Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Another American Jihadist

Last October, American born and raised Jihadist, Adam Gadahn made the news with a videotaped threat to America. Yesterday he made another threat directed specifically to Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia. Adam Gadahn, like his predecessor John Walker Lindh ("Johnny Jihad"), boasts an interesting upbringing and family life. His father, an old hippy and founder of an underground 60’s psychedelic band, changed the family name to Gadahn from Pearlman because he didn’t want a name that "meant anything." Gadahn was raised on a goat farm in Riverside County where the "humane slaughter" of goats was practiced in accordance with Islamic law and where there was no electricity, running water or schools (he was home-schooled). See more here from FreeRepublic and here from Michelle Malkin.

Discussions - 13 Comments

I wonder if this would not argue against home schooling? It would seem that going to schools with other children allows socialization and teaching of widely held American beliefs and values. Maybe he would not have been so extreme if he had had influences other than his extreme father.

I don’t think you can make any blanket assertions about home schooling based on one case. Perhaps you can make the blanket assertion that home schooling is a bad idea if… your parents are nut-jobs. But for the vast majority of home schooled kids who are being schooled by attentive parents who want nothing more than the best education possible for their child, I sincerely doubt that their home schooling will lead them to become traitors to their country.

I don’t argue against home schooling (although one cannot deny that this example points to one potential problem with it). Home schooling has its problems and the current education situation is replete with many others. To speak specifically to Gadahn’s case, however, you will find that Gadahn had plenty of other influences (most of them bad) like "death metal" music, his radical associates at his Orange County mosque, and a radical environmentalist aunt. Public schools certainly wouldn’t have helped this kid!


I am sorry for not making the object of my concern clear. I was concerned with the policy (general good for society) concerns of homeschooling, not the philosophical or truth aspects of the question. I do not believe your argument rebuts any policy concerns concerning homeschooling.

You are correct in your assertion that it is morally permissible for sane parents to homeschool their kids. However, policy is not concerned with the normal. Your argument would be much like saying "speeding is fine as long as only people who can safely speed speed." I think our differences point towards an interesting aspect of law: all laws are unjust.

I offer the following argument to support my proposition. It is unjust to restrict individual’s freedom anymore than necessary to achieve some good for all of society. Everyone, no matter what their political philosophical persuasion, can agree with this premise. Even communists and socialists want to restrict freedom for some higher good. What divides conservatives, liberals, commies, is their conception of the good (as per Aristotle’s Politics). In 1984, Orwell made a government that desired to control people merely because it enjoyed doing so, this was the ultimate evil, etc.

Laws are applicable to everyone. Because they are applicable to everyone, they are unjust towards some. I’ll offer two examples. 1. The State wishes to make its roadways safe. In order to do this it establishes a speed limit of 65mph. This is unjust towards drivers who could safely drive over 65 mph, their freedom is restricted more than necessary to ensure safe roads. 2. The State wishes to ensure its citizens are healthy, do not commit crimes, etc. so it makes consumption of crack illegal. This is unjust towards people who could take crack without side affects, etc.

In many instances States have to pass laws that restrict more freedom than necessary because it is too costly to gather information. It is probably possible to make everyone take a driving test, and to install sensors in cars (to check for surrounding traffic) in order to ensure that a certain speed is safe in certain conditions. The problem is that it is too costly to do so. Society decides to unjustly restrict the freedom of people in order to conserve resources for more productive uses. This leads to the startling conclusion that the most free (at least in certain activities) society is the one where the government has tremendous resources to gather information. Most societies choose to preserve property freedoms and restrict more intangible forms of freedom (such as the freedom to drive as fast as one pleases, or consume any substance one chooses).

How does my theory on law relate to home schooling? I do not think it would be any more unjust to pass a law outlawing it (assume no Freedom of Religion in Constitution) than it would be to pass a law outlawing driving past a certain speed. Information is hard to gather in both instances. Much like it would be impractical to make each person take a driving test, and monitor the roadways at all times, it would be impractical to test each parent for craziness. It would also be difficult to define such craziness. I wonder if the benefits of requiring people to attend public schools (either public or private) would not outweigh the costs of outlawing homeschooling (eliminating another form of freedom). If public school teachers were really smart I probably would not worry about the prudential aspects of outlawing homeschooling.

I would answer Mr. Sparks in this way:
Given today’s public schools, perhaps
it is home-schooling that, on average,
does more to promote "widely held American beliefs and values."

As for Adam "Gadahn" -- Garbage in,
garbage out.

Wonder what will happen to Mr. Gadahn, aka Pearlman, when his fellow Islamicists discover that he is half Jewish.

Why is it that when a terrorist makes a threat on LA, this would have to happen the next day. Be careful, electricians, be very careful.


I understand the conception of the good. However, being rather libertarian in my beliefs, I tend to think that the good lies not in a government that seeks to fix every problem that it encounters, but rather lies in allowing people to live their lives and make mistakes and occasionally cause great calamity in doing so. Some rules are good. I support speed limits in general, though I can often be found exceeding them, because it’s good to have some rules for how we will behave on the road. But to compare the reduction of liberty entailed in traffic laws, which is extremely minor, to the reduction in liberty entailed in stripping parents of the ability to decide how best to educate their own children, is not really equivalent.

I agree that individuals who join together to form a society must give up some of their liberty. That is well-established and rational. It does not follow that every potential restriction of liberty is fair game. Some things should be left to those individuals no matter what.

Furthermore, I think if we are using extreme examples to illustrate our points, one could make just as good an argument against public schooling by looking at Columbine or any of the other notorious school shootings. Perhaps, based on those occurrences, we can make a good case that public schooling can potentially lead to mass killings. I think it’s a silly argument, but I don’t think it’s any sillier than your apparent belief that homeschooling can be dangerous to society based on nothing more than the circumstantial evidence of this jihadi.

To take a much more reasonable argument, it wouldn’t be hard to suggest that homeschooling is good for society simply based on the test scores of homeschoolers which tend to exceed the scores of public school kids. Now, I don’t think that every kid would do better if he was homeschooled, nor do I think every parent would make a good homeschool teacher, but I think that argument is far better than your suggestion about the overall negatives of homeschooling based on extreme examples.

It is the unique combination of (1) hippy parent, (2) home schooling, and (3) proximity to murdered goats that explains this phenomenon. If you subtracted the goats, then you would predict threats against a midwestern town, such as Des Moines, or Boise. If you changed the goats to cattle, and then substitute two years at UC Berkely for the home schooling, then you would predict a threat against Barbara Stanwick.

No wonder Alexander turned out so poorly...his tutor was a smarta$$.

With such lucid thinking, is it any wonder that I claim to owe an intellectual debt to no one except for Aristotle? Indeed, A truly is A!

I have just discovered this page and thought I would join in.

If one Jihardi can cause some to think that the very practice, homeschooling, which produced 10 US Presidents, 5 US Governors, many times more US Senators and Congressmen, 3 US Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, 17 US Constitutional Convention Delegates - that we know of over here in my homeland of Autsralia - and "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, etc., etc., then the war against terror is lost!

It would seem from my far distant shore that the enemy is within, don’t you think Steve Sparks?

Perhaps if you were to encourage homeschooling internationally, and at home, there would be more rational people who support the USA rather than become followers of the madrasses that fool the gullible and ignorant masses who have no other source of education that conforms with their beliefs?

Regards to my fellow homeschoolers in the US,
A Christian, Australian Constitutional expert and Electoral Campaign Stratergist.

this example shows that homeschooling should not be alowed and that public schooling both alows us to make beliefs and the ability to socialize. with a bit of public school this person may have had the ability to make better decisions and functioned better in society. his father obviously taught him something wrong and this resulted in a bad situation.

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