Criminal Law

cagedOn June 25, 2010, Professor Joseph Weiler, editor of the European Journal of International Law, will stand trial in a French criminal court for running a mildly negative book review on a journal-associated website.

The book in question is The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court by the Israeli law professor Dr. Karin N. Calvo-Goller. According to the reviewer the main part of the book “simply restates the…relevant parts of the ICC Statute.” This rehashing, he adds, is particularly unproductive since a large part of the volume consists of a reprint of the Statute itself.

The author, Dr. Calvo-Goller, disagrees, and has instigated a case of criminal libel against the editor, Professor Weiler. According to Dr. Calvo-Goller:

[The] review…contains false factual statements which the author of the review, a professor of criminal law, could not reasonably believe to be true. Professor Weigend’s review is libellous. It may cause harm to my professional reputation and academic promotion.

Dr. Calvo-Goller also contends that the review is an insult to those who took the time to read and comment on earlier drafts of her book. And she notes that the very same book received a positive review from Judge Kai Ambos, who, she pointedly observes, she has never met.

Dr. Calvo-Goller (who is, after all a law professor) concedes in a letter to Professor Weiler that she is aware of the extent of freedom of expression under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. (Professor Weiler teaches at NYU, well within the boundaries of that country.) However, she notes, “the extent of that freedom ends where its exercise damages the reputation of an individual.”

Professor Weiler responded at great length to Dr. Calvo-Goller’s letter, and to a follow-up letter, defending the good faith and integrity of the reviewer, rejecting the notion that a critical book review constitutes an insult to advance readers, observing that it is not uncommon for a single book to receive both negative and positive reviews, and suggesting that the question of what constitutes a “rehash” might be a matter at least partly of opinion and not of clearcut fact. He invited Dr. Calvo-Goller to respond on the website and passed on her objections to the original reviewer with an invitation to read them and modify his review, an invitation which was not accepted. A year later, Professor Weiler was summoned to appear before a French Examining Judge, and his criminal trial was set for June 25.

Professor Weiler has invited letters of indignation and support to be sent to EJIL.academicfreedom@gmail.com, preferably via attachments on letterhead indicating your affiliation. He has also requested scanned or digital copies of book reviews which are at least as critical as the one in question so as to illustrate that this kind of thing happens all the time.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the book review I’m about to scan.

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41 Responses to “Criminal Law”


  1. 1 1 Paul Grayson

    He is an American professor, she is Israeli, her publisher is Dutch, the journal is based in Italy, the reviewer is German…maybe I am missing something obvious, but can someone explain how France got involved? Is filing a libel complaint in France like registering a corporation in Delaware? And why would he voluntarily travel to France for this trial?

  2. 2 2 Steve Landsburg

    Paul Grayson: I am quite unclear on how France thinks it got jurisdiction here. But as to the voluntary travel, I assume that failure to show up could lead to his arrest the next time he travels to France (or maybe to anywhere in the EU).

  3. 3 3 Harold

    The UK is often host to cases of “libel tourism”. The laws are so general that cases have been brought where only a few dozen copies of a book have been sold there, or a few individuals have read an internet report in the UK. Changes to the law have been promised, and we wait with baited breath…

  4. 4 4 dWj

    Have you posted on the Singh “libel” case? I don’t remember which places I’ve read about it.

    http://skepticblog.org/2009/05/11/simon-singhs-libel-suit/

    This seems even more Kafkaesque than usual for British libel cases; usually, one merely has to defend what one said, instead of what a judge has bizarrely claimed that one has said.

  5. 5 5 Steve Landsburg

    dWj: I have not blogged on this, but I’m glad you provided the link. I hope readers will follow it.

  6. 6 6 Al V.

    The Singh libel case is very disappointing, from two perspectives:
    - First, Simon is a terrific writer, and it’s sad to see him having to go through this.
    - Second, the free exchange of ideas is a critical component of a productive society, and English libel laws will tend to supress that exchange. I would be concerned about publishing anything in England (or apparently, France)under the current circumstances. Unfortunately, with the Internet today, I would think that publishing a critical review on the Internet would expose a writer to a ridiculous suit like this.

    Steve Landsburg, I would also like to read your thoughts, and your readers’ thoughts, at some point about the over-application of patent law in the U.S., which is to me a similar problem. The Patent Office has been awarding patents for “obvious” applications, especially in the domain of computer software, and I think that this has the effect of surpressing innovation, which is the opposite of the intent of patent law.

  7. 7 7 Neil

    Every cloud has a silver lining. The Singh case has put a spotlight on quakery in the UK.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/01/simon-singh-libel-case-chiropractors

  8. 8 8 Alan Gunn

    The link will below will take you to Language Log’s coverage of the Singh case. They have also discussed the French case against Weiler. In one respect, Singh’s case is much worse,, as a judge has actually ruled against him on grounds that seem far-fetched, though a recent appellate decision gives some hope for a sensible outcome. The only villain (so far) in the Weiler case is Dr. Calvo-Goller herself, who has filed the complaint. As I understand the situation, once she did that, the court had no option except to begin proceedings. To be sure, her claim is absurd, but “crackpot files ridiculous lawsuit” is not news. Alas, even “ridiculous lawsuit succeeds” isn’t that big a story either.

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/index.php?s=Simon+Singh

  9. 9 9 Roger Schlafly

    Singh could have made all his legitimate points without getting into trouble. The problem is that he persisted in comments that essentially accused the chiropractors of fraud. His cause is not such a good one.

  10. 10 10 Harold

    The problem with the laws is that the burden of proof is on the accused libeler to prove what they said was true. Even if you win, you can still be out of pocket – another example here:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7026331.ece

    A Danish Radiologist seems to have beaten GE by threatening to sue them – they backed down.
    http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2010/02/slandered_doctor_threatens_to.php

  11. 11 11 Snorri Godhi

    Can we pledge to write a negative review at Amazon if Joseph Weiler is found guilty?

  12. 12 12 Philip

    The French courts have juridiction because Weiler is a French citizen.

    Under French law, a criminal case brought under libel laws can be brought simply by filing a complaint. Unlike under US criminal procedures where a prosecutor reviews the charges and decides whether the merits warrant proceeding, in France the case goes straight to a judge who has no discretion in the matter and must hold an informal hearing to weigh the merits. If he finds there is no merit to the charge, he dismisses the case. That’s what’s scheduled to occur this summer. So, it’s not really accurate to say that Weiler is “on trial”; not yet anyway.

    Nevertheless, this is clearly a trivial charge and probably meant to harass rather than to seek criminal penalties.

  13. 13 13 Philip

    Here is a very entertaining description of the appeals court hearing in the Singh case by a Singh supporter:

    http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2010/02/good-day-in-court.html

    While I agree this case is egregious, there’s another side of the story to consider re: placing the burden of proof on the alleged libeler. If you are attacked by a newspaper or a deep-pocketed individual using a public forum, who makes scurrilous charges about you, holds you up to ridicule and contempt before your neighbours and colleagues and destroys your career, do you want to bear the burden of DISproving their allegations–in other words, the burden to prove a negative? This may be a cure that is worse than the disease.

    Here’s a recent Guardian article about a very effective alternative that is routing the BCA:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/01/simon-singh-libel-case-chiropractors

  14. 14 14 Watney

    Is it still permissible to opine that Dr. Calvo-Goller is a ninny? Please advise.

  15. 15 15 Vinny B.

    This is nothing compared to the tyranny we had to live with under the Bush Regime, who started two illegal wars, tortured political dissidents, and destroyed the American economy to make Wall Street and Haliburton rich. I don’t see the big deal that someone is being sued for libel.

  16. 16 16 Don Meaker

    1. The wars were legal, started by hostile nation states, with the US response declaring a state of war approved by the Senate.
    2. The US doesn’t torture. Torture is inflicting permanent harm, and their is no evidence that permanent harm was inflicted.
    3. The US economy was saved by investors looking at the pending election where a Socialist was about to be elected, and decided to put their money where it was safe from the rampant inflation that would soon be created. TARP and Stimulus/porkulus showed the irresponsibility of the government in the field of monetary policy.
    4. The only chance to protect oneself from socialists is true information about their illegal perversion of government and law. Sueing book reviewers who blow the whistle is one way to limit the flow of true information.

    Be really afraid of libertarians. They want to take over the government so they can do nothing to you.

  17. 17 17 Philip

    Watney: Yes.

    Vinny B.: Absolutely right. But there’s room for more than one source of moral indignation at a time.

  18. 18 18 jambarama

    Vinny B. – you can make anything seem petty if you compare it to something worse. The Bush Regime was nothing compared to the tyranny Jewish Germans had to live with under the Hitler regime – I don’t see the big deal that Cheney could read your email.

    See how unhelpful that is? Simply because something worse is happening elsewhere, or has happened in the past, doesn’t excuse other bad behavior. Loose libel suits cause chilling effects on speech, discourage sharing of accurate (and inaccurate) information, and permit bullies to silence their opponents.

    Europe has always valued speech differently than the US. No one protects speech like the United States. Much of Europe has prohibitions on hate speech, huge swaths of the middle east censor nudity, and much of Asia has prohibitions on dissent.

    I think for a modern democratic society, you need to protect dissent, information, and opinion. This need doesn’t go away when something worse happens.

  19. 19 19 mojo

    She’s a definite contender for Reed Richard’s title of “World’s Dumbest Smart Guy” – terrible publicity, worse precedents if successful.

  20. 20 20 Snorri Godhi

    jambarama:
    Europe has always valued speech differently than the US. No one protects speech like the United States.

    I beg to disagree. In theory, there is free speech in the USA. In practice, when a Danish newspaper outrages Muslims, all truly* European countries stand shoulder to shoulder, while the American media looks the other way.

    [* by writing "truly European" I implicitly exclude the fringes: Sweden, Norway, Britain, and Ireland.]

    That is not to say that I agree with Vinny B, who clearly has no idea of what “tyranny” means. I can say that proudly, since my grandfather sued the Mussolini government, and won. (Though it was a Pyrrhic victory.) He lived through a regime much more oppressive than anything Vinny can conceive, yet I still would not call that “tyranny”.

  21. 21 21 jcm

    Mark Twain on Jane Austen:
    She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.

    All the great critics praise her art generously. To start with, they say she draws her characters with sharp discrimination and a sure touch. I believe that this is true, as long as the characters she is drawing are odious.

  22. 22 22 jcm
  23. 23 23 Jay Lewis

    “Is it still permissible to opine that Dr. Calvo-Goller is a ninny? Please advise.”

    Perhaps if you attached a disclaimer:

    “The following statement is only true in the United States; partially true in Australia and Canada; and merely traffic noise in Europe, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

  24. 24 24 jcm

    Naipaul on Henry James: the worst writer of the world. Hardy unbearable

  25. 25 25 setnaffa

    Vinny B, et al.

    Please help me understand how “making Wall Street rich” destroys the American economy. By the standards of the last three or four Presidents, Wall Street is the American Economy…

    Also please identify by name the political dissident who were tortured? How many were there? Were they captured overseas and forced to talk to attractive women in their skivvies and forced to stay up late and listen to rock music (and somehow construed this as torture)? Or were their nails torn out for merely coloring them (see http://www.rawa.org) like the seven-year old under the Taliban?

    I think you have real life confused with a computer game or something… There are people out there who do torture political prisoners (PRC, for example); but only the mentally ill or those with chemical dependencies believe our government is doing _actual_ torture…

  26. 26 26 Michael

    >This is nothing compared to the tyranny we had to live with under the Bush Regime, who started two illegal wars, tortured political dissidents, and destroyed the American economy to make Wall Street and Haliburton rich. I don’t see the big deal that someone is being sued for libel.

    What if the Bush Regime, Wall Street, and Halliburton decided to sue you for libel?

  27. 27 27 Pete

    Phillip,

    I, for one, don’t like bearing any burdens, but if I have to choose, I’d rather the burden be on the accuser of libel.

    I think the former president is a good case for this. He was so frequently attacked by so many. Even if for good reasons, many times, by seemingly crazy people motivated by seething hatred. But even if every single attack were absolutely true – even if he was the devil himself, he still had many media outlets defending him to the point where probably not even the workers of MSNBC hadn’t at least heard positive things about him too.

    If you are prominent enough to be the subject of libel, you are probably a relevant enough person or company that the libel is going to be the last word. I imagine libel is actually rarely prosecuted in America, even when the case is clear cut.

    The kind of person you talk about in your post sounds like an immature bully, which leads me to the only real victims I can think of when I try to come up with people who are really hurt by libel – kids bullied online. Of course, most states have laws protecting kids from cyber bullying.

    Am I wrong? Are there times when “newspapers or deep-pocketed individuals use a public forum to make scurrilous charges” just because they don’t like someone? The thought of someone spending lots and lots of their own money just to hurt the reputation of someone just seems so weird to me.

  28. 28 28 Walter Sobchak

    I found her e-mail address and wrote her:

    Subject: June 25, 2010
    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2010/03/04/criminal-law/

    I read about your libel complaint. It is a truly moronic and cowardly thing to do. It just shows that you are thin skinned and hysterical. My advice to you would be to find a competent psychiatrist who can give you some medicine to calm you down and fire your lawyer who is obviously a shyster.
    Sincerely,

    Let her know how you feel.

  29. 29 29 drboB

    Does this mean that if a movie reviewer does not like a film, he cannot critisize it?

  30. 30 30 Steve Landsburg

    Walter Sobchak: I have edited Dr. Calvo-Galler’s email address out of your comment. This is out of respect for Professor Weiler’s request: “Please do not write directly to Dr. Calvo-Galler, or otherwise harass or interfere in any way whatsoever with her right to seek remedies under French law.”

  31. 31 31 Philip

    Don Meaker-

    1. Yes, the Afgan war is legitimate. The Itaq war, on the other hand, was launched on a pretext but, you’re right, pre-emptive wars are not necessarily illegal, just immoral. This one was also extremely costly. I’ve noticed libertarians don’t seem to be much outraged by the $1 trillion plus we’ve deficit-financed to pay for that little death-soaked adventure; but enact a paid-for hc reform package to save some lives and they say the sky is falling.

    2. “The US doesn’t torture.” In #1 above you sought the protection of law to defend the Iraq war. Where’s your respect for law when it comes to torture? Torture violates US criminal law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention, which the US signed and therefore carries the force of law.

    Perhpas you’re unaware that in 2003 soldiers of the 320th Military Police Battalion in Iraq were charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with prisoner abuse (a polite way of saying torture). I won’t even get into waterboarding.

    3. “TARP and Stimulus/porkulus showed the irresponsibility of the government in the field of monetary policy.” This is the most sensible part of #3 and it’s wrong. You’re talking about fiscal policy here, not monetary policy.

    4. “Sueing book reviewers who blow the whistle is one way to limit the flow of true information.” At last, something we can agree on.

  32. 32 32 Harold

    Setnaffa: “but only the mentally ill or those with chemical dependencies believe our government is doing _actual_ torture… ”
    Don Meaker: “The US doesn’t torture. Torture is inflicting permanent harm, and their is no evidence that permanent harm was inflicted.”

    Many sane and clear headed people believe the USA does torture. Defining torture as requiring permanent damage is not usual. The UN convention against torture defines it as:
    Torture: existence of a specific purpose plus intentional infliction of severe suffering or pain;
    Cruel or inhuman treatment: no specific purpose, significant level of suffering or pain inflicted;
    Outrages upon personal dignity: no specific purpose, significant level of humiliation or degradation.
    All of the above are considered illegal.

    “1. The wars were legal, started by hostile nation states, with the US response declaring a state of war approved by the Senate.”
    The Iraq war is considered illegal by many authorities. A pre-emptive war without UN authority is legal to prevent a humanitarian crisis, or in reponse to aggression. Neither was the case in Iraq. This leaves the existing resolutions from the first Iraq war as justification. It is at best doubtful that these were sufficient to authorise the war.

    All this is largely irrelevant, as there is no mechanism for enforcing any of these international laws against permanent members of the security council.

    And back on-topic, a difference between the French and UK cases is that the French is a criminal action, the UK ones are all civil actions.

  33. 33 33 Michael

    >I’ve noticed libertarians don’t seem to be much outraged by the $1 trillion plus we’ve deficit-financed to pay for that little death-soaked adventure; but enact a paid-for hc reform package to save some lives and they say the sky is falling.

    I’ve noticed that libertarian political support in the United States is in the low single digits, and that their outrage tends to be drowned out by Republicans and Democrats. I’ve also noticed that libertarians do not have a monolithic viewpoint, and making sweeping statements about their political philosophy runs the risk of terminological inexactitude.

  34. 34 34 Philip

    Michael-

    OK, let’s test your proposition. Where do you stand on:

    * Cutting back the regulatory authority of the federal govt.?
    * States rights vs a strong central govt.?
    * Gun control?
    * Affirmative action?
    * the stimulus?
    * Cutting taxes?
    * Deficit spending?
    * Govt. spending?
    * Social Security?
    * Medicare?
    * Medicaid?
    * Welfare programs?
    * Roe v Wade?
    * Strict constructionist reading of the Constitution?
    * the income tax?
    * that the New Deal alleviated the Great Depression?
    * that WWII ended the Great Depression?
    * free trade vs fair trade?
    * whether Democrats are really Socialists in disguise?
    * whether Democrats are really “communitarians” (i.e., communists) in disguise?
    * whether Deomcrats are really fascists in disquise?
    * aggressively stopping illegal immigration?
    * the FED?
    * returning to the gold standard?
    * whether slavery was the root cause of the Civil War?
    * Global warming?
    * the role of international law?
    * the UN

    I could go on.

    If you’re a libertarian, I bet I can guess where you stand on 90% of these questions.If not, I probably can’t hit 90%.

  35. 35 35 Walter Sobchak

    This is out of respect for Professor Weiler’s request: “Please do not write directly to Dr. Calvo-Galler, or otherwise harass or interfere in any way whatsoever with her right to seek remedies under French law.”

    Weenie. You can’t be nice to these people. If you start something. You better be prepared to finish it. I say make the weasels life miserable. She needs to learn about the temperature in the kitchen.

  36. 36 36 DividedLine

    The US doesn’t torture? Wiki is Wiki, but it is convenient and the sourcing is there, including to some of the pictures that have probably set America’s standing on human rights back several decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_prisoner_abuse

    I’m not sure what good it does to pretend this was some kind of college hijinks hazing incident. Homicide is pretty permanent. We need to square on face what happened.

  37. 37 37 Michael

    I noticed you did not mention either the Iraq War (against) or health care reform (have yet to see a plan that rewards good health care decisions and punishes bad ones, or any mention of Singapore’s system, which adds a bit of fun to the debate), though that was part of your original statement about libertarians. :)

    I hesitate to use Steve Landsburg’s blog for my personal soapbox (feel free to delete it if you wish, since this gets rather far afield from the topic), and most of these questions cannot be answered with a single word or phrase, but are rather linked to numerous other views — “I really think X, but only if Y and Z were also true.” For example, I think income tax rates should be reduced, but only if the budget is fiscally sustainable. If you won’t cut government spending and can’t raise Pigovian and/or Georgist taxes, then cutting income taxes could be counterproductive.

    That having been said, let’s see how accurate your guesses are:

    * Cutting back the regulatory authority of the federal govt.?
    I believe the current regulatory authority is inefficient. Charging Pigovian taxes to correct for negative externalities would in many cases be a better way of handling the problem. For example, if you wish to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a carbon tax is an efficient way to do it, while saying “You can only pump out a million tons of CO2″ is inefficient. Likewise, raising taxes on gasoline is an efficient way to reduce consumption, while mandating mpg standards on cars is inefficient.

    * States rights vs a strong central govt.?
    Rights should be held at the lowest level possible. I believe in individual rights, except where those rights come in conflict (the right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins). Individuals should have the right to freely associate on the neighborhood, city, and state level, with appropriate powers transferred by the will of the people. Federal power should be reserved for protecting individual rights and national sovereignty, rather than imposing the will of one group of people on another. I do think that individual states function as laboratories of democracy, and we really should ask if imposing a solution on the entire country is better than letting individuals, communities, and states make certain decisions for themselves. Yes, this is consistent with the federal government forcing public schools to integrate and removing Jim Crow laws, since in both cases individual rights were being abridged.

    (Do you see how long this will get? This isn’t even a complete answer, just a crude outline, and one that most people could poke holes in because of exceptions and interrelations.)

    * Gun control?
    Well, the general public should not have access to weapons of mass destruction, because there aren’t appropriate safeguards to protect the lives of innocents. (I just thought I’d get this out of the way, since these arguments tend to degenerate to “So you think third-graders should have access to nukes.”). I think law-abiding citizens should be allowed personal firearms. Some combination of taxes and insurance related to the level of risk might be appropriate in certain cases — someone might buy a machine gun, but they’d have to have a background check and insure it, with rates determined by actuarial analysis, or some such thing.

    * Affirmative action?
    The government should only care about a person’s qualifications for a particular job, and it’s perfectly appropriate to restrict government purchases and contracts to companies with the same criteria. If an individual suffered past discrimination from the government and the companies it contracts to, it is also appropriate to hire them for the job they are qualified for and/or pay damages. However, hiring someone because they share certain physical characteristics or belong to the same group as a victim of past discrimination does not resolve the problem of discrimination, it merely punishes the innocent.

    * the stimulus?
    Spent unwisely. If you take the $787 billion number, it would be better (IMO) to give every working American an extra $2.50/hour, and reduce the minimum wage by the same amount. Extended over one year for the entire labor force (155 million) would cost about the same amount, and do more to encourage productive work.

    * Cutting taxes?
    I’m for shifting taxes, from tariffs and income to negative externalities (Pigovian taxes) and land (Georgist taxes). I do believe government spending is too large as a percentage of GDP.

    * Deficit spending?
    It only makes sense if the return from the expenditure is higher than the cost of interest.

    * Govt. spending?
    Necessary, but often wasteful.

    * Social Security?
    Flawed program. Should have been designed to track life expectancy, and more defined contribution than defined benefit.

    * Medicare?
    * Medicaid?
    Same argument as Social Security, plus it really should do more to encourage wise use of resources.

    * Welfare programs?
    If work is a positive externality, a Pigovian subsidy is appropriate. The government can pay a certain amount for every hour worked, up to 40 hours per week, with an appropriate reduction in minimum wage. There will be some point where you get essentially full employment (though who knows if this is the most efficient level), which would make the truly unemployable a rather small group.

    * Roe v Wade?
    Settled law.

    * Strict constructionist reading of the Constitution?
    The Constitution is the foundation of our entire legal system, so I’m fairly constructionist. However, I do agree it isn’t perfect, which is why I support amending it in certain cases.

    * the income tax?
    Inefficient as currently designed.

    * that the New Deal alleviated the Great Depression?
    The New Deal was incredibly complex. It helped in places, and harmed in others, and it’s impossible to compress several books’ worth of material into a paragraph.

    * that WWII ended the Great Depression?
    No. It reduced measured unemployment, but building bombs is not the same as building cars and roads. I would argue that the Great Depression ended in the United States when the soldiers came home and started working in private industry building infrastructure and consumer goods.

    * free trade vs fair trade?
    I could answer if you would give your definition of each.

    * whether Democrats are really Socialists in disguise?
    * whether Democrats are really “communitarians” (i.e., communists) in disguise?
    * whether Deomcrats are really fascists in disquise?
    The same answer for all three questions: Some are, the vast majority are not. I’m curious why you didn’t mention Republicans, since the same answer would also apply. (Most people would like to see their ideas implemented because they think they are good, not because they want to be evil. The problem comes when they want to replace the marketplace of ideas with the command economy of ideas.)

    * aggressively stopping illegal immigration?
    Unnecessary, except to prevent criminals from entering the country. Notice the Pigovian subsidy for wages mentioned above. If restricted to American citizens, the only ones coming across the border would be for jobs that Americans wouldn’t or couldn’t do despite the subsidy.

    * the FED?
    I’m for more transparency and efficiency, but I don’t have strong feelings either way.

    * returning to the gold standard?
    A gold standard would raise the cost of gold for electronics and jewelry and whatnot. Gold is nice because it doesn’t decay and the supply is hard to counterfeit, but I think it’s too useful to use as money. Intricately designed pieces of paper is fine, as long as the government restrains the printing presses.

    * whether slavery was the root cause of the Civil War?
    There were many causes of the Civil War, and both sides focused on the ones that made them look more honorable. Again, many books have been written, and it’s hard to condense into a single paragraph. I will say, though, that I wish more of our Founding Fathers were like John Jay.

    * Global warming?
    Very likely, and best addressed via taxes on greenhouse gases, rather than cap-and-trade or regulation.

    * the role of international law?
    Nice for relations between nations. If you are asking whether it should supercede U.S. law on U.S. soil, no. (Treaties are a complicating factor which I will ignore for brevity’s sake.)

    * the UN
    A nice idea, inefficiently designed.

    *If you’re a libertarian, I bet I can guess where you stand on 90% of these questions.If not, I probably can’t hit 90%.

    I consider myself a geolibertarian. So what score did you get?

    Note: political views subject to change as more information is incorperated into my political philosophy. It’s happened before, and will undoubtedly continue until I start chasing young whippersnappers off my lawn.

    (Apologies to Steve Landsburg, and he may replace it with “Michael gave a long, boring answer.” )

  38. 38 38 make yerida

    Easy answer: the Israeli criminals cannot break the law and then depend on it when it becomes convenient. Let her permanently make yerida down to France however and the whole thing can restart.

  39. 39 39 Philip

    Michael-

    Wow. I wasn’t expecting a dissertation. :)

    You’re right. You gave me a bunch of answers I didn’t expect. You’re clearly not a standard issue libertarian.

    I know a little about geolibertarianism and have considered its distinction between capital and land to be curious and rather communitarian. I’ll have to study up and understand how your responses above fit into geolibertarianism. I think it’s safe to say they don’t with libertarianism.

    Thanks for the trailhead to further education.

    Cheers.

  40. 40 40 Snorri Godhi

    Walter Sobchak: you might as well have said:
    “Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?”
    Or else:
    “I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude.”
    And to Dr. Calvo-Galler:
    “You are entering a world of pain.”

  41. 41 41 Michael

    >I know a little about geolibertarianism and have considered its distinction between capital and land to be curious and rather communitarian. I’ll have to study up and understand how your responses above fit into geolibertarianism. I think it’s safe to say they don’t with libertarianism.

    I should point out you will probably find several points of disagreement between my views and other self-described (and very rare) geolibertarians — my political views are far from a pure political ideology. I just think “geolibertarian” is the closest label.

    Of course, there is even greater disagreement with more conventional libertarians, with whom I have fun arguing the benefits of LVT over other taxes. And notice how I’m leaving out minarchists and anarchists. :)

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