Sarah Skwire – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Sarah Skwire – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 It’s Not a Thought Experiment Anymore http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/02/not-thought-experiment-anymore/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/02/not-thought-experiment-anymore/#comments Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:05:20 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11592 (co-authored with Steve Horwitz) We all know the thought experiment. There are a million versions of it. What do you do if the Nazis show up? Do you hide your...

The post It’s Not a Thought Experiment Anymore appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
(co-authored with Steve Horwitz)

We all know the thought experiment. There are a million versions of it. What do you do if the Nazis show up? Do you hide your Jewish neighbors in your attic? Do you protest in the streets? Do you throw stones at the Nazis’ parades? Do you shoot them on sight? What are your ethical limits? What are the limits of a civil society?

Is it okay to punch a Nazi?

Classrooms across the US run thought experiments like these, show the movie “The Lesson Plan” about the Third Wave event in Palo Alto, and discuss the Milgram experiment. It’s supposed to prepare our students and ourselves to resist fascism.

We want students to say that the solution here is to engage the Nazis in reasoned debate, to resist them peacefully, and fight fascism by being living examples of civilized society.

Here’s the problem, though.

It’s not a thought experiment anymore. The philosophy classroom is no longer an intellectual version of matchstick poker. The stakes are real.

The attendees of the 2017 International Students for Liberty Conference—still going on as we write this post—no longer have to wonder what they would do if Nazis showed up.

Nazis—at least, one prominent member of the alt-right with neo-Nazi views and a handful of his supporters—showed up at ISFLC17 this weekend. They were invited by a few attendees who belong to a group (The Hoppe Caucus) that is not affiliated with Students for Liberty in any way. They arrived, got a table in the hotel bar, posted a sign that implied they were part of the official conference, and began to try to engage with passersby. It was—as the Hoppe Caucus made clear on their Facebook page—a scheme explicitly concocted in order to cause trouble.

After 30 minutes or so of what one SFL attendee called “fairly boring conversations with a Nazi” some of the SFL students began to get angry and shout. Jeffrey Tucker, who knows better than most how insidious this kind of thinking is within the libertarian movement, arrived, told the Nazi that fascists are not welcome at an anti-fascist conference, and argued with him for a few moments.

The hotel bar, quite justifiably, got tired of the disruption and asked everyone to leave. The neo-Nazi, at his own request, was escorted from the bar.

The news hit Facebook and Twitter, and the post-game analysis began.

While many felt that the situation was handled as well as it could be, others seemed intent on engaging in those familiar thought experiments. Jeffrey Tucker and Students for Liberty were called delicate snowflakes for not wanting to welcome Nazi ideology at a conference dedicated to liberty. People who supported the ejection of the Nazi and his supporters were told they were violating his free speech rights. Tucker was criticized for being visibly angry with the Nazi and for not sitting down and engaging him in reasoned debate. Many claimed that the Nazi got exactly what he wanted. People got angry. He got publicity.

We aren’t going to rehearse, here, the many arguments we have had about what happened and what should have happened.

We just want to say this: “What would you do when the Nazis show up?” is not a thought experiment any more. We never expected, in our lifetimes, to really need to know what to do when Nazis show up to one of our talks or to a conference we were attending. And because—just by chance—we were already on a flight home when all this occurred, we didn’t need to know that this weekend.

But we no longer believe that we won’t have to know. And soon.

And while we still hope that our responses to such a situation will serve as examples of a civil society, we are more resolute than ever in our conviction that believing in a civilized society does not require that one dine with neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or those who believe that ethnic cleansing is anything other than evil. Those who reject the ideas and institutions of a liberal social order are not entitled to being treated by others as if they accept them. Again, we believe it’s wrong to throw the first punch, but there’s no obligation to treat Nazis as reasonable conversation partners.

Today is also the grim anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which created internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII. It reminds us that it’s not just Nazis, but sometimes it’s our own government who forces to face these questions.

Do not ask yourself, any longer, “What would I have done?” in that situation. Do not ask yourself “What would I do if a Nazi had shown up?” Do not ask yourself “What would I do if my neighbor was hauled away?”

Ask yourself “What will I do?”

Because, these days, you need to know.

The post It’s Not a Thought Experiment Anymore appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/02/not-thought-experiment-anymore/feed/ 211 11592
Cinnabon, Caskets, Catfood, and the Tyranny of Experts http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2015/11/cinnabon/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2015/11/cinnabon/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 19:34:09 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=9940 I had occasion recently to read some of Akerlof and Shiller’s new book Phishing for Phools. I found it, to be perfectly blunt, infuriating. The book is paternalistic. It assumes that free...

The post Cinnabon, Caskets, Catfood, and the Tyranny of Experts appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
I had occasion recently to read some of Akerlof and Shiller’s new book Phishing for Phools. I found it, to be perfectly blunt, infuriating. The book is paternalistic. It assumes that free markets reward cheaters. It equates marketing with fraud. It engages in a score of other offenses.

But the aspect of the book that inspired my most emphatic marginalia is its contempt for the decisions made by people who are poorer and from a lower social class than the authors.

For example, the popular airport chain Cinnabon comes in for a lot of critique in the book for using the appealing smell of fresh cinnamon rolls to appeal to consumers’ appetites, while occluding the nefarious truths that a “Cinnabon is made with margarine; it has 880 calories; and it is slathered with frosting.”

Unsurprisingly, the bakery at Whole Foods isn’t mentioned.

Akerlof and Shiller also enjoy reminding us that “even if we are careful 99 percent of the time, the remaining 1 percent, when we act as if ‘money does not matter’ can undo all that prior rectitude.” And they have nothing but contempt for the businesses that are “keenly aware of those 1 percent moments.” These businesses, which they say often focus on rites of passage like weddings and funerals, “target” consumers ‘when love (or other motivations) trump our budgetary caution.’

One of their primary examples of this is the funeral business.

The parlor director carefully lays out the caskets to induce the choice, for example, of the Monaco ‘with Sea Mist polished finish, interior richly lined in 600 Aqua Supreme velvet, magnificently quilted and shirred.’

Their contempt for consumers who would be tempted by such a object, and for businesses that would provide it, is evident in every adjective. They don’t want that kind of funeral for themselves or for their loved ones. It’s overdone. It’s a waste of money. It’s…tacky.

But Akerlof and Shiller’s opinon of that funeral shouldn’t count for much if they aren’t the ones planning the funeral.

Back in 1913, Maude Pember Reeves took on exactly this same topic in her book Round About a Pound A Week, which looked at the living expenses of London’s working poor. She devotes an entire chapter, called “Thrift,” to the then-common and often-disparaged practice among the working poor of purchasing funeral insurance–for up to 10% of the whole household budget. She notes:

One of the criticisms levelled at these respectable, hard working, independent people is that they do like to squander money on funerals. It is a view held by everyone who does not know the real circumstances. …[The working poor] are likely to lose one or more of their children. The poorer they are, the more likely are they to lose them…the pauper funeral is wanting in dignity and in respect to their dead.

Pember Reeves then gives, in heart-breaking detail, the budgets used by families for the burial of their children. Generally, they seem to spend about two weeks salary. Is this extravagance? Who gets to decide?

Who are Akerlof and Shiller to say that the Monaco Casket is too much?

And yet they say it. And Pember Reeves reminds us that puritanical busy bodies have been saying the same thing for well over a century:

Experience shows how fatally easy it is for people to label all poverty as the result of drink, extravagance, or laziness. It is done every day in the year by writers and speakers and preachers, as well as by hundreds of well-meaning folks with uneasy consciences. They see, or most often hear of, people whose economy is different from their own. Without trying to find out whether their own ideas of economy are practicable for the people in question, they dismiss their poverty as ‘the result of extravagance’….Or they see or hear something which seems to them bad management. It may be, not good management, but the only management under the circumstances. But as the circumstances are unknown, the description serves, and middle class minds, only too anxious to be set at rest, are set at rest.

Towards the end of their book, Akerlof and Shiller tell the story of Shiller’s being caught by his own susceptibility to marketing. He was persuaded to buy gourmet cat food for his cat. Wondering if the advertised deliciousness of the cat food was accurate, Shiller tasted it and was horrified to discover it was gross. He takes this as proof that businesses depend on “shrouded attributes” to make money.

Akerlof and Shiller do note that this test was not definitive. “If only Lightning could have spoken, we could really know” if the cat food was any good or not. Lightning of course, is perfectly capable of indicating a preference. All Akerlof and Shiller needed to do was to offer her a choice between two dishes of cat food.

But they don’t want to do that. Because she might choose the one they don’t approve of.

And if they don’t recognize that even a cat can express preferences that might not replicate their own, why would they recognize that other people may as well?

The post Cinnabon, Caskets, Catfood, and the Tyranny of Experts appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2015/11/cinnabon/feed/ 44 9940
Moral Panic–Everything Old is New Again http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2015/04/moral-panic-everything-old-is-new-again/ Mon, 20 Apr 2015 20:02:24 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=9158 Those who are observing 4/20 may be interested (not, perhaps, today) in a wonderful example of moral panic from 1641. The broadside “The Sucklingtonian Faction: or Suckling’s Roaring Boyes” mocks...

The post Moral Panic–Everything Old is New Again appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Those who are observing 4/20 may be interested (not, perhaps, today) in a wonderful example of moral panic from 1641. The broadside “The Sucklingtonian Faction: or Suckling’s Roaring Boyes” mocks the profligate lifestyle, fancy fashions, expensive tastes, and shocking indulgence in that new and scandalous drug–tobacco–of the poet Sir John Suckling and his friends.

The brief poet that serves as a caption to the central image of the broadside reads:

Much meate doth gluttony produce

And makes a man a swine

But hee’s a temperate man indeed

That with a leafe can dine.

Hee needes no napkin for his handes

His fingers for to wipe.

Hee hath his kitchin in a box.

His roast meat in a pipe.

The whole broadside is well worth a look. An appropriately solemn reading thereof should return you all to the state of moral rectitude and obedience so devoutly to be wished.

The post Moral Panic–Everything Old is New Again appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
9158
Tradition! Tradition! http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/12/tradition-tradition/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/12/tradition-tradition/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:29:50 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=8773 I think about traditions a lot this time of year. Last year, I told you my three favorite stories about tradition. So this morning, when the bizarrely compelling story of...

The post Tradition! Tradition! appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
I think about traditions a lot this time of year. Last year, I told you my three favorite stories about tradition. So this morning, when the bizarrely compelling story of the Gävle Goat popped up in my Facebook newsfeed, I knew I had to share it here again.

Apparently the town of Gävle in Sweden builds a giant  straw Yule goat every year.  And every year since the goat-building began, someone has burned it down. As the article notes:

There are two lessons here. One is that festive traditions are pretty mutable. The Gävle authorities think the tradition is erecting the giant Yule Goat. Everyone else thinks the tradition is trying to set fire to it. Both these traditions have co-existed happily, sort of, for nearly half a century.

The other lesson is that people really like setting fire to goats.

Reading the story I was overcome with the need to quote Monty Python (of course), but I was also reminded of the way our traditions evolve and change in unexpected ways.

When I was growing up, we made gingerbread houses every year. They grew increasingly ornate over time–crenelations and portcullises were standard, and melted crushed lifesavers made exceptionally good stained glass–and they were always a highlight of holiday pictures. We kept the house around for weeks.

One year either my sister or I knocked the house off the dining room table. Lower lips began to quiver. Howls of despair and recrimination were JUST about to begin.

Mom stepped in.

“Oh good! You smashed the house on New Year’s Eve. That seems just right. Now we can eat it.”

So we did.

And now, Skwire family gingerbread houses are ritually smashed (with a meat tenderizing mallet) and eaten on New Year’s Eve.

Because it’s tradition.

May your holidays be filled with delightful and delicious emergent orders of all kinds.

 

The post Tradition! Tradition! appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/12/tradition-tradition/feed/ 4 8773
Thomas Piketty’s Literary Offenses http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/09/thomas-pikettys-literary-offenses/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/09/thomas-pikettys-literary-offenses/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:37:11 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=8567 Thomas Piketty borrowed a bunch of tools from my garage and used them irresponsibly. Steve Horwitz and I respond over at the Freeman this morning, with some thoughts about literature,...

The post Thomas Piketty’s Literary Offenses appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Thomas Piketty borrowed a bunch of tools from my garage and used them irresponsibly.

Steve Horwitz and I respond over at the Freeman this morning, with some thoughts about literature, economics, and crossing disciplinary divides.

We are strong supporters of using literary examples as evidence of the way people have thought about economic matters. However, we have also argued that using literature this way must be done with great care and with great respect for both economics and literature. Scholars who want to engage in this kind of work must understand both the economics and the literature well enough to combine them in effective and intellectually responsible ways. Accurately reporting on what the literature says and does not say, and avoiding sweeping claims unsupported by the literary evidence, seem like necessary first steps.

Crossing disciplinary boundaries can lead to powerful intellectual insights. It can also lead to careless work and confirmation bias. We applaud Piketty’s attempt to expand the range of evidence that is seen as relevant to economic arguments, and we are glad to see scholars like Clune and Marche recognizing that part of Piketty’s work. We remain, however, unconvinced by Piketty’s particular argument. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of the traditional economic data Piketty is using, the 20th-century literary evidence does not make the case he claims it does.

You can read the rest here.

The post Thomas Piketty’s Literary Offenses appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/09/thomas-pikettys-literary-offenses/feed/ 1 8567
A Fairy Tale for Friday http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/08/a-fairy-tale-for-friday/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/08/a-fairy-tale-for-friday/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:14:29 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=8502 This is a beautifully done parable about the evils of the drug war. I wish the dragon had a less stupid name, but that is a tiny quibble about a...

The post A Fairy Tale for Friday appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
This is a beautifully done parable about the evils of the drug war. I wish the dragon had a less stupid name, but that is a tiny quibble about a short film that elevates the pro-legalization argument to the realm of art.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csnTAz0Sth8]

The post A Fairy Tale for Friday appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/08/a-fairy-tale-for-friday/feed/ 3 8502
I Do Solemnly Swear, Or Maybe I Just Swear http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/08/i-do-solemnly-swear-or-maybe-i-just-swear/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/08/i-do-solemnly-swear-or-maybe-i-just-swear/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:41:51 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=8389 It has long been a contention of mine that you could probably write 10 political blogposts and then just recycle them as needed since the same bad political ideas keep...

The post I Do Solemnly Swear, Or Maybe I Just Swear appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
It has long been a contention of mine that you could probably write 10 political blogposts and then just recycle them as needed since the same bad political ideas keep resurfacing. In order to test that theory (and put some old writing of mine out where it might actually get read) I’m going to pull some posts from a much-neglected personal blog of mine over to BHL when they seem relevant. Today’s post was written back in May of 2012, and the need to repost it has been spurred by the appearance of the Super Awesome and Groovy Idea of loyalty oaths for business. The loyalty oath, as we shall see, is a very old, very popular, very bad political idea.

2012 Sarah will now tell you all about it.

*****

Apparently yesterday was proclaimed “Loyalty Day” here in the United States of America. We are, so I gather, meant to “rededicate ourselves to the common good, to the cornerstones of liberty, equality, and justice, and to the unending pursuit of a more perfect Union.”

While I deeply appreciate the sophisticated use of the nested Oxford commas there, you’re going to have to forgive me if I decline to proclaim my loyalty and if, in truth, the whole notion of doing so makes me distinctly queasy.

A brief tutorial on the Oxford comma. You’re welcome.

The time and place that I study–early modern England–is rife with loyalty oaths, and oaths of allegiance, and homilies on obedience. Henry VIII started a vogue for Oaths of Supremacy when he established himself as the head of the Church of England. Of course, he also made it high treason to imagine the death of the King, so he clearly had a few issues.  Homilies on obedience were sermons that were issued by the government and required to be given from the pulpits of the Church of England on specific days–often the anniversaries of rebellions, uprisings, or plots. They tended to sound a lot like this:

[W]hat a perilous thing were it to commit unto the subjects the judgment, which prince is wise and godly, and his government good, and which is otherwise ; as though the foot must judge of the head : an enterprise very heinous, and must needs breed rebellion. For who else be they that are most inclined to rebellion, but such haughty spirits? From whom springeth such foul ruin of realms ? Is not rebellion the greatest of all mischiefs ? And who are most ready to the greatest mischiefs, but the worst men ? Rebels therefore the worst of all subjects are most ready to rebellion, as being the worst of all vices, and farthest from the duty of a good subject : as, on the contrary part, the best subjects are most firm and constant in obedience, as in the especial and peculiar virtue of good subjects. (1570, in response to the 1569  rebellion in favor of Mary, Queen of Scots)

And they tended to argue that, as monarchs were given to a nation by God, there was no proper course but to obey the given monarch–good or ill–as if he or she were God. If you got a crappy monarch, you just obeyed and hoped your obedience would persuade God to remove said monarch.

What’s fun about homilies on obedience and oaths of supremacy, allegiance, and loyalty is that they show up most often when things are slipping. Henry VIII, for example, and that 1569 rebellion. They aren’t a sign that all is well and that everyone loves the monarch. Because if things were going swimmingly, no one would need to require people to state their loyalty. After Guy Fawkes and his friends tried to blow up Parliament in 1605, James I and VI came up with the Oath of Allegiance  which required all English subjects to declare loyalty to the King, and to reject the Pope’s powers.  What’s great about James I and VI is that when he gets rolling he makes Henry VIII’s claim that one’s personal imaginings could be high treason look like child’s play. Here he is in 1610, in a speech to Parliament.

God has power to create, or destroy, make, or unmake at his pleasure…and the like power have kings: they make and unmake their subjects; they have power of raising and casting down, of life and of death; judges over all their subjects and in all cases…They have power to exalt low things and abase high things, and make of their subjects like men at the chess: a pawn to take a bishop or a knight…

After about six straight years of reading this kind of thing  you start cheering when you get to read pamphlets with titles like Killing Noe Murder in defense of the right of the people to resist tyranny, even to the point of regicide. And way before that, you feel really grateful to be living in the 21st century, in America, where oaths of loyalty have never been our kind of thing.

Right?

 

The post I Do Solemnly Swear, Or Maybe I Just Swear appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/08/i-do-solemnly-swear-or-maybe-i-just-swear/feed/ 13 8389
A Little Bit of History Repeating http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/06/a-little-bit-of-history-repeating/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/06/a-little-bit-of-history-repeating/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 19:55:51 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=8062 Yesterday, I said this. Whatever one thinks the proper role of government is, it surely is not this. At a bare minimum, we must demand that the government not force...

The post A Little Bit of History Repeating appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Yesterday, I said this.

Whatever one thinks the proper role of government is, it surely is not this. At a bare minimum, we must demand that the government not force us to be less kind than we already are.

Today, all over my newsfeed, is a story about a 9 year old who was forced by the city government not to lend free books to his neighbors.

Which, you know, makes complete sense.

The post A Little Bit of History Repeating appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/06/a-little-bit-of-history-repeating/feed/ 7 8062
Reverse Hugo, with a Twist http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/06/reverse-hugo-with-a-twist/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/06/reverse-hugo-with-a-twist/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 15:23:37 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=8045 In Victor Hugo’s great novel Les Miserables, Jean Valjean is sentenced to five years on the prison galleys for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. It is an outrageous...

The post Reverse Hugo, with a Twist appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
In Victor Hugo’s great novel Les Miserables, Jean Valjean is sentenced to five years on the prison galleys for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. It is an outrageous sentence, and Hugo intends it to enrage us and to move us to charitable action.

I wonder what Hugo would have made of the city governments in the US who would have punished not only Jean Valjean, but also anyone who tried to help him through unapproved channels. I wonder what he would have written had he lived long enough to read that in the past year, 33 more American cities have enacted laws that make it illegal for you to give food to the homeless.

Whatever one thinks the proper role of government is, it surely is not this. At a bare minimum, we must demand that the government not force us to be less kind than we already are.

It is, perhaps, time to remember that anger–as well as charity–is a virtue.  We owe the latter to one another, and we owe the former to those who try to prevent us.

 

 

The post Reverse Hugo, with a Twist appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/06/reverse-hugo-with-a-twist/feed/ 5 8045
Humpty Dumpty, Go to Your Room http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/04/humpty-dumpty-go-to-your-room/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/04/humpty-dumpty-go-to-your-room/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:32:12 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=7759 Orwell’s Animal Farm is not a critique of capitalism. Thoreau’s Walden is not a fraudulent anti-market, pro-Green hack job. Literary works are open to interpretation.  But not all interpretations are right. Not all interpretations are...

The post Humpty Dumpty, Go to Your Room appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Orwell’s Animal Farm is not a critique of capitalism.

Thoreau’s Walden is not a fraudulent anti-market, pro-Green hack job.

Literary works are open to interpretation.  But not all interpretations are right. Not all interpretations are smart. Some are just betrayals. It’s like economic data. You can interpret the data on, say, international free trade, with a variety of subtle differences and still be right. But you cannot look at it and say, “This argues that free trade causes economic collapse.” That just wrong. That’s just dumb.

My tech friends are liable to exclaim in exasperation, when asked particularly dim questions, “RTFM, people!” (it stands for “Read the gosh-darned manual.” I would just like people to RTFL (Read the gol-danged literature”) before they insist that they have a new and ground-breaking interpretation of it.

Back in 1871, Lewis Carroll expressed his own aggravations with the problem.

‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

It has been a week of amateur literary interpretive Humpty-Dumptyism, and I feel like the exhausted mom glaring at the child wearing who is wearing his bowl of spaghetti for a hat as she says “It’s not cute, darling, and it’s not clever. It’s just silly. Now go to your room.”

And while you’re there, RTFM, would you?

 

The post Humpty Dumpty, Go to Your Room appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/04/humpty-dumpty-go-to-your-room/feed/ 59 7759