Saturday, October 1, 2016

More From Walter Block on 'Stop and Frisk'

As a follow up to the post, Walter Block On Stop And Frisk, Dr. Michael Edelstein sent the following email:

You make good points, yet you failed to comment on the Judge’s opinion within the NYC context about which he was speaking. Please keep in mind the NYC stop-and-frisk allowed the police to stop anybody on “a hunch,” touch them anywhere on their body in public, remove and keep anything from their pockets, and decide when to let them go?

Do you support this stop-and-frisk program in NYC as proposed and implemented? Is it “an authoritarian police state activity?”

Warm regards, Michael

Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
415-673-2848 (24/7)

Author of Three Minute Therapy
Features help for anxiety, depression, 
relationships, panic attacks and addiction
Dr. Block responded:
Dear Michael:

I’m gonna add the “stopper and frisker” to my Defending 3 characters.

What’s wrong with authoritarianism? Orchestra conductors are very authoritarian with their musicians. Of course, the latter are there voluntarily, so this amounts to voluntary authoritarianism, something fully compatible with libertarianism.

But the same exact thing takes place from the minarchist point of view. There, everyone is supposed to consent to legitimate government services, such as policing. The cops are supposed to stop real (not victimless) criminals, and this stopping and frisking is one of the most powerful techniques in their repetoire. It really does stop crime. And, yes, of course, the cops engage in profiling. But they invariably target members of the demographics most statistically overrepreented amongst real criminals. They very rarely stop black grandmas, or Oriental girls, or white mothers with children. Why not? Because such people are not overrepreented amongst real criminals.

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


And from the anarcho capitalist point of view, every square inch of property would be privately owned. The private cops could legitimately stop and frisk, presumably on the same “profiling” grounds, since the owners of shops, malls, streets, would have an interest in keeping (real) crime as low as possible.

Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
 RW note:I will add my own comments to this discussion here at Target Liberty tomorrow/


  1. I agree with Block with the private property argument. One is on a man's land, one is subjected to the man's rules. However as Edelstein pointed out, Trump wants a NYC style all over the country. Despite libertarian criticisms of the constitution, cops are supposed to be in complaint with the 4th Amendment. How does Block not see that this is a way for an organization (cops) who continue to get away with their thug behavior to lie, harass, steal and disarm those that a particular cop doesn't like?

  2. ignoring Block's bizarre insistence on arguing from a monarchist position, his argument that stop and frisk would be permissible on private property in a free society is not controversial. His error is assuming victims of stop and frisk are real criminals. He prefers to live in a make-believe world where the government owns property and when they do stop and frisk they are catching actual criminals. Why can't be simply come out against the kidnapping of citizens on unowned property?

  3. My respect for Block is taking a nosedive. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who is subjected to Stop and Frisk (on public property, not having done anything specific to be suspected of a crime) has a perfect right to shoot the cop(s) on the spot, if lesser means of stopping their assault prove insufficient.

    Saying that Stop and Frisk is compatible with minarchism makes as much sense as saying that requiring a government-issued ID be presented with every purchase is consistent with minarchism. Or supporting a law requiring Muslims to wear identifying marks on their clothing, since they might statistically be more dangerous than non-Muslims. Is this your minarchist heaven, Block?