In defense of blackmail

Joe Carter poses a conundrum:

But while blackmail is a sin, should it also be a crime? Libertarians, who claim it is a “victimless crime” would say no. Would a Christian libertarian also argue in favor decriminalizing the practice? The reason I ask is because one the main complaints I have with most libertarians is that they often work backwards from a grievance to the development of their core beliefs. Christians, on the other hand, must start with Biblical principles and work their way to a coherent political philosophy.

But a number of bloggers whose intellect and opinions I respect (particularly John Coleman, Josh Claybourn, and Vox Day) subscribe to some version of Christian libertarianism. While I don’t find the political theory to be a tenable option, I’m open to changing my opinion and so I’m eager to hear a defense of blackmail from a Biblical perspective.

My favorite thing about the Evangelical Outpost is that one can always count on Joe to bring up something interesting to consider while simultaneously calling someone out on it. I suppose I could imitate the Panda’s Thumbkins and tell him that there is a plethora of material written by Very Important Names defending blackmail on Christian grounds somewhere Out There, but instead, I’ll see if I can make a case. Although this will probably cause CAIR, Atrios and the Electrolites to conclude that I am also a blackmailer, in addition to my copious other crimes against humanity.

First, there is nothing criminal with regards to disseminating non-private information about an individidual. You might find it very embarassing to have your wife learn that you were deported from Italy after being caught with your pants down in the act of pretending to molest the statue of Juliet by the Veronese police, but there’s no law preventing me from telling her. Or sending her the digital pictures, BC. Nor is there any law which forbids one party from giving money to another party in return for legal services, or as a gift.

There are two routes to defense here. One is the link between the Christian intellectual tradition and “Die Gedanken, sie sind frei”. Freedom of thought is an integral part of free will, but to ban blackmail is to necessarily engage in thought-policing, since it is the intentions, rather than the actions, which are being judged. Your intention is to buy my silence; you are operating under the assumption that I intend to inform others if you do not pay. Blackmail is therefore inherently a thought crime since if it occurs, no action has actually been taken by the blackmailer.

Second, the commandments to the Church in the proper means of dealing with remorseless sinners is potentially relevant here. Exposing the sins of an unrepentant individual to others, far from being a wrongful act, is actually required of the church member in good standing. Since such exposure is a virtuous act under Biblical principles, it cannot and should not be viewed as something negative, much less as the basis for a crime.

So, WB, about those pictures of you and that elephant seal in Carmel….

Ta-ta, Ticketmaster

Captain Ed is outraged by Mike Tice’s admission of ticketmongering:

Instead of working to boost that by improving as a coach, he decided instead to run a little criminal conspiracy with his players and his coaches. Even if that stopped when he became head coach, the inappropriate nature of his lockerroom racket should disqualify him from any leadership position (as if his on-field performance doesn’t already fill that ticket). Small wonder, then, that Randy Moss seemed to present such intractable discipline problems with the coaching staff setting this kind of example. They not only set the tone for the players, they may have exploited them to maximize their own profits.

Sheer idiotic greed. This is what the Vikings want us to buy with a publicly-financed stadium?

Criminal conspiracy, yes! I don’t have any problem whatsoever with Mike Tice scalping tickets, since every single coach in every single professional league, plus the big NCAA sports, does it. Anti-scalping laws are quintessential bad law; they are a violation of property rights and are rightly ignored by everyone. Tice denies he ran the scalping operation as head coach, but even if he did, so what? The league knows what’s going on and it’s obvious, considering that not every NFL player shows up at the Super Bowl and yet the stands are still packed.

Even so, I won’t shed any tears if this stupid non-scandal makes Tice’s position as head coach untenable. Anyone who is so slow as to run the ball less than 15 times per game against three of the worst run defenses shouldn’t be a head coach in the NFL. Tice doesn’t lack guts, which is why I expect him to ride this out, it’s a deficiency in the little grey cells that is the problem.

And speaking of little criminal conspiracies, I knowingly recycled my paper and plastic after the posted and permitted time last night. Settle down, ladies, I know how you love a rebel. What can I say? It’s just how I am.

On the Pucelle

An Englishman speaks his mind:

I will add but one remark on the truest heroine that the world has ever seen. If any person can be found in the present age who would join in the scoffs of Voltaire against the Maid of Orleans and the Heavenly Voices by which she believed herself inspired, let him read the life of the wisest and best man that the heathen nations ever produced. Let him read of the Heavenly Voice, by which Socrates believed himself to be constantly attended; which cautioned him on his way from the field of battle at Delium, and which from his boyhood to the time of his death visited him with unearthly warnings. Let the modern reader reflect on this; and then, unless he is prepared to term Socrates either fool or imposter, let him not dare to deride or vilify Joan of Arc.

Jeanne d’Arc is certainly worthy of admiration. She was more than a mere figurehead, and although she never struck an enemy down, her physical bravery matched her unshakeable faith. Even her capture never caused her to doubt, and as Creasy points out, her decision to obey the wishes of the French lords and generals in continuing with the campaign after the anointing of Charles VII as the King of France demonstrates her courage, since she believed her mission had been accomplished and she no longer enjoyed divine protection.

That being said, if one considers the long-term fruits of both Socrates and Joan of Arc, one tends to find a certain sympathy for the point of view of those appalling Englishmen who tortured and killed her. Not that their actions were justified, but considering what a France free of the English common law heritage has given the world – the French revolution, Napoleon, the treaty of Versailles and now the European Union – one has some doubts about whether those voices were of heavenly or hellish inspiration.