Libertarian view: Beliefs and expectations, reasonable and unreasonable – The Spectrum

Posted: September 1, 2021 at 12:09 am

Thomas L. Knapp| Libertarian View

More than seven months after the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the January 6 riot, the Capitol Police Department officer who shot her is speaking out. I know that day I saved countless lives, Lt. Michael ByrdtellsNBC Newss Lester Holt.

Maybe hes right, maybe not, but hes going farther than he has to go. The standard for use of deadly force not just in the Capitol Police Department but generally is not certain knowledge but rather,as the departments policy puts it, a reasonable belief that said use of force is in the defense of human life, including the officers own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.

Did Byrds actions meet that standard? The events of the day, andthe video record of the shooting, say yes.

Even setting aside the question of whether the 2020 presidential election was stolen, as many Trump supporters believe, and the bizarre theories of QAnon, with which she seems to have been affiliated, the story of Babbitts death is a story of reasonable versus unreasonable beliefs.

It was unreasonable for Babbitt especially given her description in online biographies as a 14-year Air Force veteran and former security guard at a nuclear power plant to believe that she and the mob she joined could walk into the US Capitol and violently prevent Congresss certification of the election without armed Capitol Police officers contesting the matter.

It was even more unreasonable for Babbitt to believe that when her fellow rioters began smashing the windows of the barricaded doors to the Speakers Lobby, and that when she attempted to crawl through one of those windows, the armed officers charged with protecting Congress wouldnt respond with deadly force. Frankly its surprising that they didnt do so as soon as the window-smashing began.

On the other hand, whether or not one likes the Capitol Police, or Lt. Byrd, or Congress, or the outcome of the election, it was entirely and obviously reasonable for Lt. Byrd to believe that members of a mob attempting to force their way through those barricaded doors represented a danger of immediate danger of serious physical injury or even death to himself and those he guarded.

Ashli Babbitt is neither a martyr nor an innocent victim of police abuse (of which there are far too many). She willingly joined a violent mob. She willingly took part in that mobs violent actions. She willingly went an extra foot or two beyond the actions of most of that mobs members. And that extra foot or two was fatal.

Had Ashli Babbitt not put her unreasonable beliefs into motion against Michael Byrds reasonable beliefs, shed almost certainly still be alive.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:@thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (

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Libertarian view: Beliefs and expectations, reasonable and unreasonable - The Spectrum

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