[2889] The only person in the wrong is the fascist threat make

As a libertarian, hate speech is always a difficult subject to touch on. It is difficult to determine how far should free speech go until a line has to be drawn.

The pure libertarian position is very tolerant of all kinds of speech, and even hate speech. So tolerant that it goes so far away towards the horizon that for a peaceful society with high social capital, there exists a boundary much, much closer and well short of the libertarian realm of the unacceptable. Here, there is a conflict between inherent right and the ideal of coexistence. Without context, an answer is difficult to reach and even if it is reached, a libertarian is unlikely will be content with it. But living in a peaceful society will always call for a compromise, and that is the price we all have to pay in some way.

But when a person makes an explicit physical threat against another person or group of identifiable people, then the libertarian answer is quite easy: it is wrong and action has to be taken to make sure that such threats will not be realized. This is because of the non-aggression axiom (I know, I know. The axiom is problematic. Nevertheless…). The use or threat of force against a person is coercion and coercion is a big no-no in the libertarian understanding on how the world should work.

And so, I am not particularly impressed when what seems to be a group of fascists complained that a follower of their ideology, and the person himself, has had his right to free speech or free press robbed after a bookstore decided to stop selling his book that encourages others to murder certain people who they do not agree with.[1]

In the first place however, the store is a private entity. The bookstore owner can do as he damn well pleases.

The author later complained that the pull out proved that there were people afraid of him. Rightly, so. He is after all calling for murder. One must be so dull in the mind to think such opinion is an astounding revelation and people should not be afraid. If somebody made a credible threat against me, I would go to the police for protection and take the necessary precaution against that threat (and possibly, even preemptive measures). One does not need to be libertarian to act such a way. It is human nature.

In the end, there is only one violation of right in this episode and it is the physical threat made by the fascist. That alone from libertarian perspective makes it sufficient for police action to be taken against him.

In any case, a fascist’s world is one where a libertarian cannot live free. When a fascist cries for freedom, such a claim should always be viewed with supreme skepticism.

Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reservedHafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reservedHafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[1] — A bookstore has dropped two books by author Helmi Effendy over his social media comments on killing Malay “traitors.”

“Effective immediately, we will not be selling any books by Helmi Effendy at Kedai Fixi or on We support freedom of speech, but not threats or ‘prayers’ for people to be killed,” Buku Fixi said in a statement today.

Helmi is the founder of right-wing publication The Patriots.


“May the Night of Broken Glass become a reality in Malaysia. The Night of the Long Knives will kill Malay leaders and voters who have betrayed their religion and race,” he said in his post.


In a Facebook post today, the author lashed out at the move, claiming that his books have been “banned.” There is no government ban on the books, however.

“I don’t care. I don’t give a f***. I take it that when Buku Fixi takes my books off their shelves, it means someone out there is very very afraid of me,” he said. [Store drops books over author’s call to kill ‘Malay traitors’. Malaysiakini. May 29 2019]

Liberty Politics & government

[2878] The anti-ICERD protest is a chance to show this government is different from the past administration

This is the first significant protest the current government faces. And this is yet another opportunity for this government to demonstrate that it is different from the previous corrupt racist, fascist regime.

That can be shown by accommodating the protest as much as possible with a view of not being explicitly hostile to it either through speech or action, but by guaranteeing the safety of the protest participants and others while they exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and speech.

I participated in all of the Bersih protests and each time, there was always a dread feeling inside of me expecting the worst to happen. Such feeling was warranted.

Previously, government-controlled media always delivered threatening messages to the masses ahead of any large protest. May 13 without fail was the boogeyman.

My first taste of tear gas happened while I was standing amid a large crowd near the Maybank tower.

I have been chased by the police before. At one time, an officer pulled a gun near Jalan Raja Laut after chaos erupted. There was a time when I walked by a security personnel during a protest, and he verbally abused me.

And the laying out of barbwire and other actions like the conspicuous rolling out of anti-riot assets with security personnel all equipped with armor always threatened the atmosphere of the protest.

Furthermore, it was common knowledge that the party in power then sent provocateurs to create chaos, and create a reason for the security personnel to come in and break the protest.

All this should be avoided by this government. The police should hold back and not purposefully threaten the crowd. No provocateur should be sent by anybody associated with the ruling parties and the government.

It is by backing off from these provocative tactics that we can show to the world that the government is self-assured and strong.

The function of a government within the context of its citizens exercising their rights is to protect those rights and the people who are practicing it peacefully.

We can disagree with the agenda of the protest participants, however racists they are, but we should also respect their right to assemble peacefully.

We can be different and we must be different. We can show to them that there is another way. We do not need to beat our chest to show our confidence and strength.

That is the best way to blunt their message: that we are different and better.

Liberty Society

[2877] ICERD is not the be all and end all

I did not follow the ICERD debate closely until recently. I felt like the issue rose to national prominence out of nowhere, and then it died a spectacular death before I properly understood what it was all about. If you had asked me what ICERD was, I would be able to mutter some keywords like anti-discrimination before I would exhaust my time trying to be intelligent and having to google Wikipedia to understand it.

Nevertheless, as a layperson with liberal bias, I would gravitate automatically towards supporting ICERD ratification. I consider myself as a liberal, even if these days, some of those who claimed to be liberals in the past feel some kind of political reluctance to wear the label anymore, lest they become superliberals and attract the wrath of their political idols.

And so, I do feel slight disappointment how the ICERD debate has played out. Slight, because I do not think ICERD is one of the most important things in the to do list.

To be honest, while I do not believe in the eye-rolling allegations by its opponents that ICERD would require amending Article 153 of the Constitution, it is unclear to me — and even to other liberals who I have talked to and are more invested in the issues than me — what would entail after its ratification. That makes me feel that a ratification is more of a signalling exercise than anything else. The whole ICERD debate generates more heat than light, partly because the so-what questions have not been addressed, and so giving space to red herring counterargument like “Israel signed ICERD.”

In the end, I think there are many reforms that are more important and urgent that liberals should push first, like electoral reforms including local council elections, instead of ICERD.

But for liberals out that who invested more on the ICERD issue, please do not feel too discouraged. I am reluctant to use this argument but perhaps it is not the right time for it. Perhaps we should continue to do what liberals have been doing: conversations, fora, awareness, understanding, empathy on the ground on values like equality.

That kind of activism would prepare the grounds for a more liberal societal attitude than a sudden ratification of ICERD would do. After all, for changes like these to happen, it usually needs to come from the bottom-up, not from the top-down.

Liberty Photography Politics & government

[2780] Appropriating communism

There was a time capitalism and communism battled each other. I am of course simplifying the conflict by a whole lot but that was how most of the world saw it then and even now.

I was at the Tate Modern in London recently. Inside the museum, there is a room filled with communist propaganda material presented as art. I stood in the middle of the room thinking how complete the defeat of communism was. So complete, the free society that we (I?) live in now allows us to appropriate hard communist material extolling the masses to embrace communist values as merely an expensive artistic curiosity.

Forty or thirty years ago, these posters were part of a culture war, which itself was part of a real war. Now, well, they are something you sell on eBay, hang on the wall because it looks pretty, or even copy and mass produce them in the name of profit.

I spent quite some time there feeling the same way I felt as if I had wandered the ruins of ancient ruins in Cambodia or Myanmar, or artifacts in the Met or the Lourve. It was a feeling of wonder of times so different from ours.

Appropriating Communism

Liberty Photography

[2778] The Big Brother misses a spot

Big Brother misses a spot

London is almost always, almost everywhere under surveillance. But the authority misses a spot here. This is at the Seven Dials.