Sam Staley Archive

Sam Staley is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Managing Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center in the College of Social Sciences at Florida State University.
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Should Gone with the Wind Be Banned?



Tragic events provide platforms for political opportunists—remember we can’t let a good crisis go to waste—and the mass shooting of African Americans by a white racist at a Charleston, S.C., church has created a plethora of opportunities. The one on my radar screen today is New York film critic Lou Lumenick’s argument for banning...
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The Avengers of Civil Society?



While watching the summer blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, I had trouble shaking thoughts from two books not usually connected to action heroes, let alone movies: Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments and C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves. I doubt writer/director Joss Whedon had these social philosophers in mind when he was writing...
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Impacts of Sexual Assault on Civil Society Go Beyond Statistics



Today’s article is a qualified mae culpa. One of the first comments on an earlier post on campus rape and sexual assault challenged the veracity of a datapoint used frequently by anti-sexual assault advocates: one in four women will be sexually assaulted by the time they leave college. It’s a number I’ve referenced in...
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“Rape Culture” and the Implications for Liberty on College Campuses



College campuses are placing a stronger emphasis on reducing sexual assault. Unfortunately, universities and colleges often adopt heavy-handed policies to punish alleged offenders based on abstractions or simplistic understandings of college student attitudes and behavior. One of the more problematic overgeneralizations is the concept of the “rape culture”, and the pervasive use of the...
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‘The Hunting Ground,’ Sexual Assault, and the Failure of Civil Society



The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, opened recently across the country. I saw the film in a commercial theater on opening weekend in Tallahassee. Alone. At least at the beginning. I was joined by one other woman and a couple by the time the opening credits flashed on the...
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The “Miracle” of Kirznerian Entrepreneurship



I learned a lot about miracles recently thanks to a penetrating sermon by pastor Mark McNees of Element3 Church, a “progressive” non-denominational church in Tallahassee. And it prompted a lot of thinking about markets and entrepreneurship, particularly entrepreneurship as conceived by Austrian economists, most notably Israel Kirzner. (Kirzner is required reading in my social...
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50 Shades of Predatory Abuse: The Role of Civil Society



The movie adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey by author E.L. James swept its opening weekend competition and has generated blockbuster revenues of over $133 million, making it the top grossing movie of 2015. Controversy has come with it, as would be expected from any movie breaking through traditional cultural taboos. Combine that with...
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The Fall of Liberty and Human Dignity in American Sniper



Given the buzz from conservatives touting the film American Sniper‘s homage to Christopher Kyle as a war hero, libertarians may be tempted to sit this movie out. I think they should resist that temptation. This is not a typical “war movie.” In fact, I would argue it’s not a war movie at all: it’s...
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Interstellar Liberty and the Foibles of Progressivism



Spoiler Alert: This blog post may contain clues to key plot points in the 2014 film Interstellar. One of the cornerstones of progressive political thought is that experts should be put in charge of public policy, using “scientific” management and “evidence-based” policy analysis to determine and implement social policy. Few areas of policy have...
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Individualizing Justice in The Equalizer



As a libertarian, I often enter a theater to watch an action movie like The Equalizer with a bit of trepidation. Inevitably, the story depends on the destruction of human life as a plot driver. In many cases, particularly those with martial arts or superhero roots (think Ninja Assassin or Wolverine), the story depends...
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