Thursday, February 6, 2014

Philosophers & Paywalls

My little weekly county newspaper has gone behind a paywall. This cracks me up. 

As a subscriber to the print version I have automatic access-- just as soon as Swishu gets my request and emails me a passwords. I'm waiting. 

Now on to the philosophers.

There's a fellow who writes a column in my little weekly newspaper-- or maybe his thoughts are just letters to the editor. I don't know. He writes about freedom and taxes and the civil war and his dislike for Lincoln and Big Government. He almost always references "the great political philosopher, Lysander Spooner." Not being a philosopher, I am not acquainted with Spooner's work-- heck, I didn't even recognize his name the first time I saw it in one of this fellow's column. So I asked a couple of philosophers who Lysander Spooner was. Neither Mr. Big Food nor A. Leland knew. I believe they both responded, "Who?"

Not knowing who Spooner is did not keep me awake at night. But the fellow has a column this week about taxation and slavery in which he cites Spooner at length. Looks like today is the day we are going to get to the bottom of the Spooner issue. So I checked the definitive philosophy resource, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy Volumes 1-8. Nothing. Encyclopedia Americana. World Book Encyclopedia. Webster's Biographies. Still nothing. Two more history of philosophy reference books. Zip. So that infallible source, Wikipedia:
Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 – May 14, 1887) was an American individualist anarchist, political philosopher, Deist, Unitarian abolitionist, supporter of the labor movement, legal theorist, and entrepreneur of the nineteenth century. He is also known for competing with the U.S. Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company, which was forced out of business by the United States government.
Isn't that interesting? 

I skimmed the whole thing and went looking again (because you should always always check more than one source on matters relating to individualism, anarchy, philosophy, Deists, etc.). 

I searched for Spooner and for American Letter Company in Encyclopedia of American History, The Oxford History of The American People, The Great Republic: A History of the American People, The Growth of the American Republic, Bennett's The American Patriot's Almanac, AND six other history books, AND both Anniversaries and Holidays: A Calendar of Days and How to Observe Them. Nothing.

And yet, there's this at the Wikipedia entry:
Spooner's influence extends to the wide range of topics he addressed during his lifetime. He is remembered today primarily for his abolitionist activities and for his challenge to the Post Office monopoly, which had a lasting influence of significantly reducing postal rates.[34] Spooner's writings contributed to the development of both left-libertarian and right-libertarian political theory in the United States, and were often reprinted in early libertarian journals such as the Rampart Journal[35] and Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought.[36] His writings were also a major influence on Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard and libertarian law professor and legal theorist Randy Barnett.

In January 2004, Laissez Faire Books established the Lysander Spooner Award for advancing the literature of liberty. ...

In 2010, LAVA created the Lysander Spooner (Book of the Year) Award, which has been awarded annually since 2011.[38] The LAVA Awards are held annually to honor excellence in books relating to the principles of liberty, with the Lysander Spooner Award being the grand prize award.

Spooner's The Unconstitutionality of Slavery was cited in the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down the federal district's ban on handguns. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, quotes Spooner as saying the right to bear arms was necessary for those who wanted to take a stand against slavery.[39] It was also cited by Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion in McDonald v. Chicago the following year.[40]
[my emphases]

You would think I could find something about him in my Library. But I cannot.

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