Re: Tough Questions

Michael S. Lorrey (
Thu, 02 Sep 1999 13:12:42 -0400

Billy Brown wrote:

> Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > To live in a free society, you must trust first in yourself to act
> > responsibly, and if you beleive that people are more or less equal, you
> > should be prepared to trust your fellow man an equal amount. Do you
> > trust yourself with an atomic warhead? Would you hold a nation hostage
> > to get what you want? If you trust yourself to not abuse such power you
> > must trust your fellow man to not abuse such power.
> Mike, I usually agree with your posts, but I have to take issue with you on
> this one. Your point is well taken with regard to one-on-one interactions,
> but when you start talking about large groups of people you have to take
> into account the fact that some small percentage of them definitely *will*
> be irresponsible. That brings you to the question of benifit vs. harm (i.e.
> if 99.9% of all users of X benifit, and 0.1% do something stupid with it, is
> the net result good or bad?). With most hazardous goods (dynamite, hand
> guns, printing presses) the harm that one nut can do is relatively small, so
> I don't see much of a case for government regulation. With a few items
> (nuclear weapons, and anything with similar destructive potential) the harm
> that a single nut can cause is much, much greater than the combined benifits
> of all the possible peacefull uses. If you could buy a nuke at the corner
> gun store some of those 'climb-the-tower-and-shoot-pedestrian' nuts would
> use them, and the annual death toll would likely be well into the millions.
> If you want to allow private ownership of nuclear weapons, you need to move
> society into space so that you don't have to live within the blast radius of
> half a million basements.

I mostly agree with this, that the more destructive the technology, the more room you need for individuals to be able to use them freely and safely, however in a properly armed society where the majority understand about rational self interest, such whack-jobs would be eliminated at some point between the womb and their date with destiny. I know of no case of a numb-nut like Furrow, Lee Harvey Ozwald, Sirhan Sirhan, etc. where the signs of a seriously disturbed individual were not readily apparent long before hand, but nobody did anything, or what was done was the typical treatment of a bleeding heart society.

Mike Lorrey