Sam Dodson talks about his experience in jail in this 52-minute video recorded at PorcFest. It’s entertaining and even inspiring at times, so I recommend you at least check out the first 33 minutes. At the same time, I noticed a few things in the video that just don’t jive. Why is Sam using a member of the government to defend himself against the government? Is it tactically consistent of him to try and get a share of the government’s stolen goods? Is removing Judge Burke a useful goal?
His Lawyer is a Member of the Government
I learned in the video that Sam hired a New Hampshire state representative to defend him. This really took me aback because Sam initially said he didn’t want to use a real lawyer. They have their own ties to the government that bind them in ways counter to the interests of the people they represent. So for Sam to go out and hire one – and a state rep to boot – blows my mind. Why this change of direction Sam?
Should Libertarians Try to Get Money from the Government?
Sam also mentioned his coming civil suit. I heard about this before when it sounded just like a vague statement of fact of liability aimed at pressuring the government to do what was right in his case. But now it seems like he plans to follow through and, if successful, could be looking at a settlement as high as FRN $4.4 million.
Morally Right, Sure, but Tactically Smart?
If what we’re after is peaceful evolution, should we be exercising the right to self-defense against the government that includes demanding large amounts of money? Morally correct it is, for sure. But is it tactically consistent with a message of peaceful evolution? My initial inclination is that it is not, because our opponents would be more provoked to change by the shock of simply being forgiven. Exercising the right to self-defense like this will only raise their hackles, thus interfering with our attempts to shift their paradigm.
Meddling in the Internal Affairs of Statists
Someone in the audience asked Sam about getting Judge Burke removed. Sam thought it would be difficult if not impossible but I heard no mention of the more important question of whether his removal is even something libertarians should be seeking.
Leverage his Position to Change his Mind
Since we libertarians either are not or should not be members of the government (it is inherently contradictory to our principles), why should we as outsiders attempt to tell the government people who their leaders should be? We are not subject to this government and should make that fact evident at all times through our refusal to consent and our resistance. But if that is our tack then we can not remain consistent and attempt to meddle in internal government affairs. Instead, we should leverage Judge Burke’s position in the hot seat and use love and satyagraha to change his mind.
I think Sam is going down the wrong path if he pursues these options. I don’t question his right to do as he pleases with his life or his moral correctness in seeking to defend himself, I only question the strategic intelligence and consistency in pursuing these options. Obviously Sam doesn’t owe me any explanations but it’s critical that we distinguish between the inconsistent and that which is consistent and can be emulated in the future.
I’d like to add that I admire what Sam did and I spent what my wife considers to be a huge amount of time promoting his actions and defending him online. I wrote Sam multiple times while he was in jail and called the jail. I worked very hard on getting coverage for Sam’s work in both on- and off-line media. I say this to show you that I am not attempting to attack Sam on a personal level. I just want to dialog with Sam and others on this topic.