Thursday, February 11, 2010


Guilt By Association: How Does One Draw the Line?

When I was in San Jose, at dinner the issue of giving talks to various types of crowds came up. The issue was, is it ever inappropriate (either morally or just strategically) for an antiwar libertarian to give a talk to a particular group?

Obviously we are assuming the speaker agrees wholeheartedly with what he or she will say at the event. But the issue is, should a speaker ever decline an invitation due to the forum?

For example, I wouldn't give a talk at a Klan rally.

However, Mark Brady pushed us a bit, and said it would be fine for us to give a talk at a Marxist rally, and we agreed. The difference was, there would be no danger of any outsider misinterpreting our talk as a personal endorsement of the group's activities.

Also, it might be OK to be even at a Klan rally, if it were a debate and you were saying why racial codes or whatever were bad, and your opponent was defending them. In other words, it might be OK (though still iffy) if you were not welcomed by the people at the Klan rally.

Finally, does it affect your answer whether the speaker is being paid, or is promoting a book or something?


Not that they would invite anyone to do this, but if one went to speak at a Klan rally to say that this war against Islam is really very dumb, How would that be wrong ?
I don't think you should get paid by them though.
Some Ugg boots maybe, but no cash.
To me, the central issue is one of "clarity". If speaking to a particular group is likely to mislead people regarding your position, then it's probably wise not to accept the invitation.

For example, speaking to the Klan about the evils and follies of fiscal stimulus could easily create confusion - as, to many people, it would imply that you agree with what the Klan is basically "all about". But, speaking to them about the evils and follies of racism probably wouldn't create confusion.

Being paid for the effort doesn't really impact my answer - as I could easily claim that I was taking resources from the Klan to use for a better purpose - and that claim is almost certainly true.
How about speaking only before people you respect.
Is the klan worse than communists?
2nd anon: That's not the issue. The reason I personally wouldn't speak in front of the Klan is because, if nothing else, it would make Tom Palmer's year.
I don't think there is any moral issue as long as you actually believe everything you say. But when it comes to strategy, I agree with Bob and Lucas, stay away from situations which could suggest your support of racism, etc.
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