In September, Minnesota Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe made the news for defending a fellow NFL player’s activism in support of gay marriage. Maryland State Delegate Emmett C. Burns sent a letter to the owner of the Balitmore Ravens demanding he do something to stop linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo from speaking out in favor of allowing gay couples in the state to have their marriages legally recognized.
Kluwe’s response, published at sports blog Deadspin, garnered quite a bit of public attention, mostly for his amusing turn of phrase in defense of his fellow athlete’s right to speak, as well as in declaring his own support for gay marriage. “I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life,” Kluwe wrote. “They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.”
Beyond that letter, Kluwe has been an outspoken supporter for gay issues on his own. He posed for gay magazine Out. In December he joined Athlete Ally, a nonprofit group devoted to pushing back against homophobia in sports, as an “ambassador.”
He was profiled in November by OC Weekly, where he talked about his activism, as well as his love of all things considered nerdy, like science fiction and video games.
Kluwe also, while reluctant to use labels, described himself as a libertarian and said he was not a fan of President Barack Obama, nor Gov. Mitt Romney. Reason 24/7 Associate Editor Scott Shackford spoke with Kluwe by telephone about the extent of his libertarian philosophy, the November election, Ayn Rand, and the way American culture responds to celebrities and athletes wading into political discussions.
Reason: I had been following your activism on gay marriage since your infamous letter to Emmett Burns. I read your OC Weekly profile last month, and you were reluctant to label your politics. You said you’re libertarian, but also said that doesn’t quite sum it up. What makes you libertarian?
Chris Kluwe: For me personally it’s the belief that I would like to be free to live my own life. There’s the golden rule to treat other people the way you would want to be treated. That will solve a lot of the world’s problems.
Reason: Why do you feel that even that libertarian label isn’t complete?
Kluwe: I’ve never been a big fan of labels. It’s hard to sum up a person with a single label. I say I lean toward the libertarian side. Some things I lean more liberal and some things I lean more conservative. But it’s all about not taking the rights away from somebody else
Reason: After I posted on our blog about your interview, some of our commenters read it and described you as an anarchist. You do occasionally retweet some comments from Anonymous. Have you explored the various philosophical underpinnings of anarchism?
Kluwe: In an ideal society you don’t need a government because everybody knows how to treat somebody else. Unfortunately we aren’t going to reach that place for some time. The world I imagine is from the Culture Series by Iain M. Banks [a sci-fi book series taking place in a semi-anarchist utopian culture]. The fact that once you reach a post-scarcity economy, you have people realize what people want to do with their life doesn’t affect me. You don’t need a government to tell you what to do.
Reason: You tweeted recently that you had just read Atlas Shrugged. What did you think?
Kluwe: Not a huge fan. I like some of Rand’s ideas. I think the core aspect she’s missing is empathy. Without empathy you don’t have stable society. What do you do when the real world intrudes? What do you do when there are earthquakes or disasters? If you don’t have concern for the people around you, eventually society is going to collapse. I think that’s one of Rand’s flaws. She doesn’t consider empathy to be a worthwhile trait.
Reason: It’s interesting that you see empathy as an important trait for libertarian philosophy.
Kluwe: If you don’t care for anybody else you’re a sociopath. It’s about finding what that level of safety net is without living off other people. If you truly want to live your life for yourself, then you wouldn’t want to take somebody’s labor, because you wouldn’t want somebody to do that to you. Empathy isn’t just about taking care of other people. It’s also recognizing what your actions do to other people. I have to make sure I’m wary of what I’m doing.