Tales of Tampa: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

People come to the Liberty movement from a number of directions. Among our number, there are many lifelong conservative Republicans, Christians, Libertarians, and even Independents and Democrats who have been attracted to the message of protecting civil liberties, ending the corruption of the Fed, restoring a sane approach to foreign policy, and Ron Paul’s uncommon integrity and sincerity, a rare thing in politics at any level. Because there are so many backgrounds, it is sometimes difficult to predict how a certain message will be processed, which creates something of a challenge for any speaker not named Ron Paul.

An interesting example of this occurred the weekend prior to the RNC. Two major events had been planned for that weekend. The P.A.U.L. Festival had invited speakers like Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, Chuck Baldwin, John Dennis, Peter Schiff, and Gary Johnson, and other famous personalities in the movement were also there, like Adam Kokesh, Wayne Paul (Ron Paul’s brother, ), and even Vermin Supreme showed up. The event had a definite Libertarian tinge to it as Gary Johnson signs were everywhere, and he made a speech that was very much tailored to Paul supporters in order to solicit their votes.

Meanwhile, due to what it deemed the ‘fringe elements’ present, the Paul campaign decided not to take part in the Paul Fest, opting instead to have their own shin-dig at the Sun Dome on Sunday, August 26th. While Tom Woods was apparently not invited to the Paul rally, there were a lucky few who got tapped by both events for speaking engagements. Among these was a curious man who I had not heard of before, one Walter Block, a professor of Loyola University and the Von Mises Institute. Professor Block is apparently a strong Libertarian academe, and the speech he gave on his theory of Evictionism as an alternative to abortion, was decidedly an exercise in Libertarian scholarly thought. The theory tries to find middle ground between, on one hand, Libertarians who say that a woman’s right to her body precludes the state’s right to protect the unborn, and those on the other hand who believe that all life is God-given and therefore it is not anyone’s right to terminate it. Block’s pragmatic solution is, in effect, to ‘evict’ the foreign ‘intruder’ from the womb and then try to save it via the latest medical advances.

The good professor gave his speech at Paul Fest to mostly a quiet crowd. There were audible rumblings from among people around me as I listened, but I detected no discernible booing. The next day at the Paul rally was quite another matter. As soon as Block started talking about evicting babies from the womb, many among the 11,000 or so in attendance began booing and heckling him. He asked repeatedly that people listen to his theory, saying at one point, “If an intellectual libertarian can’t come to a place like this without getting booed or hissed, that’s a disgrace!” Eventually, after several more painful minutes of attempting to resume his speech, he was yanked by the higher-ups. He writes about this experience on the Lew Rockwell blog . The next one to the stage was singer Jordan Page, who began his set by telling the audience, “Let’s be clear: evicting babies from their mothers’ wombs is not something we are advocating here today.” He proceeded to pull out a camera and take pictures of the crowd for the benefit of his wife and kids.

Liberty and Justice for ALL

What observation can be taken from this instance about those who identify themselves as Ron Paul supporters? Like the man they support, they are strongly pro-life and are not willing to yield on that issue to satisfy that branch of Libertarianism that appears to see nothing miraculous in the formation of another human. These are not the cold intellectuals that gathered in Ayn Rand’s parlor to wax on about Objectivism and the virtues of self-interest. No, these people are led by a doctor who delivered 4000 babies and who brings his children and grandchildren and wife of 50+ years in tow to every stop. Professor Block made a mistake when he assumed that these people were motivated primarily by property rights and creative forms of compromise.

Dr. Paul’s own position on abortion has been sullied in recent months as a result of a vote he made on a poorly thought-out bill attempting to put a Federal ban on the thought-crime of gender-based abortion (as opposed to regular abortion, which would still be legal?). The responsibility for dealing with those who take the life of another human is reserved for the States in the Constitution. He spent some time explaining on the House floor why he was voting against the unconstitutional bill, but, of course he was still slammed for it by Republicans who have themselves done very little to stem the tide of infanticide in the United States. Even in Clark County, I have heard from a couple of people in totally different contexts that our state committeeman has made a practice of bringing up this vote as a means to denigrate both Ron Paul and his supporters in the county. Ironically, Dr. Paul introduces the Sanctity of Life Act every few years in Congress, only to watch it fail to gain the support of these amazing champions of the Pro-Life cause. Our own congresswoman, Jaime Herrera, failed to co-sponser this bill in its most recent incarnation in 2011 (no word on whether Mr. Hart is also denigrating her in public).

The Life issue will continue to be an area of disagreement between some Libertarians and Conservatives, but I left Tampa with no doubt upon which side of the issue the Ron Paul supporters across the country fell, and neither, I think, did Walter Block. Rule #1 of the Speaker: Know Thy Audience.

  1. Ron says:

    Yeah, I happened to have caught most of that speech when I was listening to a live stream, but was unaware he got cut off – obviously I didn’t make it through to the end. What a weird thing to talk about at a rally! The subject of abortion, usually used by politicians and the media as a wedge issue, to divide, distract, or whatever else, manipulate… but I don’t think Walter Block was trying to do anything like that. I just think he is proud of his thoughts on the issue – which I think he sees simply as a way to actually save babies in the future that would otherwise be aborted… he was oblivious to any consequences – just intent on getting exposure for the idea, which… I guess he did! (as creepy and inappropriate as it was) You can see it on YouTube by searching the title “Ron Paul Rally 2012 pt4 – Walter E. Block, PhD”

  2. http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/120189.html

    Professor Block has since apologized for giving that speech (see link above) – apparently he was supposed to talk about monetary policy, but forgot. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the booing, but I think the main two were that his speech about evicting babies didn’t belong in that context, and that many had had a chance to digest the speech, since he had given the exact same one at Paul Fest the day before. What was met with politeness the first day was roundly panned the second day.

    I have heard that Block is very good on monetary policy, so it is doubly unfortunate that he decided to give the eviction speech twice.

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