Letter:Wildes’ letter assumed too much
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 14, 2014 12:02
One of Loyola’s goals as an academic institution is to encourage people to cultivate critical thinking. You can imagine my dismay when reading The Maroon on Friday and I found remarks by the Rev Kevin Wildes, S.J.
In a Feb. 7 Letter to the Editor, Wildes made two claims that are simply wrong.
First, he made the claim that “by even hinting to endorse slavery enforced against someone’s free will, Walter Block seems to contradict his basic libertarian principles.” Block did not endorse slavery. He condemned it, precisely on the ground that “the slaves could not quit. They were forced to ‘associate’ with their masters when they would have vastly preferred not to do so.”
Block’s point is that the voluntary —or involuntary — nature of association is its defining characteristic. I spent five years enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and my experience during recruit training — “boot camp” — consisted of being told what to do at every moment. We lived in cramped quarters and shared the showers with more than 80 men. All of this occurred in a milieu where not much stock was placed in my human dignity — and yet, I volunteered to do so.
Contrast this with a scenario in which A kidnaps B, and detains him for weeks in a five star hotel, surrounded by excellent views, food prepared by chefs, and access to a swimming pool. Clearly the conditions are much nicer in the hotel. Yet the point remains that the kidnapping is illicit, precisely because B is kept against his will.
Wildes’ second claim is an example of a fundamental logical mistake. Wildes writes: “In speaking of discriminatory lunch counters Block makes the mistake of assuming that because of the Civil Rights legislation people would be compelled to associate with others against their will. The Civil Rights legislation did no such thing.” Wildes then goes on to note that “no one was forced to sit at the lunch counter.”
Wildes’ criticism would be legitimate if Block asserted that it was the customers that are forced by the legislation to associate with others against their will. But Block did no such thing. It is instead the proprietors that are forced to associate with others — certain customers — against their will.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Block is irrelevant to the fact that both of Wildes’ criticisms are off the mark.