Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Charlie Hebdo, the New York Times, and Tribal Politics

I have seen and heard a good deal of talk about the decision by the New York Times not to reprint cartoons from Charlie Hebdo. The official explanation is that they do not want to offend their Muslim readers. Their critics point out that they have been willing to publish things offensive to other groups of readers in the past, and attribute the policy to the fear  that publishing the cartoons might result in violent attacks on the Times or its staff. They go on to argue that refusing for that reason is, if not admirable, at least understandable, but that the Times ought to have the honesty to admit that that is what they are doing.

I think both explanations are wrong. What is really going on, as I interpret it, is tribal politics, as described by (among others) Dan Kahan and Scott Alexander, both of whom I have linked to in the past. A considerable part of the U.S. population identifies with either the red tribe (Republicans, conservatives) or the blue tribe (Democrats, liberals), choosing positions and interpreting evidence accordingly. 

Both tribes are, of course, opposed to Muslim terrorism and the murder of journalists. But the blue tribe version amounts to "Muslim terrorists are bad people, but we should not let their offenses prejudice us against the vast majority of Muslims who are not terrorists or give us a negative opinion of their religion." The red tribe version concedes that not all Muslims are terrorists but sees Muslim terrorism as part of an us vs them conflict, with "us" the west and "them" the Muslim world. The same split shows up in views of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The blue tribe, or at least its hard core members, sees the Palestinians as the oppressed, the Israelis as the oppressors. The red tribe sees the Israelis as part of us, the Palestinians as part of them.

The New York Times is the nearest thing the blue tribe has to an official organ. The Charlie Hebdo case is a red tribe story. The Times cannot deny that it happened, cannot refuse to cover it, cannot defend the killers. But it also cannot identify with victims who, from its (unstated) point of view, were on the wrong side of the red/blue split over Islam, deliberately provoking Muslims with their cartoons.

48 Comments:

At 12:19 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger RJM said...

Just a minor remark:

a friend wrote about how he is irritated by the fact that reports talk about "journalists".

One might argue that satirists constitute a subgroup of journalists, however ...

Journalists, as in news reporters, war correspondents, authors of newspaper articles were not target of the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The issue is not a muslim-extremist outrage over journalists that wrote critical about the subject of Muhammed or anything like that.
The target is satire.
Satire differs from other journalism by setting itself apart of it.

Satire is also an important information channel in my personal opinion. It helps laughing about otherwise serious things like religion, statism, journalism, ...

Somehow the mainstream press hitchhiked the event. It's supposedly about "freedom of the press".
More accurately would be: freedom of insulting others. Because, frankly, that's one aspect of satire.

And that's an aspect I like about satire. According to Hitchens: it's my freedom to offend.

By shifting it to the more acceptable "freedom of press" people fail to make that point, which is a shame in my opinion.

 
At 12:21 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger RJM said...

And that's a link to what my friend wrote (german), who made the original point:

http://www.achgut.com/dadgdx/index.php/dadgd/article/in_einer_freien_gesellschaft_hat_niemand_das_recht_nicht_beleidigt_zu_werde

 
At 12:27 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger RJM said...

After now having read all of your blog post: I like your analysis. It seems, elsewhere people mostly argue from within that very tribe logic you describe. So vain and frustrating.

 
At 12:57 PM, January 13, 2015, Anonymous Laird said...

Of course it's tribal. But it's also cowardice.

 
At 4:39 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Laird: Suppose the attack had been by people that the blue tribe strongly disapproves of, against people they approve of—an attack on homosexuals by a Christian fundamentalist terrorist group, say. Do you think the NYT would have shown the same cowardice? My guess is not.

Risking martyrdom for a cause you believe in—especially when the risk is very slight—is the sort of thing people want to do. Risking martyrdom for a cause you in your heart disapprove of, not so much.

 
At 5:07 PM, January 13, 2015, Anonymous Phil said...

Exactly right.

There's an article somewhere that says that Charlie Hebdo, without meaning to, winds up "fighting on the side of racists."

Which is the blue tribe's biggest fear-- having to agree with the red tribe. I had someone unfriend me on Facebook for "saying something a Neo-Nazi would say."

The fight isn't against the terrorists -- it's really against the red tribe. The terrorists are just screwing things up for the blue tribe by supplying arms to the enemy.

 
At 5:21 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger Will McLean said...

David, I think you are overlooking a key part of the picture unrelated to blue-red tribalism. The culture of the NYT is uniquely uncongenial to cartoons. They don't have comic strips. They don't have daily editorial cartoons. That makes them a very unusual newspaper, but they are the Grey Lady and they have embraced that.And they've been doing that as long as I can remember.

 
At 5:24 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger jimbino said...

The best response to "muslim extremist terrorism" would be to advodate and sponsor the annihilation of all the terrorists. Amerikans can't do that of course, since our gummint maintains a monopoly on overseas aggression and genocide, as it did in Operation Condor and others.

 
At 5:25 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Will: I don't read the NYT often enough to know if your account is correct, but it wasn't the explanation offered by the Times.

Even if they don't run cartoons, they surely run pictures, which could include a picture of a cartoon on another magazine's front page, that being an eminently newsworthy subject at the moment.

 
At 6:05 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger Joshua Kronengold said...

Not at all inaccurate, whether or not the analysis is correct wrt the Times.

There's much more of a split in liberalism than you paint regarding Israel -- since while absolutely, there's a significant subtribe that views Palestinians as unempowered and Israel as aggressors, there's also a significant subtribe that views Palestinans as unempowered/badly led and other, more powerful arabs as oppressors, with Israel as an odd combination.

But the red/blue split as embarrassing cultural imperialism vs being deeply uncomfortable with it (and wanting to root for underdogs where possible) is an excellent insight.

 
At 7:11 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger Will McLean said...

David:

I don't think the "eminently newsworthy" argument gets you very far. If you have a long-standing policy that you don't publish full frontal nudity because you prefer not to offend your readers, the recent controversial release of a hypothetical
video of Miley Cyrus having naked sex with a walrus does not require you to publish it verbatim.Newsworthy as it is.

 
At 8:17 PM, January 13, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Will: Do they have a longstanding policy of not publishing pictures of controversial material in other publications? Not the same thing as publishing a cartoon as cartoon.

 
At 3:34 AM, January 14, 2015, Anonymous Brandon Berg said...

I wonder if another factor in the explanation they gave is that they would rather not acknowledge that publishing the cartoons is dangerous. If it is, then that means that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was not a one-off attack by a few lunatics, but pay of a larger pattern of Islamic terrorism. Acknowledging that publishing the cartoons would be dangerous is a concession to the Red Tribe.

 
At 4:02 AM, January 14, 2015, OpenID hudebnik said...

The New York Times is the nearest thing the blue tribe has to an official organ.

Indisputable.

The Charlie Hebdo case is a red tribe story.

That I don't see. As someone who gets much of his news from "blue tribe" sources, I'm seeing just as much outrage about the shooting on the left as on the right -- and it's entirely consistent with the "Muslim terrorists are bad people, but shouldn't be confused with the overwhelming majority of Muslims who aren't terrorists" narrative.

Nor have I seen anybody on the left saying the victims "were on the wrong side of the red/blue split over Islam, deliberately provoking Muslims with their cartoons." Sure, that's an unspeakable sentiment, but usually when there's an unspeakable sentiment that lots of people believe in their hearts, you get some sense that they believe it in their hearts, and I haven't gotten that sense from left-wing news coverage of this event.

And I don't think acknowledging that "publishing the cartoon would be dangerous" would be "a concession to the Red Tribe" so much as a recognition of the indisputable fact that there are more than three Muslim terrorists in the world.

In short, I don't know why NYT decided not to run the cartoon either -- HuffPost did run it. But none of the explanations I've seen here "rings true" to me.

 
At 5:59 AM, January 14, 2015, Blogger Tibor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:01 AM, January 14, 2015, Blogger Tibor said...

Charlie Hebdo authors are/were themselves members of the "blue tribe"...they are left-wing, probably even more than NYT. Showing the picture would be a solidarity with the members of their own tribe. In fact, in France it seems to be the (ultra)conservative right (Le Pen) that has the most reluctance to identify with the authors (although I find phrases such as "I am Charlie" really really stupid sadly most people seem to enjoy practically meaningless symbols like slogans and marching). But maybe people see it differently on the other side of the ocean (especially if American red tribe jumped on the bandwagon first).

Anyway, what I really find dangerous is the surge in pro-secret service sentiment in European politics today. For example David Cameron spoke about letting the secret service spy on applications such as "Whatsapp" or making teachers report if "their students have radical tendecies". I really hope we don't get a European version of the "Patriot" act...

People have a full mouth of freedom of expression while at the same time already coming up with ways to undermine it further. I really have to read that sci-fi book David mentioned once about the hypothetical totalitarian state from South Africa who manages to conquer the world by terrorist attacks which lead the other countries to also adopt more totalitarian policies out of fear and thus making them slowly less and less more developed than that totalitarian state - which then conquers the world...Could you please mention the name of the book again, please?

 
At 11:32 AM, January 14, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

It's a series by S.M. Stirling, the Draka books. One of them is "Marching Through Georgia" (not the U.S. Georgia). The part you refer to is late in the series.

I've enjoyed another of Stirling's books and he's a good writer, but I find a series where the bad guys keep winning depressing.

 
At 2:18 PM, January 14, 2015, Blogger Tibor said...

David: Thanks. I've always liked works where the bad guys perhaps not win entirely, but do not lose either (accidentally, Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie, at least so far :) ). I find it boring when I know the good guys will win and even if they are in danger, they will end up a-ok. I like it when the author is willing to make the good guys suffer, because it makes the story less predictable and more dramatic. Probably why I prefer Sapkowski to Tolkien :)

That said, 1984 was pretty depressing, but that was a story where the usual pattern was turned backwards. The good guys were always losing and when you hoped they could maybe win a bit, they lost even more :)

 
At 4:49 PM, January 14, 2015, Blogger Will McLean said...

David:

As far as I can tell, the fact that an image has been published elsewhere and is controversial is not sufficient to get it into print in the NYT if it is offensive to a sufficient subset of NYT readers. The narrative value of the particular image has to be sufficient to outweigh the offensiveness.

It is the kind of paper, as my father would say, that considers itself a guest in the family home, and acts accordingly.

That means, for example, no cussing in front of the children. Or quoting cussing, unless the story absolutely, positively demands it.

If you offend your readers, you don't get invited back. Which is bad for business, but also make it impossible to tell the stories you want to tell to that family.

Similarly, the Times is fairly reticent about photographs of full frontal nudity or gore, or showing the faces of murder victims, unless absolutely essential to telling the story properly. Even though many of their readers would not be offended by this, or by quoted profanity.

The choice not to reprint the controversial cartoons is, I think, an appropriate one for the Times. given the kind of newspaper they are. They have conveyed the essence of the story adequately by describing the cartoons in words.

 
At 5:52 PM, January 14, 2015, Blogger Curtis said...

Free speech is only as free as the worst receiver of this speech allows it to be. Broadcasting dishonorable speech can be equal to being suicidal as CH just proved.
TheEndofPornbyWire.org

 
At 10:21 AM, January 15, 2015, Blogger Jonathan said...

"I've enjoyed another of Stirling's books and he's a good writer, but I find a series where the bad guys keep winning depressing."

Indeed. I've enjoyed a number of Stirling's books and like his writing, but sometimes the things he chooses to write about are bewildering. Oddly, his one-off books tend to be better than his major series. Though I mostly liked the Nantucket trilogy.

Sorry, off topic!

 
At 1:04 PM, January 15, 2015, Blogger BobR said...

Presumably the New York Times still has more correspondents in Islamic countries than do most newspapers. They are probably thinking about the danger to their employees more than would other papers.

 
At 2:07 PM, January 15, 2015, Blogger BobR said...

They probably have some foreign offices that could be targeted and closed down by the local governments in retaliation.

 
At 5:20 PM, January 15, 2015, Blogger Paul Brinkley said...

It is the kind of paper, as my father would say, that considers itself a guest in the family home, and acts accordingly.

I believe the issue here is that the NYT may have little compunction about going into a home in a red state, sniffing disdainfully at the apple pie, making insinuations about the host's book collection, and opining about how the kids are raised.

 
At 10:15 PM, January 15, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

Curtis, I am curious -- could you please clarify your comment? I did not understand what free speech case your link is about ... wikipedia page by any chance?

 
At 5:51 PM, January 16, 2015, Blogger Jon said...

It might be interesting to put the shoe on the other foot and see what conclusions we come to.

There was a Nazi publication called Der Stürmer which featured a lot of anti-Semitic caricatures. Let's suppose two Jews, despondent at the fact that their world was collapsing and they were oppressed, stormed the offices of Der Stürmer and killed 12 people. Should the Times feel obligated to reprint the racist, borderline pornographic content that provoked the violence?

Further, what would we think if a million people turned out to support the dead and said "I am Der Stürmer".

In fact Julius Streicher, editor of the publication, was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Tribunal. There's not much record of objection from the west.

 
At 6:24 AM, January 17, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

@Jon, I think we should defend free pess. Even if we disagree with what people print.

 
At 11:23 AM, January 17, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Jon: Der Stürmer asked to kill Jews who slept with "German" women. It can't be compared in any way with some light-hearted caricatures of Muhammad.

 
At 9:36 PM, January 17, 2015, Blogger Randall Parker said...

David, Surely the Charlie Hebdo story is counter-narrative for the NY Times. So story poses that problem for them. But your counter example of a Christian fundamentalist terror group doesn't seem comparable because there isn't a large population of Christians who are willing to kill journalists for criticizing or mocking their religion. Islam is sui generis at this point.

 
At 1:36 AM, January 18, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, how would an anarcho capitalist handle this situation of two groups with irreconcilable positions? One thinks that freedom of speech is non-negotiable and the blasphemous cartoons should be allowed, the other that blasphemous cartoons are intolerable and shouldn't be allowed?
(In my view: they cant, thus anarcho capitalism doesn't work and Ayn Rand was right, at least on this issue)

 
At 8:09 AM, January 18, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

@Anonymous, professor Friedman develops the consequences of a possible anarchist equilibrium in the book "Machinery of Freedom". He calls that equilibrium, anarcho-capitalism. In that book, professor Friedman sees peace and compromise as the result of the obvious high costs of war.

Anyhow, since there is no "world government", the Western-Islamic conflict is an anarchist conflict. Countries are trying to avoid full war by enforcing domestic security checks and investing in intelligence gathering, while attacking the enemy by issuing droid-guided attacks (which cost much less than an army). It is possible that anarchism does not have a stable equilibrium, but you do not show that.

 
At 8:13 AM, January 18, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

Oh, if you are asking if Sh'ria courts would survive under a anarcho-capitalist society, I think that is unlikely ya. I do hear that quite a few Sh'ria courts do exist in Britain, but I imagine they are for small things. Maybe people would tolerate that, ya.

 
At 12:22 PM, January 18, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think that is unlikely ya. I do hear that quite a few Sh'ria courts do exist in Britain, but I imagine they are for small things"

If they are for small things its because the government doesn't allow them to be for bigger things. In Anarcho capitalism who is going to stop, for example, a religious court from stoning an adulterous woman?
This is a key issue, there is no answer to this and that is why either you accept that in your country some adulterous women are going to be stoned or you reject Anarcho capitalism, its either or.
Also, under anarcho capitalism sooner or later there would be slaves.

 
At 3:23 AM, January 19, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

@Anonymous, if the woman in question is a customer of a defense agency that enforces such a thing, then you are probably right. If she changes her mind once she is accused of such a thing, it might be unlikely she would find patronage in another agency if the Sh'ria agency is very adamant about enforcing such a thing (it would be like buying fire insurance after your house burns; ex-post, the costs can no longer be spread out by the customer base). In fact, if Sh'ria agencies and muslims feel strongly about apostasy (leaving religion), it might very well be the case that no agency would profit from accepting you because of the high costs of protecting you from homicide (even without you being accused of anything). Or at the very least, you would have to wave any kind of compensation if you are killed (like police today) and may not be able to offer you special surveillance -- just like today western police does not offer any special protecting for all apostasies, only for those who have a fatah against them.

These are just some thoughts wrt what I know of the economics of the anarchist-capitalist equilibrium. About slavery, child labor, etc I think it is an admitted fact that there are externalities involved in protecting children especially, since they are not at a productive age. They would depend on their parents agency, or on charity. (Well, if a sufficient amount of children appreciate being helped by an agency and stay as customers into adulthood even if it means paying a little more than in another, then it would be profitable to protect them.)

By the way, it just occurred to me that some agencies might choose to welcome former mulsims and even those accused of Sh'ria crimes, for the same reasons peacock have a long tail. It is always a concern of customers of an agency that they would fail to protect them against Islamic radicals. Therefore, an agency could choose to have an aggressive stance against Islamic agencies, and to often piss them off by accepting apostasy ex-muslims for instance, in order to show they are trust worthy.

 
At 3:26 AM, January 19, 2015, Anonymous martin said...

In Anarcho capitalism who is going to stop, for example, a religious court from stoning an adulterous woman?

People who object strongly enough to stoning to do something about it. Or else a protection agency paid by such people. Or maybe the protection agency her lover subscribes to.
(Assuming she is not in a position to hire a protection agency herself.)

 
At 9:07 AM, January 19, 2015, Blogger Randall Parker said...

So upper class people will be able to afford the protection costs (24x7 guarding, living in a protected compound) of apostasy. Lower class people will need to remain Muslims.

But when wealthy Muslims decide to pay for a professional hit on an apostate the protection agencies probably aren't going to be competent enough to stop it.

Another problem: suicide bombers could take out both the target and his guards. That would be a signal to get out of the business of protecting apostates. Too dangerous.

Do some fully adult people really take seriously the idea of anarcho-capitalism?

 
At 1:18 PM, January 19, 2015, Blogger Paul Brinkley said...

Randall Parker: Think about how the rich would afford protection costs. The only way is to trade wealth away to people who aren't rich, or somehow provide all of the protection resources themselves. If the former, the rich will eventually stop being rich relative to the non-rich; if the latter, then what you have is an even more extreme version of social partitioning where the rich have no effect on the non-rich.

If someone rich were to use their wealth to fund hits on someone without resources to fund protection, other non-rich individuals would quickly come to the conclusion (if they hadn't been so naive as to not reach it long before) that they are vulnerable, and band together under a defense agency of their own. Since they presumably outnumber the rich, their defense would be larger, and have more incentive to become competent enough to repel such hits, to the point that the rich "offensive" agency would be spending more per hit then that defensive agency has to, especially if the defensive agency decides its mission is best served by a good offense and retaliates. Very soon, the rich person would be spending prohibitive wealth on his own defense, but his defensive agency would as well, and be demanding additional funding from him. Knowing that, he's unlikely to take up funding hits in the first place - if he did, he would soon either be without wealth, or dead.

If suicide bombing became enough of a problem, it would become so in a non-anarcho-capitalist system as well - the same incentives exist in both systems.

These are broad-brush descriptions of some consequent effects of segregated defense, "mob hits", and suicide attacks in such a system, and they'll have corner cases of their own, leading to still further economic effects. If you read _The Machinery of Freedom_, you'll find a more detailed exploration of many of these. Anarcho-capitalism may have some undesireable long-term features and drawbacks IMO, but it is nowhere certain that it would immediately, let alone obviously, fail.

You need to think farther ahead, and consider the wider picture, before you attempt to shame other people away from economic thinking you don't agree with.

 
At 3:39 PM, January 19, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul, please explain me this.
Individual A is a compulsive gambler, he takes loans and puts his freedom as collateral in a loan with individual B. He defaults. Individual B now "owns" individual A. How is this inconsistent with Anarcho Capitalism?
It isn't. In Anarcho Capitalism slavery would develop sooner or later.

 
At 4:40 PM, January 19, 2015, Blogger Randall Parker said...

@Paul Brinkley,

First of all, anarcho-capitalism isn't in the cards for the same reason that Ron Paul isn't going to get elected: the vast majority do not think a society remotely like an L Neil Smith novel is practical or desirable. Especially the latter. Most people do not want to enter into defense agency contracts.

Plus, most people lack the intellectual capacity to figure out defense agency contracts. The average IQ in the United States is lower than 100. The capacity to understand isn't present.

Find a population with an average IQ of 130+ and at least they'd have the capacity to consider an anarcho-capitalist system. But I suspect most would decide that competing defense agencies representing different subsets of the population would cause civil wars.

Funding hits: The Charlie Hebdo attackers were willing (even eager) to die. Those virgins were waiting in heaven. People are motivated by lots of factors other than maximizing their utility in this world. Human brains are bundles of contradictions with different modules fooling each other and coming to the fore in different circumstances. See Robert Kurzban's Why Everyone (else) is a hypocrite: Evolution and the modular mind. That mind is not set up to create utopian societies.

Coming up with a workable alternative to The Leviathan seems extremely hard and maybe impossible.

 
At 6:04 PM, January 19, 2015, Blogger Will McLean said...

"Randall Parker: Think about how the rich would afford protection costs. The only way is to trade wealth away to people who aren't rich, or somehow provide all of the protection resources themselves. If the former, the rich will eventually stop being rich relative to the non-rich; if the latter, then what you have is an even more extreme version of social partitioning where the rich have no effect on the non-rich"

No. You seem to think that private individuals buying the ability to have violence done on their behalf in anarchy results in wealth flowing away from them. But in actual historical anarchies, such as the Great Interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire or Warlord Era China, private ownership of the ability to use violence is often a profit center for the owner.

 
At 3:24 AM, January 20, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:39 AM, January 20, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

@Randall

"So upper class people will be able to afford the protection costs [...] of apostasy. Lower class people will need to remain Muslims."

I removed my previous comment, since I am not sure I addressed the point.. I will let others comment on it..

It is an interesting point though. :)

"Do some fully adult people really take seriously the idea of anarcho-capitalism?"

Are you an academic or do you read science or history books? Sometimes, humans (some of them adults hehe) research and study for the sake of learning. Anyhow, I am in mathematics, and I sometimes think this or that is too abstract to ever be useful. But often, some obscure field (say game theory) ends up having very real repercursions in another field (say ecology). I do think that exploring anarcho-capitalism may be useful for the field of economics of law at large, and possibly others. We do live afterall in anarcho-capitalism nation-to-nation. (If this does not interest, you do not have to comment or ad hominem others who do.)

 
At 4:25 AM, January 20, 2015, Blogger Paul Brinkley said...

"Individual A is a compulsive gambler, he takes loans and puts his freedom as collateral in a loan with individual B. He defaults. Individual B now "owns" individual A. How is this inconsistent with Anarcho Capitalism?
It isn't. In Anarcho Capitalism slavery would develop sooner or later."

Why do you assume that Individual A would necessarily gamble with his freedom in this way? Or that Individual B would agree to this, given the fact that others would notice, and might regard B as someone to be avoided, thus making B's life more difficult?

And if there is such an A who would enter into such an agreement, then you're effectively saying that A is willing to be a slave. If that is so, then why would it be bad? If you believe A would later come to regret his decision, and attempt to renege on the agreement, and that this would happen often enough to be a problem, then why would B accept such an agreement in the first place?

Perhaps such a system may give you concerns on account of it being too rough-and-tumble - the long-term fate of this individual or that being too sensitive to decisions made on a whim. If so, then what is the real benefit of the current alternative? That a strong central state serves as a surrogate for individuals' ability to make decisions? Notice that such a state is effectively deciding, on behalf of the individual, which decisions that individual shall be allowed to make.

Just how different, functionally, is that from the slavery you claim to want to avoid? (This is not a rhetorical question.)

 
At 5:38 PM, January 20, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why do you assume that Individual A would necessarily gamble with his freedom in this way? Or that Individual B would agree to this, given the fact that others would notice, and might regard B as someone to be avoided, thus making B's life more difficult?"

Because some people would, sooner or later. Like I said, maybe he is a compulsive gambler, or maybe is sick and needs very expensive medication, or maybe has some mental problems and doesn't fully understand what he is doing. In the middle ages people could become slaves if they defaulted.
Thus, in Anarcho Capitalism there would be slaves.

Also, to my previous point, how do you reconcile incompatible positions like freedom of Speech and Islamic Law that forbids blasphemy?
Notice that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the abolition of slavery, are all in the US constitution and in the laws of the countries that we regard as "Western". They are not metaphysical constants.

 
At 3:54 AM, January 21, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

@Anonymous, one point of confusion in this dialogue seems to be your idea that one "selling point" of anarcho-capitalism is multiculturalism of law. Professor Friedman did say in the book that he would expect to be diversity in law for the simple reason people care more about what law they live under than what law others live under. It is absurd that you would have blasphemy laws in a fundamentalist muslim minority society, such as it would be absurd to expect free speech in a fundamentalist muslim majority society. What you could argue is that it would be harder (or impossible) to enforce borders, so you may have an influx of fundamentalist muslims that would force others to enforce draconian laws in order to secure themselves. (By the way, for the same reasons, it would be harder to contain epidemics in a free society as well. This has nothing to do with law as such.) This is already a concern in Europe as it is, and we do not have open borders.

 
At 2:33 PM, January 25, 2015, Anonymous Dain said...

"They go on to argue that refusing for that reason is, if not admirable, at least understandable, but that the Times ought to have the honesty to admit that that is what they are doing."

That'd be the same as ceding ground to the right by implicitly admitting that Islam is dangerous. No, they'd prefer to take the high road by claiming to not want to offend.

 
At 8:29 AM, January 30, 2015, Anonymous Paul Geddes said...

My parents are religious and I'm not. I know there are certain things that I don't say to them if I want to keep relations cordial. I can see how Hebdo's art is offensive to certain people. And it is a matter of manners as to whether you want to offend. I think the NYT choose wisely. It measured its readership and knew there was nothing brave about offending a group that is unpopular.

 
At 4:49 PM, February 05, 2015, Blogger Ricardo Cruz said...

@Dain, I agree. The NY Times would do the same if this was about a Christian group. </sarcasm>

 

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