"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others." ~ Thomas Jefferson
The Wisdom of Fools
Exclusive to STR
I had my own stalker once for a while. This guy was pissed at me and doubted my bona fides as an anarcho-libertarian because of my desire to be prosperous and the type of car that I drove. When I was married, my wife objected to driving around town in a ratty old pickup truck with the name of my business painted on the doors. So for her use, I bought a used Jaguar sedan. When she went back to Ireland , rather than just leave the Jag parked in the driveway, I started driving it myself. After all, it did free up another pickup for the guys back at the yard, and I was paying for it, so I might as well get some use out of it, eh?
Now I am no shrinking violet when it comes to my political views. So very shortly after I started driving the Jag, I felt the need to customize it to reflect its driver. Make it unique and uniquely mine. So I added a black, white, and red 'smash the state' license plate holder. And a National Rifle Association Life Member decal to the rear window, and 'Other People Are Not Your Property' bumper stickers, fore and aft. Later I added on an anti-war sticker as well.
These politically inspired customizations outraged some local Ann Arborite street bum that fancied himself an anarcho-socialist and the arbitrator of all things to do with the ideological purity of the movement. Included in his portfolio of enforcing ideological purity were me and my car. If he saw my car parked somewhere, he'd stake it out until I returned and start loudly cussing me out about what a traitor to the movement and a bourgeois poseur he thought I was. This was annoying at times because you never know where he'd turn up or when. But fair enough. He had his opinion and the right to express it, too. And I had the right to tell him he was wrong, mistaken, or to fook off. And all of which I did, too, depending on my mood.
However, what did truly annoy me though was the nature of his objections. Mr. Stalker didn't like the fact that I was a business owner. How could I exploit my fellow man like this and still call myself an anarchist? His outrage was also fueled by the fact that I cut down trees for a business. And drove a luxury car that got poor mileage from fossil fuel that polluted the air as well.
I do honestly believe that having your views challenged is a good thing. It makes you re-think them in light of new data or arguments and reformulate your defense of them. Other times you are persuaded to change your mind. These are good things. Intellectual rigor is a very good thing and vigorous debate brings this about.
Criticism and debate teaches you other things about yourself and your opposition as well, both good and bad. I believe that insight about yourself is always good to know and perhaps even the best thing to know.
I learned from Mr. Stalker that it probably wasn't a good idea (for me anyhow) to go about armed, for example. One time I was called by my daughter's school to come and pick her up because she was feeling ill. On the way to the doctor's office, I had to drop off some papers to my accountant, whose office is a few blocks away from the doctor's. I left my daughter in the car while I ran inside.
When I emerged a few minutes later, Mr. Stalker and two of his friends were pounding on the window of my car and howling epithets and venom at my ill and terrified offspring! Had I been armed that time, I would now be writing this from a cell somewhere. My reaction, and more importantly my self-analysis of my reaction, led me to conclude that, despite what I had previously believed, my Gulf War experiences had not completely turned away or blunted my impulse toward violence when I feel threatened or enraged. This was good to know and important for me to remember.
Mr. Stalker taught me something about myself that day, as well as about the actual nature of liberty in the real world as it exists rather than in Internet forums, blogs, and books. Knowing these things, as the Visa commercial notes, 'is priceless.'
And so Mr. Stalker has bestowed upon me a 'pearl of great price.' Soon after the event I have related above, Mr. S. disappeared from Ann Arbor . I haven't seen him on the streets in over a year. I won't pretend to be anything other than glad about this, but I hope wherever he is that he's teaching someone else the lessons that he taught me and is paving the way for other people's epiphanies on the nature of liberty, too. I can always hope so, anyhow.