Friday, September 30, 2016

Walter Block On Stop And Frisk

Following Judge Napolitano's statement that he considers stop-and-frisk an act of an  ‘authoritarian  police state,’ and condemned Donald Trump's  support  of it,  I asked Dr. Walter Block for his view on what the Judge said, Dr. Block's comment is below:
Dear Bob:

I believe stop and frisk can be justified. This is certainly true from a minarchist libertarian point of view, stipulating that the purpose is not to stop victimless crimes like drug selling, but, rather, crimes with victims such as rape, murder, theft, etc.

What about from the anarcho capitalist point of view? Here it is more difficult to make this case, but I think it can be done.

Suppose members of gang X are raping a woman, and members of gang Y stop the Xers from so doing. Are the Yers justified in protecting the woman? I claim they are. Are the Yers good guys? No, they are gang members too, and often engage in just such depredations. But, in this single isolated case, if you ignore their real crimes, they are good guys.

A similar analysis applies to government police. From the an cap perspective,  they are just another gang. Says Mr. Libertarian on this (Rothbard,1973, p. 49): "if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band, and all of the libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place." Rothbard, Murray N. 1973. For a New Liberty, Macmillan, New York;

Therefore, the government cops are in the same position as the Y gang is. In this one instance, they are justified. They frisk someone they deem suspicious, he has weapons, he confesses he was about to commit a crime, and cannot do so because he is arrested.

Certainly private police may stop and frisk dangerous looking people on the private property they are hired to protect. That is an easy call.

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business                
Loyola University New Orleans


  1. Isn't the one key difference in Block's argument is that "gang x" is actually committing a crime, whereas a "street thug" under his scenario is NOT? Carry a concealed weapon is NOT a NAP violation.(arguing for government prosecuted non-NAP violating pre-crime now? ugh)

    I'm really having a hard time accepting that Block just argued for government run stop & frisk from a libertarian perspective. I feel like I've just been transported to bizarro world.

    I can understand "stop & frisk" as executed by private security on private property, hired by the owner of said property- but the Founders understood the importance of forbidding warrantless searches to our government for a variety of well known reasons I should have to document(and won't) here. Where has Block's mistrust of government gone?

    Come home Walter, this unending support for all things Trump is starting to compromise you to such a degree that you're wandering out in the desert- and you're not Jesus.

    You can argue that you think Trump is the "lesser evil" of the two "choices", but you don't have to justify ALL of his stupidity.

    Even further, I can understand trying to make judgements on a "sliding scale" of NAP violations when it comes to pros/cons on government enforcement of anything(immigration is a hot topic) when we are devoid of private options- but am I the only one that predicts a total increase in NAP violations(against citizens) by police vs. the NAP violations that exist now in high crime areas without stop and frisk? (Chicago, etc.)

    Btw, ZeroHedge had a good article today referring to Hunter S. Thompson, re the rhetoric we seem to hear every cycle- that we have to pick the "lesser of two evils":

    South Park delivers a similar message with its "Turd Sandwich" vs "Giant Douche" bit it's been doing off and on for years.

    Also, I'd like to once again point out that Lew Rockwell is not voting for Trump even though it seems apparent that he thinks Trump is the lesser of two evils.

  2. Wow.

    The government police are not stopping and frisking on private property. They are stopping and frisking on property stolen by the government usually. If they are doing it on private property it is most likely not at the invitation of the property owner.

    Even if they were "working" on behalf of the property owner, they should be allowed to expel the individual, not abduct him and hold him captive for ransom.

    Does Donald Trump's preferred version of Stop and Frisk include restitution to those assaulted by the police and are innocent of real crimes? Of course not.

    Block is defending a version of Stop and Frisk that is make believe so he can defend Donald Trump and his police state. Very strange.

  3. In addition to this, I've seen some other less agile attempted justifications (courts have ruled technically not a search, it worked in XYZ city, etc) for stop and frisk policies on other sites. A disturbing trend away from liberty, indeed. Symptomatic of overall Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  4. Since the government "owns" the public square, its rules include the Bill of Rights. Therefore, stop and frisk is illegal in the USA. If you own your own private neighborhood, you can have any rule you like about stop and frisk.

  5. Block makes an argument that falls under what I call all enforcement is selective or making laws for those bad people over there. Through some magic it is expected that cops will only use stop and frisk on those bad people over there but not the good people.

    It works well for those people cops are unlikely to select most of the time. But for those who don't appear to have political or economic status to use to fight back, those that will be selected, their rights are impaired by such laws. Sometimes a good person gets selected and those become human interest news stories of how dare a cop enforce such and such law on this law on some sympathetic character.

    This sort of law making is how we got the ground level anarcho-tyranny that many people face today.

  6. Stop and Frisk is completely unconstitutional and unacceptable. There is absolutely no justification for this policy. There is no debate the truth is self evident. If the government wants a civil war then they should institute Stop and Frisk nation wide.

  7. It's possible to stop violence without Stop-and-Frisk. The Threat Management Center, a private company, has achieved it in those parts of Detroit that they serve. Here's a 3-minute introduction to it from Reason: