0056 Evil or Stupid MP3
(audio player below article)
Evil or Stupid
by Ben Stone
There’s an old statement that’s often applied to government: Never attribute to Evil what can be explained by Stupid. I’ve used this phrase perhaps thousands of times, but it has a serious flaw built into it. That flaw is the inference that when Stupid happens Evil is not involved.
I’ll give an example:
There is a stupid man named Tom who lives in a suburb of a large city. Stupid Tom is celebrating his birthday and, in a burst of excitement, he fires his pistol into the air. His shot is not aimed perpendicular to the earth, therefore the bullet maintains a considerable amount of speed as it arcs across the sky and eventually strikes a power transformer knocking out the electricity to a large section of town, causing millions of dollars in lost revenue to businesses that are forced to close until repairs are made.
In this situation, we know Stupid was at fault. And the unpredictable result cannot be Evil because for Evil to exist there must be intent of malice, and Stupid Tom had no intent to harm anyone or anything. He was simply stupid. He should be held accountable for his act, but his stupidity and lack of malice should be considered when he is judged.
On the other hand, if it were the case that Tom would have never thought of firing his pistol. But his brother-in-law, Larry, wanted to harm Tom by getting him arrested for firing a gun in the city limits, so he handed the gun to Tom knowing Tom would shoot, now we have Evil. Not only was it evil of Larry to set Tom up to be arrested, but also the damages done were a direct result of Larry’s evil act! Therefore whether or not Larry intended to cause the specific damages, Evil happened. Its true that Stupid was involved, but the intent was evil so however stupid the act was it was also Evil.
The problem then becomes, how can Larry be held accountable for Tom’s action? Ultimately Tom choose to fire the gun. Larry didn’t even tell Tom to fire it. And it’s impossible to prove what Larry was thinking when he handed Tom the gun. So again, the end result is that Stupid does a stupid thing and Evil results. But Evil cannot be held accountable even though malice was clearly involved.
If we then apply this principle to government we can see another aspect of the State and how it uses the stupidity that is built into government to accomplish evil. I’ll give another example of how this works without a Stupid so that you can see it and better understand the nature of the Beast we face.
A drunk driver tragically kills a woman’s daughter. The woman, whom we will call Candy, fails to understand the basic concepts of justice and how cause and effect work, so she believes government can help solve the problem of drunk driving. With good intent, Candy forms an organization she believes can push the government into passing laws that she believes will save people’s lives. We shall call this organization “Parents Against Drunk Drivers” or PADD. Remember, Candy is neither stupid nor is she evil. She is simply ignorant of the nature of the State.
Some people, both private citizens and those within government, see an opportunity to use the fist of the State to enforce their ideas of morality upon other people, so they join PADD and begin pushing draconian anti-alcohol laws into place. These people are committing an evil act and are using the stupidity of government to accomplish their act.
In this situation, Candy had no malice in founding PADD, and when she saw the result of her actions she withdrew from PADD. But because of her naive act, evil people took over PADD and it, through the fist of the State, is now committing acts of aggression on people who have never harmed anyone.
One evening Tom is relaxing at home with an adult beverage. He gets a phone call and must rush to his office or an important deal will fall through. On his way, Tom finds himself in a Drunk Driver Check Point, organized by PADD, where the police smell his breath and ask him to step out of his car. He takes and passes three field sobriety tests. However the machine that tests his breath indicates he is a tiny amount over the legal limit for blood alcohol. No one accuses Tom of being impaired, however if a 90-pound man who never drinks and has no resistance to alcohol had the same blood alcohol level as Tom, he may show some impairment. So then because of the zero tolerance rules PADD pushed into place, and the one size fits all State justice system, Tom heads to jail for the night. The deal falls through and Tom’s company has to lay-off dozens of workers. Tom is fired and must depend on government aid to live until he can find a new job and get back on his feet. Millions of dollars are lost and innocent people’s lives are altered by the evil acts of PADD and the State. Yet there is no individual who can be held accountable for Evil or the harm it produced.
Supporters of the State may argue that Tom should have called a taxi and not driven, but this position assumes there was something wrong with Tom’s actions rather than accepting that it was the law that was wrong. Remember, Tom harmed no one. All of the harm took place due to the actions of the State and PADD. If the statist argues that Tom could have harmed someone, then the statist is arguing that people should be punished simply for having the potential of action rather than actual action. If people should be punished for possessing the potential of harm, who among us can be found innocent?
In the case of Stupid Tom and Evil Larry, Tom was innocent of any malice and Larry was innocent of any action. Therefore Evil goes unpunished, even though Stupid can carry some of the blame. But the damage that the actions of one or two people can accomplish is very limited. In the worst case, a community is affected and must deal with a local issue. But in the case of Candy and her do-gooder PADD members, once the fist of the State is involved Evil is unleashed upon millions of innocent people on a continual and almost unrelenting wave, wiping out families, businesses, and wealth without regard to consequences. Take this to the next level of the State and apply this principle to foreign policy, and whole cities die, cultures are destroyed, and civilization is altered by Evil.
This is the nature of the State. It blends the good intentions of the ignorant, the acts of the stupid, and the selfish desires of the evil, and it brings to life an inanimate Being that walks the Earth seeking whom He may devour. The problem is not some grand conspiracy by evil men in some hidden grove, nor is it some fellowship of global do-gooders attempting to plan a perfect society at the expense of the workers of the world. It’s not even a plan by select super-rich families desiring global dominance. If these groups exist they are simply tools This Beast uses to accomplish His purposes. The State supersedes individual actors and their intents and is a man-made god who seeks ownership of all that is. Recognizing this single fact allows us to understand that those things that can be explained by Stupid may have more behind them than just a simple evil conspiracy. The stupidity of government is the whip the State uses to drive its herds and punish its foes.