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Saturday, April 16, 2011


1) The gambling sites:

There's no question that this is driven at the national/policy level by casinos that don't want the online competition. It's not about liberty or what the state should/shouldn't do, it's about who has the political money at the national level.

Driving it offshore and unregulated is basically turning it over to potential piracy.

I don't know about the conservative blogosphere (I don't read it enough to be sure) but the libertarian blogosphere is reacting at a principaled level. Folks like the "overlawyered" bloggers-- who are conservative with a libertarian bent-- think this is a silly use of prosecutorial resources.

You're post calls for more of a response than that, which I will try to get 'round to later.

Gambling is about the mob and money laundering and preying upon the desperation of people hoping to escape poverty and/or debt. I wouldn't presume to make it illegal for anybody else, but I loathe the criminals who prey upon the hopes and need of others.

The one good thing about online gambling is that you don't end up with muggings , hookers and drug dealers and direct physical crime and harassment of women, teenagers, old people and people in the vicinity. When there are casinos in communities, police get constantly pulled to handle the resultant crime but the casinos do not pay the communities for the crime they generat.

One big problem with online gambling (and don't howl at me for this) is that it's more accessible and tempting because it's in your living room. So may become yet another way that those losing their faculties because of infirmity, illness, aging etc. end up wasting more money (remember all those stupid phone scams that led many of us to turn off our elderly relatives' land lines?). Those with substance abuse issues will find it easy to gamble online. There's a reason mental hospitals don't let patients have access to computers...

It is absolutely wrong for the government to seize individuals' money, tho. Theft. Gangsta Government.

Fine common sense, Doc X.

For me, bad outcomes rarely comes from bloody-minded adherence to a principle. But rather, the bloody-minded belief that there are not other principles which may hold with equal force.

When two principles, both equally noble in the abstract, come into conflict, then we must use more than simple moral assertions to decide what to do. We must use wisdom, emotion, and instinct. We must bring all parts of our being to the argument, not just discursive reason.

Can holding a high moral principle have a bad outcome? If so, was it such a high moral principle in the first place?

Let's look at your First Amendment example. For most of my life, I've lived without the protection of the First Amendment. But I believe in the principle.

That means that I, as a homosexual, have to live with being called a fag.

Fine. I just have to do what fags have been doing for years. That is, grit my teeth and say, yes, I'm a fag, what's it to you, douchebag?

I need to do this louder and more often than I really ought, if the equally valid principle of live-and-let-live were enforced by some authority for political correctness. But hey, that's the way the dice rolled, and I live with it when in the USA.

On the other hand, I live in a country, Germany, where a history of hate speech had dire consequences. Not surprisingly, I am not called a fag (or its Bayerische equivalent) very often. It's illegal.

That's nice, but I have to sacrifice the ability to speak other things as I wish. Take my beloved books of Jewish jokes by Leo Rosten. Would it be illegal for me to read them out loud on a Munich street-corner? I fear so.

But I fully understand why the principle of free speech is not treated with the same kid gloves with which Americans treat it.

That's one of the reasons that US defamation laws are much less strict, with all the bad outcomes you can see.

Both positions are adopted as a matter of rational judgement, combined with an emotional assessment. Hard to fault either.

Principles are an invention of human beings. They need to be applied with humanity. That means both head and heart.

We are about to have casinos here in beautiful Ohio. But resistence to the legislated fact remains and there are efforts to extract more permission fees from the gaming company. Backers and detractors alike realize there is money to be mined and if you can't beat 'em, you may as well milk 'em 'til the cows come home.

Some of this may be tied up in the courts until well after the slot machines start to ring and buzz. You CAN'T always get what you want. You don't always get what you GET. But, if you try sometimes...

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