protect young children from sexual predators.

    Mary Ruwart says some other strange things in that particular book, incidentally. For example, on page 41, she says

    Children have the same rights (and responsibilities) as adults, but normally exercise them with the help of a loving parent or guardian because they are physically incapable of assuming them at birth.

    For example, young people have the responsibility to support themselves, but parents usually do this job for a couple decades. In return, parents expect children to accept the ground rules for living in the family unit and the consequences of violating them (e.g., “You’ll be grounded if you don’t come home on time.”)

    Parents who want input into the sexual or other activities of their children, must cultivate a relationship that supports such confidences. Parents who lobby for the government to regulate teenage abortion might find their time better spent in the pursuit of a closer bond with their offspring.”

    My first question, as a mother, is, “Has Mary Ruwart ever even seen a child?” I cannot help but wonder, because according to her statement, “normally” parents support their children, yet children always have the responsibility to support themselves.

    I guess this is especially true if the little tyke wants to retain her right to have wild sex with 50-year-old men, without her parents having any right whatsoever to know what their child is doing unless she chooses to tell them herself – after all, with rights come responsibilities!

    So, what happens if the parents do not or cannot work? In Ruwartistan, the child must go to work. I can see a line of toddlers already, crawling on down at the break of dawn to Ye Ole Sweatshop, to do their part to ensure their family can afford Pull-Ups and the occasional jar of Gerber’s. They have a responsibility to support themselves, after all!

    It is no wonder that libertarians are viewed as wackjobs, if this is the kind of tripe which is presented as serious libertarian thought.

  76. Jeff Wartman Says:

    Elfninosmom, as usual, with the interjection of logic and common sense into the debate.

    How dare you! =)

  77. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Sean,

    Obviously most LP members would rather this not be the central question upon which the nomination is decided. That brings up the question of why it became an issue at all.

    The issue was initially brought up by one of the candidates.

    That candidate did not bring it up thinking that it would help him secure the presidential nomination, because, not being an idiot, he’s known from the beginning of his campaign that he has no chance whatsoever of securing the presidential nomination.

    That leaves three possibilities:

    – He wanted to take the frontrunner down with him in a last fit of jealous rage; or
    – He wanted to damage the party; or
    – He thinks that the issue is one which deserves a general airing at a time when it will get lots of attention in the party; or
    – He wanted to protect the party from what he perceived as a fatal weakness in the frontrunner; or
    – He thinks (perhaps with good reason, perhaps just speculatively) that he might be rewarded with a VP endorsement by the nominee if he drags the frontrunner down and out.

    Personally I discount the first three possibilities. George doesn’t seem to be a “jealous rage” type, I don’t think he hates the party, and I doubt that he cares so much about the issue that he considers the height of presidential nomination campaign season the best time for an all-out discussion of it.

    Protecting the party? Maybe. He has a record of taking actions intended to do so.

    On the other hand, his broaching of the issue followed by Root’s pathetic call for Ruwart to withdraw looks at first blush like it might be a desperate, ill-conceived and poorly executed tag team operation undertaken by a new and unwieldy partnership.

  78. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Er, five possibilities. Sorry about that.

  79. Fred C. Says:

    Tom, that seems a bit odd. Barr pretty clearly stated “I take no position, not being sufficiently familiar with the facts of the case“. I don’t know what you’re hoping to achieve by calling Barr out on not making his own verdict in a case he wasn’t a juror in. Or what the confederate flag has to do with the age of consent or child porn? Clarify again, please?

  80. Justin Grover Says:

    One would hope that it was to protect the party.

    Most of the candidates seem as though they are mostly in favor of mostly helping the party. ;)

  81. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Chuck Moulton says (before moving on to legal issues about post-pubescent late teens and technical issues about possession of pictures and videotapes): “Ah, the old children’s rights vs. paternalism (or “parental rights”) debate… I fall squarely on the side of children’s rights and I don’t care if that’s unpopular. The Libertarian Party removed the children’s rights position from its platform in 1996.”

    Mary Ruwart said: “Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have
    the right to make that decision as well, even if it’s distasteful to us personally.”

    Chuck, I think you are missing the big picture here. At issue is whether “children” (a term which often implies and definitely includes pre-pubescents) have the “right” to make that decision.

  82. Tom Says:

    copied from Reason’s blog.

    “you understand there’s a difference between a sentient being and a fucking plant, right?—Similarly, there’s a difference between a sentient being and a video/picture of one.”

    I possess a plant – the plant has no rights, and neither did the soil, the water, the sunlight, and the closet it sits in. Thus, nothing that intersects with the interests of the state.

    I possess a video of a sentient being. The video camera, hard drive, firewire cable have no rights, but the sentient being does. And the sentient being before a certain point in its lifecycle, does not have the ability to give informed consent for one to take a sexually explicit video of it – any such video is therefore a violation of the sentient beings personal sovereignty. Thus, the existence of this video does intersect with the interests of the state, because the state’s (sole) purpose is to protect the inalienable rights of its component sentient beings.

    And, as a prebuttal, I generally take a hard line in that human beings post uterus are the only sentient objects in the current known universe. Nothing else has rights.”

  83. Stephen Gordon Says:

    With context I also meant the issue Stephen Gordon has mentioned: “she’s attempting to apply a “short answers to tough questions” approach to a question that can’t be handled with a short answer”.

    I simply want to make it clear that Thomas@Knappster made that comment, not me—although I think Knapp is correct in that portion of his observation.

    Answering questions in a few short words about complex issues which produce visceral emotional reactions from people is suicidal, at best.

    When my wife (or any other woman) asks “Do I look good in this dress?”, I don’t use the semantically pure approach and I’m sometimes even dishonest. My answer is always: “Yes, dear” or “You look great in that dress.”

    To answer otherwise would reduce my likelihood of ever contributing further to the human gene pool.

    Similarly, to answer LifeMember’s question (Do you support laws which protect young children from sexual predators?), my answer is simply “Yes.”

  84. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Fred,

    You write:

    “Tom, that seems a bit odd. Barr pretty clearly stated ‘I take no position, not being sufficiently familiar with the facts of the case’. I don’t know what you’re hoping to achieve by calling Barr out on not making his own verdict in a case he wasn’t a juror in. Or what the confederate flag has to do with the age of consent or child porn? Clarify again, please?”

    Sure. Barr thought himself sufficiently familiar enough with the facts of the case to write an entire column on it in which he decried the 18-year-old’s positive treatment in the press. Then he tried to avoid the issue of whether or not the sentence was just by pleading “unfamiliarity with the facts of the case.” Nope. Ain’t gonna let him have it both ways.

    What does the Confederate flag have to do with his evasion of the issue? I guess the readers can judge that for themselves when they see a photo of the (black male) alleged perpetrator, the (white female ) alleged “victim,” and Bob Barr addressing the Council of Conservative Citizens (formerly known as the White Citizens Council) on a stage in front of a Confederate flag.

  85. Wesley J. Pinchot Says:

    Mary unfortunately was caught being less tactful than usual. But her heart IS in the right place. When she’s on her game, as she usually is, she can explain how principled libertarianism is THE moral way.

    I imagine her saying something like:

    Of course children should be protected from exploitation; so should everybody. We don’t disagree on that. We only differ on how to determine when it has occurred.

    When children are bullied, or when their innocence about the adult consequences of sex is taken advantage of—that’s a crime. This also applies to child-like adults, such as the mentally disabled.

    When the occasional teen-ager really does understand the consequences and enters an adult relationship that they can handle, that’s not a crime.

    The person’s age may strongly suggest the answer, but it’s maturity and mental capacity that make the difference. Courts judge this all the time, for people with mental retardation or illness.

    Next question.

  86. Wesley J. Pinchot Says:

    So I do support a legal process which protects young children from sexual predators. I believe Mary Ruwart does too.

  87. Justin Grover Says:

    “The person’s age may strongly suggest the answer, but it’s maturity and mental capacity that make the difference. Courts judge this all the time, for people with mental retardation or illness.”

    Mr. Pinchot:

    But that is not what she said. This is not an off the cuff answer, this is in a book, published by the lady in question.

    Furthermore, a tactful clarification on her part does not prevent it being used against other party candidates.

    The only way to prevent this from being an issue that will dog us is if she is not our nominee, or better yet, not a candidate. Which is sad, because she in general seems both eloquent and intelligent.

  88. G.E. Says:

    Gatties – The “shot” at Steven was just to point out that everyone is up in arms over a philosophically consistent but politically incorrect statement by one candidate, while the proprietor of this blog WORKS for a candidate who has caused deaths and the destruction of property at the hands of the state. There is no comparison. I don’t care if that annoys you. You annoy me!

  89. G.E. Says:

    Lifemember – Not true. I did answer the questions in your other thread, which were not the same one(s) you ask here. Yes, I support laws that protect children from sexual predators—namely, I support laws against initiation of force (children cannot consent) and the sale or possession of media that depict actual (as opposed to synthesized) acts of aggression. I have made the libertarian case for this above in my second comment. And I still support Mary!

  90. Wesley J. Pinchot Says:

    All the candidates have issues that dog them. Mary’s tougher than she looks. Bring it on.

  91. Justin Grover Says:

    “All the candidates have issues that dog them. Mary’s tougher than she looks. Bring it on.”

    Respectfully, while I agree that all candidates have issues that dog them, I don’t think that we all need Mary’s barking at us as well.

    Certainly not in the form of “How can you claim to be qualified to be AG when your party supports child porn?” questions.

  92. Gene Trosper Says:
    1. Wesley J. Pinchot Says:
      April 24th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    So I do support a legal process which protects young children from sexual predators. I believe Mary Ruwart does too.

    ***********************************

    Well, Mary better make up her mind then.

    After all, what is a “sexual predator” but a person that seeks sex with someone that either society does not approve of or someone who wishes to not have sex, but is forced to anyway.

    Obviously, rapists are sexual predators and rape is a crime since it violates someone’s rights. But what about some 40 year old who has the hots for a 9 year old? In Mary’s world, the 9 year old has the right to decide if he/she will have sex with that 40 year old. In Mary Ruwart’s world, that pedophile is not a sexual predator.

  93. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    As a sidebar to the main debate (whether Ruwart’s position is right or wrong, etc.), I do want to address the matter of negative MSM attention.

    To put it bluntly, I just don’t see it happening. Correctly or incorrectly (I think incorrectly), the MSM assumes that Libertarian candidates “take” votes from Republicans—in this case, McCain. That means that the most likely attack venue would be Fox News, which probably wouldn’t consider bringing the matter up, because Ruwart’s simple answer would likely be something along the lines of:

    I agree that this is an important subject, and I hope you’ll put someone across from me with knowledge of it so that we can discuss it fully. The Republican Party has numerous qualified spokespersons to choose from. How about Matthew Joseph Elliot? Or Donald Fleischman? Or Ted Klaudt? Or Joseph Monteleone, Jr.? Or Jeffrey Nielsen? Or Patrick Lee McGuire? Or … drag list out as long as they’re willing to listen to the list of Republican child molestors.

  94. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Time to flip the argument.

    Nowadays it is possible to create “virtual” child porn where the depiction is a child but is in fact nothing more than pixelations. It’s considered illegal, but there is no consensual act or exploitation, either, or even a “victim”.

    Applying that to Dr. Ruwart’s passage, we find that it does not apply to either coerced acts (first paragraph) and it does not apply to consensual acts (second paragraph). The third paragraph points out that if it is outlawed, price rises as does the taboo demand (both true), but in the virtual case the incentive increase for exploitation does not increase, so at best it’s not applicable either.

    So there is a case where there can be the child porn but no consent or exploitation, and that curdles the argument. It also points out that the question and answer at issue are not what everybody thinks it is.

    Keep in mind that the question that started that section on page 43 was, “How can a libertarian against child pronography?” The answers in the first two paragraphs deal with the either-or of consensusl and non-consensual acts. The third paragraph actually answers the question.

    The point is that the single quote by itself is out of context. It was the second paragrpah of a two-paragraph preface to answering the original question. The answer to the question was that the act of outlawing child porn creates the high-price and high-incentive market for it, in the same way it happens for gambling, drugs, booze, adult sex, and any other taboo activity (according to whatever the social norm happens to be). In other words, the answer to the question of how to argue against child porn laws is based in the market regulations and not on the basis of a child’s rights. You have to read the whole thing. That’s exactly why the issue of pre-pubesence or not is not addressed, because for a free-market-driven solution, it doesn’t matter a whit. This is further illustrated in the immediately previous question:

    “Q: Are children treated special, so that society would have to create laws that restrict children’s access to items such as cigarettes and pornography, or are there no such laws and all such decisions are left to the parent?

    A: A libertarian society would not have laws that discriminate on the basis of age. (emphasis added) Parents who were concerned about to sales to minors, however, should be able to convince store owners to establish their own age requirement. After all, the parents are generally better customers than the children! Businesses tend to favor the wishes of their best clientele.

    Owners who actively encouraged sales of cigarettes or pornography to minors could be effectively boycotted in communities that felt strongly about such issues.”

    See it? Market-driven solution to the porn question independent of age. Prosecution of those that violate the rights of children. In black-and-white.

    And yes, I’m a parent.

  95. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Typo correction: It should have read the question as being, “How can a libertarian argue against child pornogrpahy?” The “argue” was omitted by mistake.

  96. Wesley J. Pinchot Says:

    It’s not a matter of anarchism vs. statism. The sexual exploitation of children was legal, in some circumstances, in many ancient states. Hell, slavery was legal.

    That 9 year old has the RIGHT, but in the case of every 9 year old I’ve ever met, not the CAPACITY to make a mature informed decision to engage in sex. Any normal 40 year old should understand this, and know that the 40 year old will be held accountable, not the 9 year old.

    If Mary wasn’t looking at it that way before, I’m sure she will now. She is NOT for the exploitation of anybody. Remember, she started out as a bleeding-heart liberal. Her character didn’t change; her understanding of principled morality only deepened when she realized that government doesn’t have more rights or wisdom than people do.

  97. Jose C. Says:

    “The issue was initially brought up by one of the candidates.

    That candidate did not bring it up thinking that it would help him secure the presidential nomination, because, not being an idiot, he’s known from the beginning of his campaign that he has no chance whatsoever of securing the presidential nomination.”

    It is time to set the record strait. The facts are that George Phillies did not start this controversy. On TPW Ruwarchy! (who ever this person is) started this by commenting on it on discusions that were being held about George Phillies’ defense proposal. Once Ruwarchy! brought this up others commented on it and the issue exploded on the Internet.

    I do not know what happened on other blogs – I do not know if someone else brought this issue up but I doubt it was George Phillies. He commented on it after the fact. This is not wrong because I suspect the other candidates will have to comment on it now.

    In an upcoming debate between those seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for President the moderator will say, “Ms. Ruwart there is a controversy concerning your position on children’s rights. Would you care to clarify your views on this?”

    The other candidates will have to respond.

  98. Fred C. Says:

    “Barr thought himself sufficiently familiar enough with the facts of the case to write an entire column on it in which he decried the 18-year-old’s positive treatment in the press. Then he tried to avoid the issue of whether or not the sentence was just by pleading “unfamiliarity with the facts of the case.” Nope. Ain’t gonna let him have it both ways.”

    Teaches me not to read and comment on the fly. That makes sense and forgive the blatant retardation.

    Playing the race card on it seems pretty jacked up, but of course someone will do it. When they’re desperate enough. For now, I’ll stick to worrying about the matter at hand, rather than the half dozen attempts to deflect this onto Barr for some reason.

  99. ElfNinosMom Says:

    Tom (Knapp), I honestly cannot even imagine in my wildest dreams (or nightmare, perhaps) a tag team operation between George Phillies and Wayne Allyn Root. Those two men are so different, they are like night and day. While I do think Root probably is that devious, I know for a fact that George is not.

    I can’t go into details due to confidentiality concerns, but I was recently faced with a situation wherein I could have dealt some very serious damage to a major LP presidential candidate (not Ruwart). However, for my own reasons I had some ethical concerns, so I sought George’s counsel, along with the counsel of several other people.

    Even though it definitely was in George’s best interests for me to do it, he still strongly advised against it on ethical grounds. Interestingly, others said I should do it, and a few were actively urging me on. I decided to go with George’s advice, given that he had nothing to gain and a lot to lose by advising against it. So thanks to George Phillies, that particular candidate dodged a proverbial bullet.

    I therefore know for a fact that George would never stoop to the level of sabotaging someone else’s campaign. He had the chance to do it, without lifting a finger himself and without worrying about ever eve