Donald Trump and the Myth of Inciting to Riot

I noticed tonight that the political websites are full of talk of Donald Trump inciting violence, and his opponents in the Republican and Democratic political ranks seem to be universally jumping on the bandwagon, blaming him for the violence carried out by some of his supporters and the demonstrators themselves. In my previous blog post, I went into the reasons why disrupting his rallies is a property rights crime against both Trump and his rally attendee supporters.paul 19

As I said in my last post, I would not vote for Trump and would write-in Ron Paul first or vote for any decent Libertarian if the National Party ran one. (It looks like the Libertarian Party of Oregon will be choosing their own candidate independent of the National LP.) But the attacks on Trump tonight that seem to be pervading the political websites are based on the erroneous phenomenon of “inciting to riot”.

Inciting to riot implies that the people aggressing against property rights of others have had their wills taken over by another and are not responsible for their violent actions (and a physical assault is a property rights assault in Libertarian theory since your body is part of your property). “I was calm and collected, but so-and-so’s rhetoric was so overwhelming that I got carried away, and committed this murder or assault which I swear I would never ever normally commit, but something came over me and I was no longer in control of my actions. Blame Trump or whomever, Your Honor, don’t blame me.”

This is the universal cop-out of violent demonstrators. Of course they were responsible for their actions of violence. Of course they are the guilty ones and not the rabble-rouser who worked them up into a mouth-foaming frenzy of violence. The rabble-rouser, the demogogue who preaches hatred, may have a moral culpability for attempting to incite them to violence, but under America’s very liberal freedom of speech laws, he is not legally guilty. It is the person who carries out the violence who is the guilty party, and to believe in the validity of “inciting to riot” is to say that people who carry out acts of violence are not morally responsible for their crimes. This is an extremely dangerous idea, far more dangerous than the words of any demagogue.

That said, if a demagogue stood up, tried to work a crowd up enough to riot and carry out a pogrom against, say, Hispanics or Armenians by saying “Kill the Hispanics” or “Kill the Armenians”, both unfortunately completely legal under our liberal Freedom of Speech laws, and a mob descended on a string of Hispanic-owned or Armenian-owned stores, assaulting and murdering the occupants, and a Hispanic or Armenian in the area being attacked shot to death the speaker attempting to incite violence because he felt his life was threatened, and I was on a jury trying the shooter for murder, I would vote to acquit him, and perhaps even contribute to his legal defense. (Note however that it is illegal  and not protected speech in America for a rabble-rouser to say to a mob “Kill Jorge Perez” or “Kill Arpad Avakian”.)

The best weapon against any demagogue who attempts “inciting to riot” is to economically boycott him and anyone who supports him for life. If he or she is a politician, vote against them. “Send them to Coventry”, as they say in England, forever.

-Paul Grad, Libertarian Party of Oregon Gubernatorial Nominee 2014

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