by David McElroy
Every fringe movement attracts crazy people. Libertarians are no exception. The married couple who murdered two police officers and another person in Las Vegas over the weekend are a perfect example. They’re not people to embrace or defend. They’re nuts whose actions damage the cause of individual freedom.
I’ve written a couple of times before about people I don’t want to be associated with, such as conspiracy cranks with no interest in facts and those who are just plain bigots. There are a lot of very intelligent, sane, interesting and responsible people who have come to libertarian or anarchist positions for moral reasons, but there are also people such as Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller who are mentally unstable people who are looking for an outlet for their anger at the world.
Many of us want to change the world. Many of us see a coercive system of government as immoral and standing in the way of individuals being free to live under the rules they might voluntarily choose. But changing the world in a positive way is about influencing hearts and minds through art, ideas and culture, not about killing people and tearing down institutions. You don’t change the world by adopting the tactics of an oppressor.
In the last couple of days, I’ve seen some libertarians and anarchists defending the Millers’ actions. I’ve seen others who won’t quite defend their murders, but they say the killings weren’t murder and that killing police is justified simply because they are the people who enforce the immoral rules of the state. And I’ve seen a new tack on Tuesday in which some people are trying really hard to say the Millers were government plants or maybe they didn’t really exist. I’ve been really surprised at some of the denial I’ve seen.
Many people are willing to consider what you have to say as long as you’re discussing ideas and making a moral and pragmatic case for freedom. But killing people who aren’t threatening you at the moment is a dividing line between discussion and thuggery. Nobody takes you seriously once you cross this line. Once you cross that line, you also make it very difficult for others to hear anyone with a vaguely similar message. And you no longer have any moral authority once you’ve passed that line.