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.
Full Biography

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...
Read More »

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...
Read More »

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...
Read More »

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...
Read More »

The Hayekian Liberty of Ender’s Game



Finally, after much encouragement from my college freshman daughter, I just finished reading Ender’s Game, the best-selling science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card that won the Nebula and Hugo awards when it was published in the mid-1980s. The story follows the cultivation of a 6-year-old, boy-wonder, military tactician, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, as he...
Read More »

Catching the Hint of Liberty in “Catching Fire” and “The Hunger Games”



Catching Fire, the second installment in the trilogy of films based on The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, is burning through the box office, raking in revenues of more than $360 million since its November release. This makes the movie the third highest grossing movie of the year. And this bodes well for...
Read More »

Life, Liberty, and the Threat of Abortion Ambivalence



I happened to catch the headline on AOL News the other day promoting an on-line Huffington Post Live interview with 27-year-old porn star Stoya. The seven-year veteran of adult entertainment was remarkably poised, even if unsurprisingly candid, but her comments raised more than a few interesting questions about life and liberty from a broader...
Read More »

Star Trek Films Fail Because Freedom Has Progressed



I was underwhelmed leaving the theater after watching Star Trek: Into Darkness, and I found the reaction puzzling. I remain a fan of the original TV series, despite welcome advancements in special effects, and this movie was largely faithful to the series and characters. Plus, the movie was well crafted with plenty of action...
Read More »

The Wolverine and the Implicit Libertarianism of the Wayward Samurai



I’m not sure what I expected from the 2013 film The Wolverine, the most recent addition to the summer box office from the Marvel comics archives, but a libertarian theme seemed too much to hope for. And I was right—to an extent. In fact, after watching movie, I think the plot has an unusually...
Read More »

How John Locke Should Have Saved The Lone Ranger



I had a glimmer of hope for the 2013 film The Lone Ranger when I read that young U.S. attorney John Reid, aka The Lone Ranger, arrives in untamed west Texas with a copy of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. After watching the otherwise entertaining summer action film, I left the theater wondering...
Read More »