Thursday, May 19, 2011

Barnes v. State Exposes the Division Between Law-and-Order Conservatives and Libertarian Conservatives; A Test for Determining the Difference

Barnes v. State, which holds that there is no longer a right for a homeowner to resist an unlawful police entry into the person's home, has exposed a deep division among conservatives.  First, there are the law-and-order conservatives. Those conservatives emphasize security and believe that giving law enforcement officials more authority and discretion makes the world a safer place.  Second, you have libertarian conservatives, those who emphasize liberty and believe that giving law enforcement more authority and discretion leads to the abuse of that authority.

I definitely fall into the latter.  I believe in the quote often attributed,m correctly or incorrectly, to Benjamin Franklin:  "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If you want to figure out which camp of conservatives you fall into ask yourself the following questions:
1.  Do you believe that a homeowner should have the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into the person's home?

2.  Do you believe that sobriety or drug checkpoints should be permitted giving police officers the right to stop cars without probable cause?

3.  Do you think police officers should be permitted to pull someone over for allegedly not wearing a seat belt?

4.  Do you think there should be criminal public intoxication laws that let police officers  arrest a person simply based solely on the officers' observation that the person is intoxicated while in a public place?

5.  Do you think police officers should be able to seize property which they suspect has been used in a crime even though the owners of the property are never charged with a crime?

6.  For those of you who know about the case, do you think Fred Sanders had the right to defend himself and his home when Matt Faber and another officer proceeded to knock in the door of his apartment when Sanders refused to talk to them?  (If you don't know the case, you can discard this question.)
The Libertarian Conservative answers are as follows:  Yes, No, No, No, No, Yes.  Libertarian Conservatives will almost always answer as I outlined.  Law-and-Order Conservatives might hedge on one or two at the most.

Finally, I would point out there are Law-and-Order Liberals and Libertarian Liberals.  One would think liberals would be more libertarian on the above issues, but I'm not sure that's true at all.  Some of the biggest defenders of giving law enforcement officials more power are liberal Democrats.

3 comments:

Pete Boggs said...

Rather than reasonably resist in an instance of unlawful entry why not make a citizens' arrest of the offender, then either call for back up or direct them to chauffeur said citizen to the station where a report would be filed?

Ben said...

Libertarianism is not a subset of conservatism, but quite the opposite. Conservatives are no more natural allies of libertarians than liberals are.

Cato said...

I'm not from Indiana. Growing up, it was always the Democrats who were authoritarians, finding a way to control every facet of your life.

The Republicans seemed like an alternative, as they were always opposing the Democrats. The problem was that they never got elected. I became a Republican, hoping that electing them would see a rollback in state power. When the Republicans ultimately got power, things only continued to get worse. Indeed, much worse, much faster.

When I got to Indiana, I learned why. Here I found Republicans in their natural habitat, capable of acting freely and not having to be embarrassed at being Republicans. These Republicans were willing to control every facet of your life, as well, but also wanted to intrude on the moral and spiritual spheres. Worse, Republicans worshiped the cops and defended every instance of police murder, brutality and malfeasance. The freedom payoff never arrived. In fairness, this recent session did have some great gun laws.

Having seen the uninhibited range of both parties, I'll take whichever party has the fewest number of law-and-order demons, as these people hold the absolute most noxious beliefs and are fellow travelers with the most genocidal tyrants.

A people cannot be free unless the armed agents of the state tiptoe among the citizens, speak meekly to them, and only rarely intrude on their activities or become visible to them.

Any person who would bar you from fighting back all intruders from your door is no true friend of Liberty.