Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ultra-Quickies: When (Reasonably) Smart People Say Stupid Things

     Thomas Wictor appears to be a (reasonably) smart, (reasonably) erudite guy. That makes anything stupid he says more dangerous than it would be coming from an ignoramus or a moron. Consider this example:

     The answer to AntiFa is to defeat them with LAWS. Libertarians who hate laws can go sit at the kiddie table and fantasize while the SERIOUS people take care of the problem.

     Oh! How intelligent! How erudite! There’s only one problem with it: it’s arrogant nonsense.

  1. There are already laws against what AntiFa has been doing.
  2. Laws don’t change people’s desires, fears, or beliefs; they merely change the incentive structures associated with them.
  3. No matter how harsh the punishment for breaking law X might be, it will have no effect whatsoever on the relevant behavior if that law is not effectively enforced.

     Many are the laws that cannot be effectively enforced because far too many people regard them as wrongheaded, excessive, or inherently criminal. Laws against prostitution, gambling, and traffic in narcotics are merely the most notorious examples. Consider this: there are laws against adultery – yes, you read that right: adultery, the crime of being unfaithful to one’s lawfully wedded spouse – in virtually every state in the Union. Those laws haven’t been enforced for longer than I’ve been alive. The reason is left as an exercise to my hornier Gentle Readers.

     So this (reasonably) smart, (reasonably) erudite guy Thomas Wictor has said a very stupid thing. Why? Who knows...but it might have been powered by a desire to feel superior to someone of divergent convictions. That happens a lot, these days.


iOpener said...

I am unhappy with your post.

Wictor is probably wrong, but the testy manner in which you argued against his position is an error more grave than Wictor's.

Wictor is on our side. Remember thou Reagan's 11th commandment, sin no more, give a nicely worded suggestion to Wictor and go forth fully forgiven, for thou also art on our side.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Dear "iOpener,"

These days I give as good as I get, if not double. And I'm thoroughly sick of persons of any affiliation preening themselves for an intellectual superiority they don't possess. So kindly go fuck yourself. Of course I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Yours sincerely,
Francis W. Porretto