Those Nasty Martians Once Again (Am I Getting Martianophobic?)

Letter 1

From: zinsser

Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2019 8:43 AM

To: Walter Block

Subject: Joe’s murder

Hi, Walter. I hope you are well.

Your hypothesis about Joe’s murder is interesting, but it assumes that someone other than Joe has to kill him. Here is my take on it.

Thanks, Roger Mitchell

Did the Martians stipulate that “someone else” kill Joe (which would be murder) or are they only concerned with Joe’s death. If the latter, then Joe could just commit suicide which would be allowable under the NAP. If Joe was rational about the whole thing, he would simply do it and go down in history as the ‘savior’ of the world. This scenario is magnanimous.

If he wasn’t willing and refused to ‘pull the trigger’, then world-wide pressure could be brought to bear on him—emotional, psychological, financial, social, etc.—making his life completely unbearable and bringing him to the point where he was willing to do the deed and actually carried it out. This would be “two minutes of hate” with a vengeance. Since hate is not punishable by law (except in today’s modern version), there would be no crime committed and no one would be punished. This scenario is unfortunate.

If the Martians demanded that another person kill Joe, then whoever did it should be brought to trial on the charge of murder, found guilty with extenuating circumstances, and sentenced appropriately with the understanding that clemency and pardon, in all likelihood, would be given to him. He would always have the knowledge of his “sin”, but could be completely forgiven and set free. This scenario is pragmatic.

One other solution would be to simply deliver Joe to the Martians and tell them to do their own dirty work. Those who did this would be guilty of aiding, abetting, and complicity in Joe’s murder, but would not be guilty of the murder itself. This scenario is defiant.

Regardless of the method, the ultimate goal would be to effect systematic change so that something of this nature never happened again. This alone would bring perfect justice to Joe’s death.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

On Sunday, December 29, 2019 1:00 PM, Walter Block <> wrote:

Letter 2

Dear Roger:

The Martians want someone else to kill Joe. Suicide will not satisfy them

Best regards,


Letter 3

From: zinsser

Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2020 9:09 AM

To: Walter Block

Subject: RE: Joe’s murder


If the Martians do not allow Joe to commit suicide and refuse to kill him themselves, but demand that another person kill Joe, then whoever did it should be brought to trial on the charge of murder, found guilty, and sentenced appropriately. What that sentence might be I cannot say. Clemency and pardon, in all likelihood, would be extended to him and he would become the most celebrated “criminal” in the history of the world.

Joe’s killer should understand that he might be found guilty of murder and executed. If we hold to the premise that the punishment should be proportionate to the crime, this is the only correct course of action. Extenuating circumstances would probably mitigate the sentence, but the killer MUST be punished severely. Murder is murder, after all.

If murder is the act of killing an innocent human being, then nothing can excuse that action. The end does not justify the means and even if it meant that the entire world would be saved from destruction, the killing of innocent person Joe should still be classed as murder. To say otherwise is to say that there are times when innocent people can be killed with sufficient justification.

This raises questions. Can an innocent person be legitimately killed (murdered)? Under what circumstances? Who decides if the circumstances meet the criteria? How does a person become a “decider”? Will the decision be reached by majority vote, representative debate, autocratic fiat, or simply by one or more individuals taking it upon themselves to do the deed? Does conferring legality on an action make it less immoral? Why?

Unless every single person world-wide refused to kill Joe, he will die. Joe is going to die, but that does not make it right nor should his murder be accepted as the right moral decision.

Thank you,


Letter 4

Dear Roger:

I wrestle with the challenge you offer here:

Block, Walter E. 2009. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1;

Best regards,



2:13 am on February 18, 2020