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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

February 25th, 2006

This NYT piece about America’s emptiest county starts off with the usual stuff about closed-down schools and vanished churches. Then, without any warning, it segues into a story about Libertarians plotting to take over the county and legalise cannibalism (no, really!).

As they say, read the whole thing.

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  1. avaroo
    February 25th, 2006 at 16:11 | #1

    Texas always seems pretty populated to me, especially any area near the border. I would’ve guessed the emptiest county would have been in North Dakota or Wyoming.

  2. February 25th, 2006 at 16:23 | #2

    That’s a weird piece… Especially with the grand libertarian conspiracy to make everything legal. I wonder if anything like that could happen in Australia.

  3. avaroo
    February 25th, 2006 at 16:35 | #3

    Apparently yes, although who knows how many members the Australian Libertarian Society has.

    http://www.libertarian.org.au/

  4. avaroo
    February 25th, 2006 at 16:47 | #4

    Speaking of Invasion of the Body Snatchers……I didn’t know this happened in Australia as well as in Britain

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/stories/s198380.htm

  5. February 25th, 2006 at 16:55 | #5

    The secretary of the ALS, Alex Robson, is also a lecturer at the ANU. I’ve had him for a couple of courses now.

    Canberra: Two degrees of seperation. :P

  6. Geoff Honnor
    February 25th, 2006 at 17:19 | #6

    Given that the county is part of Texas, I doubt very much that there was even the slightest prospect of the libertarian agenda passing muster in the state legislature in Austin. Unless they were Southern Baptist cannibals, presumably.

    Still, a sheriff named Billy Bud, a bit of western mythology thrown in (Loving was actually a very interesting guy) and NYT readers out in the Hamptons, nibbling on brunch croissants, would have been thoroughly amused.

  7. avaroo
    February 25th, 2006 at 17:33 | #7

    I would think Texas would be huge libertarian country. If not Texas, where would libertarianism go over well?

  8. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2006 at 20:42 | #8

    I believe ALS are associated with the anti-cannibal faction of Libertarianism. I think the pro-cannibals are called paleolibertarians, but maybe they’re just pro-slavery and the pro-cannibals are another group altogether.

    I used to be able to make pretty fine distinctions between different Trotskyist groupuscules, but I’m too old for that kind of thing now.

  9. February 25th, 2006 at 21:05 | #9

    Avaroo: I would have thought that the sparsest county must be in Alaska… until I learnt that Alaska doesn’t have counties.

    Loving County sounds a pretty bustling place when compared to East Pilbara.

  10. avaroo
    February 26th, 2006 at 03:45 | #10

    Down and Out, I was curious what was the least populated US state, so I looked it up. Apparently, it is Wyoming.

    http://www.census.gov/roden/www/fun.html

  11. avaroo
    February 26th, 2006 at 03:48 | #11

    ah, but Alaska IS the most sparsely populated per square mile

    http://www.census.gov/rosea/www/facts.html

  12. Terje Petersen
    February 26th, 2006 at 07:39 | #12

    Apparently yes, although who knows how many members the Australian Libertarian Society has.

    http://www.libertarian.org.au/

    I am happy to declare that I am a paid up member of the political wing.

    http://www.ldp.org.au

    However I have not eaten anybody yet.

  13. Terje Petersen
    February 26th, 2006 at 07:40 | #13

    Actually I think I am paid up. I better check that one.

  14. Dogz
    February 26th, 2006 at 10:15 | #14

    I find it difficult – as a holder of pretty deep-seated libertarian views – to join any political party. By their nature, all parties will have some policies I disagree with.

    Therefore, just as I deeply resent soft-headed lefties and the hard-right telling me how to live my life, I would also resent being associated with an organization that did not precisely reflect my views. That would be a violation of my liberty.

    Perhaps that is partly why libertarianism as a political movement finds it hard to gain traction whereas libertarianism as a philosophy is actually fairly widespread.

  15. terje
    February 26th, 2006 at 12:44 | #15

    I would also resent being associated with an organization that did not precisely reflect my views. That would be a violation of my liberty.

    I think your general point is sound. However I don’t think belonging to an organisation that is slightly misaligned with your ideals is in itself a violation of your liberty. The great thing about liberty is that you don’t need to exercise it 100% of the time. If you can’t give it away then it was never yours to start with.

    Much of the time I happily give away parts of my liberty for peace and quite or for the greater good. Of course if I am forced to do these things then I resent those that force me. In our society that generally means that the government is the major source of my scorn.

  16. Dogz
    February 26th, 2006 at 13:36 | #16

    Following your advice, Terje, I took a closer look at the Liberal Democrats. The policy section http://www.ldp.org.au/federalpolicy.html has one sentence on healthcare reform but more than 500 words devoted to gun ownership, including a policy of allowing people to carry concealed weapons, which I strongly disagree with.

    The arguments put forward in favour of laxer gun laws are fairly weak, relying on quotes like:

    As Thomas Jefferson put it, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?�
    … Or as another US President, Woodrow Wilson, put it, “Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance.�

    Of course in Jefferson’s day, armed resistance was about the only effective form of resistance available to the public. But these days (and in Wilson’s time), we get to express our resistance through the ballot box (a point apparently lost on the left as they continue to bleat on about how Howard has only been reelected through good luck – saw some leftie twit on lateline the other night running the same tired old denialist argument). Overall, relaxing gun laws in the manner advocated by the LDP would almost certainly reduce my liberty, rather than increase it.

    So anyway, looking at the gulf between the LDP’s policies and my views only serves to reinforce my stance against joining political parties.

  17. Alexander McLeay
    February 26th, 2006 at 14:47 | #17

    Therefore, just as I deeply resent soft-headed lefties and the hard-right telling me how to live my life, I would also resent being associated with an organization that did not precisely reflect my views. That would be a violation of my liberty.

    I disagree with all the parties, some more some less. I am stuck in between wondering if I should join and try and reform them from the inside, or if I would feel too uncomfortable when doing so.

  18. February 26th, 2006 at 16:48 | #18

    Rather interesting that a county, it’s laws (& presumably election of public officers) can be subject to what amounts to a hostile takeoever by proxy from afar.

  19. wilful
    February 26th, 2006 at 19:57 | #19

    My god the Libertarians (Aus) sound like displaced yanks if all they can quote is a couple of dead americans and if they’re that hung up about guns. Why aren’t they proud to be Australians?

  20. terje
    February 26th, 2006 at 20:27 | #20

    including a policy of allowing people to carry concealed weapons, which I strongly disagree with.

    I happen to agree with the LDP position on guns. I don’t think the arguments are weak But I don’t want to hijack this thread with an exploration of them. I am okay with you not wanting to join the LDP. However if you did it would not be a violation of your rights.

  21. Steve Munn
    February 26th, 2006 at 21:24 | #21

    I’m with Terje.

    Every man worth his salt should have a grenade, rocket launcher and machine gun to protect his little woman and rug rats.

    No pinko commie liberals have any right to get between a real man and his arsenal.

  22. February 26th, 2006 at 22:36 | #22

    Grenade & rocket launcher a little too indiscriminate for me Steve Munn.

    Neither am I worried about pinko commos, on the grounds that most of them are show ponies, more interested in talking & appearances, and don’t have what it takes to get violent in the dark.

    It is burglars, rapists & others who intend immediate violent harm which cause me concern.

  23. SJ
    February 26th, 2006 at 22:38 | #23

    Nukes, Steve. You forgot the nukes. Every man worth his salt gots ta have nukes. You never know what the neighbours are up to. Plus the second amendment to the Australian constitution guarantees us the right to do whatever crazy stuff we want to, man. It says “arms”, man, not just guns. I wants me a laser cannon, too, just in case. And a Star Wars Program. If I had my own satellite system, I think I’d be safe. ;)

  24. Steve Munn
    February 26th, 2006 at 22:39 | #24

    Steve at the Pub, I’m sorry to hear that you have fantasies about being raped. Keep your chin up dude.

  25. SJ
    February 26th, 2006 at 22:45 | #25

    Poor SATP. Been raped a few times, have you?

    Or is it that you actually do have what it takes to get “violent in the dark”, but you want a gun just to back up your creds?

    You sure you’re a victim, and not just a wannabe rapist?

  26. jquiggin
    February 26th, 2006 at 23:01 | #26

    This is getting silly! I start off with a nice sketch about Libertarian cannibals, turn my back for one minute and you’re all slagging each other off. Stop it right now and get back to the cannibals!

  27. February 27th, 2006 at 02:17 | #27

    - (complying with the instructions above from JQ, proceeds to cook and eat both SJ & Steve Munn!) -

  28. avaroo
    February 27th, 2006 at 02:41 | #28

    “I find it difficult – as a holder of pretty deep-seated libertarian views – to join any political party. By their nature, all parties will have some policies I disagree with. ”

    I agree. I keep for looking for a political party that stands for everything I agree with and cannot find a single one, in any country. I think there are more of us than we know Dogz, people whose voting records might look schizophrenic if viewed through party lenses. There are MAJOR issues in both the democratic and republican platforms that are real stoppers for me.

  29. February 27th, 2006 at 22:09 | #29

    Wilful: Im a member of the LDP and I can tell you that gun policy isn’t a huge issue there. I think the main reason we have a gun policy and not a health policy is mainly that health spending is primarily a state rather than a federal issue, and all our current policies are federally-minded.

    Avaroo: At least being an American, you have the right not to vote if you don’t like either party. We don’t have that right in Australia, which is why there are so many micro parties dedicated to only 1 or a small number of issues.

    The LDP aims to be a party that isn’t devoted to a single issue, but we have only just started up and policy is still being formulated.

  30. Steve Munn
    February 27th, 2006 at 22:29 | #30

    Yobbo, there is nothing to stop you from registering an informal vote or making up some dodgy story about why you didn’t front up to vote on election day.

    Compulsory voting reduces corrupt practices like busing people to polling stations or bribing people to vote. I support it.

    A democracy like America’s where a President can be elected with only slightly more than 20% of the vote is a sclerotic and dying democracy in my view.

  31. Terje Petersen
    February 27th, 2006 at 22:32 | #31

    I think the main reason we have a gun policy and not a health policy is mainly that health spending is primarily a state rather than a federal issue, and all our current policies are federally-minded.

    Technically gun policy is also primarily a state rather than a federal issue. So that does not really explain it fully.

    The slipper slope argument that concealed hand guns will lead to personal ownership of nuclear weapons is an absurdity. Of course it does erect a strawman that is a much easier to argue against.

    The LDP has never suggested that people should have a right to own nuclear weapons. The LDP guns policy states:-

    * Sport, hunting and self-defence are all legitimate reasons for firearm ownership.
    * Firearm ownership should be subject to possession of a licence. However, all adults over 18 years of age have a right to a licence unless it has been removed because of a history or genuine prospect of coercion.
    * Those who wish to carry a concealed firearm for self-defence are entitled to be issued with a permit to do so unless they have a history or genuine prospect of coercion.
    * All genuine sporting uses of firearms are legitimate.
    * There should be no registration of long-arms.
    * There should be no special prohibitions on semi-automatic firearms.
    * Individuals and organisations have a right to establish facilities that involve the use of firearms. This includes shooting ranges and hunting reserves.

    So far I have not been able to locate the LDP policy on eating people. However I will take a punt and fill the vaccum by suggesting that eating fat people is probably not good for your colesterole levels.

  32. February 28th, 2006 at 03:01 | #32

    Terje: I didn’t read the NYTimes article because it was behind a paywall, but I think the eating people thing probably comes from this story, in which a man apparently volunteered to be killed and eaten by the cannibal in question. In basic terms it was a particularly disgusting case of suicide.

    It would not surprise me at all if there were Libertarians who think this sort of thing should be legal, since most libertarians believe that a person has sole ownership over his own life and body, and that suicide or euthanasia should be legal.

    In effect the cannibal case breaks down into 2 parts:

    1. The man who died wanted to commit suicide and enlisted the help of the cannibal in doing so.

    2. After death he bequeathed his earthly remains to the cannibal to do with as he wished (in this case, eat them).

    In fact it’s not even really clear what German law was broken in this case, and Germany is hardly a libertarian utopia as it is.

    It is interesting to see how cases like this would affect laws relating to selling of organs and the such. I can certainly envisage a situation where a suicidal person would kill himself in order to have his organs harvested in order to provide money for his family or something like that (people already off themselves to try and claim life insurance for their kids).

  33. February 28th, 2006 at 03:03 | #33

    I should note however that this a theoretical libertarian position and in no way represents the views of the LDP ;)

    As Terje already said, our position on cannibalism is the same as all the major parties in Australia (we don’t have one).

  34. Terje Petersen
    February 28th, 2006 at 06:10 | #34

    No policy on cannibalism from any party!! How outrageous. It must be a conspiracy of silence. Clearly they are fattening us all up for eating.

  35. avaroo
    February 28th, 2006 at 09:59 | #35

    “Avaroo: At least being an American, you have the right not to vote if you don’t like either party.”

    While I believe it is the duty of every citizen to cast a vote, I don’t think it should be required. Guess that makes me a libertarian.

    “We don’t have that right in Australia, which is why there are so many micro parties dedicated to only 1 or a small number of issues.”

    We couldn’t manage that here in the US. Waaaaay too much detail for us.
    :)

  36. Dogz
    February 28th, 2006 at 11:03 | #36

    Moral issues aside, at a practical level the problem with having a comprehensive gun policy yet no health policy is that it makes you look like the party for gun nuts (in contrast to the Democrats, who as far as I can tell are the gum nut party :) ).

  37. Katz
    February 28th, 2006 at 11:08 | #37

    A lot of faux individualist posturing here.

    A true individualist wouldn’t rely on anyone else to consume his/her body.

    In a gesture of final proof of autonomy, a true individualist would consume him/herself.

    (Interestingly while the unfortunate President Garfield lay dying by agonising inches from the slow effects of an assassin’s bullet, a lively debate erupted in the press over the appropriate means of dispatch of the assassin. One of the more memorable suggestions, suppled by a woman, was that Charles J. Guiteau should be forced to consume himself until dead.)

  38. avaroo
    February 28th, 2006 at 11:12 | #38

    Dogz, if you’re talking to me, I’m registered as a democrat. I’m anti-gun but I’m also interested in keeping US health care as the best in the world. I don’t care for what I see in nations with socialized medicine. (and I’ve had to bring relatives here from nationalized healthcare systems for care). Careful not to make the mistake that many make about the US, all dems think a certian way or all repubs think a certain way. We’re much more complicated than that.
    :)

  39. wilful
    February 28th, 2006 at 11:57 | #39

    I’m also interested in keeping US health care as the best in the world

    Measured how? Life expectancy? Child mortality? Nutrition? Mental Health? Number of Doctors? Name your metric, I think you’ll find that the US isn’t best in any relevant measurement of population health. According to a 1997 UN ranking, the USA came in 37th in the world. 22nd in the OECD. But hey, you’re beating Cuba, that’s important.

    Of course, there is one health stat where you’re miles ahead, and that’s expenditure.

  40. simonjm
    February 28th, 2006 at 12:43 | #40

    Hmm great idea others seem to have taken it up

    A Christian Utopia
    http://futurewire.blogspot.com/2006/02/christian-utopia.html

  41. StephenL
    February 28th, 2006 at 12:48 | #41

    For many years there was a ticket in the Monash University Student Association elections called “Cannibalism – legalise now”. There slogan was “we promise to serve you” and their policy speeches basically an extended series of puns on the theme. You’ld be amazed just how many jokes about cannibalism it is possible to make.

    Two years ago they didn’t run because their main organiser had cancer, believe it or not, of the bowel. I saw him some time later and was pleased to discover that he was in remission and doing well. It seems the only lasting effect of his disease is an inability to eat rich foods. Possibly as a result, they didn’t run last year either.

    The share of the vote they generally achieved was about 2% – not huge, but larger than some libertarian parties, so maybe the solution is to put the proposal front and centre.

  42. Katz
    February 28th, 2006 at 12:54 | #42

    “It seems the only lasting effect of his disease is an inability to eat rich foods.”

    New Guinean cannibals ate Michael Rockefeller, son of tycoon Nelson Rockefeller, without any recorded ill-effects.

  43. Dogz
    February 28th, 2006 at 13:11 | #43

    avaroo,

    I was talking about the “Australian Democrats”, usually abbreviated to “Democrats”. They’ve long been the significant third party in Australian politics although they’re now in terminal decline. One of their more spectacularly foolish campaign launches involved people dressed up as Koalas running around the stage. Hence “Gum Nuts”.

  44. March 2nd, 2006 at 14:29 | #44

    “suppled by a woman”? Katz, did someone give you a copy of the pop-up Kama Sutra for Christmas?

    Cannibalism can be a very effective tactic in one culture assimilating another, e.g. the Caribs and the Arawaks (though the Maori deny using this approach with regard to the Moriori, whatever may have occurred in recorded history on the Chatham Islands).

    As always, it’s a mixed approach (kill and eat the males, keep the woman as a subclass, geld the boys and keep them as slaves until they are ripe for eating). Anyhow, the point is that you shouldn’t look at even Libertarian cannibalism in isolation but as part of a larger package.

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