Friday, July 21, 2017

Suburban Primitives in Action

In Cocoa, Florida, teens laughed and filmed a disabled man drowning instead of helping.

Jamel Dunn drowned on July 9 after reportedly arguing with his fiancee. A missing persons report was filed three days later and his body was recovered from the pond on July 14.

Police called the footage "beyond heartless," noting that all the teens -- boys between the ages of 14 and 16 -- had phones but didn't even call emergency services for help.

"At least one of the teens expressed no remorse while being interviewed by detectives," Cocoa Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez told CNN Thursday.



\(ht Tom DiLorenzo)


  1. Whether the teens behaved as you might behave or not, they exhibited a perfectly reasonable private-property society interaction in this case (and I'm not being facetious as I mostly agree with you on the private-property society rules). There was nothing to compel these teens to risk their lives to save someone who clearly shouldn't have been anywhere near a pond/lake. I consider the taunting to be "low class", but while I hope I'd do whatever I could to help the person drowning, I can't fault them for not doing so from a NAP standpoint.

    Are you becoming a "thick" libertarian? ;)

    1. The NAP is a solid basis for optical decisions, but not all decisions are political. Saying someone ought to do something is not the same thing as saying they should be forced to do something.

    2. It amazes me that this person cannot grasp your simple and obvious point. "Don't hurt people" is really the highest level of virtue we should strive for? What a stupid philosophy!

    3. The NAP is a moral axiom about how one deals with other people. It is not a political paradigm.

      Telling other people how they should behave is a characteristic of "thick" libertarianism that is often derided on these pages. Also, I'm pointing out what happens in a private-property society and how it accepts these behaviors. I'm perfectly fine with that, but I think a lot of people around here haven't thought this through very well.

    4. Guess you have never heard of Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning.

  2. Since when is the NAP the sum total of human obligation? Legal obligation maybe, but "don't commit aggression" is a pretty f'ing low bar for human behavior!

    1. From a libertarian perspective, it is absolutely the sum total of human "obligation." That's actually the whole point. Each individual gets to decide their own sum total of the obligation they choose to share. These teens' behavior -- or worse -- are issues people will have to deal with in a private property society. It's even arguable that one might be prevented from launching a rescue mission because one doesn't have rights to enter the property.

      For the record, I don't think most people will behave this way, but one will have to be willing to tolerate the behavior displayed by the teens -- at least on other people's property.

    2. I cannot believe what I am reading.

      Libertarianism is not the sum total of human existence! How many times does Rothbard -- or COMMON SENSE -- need to explain that to you?

      Just because you don't punch people in the face, you think that makes you a decent person?

      The NAP is the BARE MINIMUM a civilized person needs to abide by.


      But you're really going to teach their children that they should aspire to not punch people? That's the pinnacle of virtue? Not bludgeoning someone?

      In terms of political theory, we can argue that the NAP defines our obligations. BUT THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN POLITICAL THEORY.

      You're actually saying that a great philanthropist who endows 10 hospitals is morally no better than a lazy bum who fritters away his inheritance? You would have to: after all, they're both abiding by the NAP!

      The NAP was never intended to be a guiding principle for all of life. Anyone who thinks it does has zero understanding of libertarianism.

    3. "The NAP was never intended to be a guiding principle for all of life. Anyone who thinks it does has zero understanding of libertarianism."

      Anything beyond the NAP, and the principles that can be derived from that axiom, have NOTHING to do with libertarianism -- at least not "thin" libertarianism. "Thick" libertarianism starts implying one's own personal morality is somehow aligned with libertarianism, and "true" libertarians must abide by those principles. That, surprisingly, seems to be what you're implying here.

      I personally don't like the teens' behavior, but I also find it ironic that in a blog labeled "Target Liberty" where the owner has criticized "thick" libertarianism and exalted the virtues of a private property society (where rules -- even extreme rules -- are up to the property owner) should so harshly criticize these teens. And for the record, I've mostly agreed with this blog on those issues.

      I find the focus on these teens somewhat akin to parents, who for years neglected or ignored the problems of their children, suddenly blaming a song for a child's suicide. I wonder how a disabled (mentally, or physically) man wound up in a lake drowning.

    4. I bought the three future cinematographers a year of Liberty Classroom. Oh, and new Parentbot 2000s.

      Eric Morris

    5. Harry Brown and Ayn Rand would disagree. These kids' obligation is to live for themselves, not this man's welfare. That's the sum total of their human obligation.

    6. The comments on this blog post suggesting that the NAP is the only code one needs to live by -- and that therefore these onlookers did nothing "wrong" -- give plenty of fuel to the statist position that we need the state to centrally enforce (someone's idea of) moral behavior. It would be easy for statists to read some of these posts (or hear equivalent comments in open conversation) and conclude "See, libertarianism would lead to a horrendous society." And they would be right, if libertarians were to argue that the NAP is the ONLY guide to human interaction. Libertarians do themselves and the philosophy no favor if we take positions like this. There is nothing inconsistent in arguing that, on a humane level, these teens acted horrifically, while at the same time believing that, per the NAP, there was no enforceable legal obligation on them to act (assuming they didn't put the deceased in this perilous situation to begin with). I have always believed that libertarians should see themselves, first and foremost, as human beings who should try to live in harmony with and with empathy for others, and, only secondly, as political philosophers.

    7. A free society can be either good or bad, depending on the moral and ethical structure of the population. Free people can choose to live mean and ugly lives with zero concern for others and thus reap the reward of isolation and emotional poverty, or they can choose to treat others with concern and compassion and reap the reward of harmony and emotional attachment. I reject the idea that Ayn Rand advocated the former. Her characters routinely act out of compassion for their fellow human being (consider Dagny's concern for Cheryl, the outpouring of help from Galt's Gulch when Dagny crash landed, the concern Hank showed for the Wet Nurse, and the respect Dagny had for the bum on the train). Rand's work is shot through with concern for others....but not out of obligation. It was out of true empathy for a fellow being.
      Harry Browne? What, pray tell, did he ever say or do to make you think he was not concerned with others?

    8. I didn't say Brown or Rand had no concern or compassion for others. They would say there is no duty (moral or legal) for these callous kids to try to help the drowning man.

      Read Brown's letter to his 9 year old: http://www.rebellesociety.com/2013/07/30/no-one-owes-you-anything-a-letter-from-harry-browne-to-his-daughter/

    9. " There is nothing inconsistent in arguing that, on a humane level, these teens acted horrifically, while at the same time believing that, per the NAP, there was no enforceable legal obligation on them to act (assuming they didn't put the deceased in this perilous situation to begin with). I have always believed that libertarians should see themselves, first and foremost, as human beings who should try to live in harmony with and with empathy for others, and, only secondly, as political philosophers."

      This is a great comment, kudos to you NAPster.

      I'd also like to add that I agree with Jamie in Texas that attempting a rescue of a drowning person without a flotation device is very dangerous as in their panic they can/will often times drag you underneath with them. (Life guard always have flotation devices with them, watch Baywatch! lol)

      Lastly, someone else pointed out there might be other issues at play- what I mean by that is we don't know if these teens knew the gentlemen in question or not(as I type this that is), but a cursory "google" yields that he had a lengthy criminal record and I'm going to go ahead and call into question his mental stability by this picture of him:


      Does this excuse their behavior while he's drowning?(heckling him, etc.)

      Of course not, it's reprehensible, but there are many circumstances surrounding this incident that tell me maybe it's best to walk away shaking our collective heads in disgust without calling for the teens heads(and instead maybe shaming them for a bit! I'm with Josh & Jimmy Joe on that)

  3. They literally Dindu Nuffin!

  4. Has anyone considered that maybe these kids couldn't swim themselves, or otherwise did not know how to perform a water rescue? Perhaps they had good reason not to call the police realizing that even fair-skinned yoga teachers can get shot for no reason. I'll wait for more details before I pass any judgement on this one.

    1. Yes, I did consider that! Thanks for asking. Then I thought, "If I couldn't swim, would I at least call for help? Would I have a panicked tone in my voice? Or would I mock the guy, laugh at him, and even laugh after he died?"

      And after I asked myself those fairly obvious questions, I concluded that these "teens" are disgusting, pathetic, morally oblivious pieces of shit.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I did consider their inability to swim but not their inability to dial 911, to be serviced by evil violators of NAP.
      Even if they knew how to swim, still an attempt to tescue a drowning person is something that sounds easy but it may not be. I have years of experience in the ocean (surfing, free diving, competitive, blah blah blah) and consider myself capable of a rescue. Reading of the size of the victim, without somekind of rescue device, a rescuer may end up being drowned.
      The evil is in the attitude,lack of remorse and not calling for help.
      I also wonder if they did even know how to call 911.

    4. Even though these kids were probably high (they refer to a "blunt" that needs to be hit for some reason...?), you can still hear remorse as their attitude changes near the end of the raw video. I don't believe they really knew that buddy was going to drown.

  5. Positive obligations in life by way of contractual arrangements have nothing to do with libertarianism. Further, if the behavior of these "teens" bothers everyone (and it probably should), everyone can refuse to sell or provide them with food, water or shelter without violating the NAP.

    The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life.

    "What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism."
    Political theory deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and government is distinguished from every other group in society as being the institution of organized violence. Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit, except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.


  6. The cast of Seinfeld landed in jail for something similar. No crime committed but these are clearly suboptimal humans.

  7. I sometimes think libertarians are afraid to condemn POS like these teens, as if they are afraid that their condemnation may somehow someday oblige them to participate in a action they want nothing to do with. "If I condemn these folks maybe someday I will face a moral or ethical decision, I wouldn't want that!"
    Tom Woods is absolutely correct. The NAP is a pretty low freaking bar. And there's nothing "thick" about thinking that.
    There's a better rule even than the NAP, it's called the Golden Rule.
    And while we certainly wouldn't force anyone to follow that, you would have a much better society if it was encouraged.
    And folks like these worthless punks could be shunned by all.
    You may not be obligated, but you may face community condemnation.
    Look at the story of Cain. After he was condemned by God, that no man would have anything to do with him, he called it. "Why anyone who meets up with me can kill me". (Paraphrased of course).

    1. Yes, NAP is a pretty low bar, but our society routinely fails to reach even that. If the People regularly violate NAP, it goes without saying that they will be unlikely to reach for the finer points of human interaction.

  8. Has anyone considered whether or not Mr. Dunn was worthy of rescue? Clearly none of these young folks thought so! Did he have a reputation as the neighborhood troublemaker, drunk,thief, etc.? This fellow's demise might have been well earned and a pleasing spectacle to behold. No "Golden Rule" fairy tales for me; the NAP is necessary AND sufficient. Also, there is likely a bit more to this tale and remember this story is coming from CNN.

  9. It seems to me that people who express a rigorous concern for the NAP and the problems caused by fraud are generally in favor of BEING NICE and BEING HONEST.

    Is that so wrong?

  10. This reminds me of how government trained killers would react, when viewing combat footage of their side's exploits in warfare/murder.

  11. We don't live in a libertarian or free society or anything close so why evaluate this situation based on that? We live in a state managed society. The question thus should not be so much if it was acceptable for the teens to do nothing, but where was the precious protecting state? Why wasn't it or more precisely its employees there to save him?

    With the state these teens were brought up to regard something like this as not their problem that it falls on government to deal with.

    So now what does all this debate lead to? The ability of statists to continue with their 'selfish libertarians' distortion. A fault of the state managed society because an attack on libertarianism once again.

    In a free society where the state isn't to be relied on people will out of their own mutual benefit will behave better than these teens. We know this is true from when the state couldn't be relied on and not disrupting people's interactions with each other. It isn't a question of obligation or force or the NAP, but of what behaviors are mutually beneficial. Obviously a free society would have some sort of rescue service to be summoned for when personal help is not practical.

    Would something like this not happen ever in a free society? Probably not but the way to encourage better behavior is to have it so people are accustomed to helping one another instead of passing the responsibility on to a government.

  12. We are in a statist society and this still happened.

    If you want an all encompassing world view, look to Christianity. A consistent Christian will act within the NAP. A consistent libertarian may act within Christian principles. Libertarian philosophy and Austrians economics seeks truth and has certainly helped me understand Christianity better. But the NAP is only a section of the golden rule. There is more. Maybe this is what bionic mosquito is getting at. It sure would be nice if he quit holding a grudge and posted again.

  13. Libertarian without a forced removal function simply cannot work. Is there any person that that would argue that a libertarian society, nay, any society, wouldn't be better off without these particular teens?

    And Bob Roddis, your shtick about social sanctions is getting boring. Describe any situation in the real world where that actually takes place or can take place. Ridiculous.

    1. Matt, how about co-ops or clubs which eject residents or members who break rules in a substantial way? Or airlines which ban passengers who have committed too many instances of rage, stores which ban customers for being too unruly, private schools which expel students for being too disruptive or professional associations which withdraw membership for unethical behavior? There are many instances of private property owners sanctioning those of whom they disapprove without initiating any acts of violence.

    2. How does this relate to what I wrote?

    3. "How does this relate to what I wrote?"

      He's giving you specific "situation(s) in the real world where that actually takes place or can take place".

      I'd also argue that "shaming" happens quite a bit in Eastern culture and is a valid form of dealing with certain scenarios similar to this(although this scenario has some mitigating circumstances that some might consider)- in fact, I've got a small "write up" on shaming that's been rejected by two popular libertarian websites now, lol. I personally feel like it's a valid libertarian device/tool/concept and argue it as such in my write up.(freedom of association is obviously very libertarian)

      I'm hoping one day to dust it off and publish it somewhere where it will be appreciated. Maybe one day my own site if need be and when I have the time.