Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Libertarianism

Yes, there is a Difference Between a Democrat and a Socialist

In right-wing circles, this interview with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been doing the rounds:

Interviewer Chris Matthews asks Schultz to explain the difference between a democrat and a socialist and Schultz fires blanks. This has many on the right crowing that there really is no difference, that Barack Obama was the socialist they thought he was all along. This isn’t true–most democrats are not socialists, and there are clear distinctions that political scientists routinely draw among these groups. Unfortunately, these distinctions are not widely understood by the general public because they are often complex and nuanced. So I’ve come up with a way to explain the differences that I hope will be helpful to both those on the left and those on the right.

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Candidate Evaluations: Rand Paul

One of the big problems in our election coverage is the tendency for journalists to focus on descriptive questions (who will be president?) rather than normative ones (who should be president?). This is understandable, given journalism’s focus on objectivity, but the result is that we often spend much more time talking about whether a candidate is electable than we do about whether or not the candidate would actually do a good job. Voters need to know which candidates support policies that will help them and those they care about–they don’t need to know which candidates pundits think are likely to prevail. So my response is to continue my Candidate Evaluations series, which considers a candidate’s background, policy history, and explicit statements to determine whether or not the candidate would actually be any good at being president. Previously, I did Ted Cruz. Today, I tackle Rand Paul, who declared his intent to run earlier this week.

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How to Deal with Hate Speech

Now that I’m once again at a university doing university work, I have the pleasure of having my mind pointed at different subjects and writings that I otherwise might not get around to investigating. I’ve been looking at a book by Corey Brettschneider entitled When the State Speaks, What Should It Say? In this book, Brettschneider seeks to resolve an interesting dilemma in liberal political theory–namely, how liberal states, which are committed to liberty and equality, should deal with citizens who have illiberal opinions. Here, Brettschneider calls these illiberal opinions “hateful views”, and argues that a view is hateful if it seeks to undermine the liberty or equality of groups of people on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and so on. I’d like to discuss Brettschneider’s view with you a bit today.

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Breaking Bad and Morality

Once in a while, I like to indulge my interest in fiction and apply political and moral concepts to the world that isn’t. Today, I’d like to have a look at Breaking Bad. Why Breaking Bad? As a fan, I from time to time enjoy perusing the vast amount that is written about the show online. What sticks out to me is that the very same characters can be considered sympathetic, even heroic, by some viewers, while simultaneously receiving scorn and vilification from others–an unusual phenomenon in television. I also find that the justifications reviewers and viewers use for the various sympathies they hold are muddled. So today I’d like to dissect the show and its characters a little, to come to clearer conclusions about which moral principles are in play. Of course, this will entail extensive plot spoilers, so neophyte viewers should steer clear of this piece.

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Search and Seizure

In the United States, we often get very upset about violations of privacy on the basis that they are thought to violate the 4th amendment, which protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures”. But what is it about search and seizure that is objectionable in the first place, and to what extent do the modern privacy violations we often argue about conform to that?

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