Liberty on the Rocks: Luck and Responsibility

 Posted by on 3 April 2012 at 8:15 am  Announcements, Liberty on the Rocks
Apr 032012

Tomorrow evening, I’ll be speaking at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver on luck and responsibility:

What’s Luck Got to Do With It?

Today, many apologists for the welfare state do not merely paint the poor as suffering from the burdens of misfortune. Instead, they claim that every person’s life is so thoroughly shaped by forces beyond his control that personal responsibility is a simplistic myth. No one, on their view, can claim to earn or deserve anything. Come untangle this egalitarian argument with philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh and explore the true meaning and basis of personal responsibility.

If you’re in Colorado, come join us!


On Wednesday, Ari Armstrong and I spoke at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver about campaign finance laws. Ari recorded and posted the video of our speeches.

Here’s his speech, explaining how these laws violate freedom of speech and burden activists, including why they must be repealed.

Here’s my speech. I discussed my experience with these campaign finance laws in 2008 and 2010, as well as some of the particular reforms currently under discussion, and why they’re worth supporting.

(I’m in the process of writing up a full post on this matter — including what you can do to help us for the hearing next week. That will be posted later today.)


At Liberty on the Rocks in Denver on Wednesday evening, Ari Armstrong and I will be speaking on Colorado’s campaign finance laws — how they violate free speech and burden political activists.

The festivities start around 7 pm at Choppers Sports Grill, 80 S. Madison Street in Denver. Here’s the teaser:

Join Liberty On the Rocks Denver on Dec. 7 for a spirited discussion of free speech in the context of Colorado’s campaign finance laws. Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong will discuss the nature of those laws and their adverse impact on the free speech rights of political activists. They’ll also review the proposed campaign finance rule changes to be discussed at a Dec. 15 hearing with Secretary of State Scott Gessler — including why you should support those changes and how you can do so.

If you’re a local, please join us!


Yesterday, my letter to the editor in support of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s campaign finance reforms was published in the Denver Post. Here’s the letter:

Re: “Gessler pushes rules rewrite,” Nov. 24 news story.

I applaud Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s reforms of Colorado’s onerous campaign finance rules, despite his recent loss in court.

As an occasional political activist, I know that Colorado’s campaign finance regulations are burdensome and intimidating. When Ari Armstrong and I wrote policy papers against the “personhood” amendments in 2008 and 2010, I was obliged to report $20 expenditures and contributions, as well as publish the names and addresses of our supporters. I couldn’t afford to hire lawyers or accountants. I struggled to understand and comply with the law, fearing fines of $50 per day per violation.

The current rules strongly discourage ordinary people from speaking out on ballot measures, as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals recognized. Gessler’s reforms, while limited, are an important step in the direction of greater freedom of speech.

Diana Hsieh, Sedalia

This letter was published in the Nov. 29 edition.

You can go to the web page to leave a comment in support of free speech. I’ve already replied to two early comments. The first comment said, “Money isn’t speech, Diana, and if you have a problem with open elections and full disclosure, you’re in the wrong country.” (Lovely, no?) The next comment attempted to defend me, but wrongly, saying “it sounds as if Diana is a small political activists who is complaining about burdensome laws that are designed for political organizations, not for someone who got $20 to help offset some costs.”

Here’s my comment in reply:

I’m the writer of the letter. In the Secretary of State’s May 2011 hearing about raising the reporting threshold for issue committees, I testified about my experiences — my difficulties, rather — in attempting to comply with the law. That’s posted to my blog here:…

I support free speech for everyone, not just for small-time activists but for large groups too. However, I am a small-time activist, and the law definitely burdens me disproportionately.

As a matter of free speech, people should be able to support and assist other people to speak with their money, without having their private information posted for all the world to see. To say that “money isn’t speech” is wrong: money enables people to speak and to speak for others, and that is part and parcel of free speech. Otherwise, free speech means nothing more than my power to talk to my dogs while alone in my house.

Finally, mark your calendars:

  • Ari Armstrong and I will discuss Colorado’s campaign finance laws on Wednesday, December 7th, at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver. I’ll post a full announcement of this event in a few days.
  • Ari and I will also be speaking at the Thursday, December 15th, at the Secretary of State’s campaign finance reform hearing in Denver. You can find details about the meeting and the proposed rule changes in this PDF. I’ll post more about this hearing next week, but I’d very much appreciate anyone willing to attend the hearing in person to testify. If that’s not feasible, you can submit written testimony.

For the Coalition for Secular Government, this election cycle is quickly becoming our busiest ever. The personhood movement is on the march, and to defend abortion rights, we need to defend our right to speak freely too.

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