Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fed Soc in Review

Well, I'm back from the annual three day extravaganza that sometimes can feel entirely too much like a not-entirely-functional family reunion. Unpleasant altercations with ex-boyfriends were safely avoided! Only one friend told me that I'd inadvertently inspired her to commit a federal felony! Mike Mukasey avoided keeling over mid-speech! Good times all around...

More seriously, for those who weren't able to attend the panels, there are videos online. It's impossible for any one person to see everything, but I recommend in particular Showcase Panels II and IV (video not yet online, but should be in a few days' time at the link above.) Re: Panel II, Richard Epstein in particular is always worth the price of admission. In some ways, though, the individual parts are better than the whole. It might've worked better as two separate panels-- one on the Epstein book and one on co-panelist John Tomasi's book - since some of the panelists did seem to be talking past each other. But the individual speeches should nonetheless be of interest to people interested generally in classical liberalism.

The ideas presented on Panel IV were new to me, and I'm still not sure what I think of sunset laws generally. Nonetheless, the panelists were all exceptionally clear and coherent in presenting both the cases for and against them, and I felt like I came away with a good grasp of both pros and cons. Special bonus for any ex-Yalies out there: Bill Eskridge's Guido Calabresi imitation is hilarious.

I also recommend the bullying panel. I spent about four or five months in my day job thinking over these issues, and I might be too mentally and morally exhausted to ever write anything about them again. But if you're interested in these issues, that panel offers a solid overview.

I am meh about the Mukasey address. I'm well aware that libertarians are split on foreign policy generally. I feel nervous and tentative writing about issues about which my intellectual heroes disagree passionately. Plus, the more I read about them, the more I'm convinced I don't know. That's probably why I almost never write about them here. Nonetheless, caveats about my lack of real knowledge of these issues aside, parts of Mukasey's speech sat ill with me. I'm uncomfortable saying that non-Muslims ought to think that there is only one true Islam -- the ugly and radical kind. The point ought to be that there are many different manifestations of Islam, some more friendly to small-l Western liberalism and some not. Regardless of what's most consistent with original text, we ought to pick the more liberal-friendly varieties and encourage them.

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