Editor's Note Learning From Those Libertarian Weirdoes


Back in March, the New York Post–the newspaper started by Alexander Hamilton some 200 years ago and infamous for headlines such as "Headless Body in Topless Bar"–gave an upbeat, though slightly bemused, review of Choice: The Best of Reason, our recent anthology.

"If Jane Fonda and Alan Greenspan ever decided to go into business together and start a kick-ass, no-holds-barred political magazine, it might look a little something like Reason," suggested the review, which also appreciated our "weird, cross-wired political views."

There's little question that Fonda and Greenspan could learn a lot from each other. The Oscar-winning actress and lefty activist clearly could pick up a few pointers about market economics from the Federal Reserve Board chairman. And there seems to be equally little doubt that Greenspan might benefit from the aerobics program that Fonda marketed so successfully during the 1980s.

Reason's politics appear "cross-wired" if you conceive of politics in terms of increasingly tired notions of right-wingers vs. left-wingers. Since 1968 we've worked to present a uniquely libertarian perspective on politics and culture, one that makes a case for individual freedom in all areas of human activity and reframes debate in terms of choice vs. control.

That's why liberals can root with us on some issues (censorship, say, and gay marriage) and conservatives on others (guns and most economic regulation). Such "cross-wired" views also explain why we're likely the only magazine that has drawn kudos from Rush Limbaugh (he's called us a "good, good magazine") and the ACLU ("a valued ally" and "a principled, passionate defender of free speech").

But does any of this make us "weird"? Take a stroll through this issue and see what you think. "How Schools Cheat" (page 24) exposes how the education establishment is pumping out phony figures on everything from test scores to violent crime to graduation rates. In "Who Gets to Play Journalist?" (page 18), Associate Editor Matt Welch details how the rise of bloggers is undermining professional and legal definitions of journalism in a liberating way. "The Long, Gory Life of EC Comics" (page 64) celebrates an important and routinely demonized influence on American popular culture. And in "Consumer Vertigo" (page 48), former reason Editor Virginia Postrel takes on social critics who argue that the massive amount of marketplace and lifestyle choice we enjoy today is overwhelming, inefficient, or both. Far from it, she concludes: "Only a
society where choice is abundant everywhere can truly accommodate the variety of human beings."

Longtime Reason subscribers will understand immediately how such stories combine to chart the benefits of and challenges to a world of "Free Minds and Free Markets." Newer readers can take their cue from the Post review, which concluded, "In this era when Republicans and Democrats are filled with nothing but contempt for one another, Choice offers an interesting slice of everything. Turns out, we all have something to learn from those libertarian weirdoes."