Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nobody asked but …

I am late for MLK’s birthday’s anniversary.  It happened a week ago according to a record source I have seen.  MLK’s real birthdate occurred on January 15, 1929.  Every year we are reminded of the contributions that Martin Luther King, Jr. made to our society.

What I fear now is that we are doing it wrong.  We gather in public places to observe this holiday, but we treat it as though this man was principally a patriot and his campaign was to elevate a noble characteristic among the citizens of the USA.  His real hope was to correct a grievous set of errors made by the original founders and their hand-picked constituents.  Let us never forget, that MLK wanted society reorganized to fit the formulation that the USA had been officially lying about for 200 years or more.

I suppose that the thing that galls me most is that politicians hi-jacked civil rights, and made the story about politicians, not the Golden Rule.

A few years ago someone said to me that Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a libertarian because he chose the state as his main tool for setting things right.  Malarkey!  There was likely no way that MLK could have achieved what he did while keeping the politicos at bay.

Reverend King never once asked for the state’s intervention.  Ironically until the old white boys club saw the handwriting on the wall, “political glory,” they stonewalled MLK and his constituents at every turn.  Then the worms turned.  The politicos were responsible for the bandwagon, and the self-congratulations.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was responsible for the conscience of America.

— Kilgore Forelle

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The Benefits of My Evangelical Upbringing

I grew up in a pretty conservative Midwestern protestant situation. I was homeschooled and church was a big part of our social life. There are plenty of things to mock and joke about in this milieu (and I do!) but there are some under-appreciated benefits.

There are benefits to not getting into sex, drugs, and partying as a young person, but that’s not what I’ve appreciated most. As time has passed, I’ve seen other benefits I didn’t think about at the time. I took them for granted and assumed they were omnipresent.

Those benefits are philosophical. Epistemological, not aesthetic.

While not ubiquitous in Christian upbringings, the particular niche of Evangelical Protestantism I came up in was very focused on intensive Bible study, theology, and examining questions of meaning, free will, good and evil. There was an expectation that you should be able to logically prove every belief, examine arguments against it, and wrestle until you had coherent, non-contradictory ideas. Discussing claims made in sermons and questioning their accuracy, alignment with scripture, or logical consistency was normal.

There was utmost respect for reason and analytic philosophy. Difficult scriptures were studied in depth, arguments on all sides examined, original Greek and Hebrew checked, historical context learned, and commentaries consulted.

I always enjoyed this. I liked studying the Bible and various theologians. I loved their debates and disagreements. I was fascinated by questions of fate vs. free will.

There was a sense in which we Christians always felt the need to, “Be ready always to give an answer for the hope that you have”. You didn’t just believe stuff, it was incumbent on you to really examine it and understand it, and be able to explain it even to antagonists. I remember diving into apologetics and preparing to be attacked from all sides by classmates and professors when I took college philosophy classes.

I was disappointed.

Everyone in the class was an atheist (this was the very early 2000’s, before the resurgence of spiritual interest common today), but reflexively so. It was a default setting. No one had any arguments. None of them seemed to have examined anything. And it didn’t seem to trouble them. I was looking for some fights! I wanted to challenge and be challenged. It was as if everyone – even those wanting to major in philosophy – didn’t much care to examine the most fundamental questions of being and existence and morality and meaning. They would laugh at or dismiss ideas sometimes, but freeze up if asked to explain.

This was a real shock to me.

I had one TA who asked any theists to raise their hand. I was the only one. Some people snickered. He said, “Don’t laugh. All the best analytic philosopher were theists. Aquinas would run circles around most of you. Do you know why? Have you engaged this stuff?” He was an atheist moving towards agnosticism, but he had mad respect for anyone who did good philosophy (I later discovered he became a Bhuddist and quit academia. He was my favorite philosophy professor, so I’m not surprised). There was one other philosophy prof who was a Christian, and everyone was afraid to debate him. I think he dreamed in airtight symbolic logic.

I didn’t realize at the time that the intellectual tradition I’d inherited in all those Bible studies and debates and books was straight from Aristotle. The more I studied the history of philosophy, the more I realized I wasn’t the one who was wacky or out of step. Questions of God and religion had been taken the most seriously by the most serious thinkers. The whole Protestant project was, in a way, a big philosophical “eff you” to those who said don’t think for yourself, just act out the rituals. It was a celebration of reason. (This is not to say Orthodoxy and Catholicism do not retain a lot of sound philosophy, or that Protestantism always does. All religion tends to have interesting ideas at its core, and devolve into a less rigorous social movement subject to capture as it grows).

I often wonder how people go about their lives acting on important core ideas and assumptions without seeming to have any interest in or feel any necessity to examine, define, and make logical sense of those ideas and assumptions. Being wrong is one thing. Being uninterested in examining tacit truth claims is another.

I’m not looking down on people who are uninterested in or not conversant in inquiry into these things. I just don’t understand it. And because I value getting to the why of things, I am very grateful that I grew up in an arena that prized the most foundational questions, and expected one to be intellectually and morally accountable for their own beliefs – and comfortable being a bit of an outsider.

I must’ve seemed so weird. An early teen spending hours underlining, cross-referencing, diagramming, checking translations in my Hebrew-Greek keyword Bible, writing arguments and counter-arguments. Fortunately in my social circles, it wasn’t weird at all.

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Fake Credentials

You might have a medical degree and be a doctor. You might be an expert in your field. People might come to you for medical advice and help. Some patients might even get better while you are “caring” for them.

But if you were trained to believe in (and treat) the four humors or that evil spirits cause disease, you aren’t credible as a doctor. Your degree is worthless in the real world of medicine. You’re a fake doctor.

You might have a degree in economics and call yourself an economist. You might be an expert in your field. People might seek your advice on economic matters, and you might have a newspaper column or write scholarly books on the topic. You might even sometimes get an economic prediction right, and you might be rich.

But if you operate on the flawed foundation of Keynesian economics you are basically an expert in humors and evil spirits, not on real-world economics. Your degree or expertise is worthless as a way to understand real-world economics. You’re a fake economist– just like John Maynard Keynes was.

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Democracy: Holy Mob Rule

Holy Pole Quilt isn’t the only vulgar thing considered holy by “American” government supremacists.

Many have joined the international cult of democracy worshippers.

They worship Holy Mob Aggression.

The Holy Hive Mind or the Holy Mindless Mob. However you want to describe it.

Some try to hide this uncomfortable truth by claiming America is a “constitutional representative republic”, not a democracy. This is evidence that many worship the Holy Slave Documents as well.

It’s also a denial of the fact that all republics will devolve into democracies– given time and politics.

But in practice— Right boot, left boot, crushing the throat… what difference is there?

I don’t need to be ruled, nor do I need you to be ruled on “my behalf”. Not by a dictator nor by a dictating mob.

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Mind-Reading? No, Behavior-Reading

You and I may not be able to read minds, but it doesn’t matter. You can usually tell what someone is thinking by what they are doing— their inner thoughts and beliefs become outward acts.

Even in those cases where their behavior conflicts with what they think, you’re better off responding to how they act rather than wondering what they might be thinking. How someone acts is more important than what’s in their mind.

It comes down to this simple truth:

I don’t care what someone believes as long as they act like an anarchist.

Which most people do, most of the time. As long as they don’t try to control, rule, rob, attack, etc. others– including me– that’s what really matters.

And really, isn’t that what everyone– even every statist– wants from others?

I don’t see people behaving as though they like being bullied and robbed, even when that’s what they advocate, politically. That’s because politics is self-contradictory and internally inconsistent. It fails everywhere it is tried, and always has.

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Defending the Castle

My first house was eight-hundred and twenty square feet, in a “working class” neighborhood beyond the city limits at the edge of hundreds of acres of woods.

I was home alone one day. My days off were Thursday and Sunday, so this would have been a Thursday afternoon.

My (at-the-time) wife had the car with her (the other one must have been in the shop) so it looked like no one was home.

I was back in the bedroom and heard the front door open and someone come in. I glanced out the window but the car wasn’t there so it wasn’t my wife getting home early.

I grabbed the .22 rifle sitting in the corner and walked to the living room and the front door.

There, in the middle of the room looking a bit shocked, was a boy of around 10 years old. I wasn’t pointing the rifle at him, but I had it ready and asked what he was doing in my house. He stammered that he was looking for me. I said “Well, here I am. What do you want?

He couldn’t come up with a plausible story and I told him to get out and to never set foot on my property again. As far as I know, he didn’t.

A couple of weeks later I heard that several houses in the neighborhood had been burgled— with TVs being the most commonly stolen object. This kid wasn’t big enough to carry most TVs of the era (mid to late 1980s), but he was big enough to scope out houses for an older sibling or a parent. I was glad I was paying attention and glad I looked scary enough that I didn’t seem worth the risk.

But I did start locking the door when I was home alone.

My yard eventually became scary enough that no one wanted to come near my house, anyway. Not even the meter readers for the electric utility, who told my dad– their boss– that a Satan worshiper lived in that house. They came to this conclusion because there were skulls and strange “ritual objects” in the yard.  It turns out they were scared of my tomahawk block and my sling target (which was a cow skull on a crude tripod). Plus, I didn’t mow except for a narrow strip right around the house (I’ve never believed in mowing our lawns). Whatever works, right?

Some defense is active and some is passive. I support the use of both.

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