Oh, so anyway, another peeve of mine is the way liberals — and many libertarians — act as if there’s a lot of common cause between liberals and libertarians. The thinking seems to be that since both liberals and libertarians are for drug legalization, gay marriage, etc., that liberals can be seduced to the libertarian cause or that libertarians and liberals should forge a new “liberaltarian” political alliance to replace the old right-leaning fusionism. This was my friend Brink Lindsey’s big cause for a while, and I never bought it. It’s also something you hear from a lot of liberal college kids who want a wee bit more plausibility when they pose as rebellious.
But the truth is that what we call liberals today — a.k.a. progressives — simply aren’t libertarian even on most of their “libertarian” issues. As I’ve written before, being a “social liberal” isn’t the same thing as being a libertarian:
Your typical liberal Democrat says she’s liberal on social issues but that doesn’t make her in any meaningful way a libertarian. For instance, the vast majority of the libertarians I know hate things like speech codes, smoking bans, racial quotas, and the vast swaths of political indoctrination that pass for “education” today. They tend to oppose gun control, think fondly of homeschooling (if not always homeschoolers) and are generally split on the question of abortion. They do not, however, think that the government should be steamrolling religious institutions with Obamacare or subsidizing birth control. Liberals tend to loathe federalism or states’ rights (though there’s been some movement there), libertarians usually love the idea. The liberals who don’t like it fear that states or local communities might use their autonomy to live in ways liberals don’t approve of. Libertarians couldn’t care less.
Sure, there’s overlap between liberalism and libertarianism on things like gay marriage. But the philosophical route libertarians and liberals take to get to that support is usually very different. Libertarians are disciples of thinkers like Hayek and von Mises. Liberals descend from thinkers like John Dewey. The former believed in negative liberty, the latter positive liberty. And therein lies all of the difference. As a gross generalization, libertarianism advocates freedom to do whatever you like (short of harming others). Liberalism supports freedom to do whatever liberals like; everything else is suspect.
That’s because libertarianism is about curbing state power to let people be and do what they want. Liberalism is about using state power to make people do and be what liberals want. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File, 2013-08-23
September 25, 2013
July 16, 2013
A. Barton Hinkle wonders if gay couples can live and let live:
It was a great day when the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and threw out a California case that could have undermined gay marriage in the Golden State. On that day, gay and lesbian citizens won something profoundly important: acknowledgment of the right to live as they choose, without interference from others who think they know better.
Now the question is: Will gay and lesbian citizens acknowledge that everybody else has the same right? Some certainly will. But others are challenging the notion – and thereby undermining the case for their own hard-won victory.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig, for instance. The gay Colorado couple have filed a discrimination complaint against the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who declined for religious reasons to make them a wedding cake. The Colorado attorney general’s office has taken their side. So, regrettably, has the ACLU.
And they have company: Similar complaints have been brought against bakeries in Oregon, Indianapolis, and Iowa; a Hawaiian bed-and-breakfast; a Vermont inn; a Washington florist; a Kentucky T-shirt company; and more. As gay marriage gains ground, cases such as these likely will flourish.
As they do, they will lend credence to the otherwise ludicrous assertion by social conservatives that there is a “homosexual agenda.” It will remain absurd to suggest gay people are trying to turn straight people gay. Changing other people’s sexual orientation has always been a conservative project, not a liberal one. But it will cease being absurd to suggest that requests for tolerance are actually demands for approval – and that those who claim to celebrate diversity actually insist upon ideological uniformity.
July 13, 2013
The Supreme Court’s decisions on same sex marriage are just the beginning of a long process of determining what roles marriage will play in the legal environment of states and the country. Walter Olson and Ilya Shapiro detail some of the implications of the rulings.
June 26, 2013
I was away from my computer for about an hour this morning and when I came back online, my Twitter feed had exploded with news and opinion links about the US Supreme Court striking down the Defence of Marriage Act. While I’m delighted with the result (check my posts tagged Same Sex Marriage if you’re curious), it’s interesting to watch the reactions on all sides of the issue.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) June 26, 2013
— Corie Whalen (@CorieWhalen) June 26, 2013
90 minutes into the post-DOMA era: MY HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE STILL STRONG. Will wait another 30 minutes to see if it sticks.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) June 26, 2013
— Cato Institute (@CatoInstitute) June 26, 2013
Gay men and women, today is for celebrating. Tomorrow is for the awkward conversation, followed by the acrimonious breakup.
— Craig Mazin (@clmazin) June 26, 2013
Remember when you were against it? Fun times. MT @BarackObama Today's Supreme Court rulings mark a major milestone on the road to equality.
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) June 26, 2013
Who DOESN'T cry at weddings!? RT @GovMikeHuckabee My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined same sex marriage is okay: "Jesus wept."
— Rachel B (@rachelbensen) June 26, 2013
May 21, 2013
— Charles Stross (@cstross) May 21, 2013
“What if the lesbian queen had laser eyes and could subsist on a diet of angel tears? I want to marry my own children. Where are my pills?”
— Stuart Houghton (@stuarthoughton) May 21, 2013
In case you didn’t catch it, this is a Discworld reference.
May 14, 2013
Jacob Sullum notes that Minnesota becomes the twelfth state to legalize same-sex marriage today:
Today Minnesota, where voters last fall rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, becomes the 12th state to give homosexual unions the same legal status as heterosexual unions. The state legislature approved the bill yesterday, and Gov. Mark Dayton plans to sign it this evening. Minnesota is the third state to legalize gay marriage in the last 10 days, following Rhode Island on May 2 and Delaware on May 7. The nine other states are Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, where legal recognition of gay marriage was approved by the legislature or by voters, plus Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts, where courts required the change.
May 6, 2013
Another case of not a surprise, but still a disappointment. Chris Kluwe has been released by the Minnesota Vikings after they drafted a punter in the fifth round of the April draft.
So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) May 6, 2013
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert ponders whether Kluwe’s outspoken character and public support of gay marriage and other causes played the prime role in the decision:
Here’s the key question to consider after the Minnesota Vikings made it official Monday and released punter Chris Kluwe: Would Kluwe be an ex-Viking today if he had never campaigned for gay rights, Hall of Fame candidacies and other issues?
My informed guess: Probably.
So what impact did Kluwe’s public advocacy play in the Vikings’ decision? It moved the odds from “probably” to “certainty,” erasing any equity his eight-career with the franchise might otherwise have built.
I know that explanation won’t satisfy those of you who are convinced the Vikings targeted Kluwe because he took on a politically and socially sensitive issue. It’s easy to see this move, contextualize it with the Baltimore Ravens’ release of special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo, and suspect an agenda against NFL players who get involved in the gay rights issue.
I just don’t think it’s that simple. When viewed through the bigger picture of NFL business, and in the context of the Vikings’ personnel approach over the past 16 months, you realize that Kluwe’s off-field life was at best the final shove at the end of the plank.
With last season’s kicker drama as the Vikings drafted “The Blair Walsh Project” and then quickly cut Ryan Longwell, and Kluwe’s exit, one has to wonder if Cullen Loeffler’s time as the team’s long-snapper is also coming to a close (it doesn’t help that he had a bad season in 2012).
March 26, 2013
At this point, it’s just a matter of time. In some sense, the sexual revolution is over … and the forces of bourgeois repression have won.
That’s right, I said it: this is a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality. Once gays can marry, they’ll be expected to marry. And to buy sensible, boring cars that are good for car seats. I believe we’re witnessing the high water mark for “People should be able to do whatever they want, and it’s none of my business.” You thought the fifties were conformist? Wait until all those fabulous “confirmed bachelors” and maiden schoolteachers are expected to ditch their cute little one-bedrooms and join the rest of America in whining about crab grass, HOA restrictions, and the outrageous fees that schools want to charge for overnight soccer trips.
I know, it feels like we’re riding an exciting wave away from the moral dark ages and into the bright, judgement free future. But moral history is not a long road down which we’re all marching; it’s more like a track. Maybe you change lanes a bit, but you generally end up back where you started. Sometimes you’re on the licentious, “anything goes” portion near the bleachers, and sometimes you’re on the straight-and-narrow prudish bit in front of the press box. Most of the time you’re in between. But you’re still going in circles. Victorian morality was an overreaction to the rather freewheeling period which proceeded it, which was itself an overreaction to Oliver Cromwell’s puritanism.
Megan McArdle, “Why Gay Marriage Will Win, and Sexual Freedom Will Lose”, The Daily Beast, 2013-03-26
March 22, 2013
Katy Bachelder interviews Reason‘s Nick Gillespie:
What do you see as the primary policy goal of libertarianism?
Things that move us toward decentralization of power. The way I used to talk about it when Windows was still a dominant operating system is that the way a computer operates, what you want is an operating system that allows as many different apps to run at the same time without crashing the system. That’s what classical liberalism really does.
How do you think libertarianism as a third party helps achieve those goals?
I’m not particularly interested in electoral politics. Where I think public choice economics is hugely important is what it asks is not simply what the rhetoric of people is, but what are the outcome of their actions. In that way, it gets to what actually matters as opposed to people sprinkling magic words. It’s amazing how much slack people will give if you say the right words as you’re repressing them.
Libertarianism is a pre-political attitude. It can inform you if you’re in the Republican Party or the Democratic Party or the Libertarian Party. It can express itself in a lot of different ways, like through Jimmy Carter, who is the great deregulator of the American economy, not Ronald Reagan. He deregulated interstate railroads, trucking, airlines. That all happened under Jimmy Carter and he was abetted in it by people like Milton Friedman. Libertarianism is an impulse, not a set of beads on a string.
[. . .]
Hillary Clinton just endorsed gay marriage. What do you think is the future for that issue?
I think gay marriage is over as an issue. When you look at public opinion polls about gay issues, the moral approbation toward the issue has faded. The larger questions are: what is the connection between the state and individual choices? It’s as big of a deal as it is because the state is involved in bestowing certain benefits such as tax incentives. I think what we’re starting to see is that if you want to live in a society that is truly pluralistic and tolerant, and that doesn’t mean everyone agrees every lifestyle is morally valid, but just tolerant, then we have to start shrinking the scope and the size of the state. The state should recognize all people as equal.
December 18, 2012
December 12, 2012
Jacob Sullum on the rising tide of liberalization at the state level — gay marriage and marijuana legalization — and whether the Republicans will support federalism in these cases:
Nationwide support for marijuana legalization, like nationwide support for gay marriage, has increased dramatically, although not quite as swiftly, rising from 12 percent in a 1969 Gallup poll to a record 50 percent last year. While support for legalization dipped a bit during the anti-pot backlash of the Just Say No era, it began rising again in the 1990s. Public Policy Polling recently put it at 58 percent, the highest level ever recorded.
[. . .]
Just as an individual’s attitude toward gay people depends to a large extent on how many he knows (or, more to the point, realizes he knows), his attitude toward pot smokers (in particular, his opinion about whether they should be treated like criminals) is apt to be influenced by his personal experience with them. Americans younger than 65, even if they have never smoked pot, probably know people who have, and that kind of firsthand knowledge provides an important reality check on the government’s anti-pot propaganda.
Another clear pattern in both of these areas: Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to oppose legalizing gay marriage and marijuana. Yet Republicans are also more likely to oppose federal interference with state policy choices. In light of DOMA’s disregard for state marriage laws and the Obama administration’s threats to prevent Colorado and Washington from allowing marijuana sales, now is put-up-or-shut-up time for the GOP’s avowed federalists.
November 7, 2012
“After four years of a crappy economy, bipartisan dissatisfaction with bailout economics, and populous revolts on the right and the left, we are seeing basically the exact same government we had on November 6th,” says Reason magazine Editor in Chief Matt Welch. “The status quo, which has never been less popular, has just been ratified.”
And yet, says Welch, big wins on marijuana legalization and gay marriage give limited government types a lot to be happy about.
Update: Jacob Sullum on the victories for both same-sex marriage and marijuana normalization:
Tonight was a good night for gay marriage as well as marijuana. Voters approved ballot measures legalizing same-sex marriage in three states by similar margins: 53 to 47 in Maine, 52 to 48 in Maryland and Washington. In Minnesota an initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage
is tied right now, with 75 percent of precincts reporting[was defeated 51-48].
This is the first time gay marriage has been legalized by popular vote. In the six other states where it is legal (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont), the policy was enacted by the legislature or compelled by a court decision. By contrast, most of the state laws allowing medical use of marijuana — another one of which passed tonight in Massachusetts — have been enacted by voters. (Colorado and Washington both had such laws before broadening the policy to include recreational use.)
October 22, 2012
September 22, 2012
“I can no longer shock [conservatives] when I tell them I’m gay – but I can shock gay people when I tell them I’m Conservative”
Of all the political changes you might have expected to see in Canada, having Stephen Harper’s Conservatives become pro-LGBT must be one of the least likely:
A mere seven years ago, the Tories were famously the opponents of same sex marriage. Now, the Harper Conservatives freely push gay rights abroad and even host an annual gathering of gay Tories. While they remain the favourite punching bag for Canadian LGBT activists, have the Harper Tories become unlikely warriors for gay rights?
“I can no longer shock people in the conservative movement when I tell them I’m gay – but I can shock gay people when I tell them I’m Conservative,” said Fred Litwin, and former vice-president of the Ottawa Centre Conservatives.
In June, Mr. Litwin was one of the organizers of the Fabulous Blue Tent Party, a gathering of approximately 800 gay Conservatives at Ottawa’s Westin Hotel that went until 3 a.m.
[. . .]
“It’s no secret that the Conservative Party hasn’t always been the biggest champion of gay rights, but public pressure, and quite frankly, society evolving has changed their views,” said Jamie Ellerton, an openly gay former staffer for Mr. Kenney.
“The Conservative Party, like the rest of society, has moved to be more supportive of gay rights in recent years, and I see that trend continuing,” he said.
[. . .]
After the 2011 suicide of gay Ottawa teen Jamie Hubley, Mr. Baird told the House that homophobia has no place in Canadian schools, and then appeared with other Tory MPs in a video for the “It Gets Better Project,” an online campaign looking to curb the disproportionately high suicide rates among LGBT youth.
In June, members of the Tory caucus even came to the rescue of a transgendered rights bill put forward by NDP MP Randall Garrison. Promising to protect transgender people under the Canadian Human Rights Act and make anti-transgender violence a hate crime, the bill passed second reading thanks to the support of 15 Conservative MPs, including Jim Flaherty and Lisa Raitt.
August 11, 2012
Words sometimes fail me, as when I first heard of this notion some religious nutbars are pushing to set up a 21st century underground railroad to “rescue” children from gay and lesbian parents:
As has been widely reported, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association asserted in a tweet Wednesday that “we need an Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households.” Lest anyone imagine he was speaking merely in metaphor, a second tweet from him linked to a Chicago Tribune story about the impending trial of a Mennonite clergyman “charged with aiding and abetting the kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins, now 10,” who was spirited out of the country so as to evade court orders mandating visitation with Janet Jenkins, who had helped raise Isabella as part of a same-sex couple. Fischer’s summary: “Head of Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households goes on trial.”
Fischer and his American Family Association, it should be noted, are clownish figures whose extremism is a turn-off even to many true believers on the social right. (It can nonetheless be interesting to observe who deems them respectable enough to associate with; for example, the Values Voter Summit, which draws major political figures like Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, and Ted Cruz, considers Fischer a suitable speaker and AFA a suitable prominent sponsor.) Anyway, Fischer thrives on outraged publicity from his adversaries, so enough about him. What’s worth rather more attention (and provides some insight into the mounting campaign against gay parenting from some quarters) are the two articles he tweeted.
If you’re not familiar with the epic Miller-Jenkins custody-kidnapping case, it’s worth catching up by way of The New York Times‘ account the other day. (Jenkins’ lawyers at GLAD have posted many of the documents, and I’ve been covering it off and on for years at my Overlawyered blog.) While nothing short of tragic for the individuals involved (the little girl is now growing up in a strange country and for many years has not seen Janet Jenkins, who helped raise her), I concluded a few years ago that its greatest significance as a social turning point was in revealing the new willingness of many in organized religious conservatism, “even the lawyers among them, to applaud and defend the defiance of court orders.” Since then, important sections of the social right have evolved further toward a position on lawbreaking more often historically associated with those well to their left.