Ultima Ratio Regum

Update: For dispute over the accuracy of some of the details of the following story, see this post, though the essential outline seems to be true to some extent (weasel words pending further info!).

In the following letter, Jim Davidson explains why he’s boycotting Freedom Fest. Evidently event organizer Mark Skousen favours abolishing reasoned debate in favour of trial by combat – which seems a little odd in a movement supposedly dedicated to upholding persuasion over force, but then after all Skousen is a thug asshole upwardly mobile Klingon maverick thinker:

Dear Friends,

So, Mark Skousen has again invited me to speak at FreedomFest.com

The last time he invited me was in November 2004, and that was for his event in July 2005. I had initially agreed to speak, but was very concerned by something he arranged in New Orleans at the Blanchard show.

Mark Skousen

Mark Skousen

Doug Casey had spoken out against the war in Iraq. In particular, he had said that while it was wrong to demonise the soldiers returning from Vietnam, it was also wrong to deify the soldiers in Iraq. Some Vietnam era veteran took offense, for some reason. Probably because the vet was a thug and thought Doug should be beaten up for being an atheist and an anarchist.

Skousen and Doug were both on the dais for the Saturday night banquet. First, Skousen came out with a jester’s cap, called it a dunce cap, and put it on Doug’s head. Doug took the time to correct him. Then Skousen called the Vietnam vet “Bill” forward and introduced him to the audience. He then insisted that Doug go off the dais and wrestle Bill. Doug did so, in spite of recent injuries from being thrown by a horse, and actually won the wrestling match.

You want proof? I'll give you proof!After the event, I asked Skousen why he arranged for a physical confrontation between a speaker and a member of the audience. Skousen said that because what Doug said had offended the vet, Skousen felt that there should be a physical contest to resolve the matter of “honor.”

Naturally, I then asked Skousen if I were to say anything in Las Vegas at his event in July 2005 which someone felt was offensive, or pretended to be offended by, would he arrange for a grudge match. He said that he would, and that he believed it was a principle that any time someone is offended by what someone else says, they should be able to beat that person up.

So, I withdrew my consent to be a speaker.

Jim DavidsonThis year, desperate for someone to talk about science fiction, Skousen has again invited me. I have again inquired about the matter of the wrestling match. Here is his latest thought on the matter.

“The vet was expressing outrage by Doug in his insensitive comments about veterans, and that’s all. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Clearly, Skousen is a moron who thinks that speakers should be afraid of the audience. He wants to intimidate speakers into speaking a mainstream point of view. He does not want speakers to say anything radical, interesting, or offensive. And if you do encounter someone who is offended by you, Skousen wants to arrange for that person to beat you up.

It is all very tedious. So, I suggest that people avoid his nasty event.



What I want to know is: if I’m offended by Skousen’s view that you have the right to beat up anyone who offends you, does that mean that I do get to beat him up or that I don’t get to?

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55 Responses to Ultima Ratio Regum

  1. Andy Stedman June 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    Roderick – I believe that’s a performative contradiction… maybe Skousen didn’t like the HHH/Kinsella justification of rights based on the concept, and this is his attempt to negate the argument.

  2. Currence June 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    Freedom ain’t free, I see. And, apparently, it’ll cost you… a wrestling match if you’re unpopular? Why not straight up fisticuffs? and no sucker punches or cheap shots–we’re keeping this honorable. (Y’know, like honor killings, dueling, the life of Mishima, etc.) Highly unorthodox and just plain bizarre, for a supposed freedom-loving individual and fest.

  3. Brandon June 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    I expect to be offended by you in the future Roderick. Therefore, tonight I will deliver a severe skull beating to you as proactive retribution.

  4. Brainpolice June 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm #


  5. Victor Mil June 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    Statist ninnies achieve new standards for “batshit insane.”

  6. Anon73 June 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Maybe Skousen is an equal-opportunity wrestler and thinks that we should be allowed to wrestle him if we want. After all, a Stirnirite/Nihilist could say of government that it’s the monopoly on force that’s the problem, not part about force. I mean, at least it’s not like on “Star Trek” where Klingons kill each other whenever one Klingon is jealous of the rank of another. 🙂


  7. Gene Callahan June 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    Skousen should be beat up for producing those stupid ‘AEIOU’ t-shirts.

    • Roderick June 10, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

      What was that? I know not.

  8. Michael Wiebe June 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    Wow, Skousen is such a tool.

    • Roderick June 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

      The grad students ate him alive

      Oh, problem solved, then.

  9. Mike Gogulski June 9, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Gosh the moral calculus is all so confusing… I give up, I can’t parse it…

    What I wanna know is, who’s making book on the fight? Long v. Skousen, 10 rounds, no-holds-barred!

  10. Mike June 10, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    My wife always hates when I advertise my vowel movements. Oh wait..

  11. Aster June 10, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Skousen brought in an ex-military to physically attack Doug Casey, in front of a room full of witnesses?

    He chose to do this in the from of a duel, and when he was actually taken up on the offer didn’t even vaguely follow any kind of dueling precedure?

    And his henchman then lost?

    That was… dumb.

    I’s forgotten how entertaining the libertarian movement could be.

  12. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 7:01 am #

    This is the first I’ve heard of this. I am stunned. I wasn’t planning to be in LV anyway. Whew!

    • Brandon June 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

      If he offends you, be sure to kick his ass. If he complains, tell him if he can’t stand the heat and so on and so forth.

  13. martin June 10, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    I think Skousen was inspired by Monty Python:

    Good evening, and welcome once again to the Epilogue. On the programme this evening we have Monsignor Edward Gay, visiting Pastoral Emissary of the Somerset Theological College and author of a number of books about belief, the most recent of which is the best seller ‘My God’. And opposite him we have Dr Tom Jack: humanist, broadcaster, lecturer and author of the book ‘Hello Sailor’. Tonight, instead of discussing the existence or non-existence of God, they have decided to fight for it. The existence, or non-existence, to be determined by two falls, two submissions, or a knockout. All right boys, let’s get to it. Your master of ceremonies for this evening – Mr Arthur Waring.

  14. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    The more I think about this, the more I am outraged. Shunning is definitely in order. Is there a more unlibertarian principle than the one Skousen proclaimed?

  15. Anon73 June 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    If Skousen would volunteer to fight himself then he would be a notch higher than the statists. I can’t imagine any recent leader in politics having the guts to personally fight for any of their policies, as opposed to the ease with which they typically order young men out to fight and die for whatever their policies are.

  16. Steve Horwitz June 10, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    Skousen is one of those people who would lose if he fought himself.

    Totally agreed with Sheldon on this. I think Skousen’s been a little “off” for several years, certainly since the absolute embarrassment that was his “performance” at the Mont Pelerin meetings in London.

  17. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    On my blog, Russell Hanneken expresses skepticism about the whole story. http://tinyurl.com/nxdl36 I hope it is not true.

  18. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    “Then there was the talk he gave while he was president of FEE to the Austrian grad student seminar. The grad students ate him alive on basic stuff.”

    This I did not know about. And I work for FEE!

  19. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    I have written Skousen to see what he says. Has anyone tried to contact Casey? I’m told he is returning to FreedomFest this year.

  20. Kirsten June 10, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    So does this policy imply that most women must avoid offending most men, that the handicapped must avoid offending the healthy, etc.?

  21. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    I am in contact with Skousen. Stay turned.

  22. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    I am beginning to think that this story is crumbling. Can Davidson substantiate his version?

  23. Sheldon Richman June 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    I have posted Mark’s side of the story here: http://tinyurl.com/nddgo9

  24. Babatu Ferguson June 10, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    “Then there was the talk he gave while he was president of FEE to the Austrian grad student seminar. The grad students ate him alive on basic stuff.”

    He’s always struck me as more of an economic journalist than a bona fide economist — which is ultimately not a bad thing to be. Not everybody can be Ludwig von Mises.

  25. Roderick June 11, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    I’ve put an update at the top of this blog post.

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