Saturday, October 09, 2010

Riches of embarrasment: when libertarians associate with wackjobs

One of the great problems of the campaign to get libertarians to move to New Hampshire was that the organization pushing the campaign included a lot of right-wing cranks in the campaign. And that means the movement was associated with some wackjobs.

Add in the continuing worship by some libertarians of the extremely cranky Ron Paul as a problem as well. Paul has long been associated with extreme Right nut groups like the John Birch Society and even nuttier types like conspiracist loon Alex Jones. Paul does have libertarian tendencies but then most people do, at least on some issues. But he is decidedly anti-libertarian on issues as well and, worse yet, he promotes certain theories and organizations that are just insane, perhaps literally. The continuing deification of Ron Paul as some sort of libertarian hero legitimizes the wacky groups Paul associates with, including the Birchers, Jones and others.

One example of how these leads people astray is a story that has gone viral with the wacky Right. According to them a young couple, Jonathan Irish and Stephanie Taylor (who is married to another man) had a child together and the wicked State came in and "kidnapped" the child merely because Irish is a member of the Right-wing Oath Keepers group.

If that is all there was to the story then it would be of concern. And some libertarians, who tilt farther Right than the tower in Pisa, started spreading the story and protesting it. I didn't mention it for two reasons. One is that I assumed that there was more to the story than meets the eye. Second, the Oath Keepers association made me wonder what else was going on. The one time I saw an Oath Keeper speaker it was at a truly wacky conference, which of course included Ron Paul, and some absolutely insane types. Oath Keepers seemed to be typical far Right types to me and nothing for genuine libertarians to be excited about.

I figured I would wait and see what materialized before shooting off my mouth and making claims that would prove embarrassing. I have long ago realized that any association with these Right-wing groups, who are notoriously dishonest in how they report facts (as are far Left groups), hurts libertarianism more than it helps.

What I read about the so-called victims in this case reeks of low-class white trash. Now, that is not a crime, but it ought to cause one to consider the values of the people involved and what else may be going on.

Irish lives off of state welfare, while hating the state. His girlfriend, Taylor, is married to another man. Irish makes excuses for his welfare taking. He says he takes government welfare because he is blind in his left eye. Of course, plenty of people who are blind in one eye manage to find productive jobs, and earn their own way. In fact, plenty of people who are blind in both eyes manage to do that. If this were a recent disability I could understand, but this was a condition he had since childhood. He apparently is well enough to stage demonstrations and be a political activist but becomes too disabled when it comes to looking for a job.

He also says that his girlfriend suffers form a "stress-induced" problem which means she can't work and that he has to stay with her to take care of her. I certainly can understand that sometimes there are stress-induced problems that people have—been there, done that. But, I also know that "stress-induced" conditions are easily manufactured and often have been, especially when it comes to collecting welfare from the state.

Irish is quite vocal about how he is a victim of the state. And he is absolutely convinced he is being persecuted for belonging to the nutty Oath Keepers, a group founded by a former staff member for Ron Paul. Supposedly the group is for law enforcement and military types who promise to never violate the Constitution (however they interpret it). But I have to wonder if that is really true, especially if Irish is a member. He's unemployed so not in the military or law enforcement. And certainly any disability that prevents him from working would prevent previous military service as well, especially since he had the blindness in the one eye since childhood. Further research shows Oath Keepers lets anyone join.

Personally I wouldn't mind active police members or military service members refused to perform unconstitutional acts. But I wouldn't count on Oath Keeper members from what I see. All the board of directors, that are listed on their web site, are inactive in such endeavors. That is, they are former police officer and former members of the military—though obviously people like Irish apparently qualify as members as well. Dare I say it is easy to pledge to disobey invalid orders when one is not being given orders. Oath Keepers is as much a group of law officers as the Union of Concerned Scientists is a scientific organization. Both are political groups masquerading as something else.

Of course Oath Keepers is milking the matter for all they can. Their web site has a long rant about the matter that briefly mentions that there are "very serious allegations" in the affidavit that Irish was given. But Oath Keepers "out of repspect for the privacy of the parents" won't tell anyone what they are.

Shouldn't that raise some red flags? There are clearly issues involved in this case which have NOTHING to do Oath Keepers, issues that the OK founder admits are "very serious allegations." But that doesn't stop people from jumping to the conclusion that Irish is a victim of an over-active state. He may well be, or he might not be.

So what are those other allegations? Oath Keepers won't tell you, I will. As for privacy, there is no privacy in this case since Irish has been publicly portraying himself as a victim and holding press conferences.

Let us recount some of what has happened. Irish and Taylor have moved-in together. Taylor has two children with her actual husband who were apparently living with her and Irish at one point. The couple lost custody of those children during a trial sometime ago. At that time a judge determined that Irish physically abused the other two other children. Now this is rather serious and ought to overshadow whether Irish is a member of some far Right group.

In addition, the affidavit says that Irish has a "lengthy history of domestic violence," and that in previous incidents Taylor said he choked her and beat her. Previous incidents of violence by Irish were sufficient enough that he was ordered to take a domestic violence course but he dropped out of that.

The affidavit seemed to mention Irish's association with the Oath Keepers but that was not the reason for taking the child into custody. Oath Keepers is mentioned because Irish has gone out and armed himself rather heavily. It would seem that this was mentioned because of the history of violence on the part of Irish. If I were dealing with someone with a history of violence I would want to know if they were armed. Irish, of course, glosses over the abuse and claims that the mention of OK and his guns is the REASON for the custody order. But having already been found guilty of domestic violence, against children and Taylor, seems to be the main issue here.

Defenders of Irish seem to take no account of his history of violence against children. One protester, who said he was part of the "freedom movement" used absurd logic to defend Irish. The man said: "Maybe he's not that great a guy. Maybe he has a record. But just because the government says it's so, I don't believe it. The fact that there are documents about it is meaningless. but what they do is no different if I kidnapped the baby."

If that statement is accurate, the man is a moron. He said that he refuses to believe the domestic violence simply because a government agency said it happened. That is asinine.

It is true that government can alleged domestic abuse where none existed and use this as a tool for other means. But, more often than not, the government tends to ignore real abuse that has been committed against children. A substantial portion, if not the vast majority, of such custody orders are instituted after abuse has been documented. There are all sorts of political pressures that distort government intervention in child custody, that is absolutely true. But that there are bad cases of this doesn't mean that all allegation and convictions of child abuse are false.

Anyone can allege abuse and a huge number of the allegations are proven unfounded. But when courts rule that abuse has taken place, the likelihood is that abuse has taken place.

There is no shortage of paranoid delusion conspiracies on the part of the Right. But such thinking has no place in libertarianism. There are plenty of innocent people who are victims of state-induced injustice, we don't need to manufacture cases and try to make guilty people look innocent.

Police reports show numerous domestic violence incidents with the man. He and his married girlfriend have already lost custody of two of her children due to his abuse. When such cases happen, and they do happen, it is not atypical for the state to take custody of other children when they are born. That the state frequently botches up doesn't make this case a botch-up as well. And the incentives in the state system are perverted in the opposite direct—that is they are more likely to miss real abuse than they are to allege it when it doesn't happen.

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