Kerry Howley's bold stance in favor of eating horses yesterday reminds me of what I still think is the central text of libertarianism.
No, it's nothing by Ayn Rand or Karl Popper or F.A. Hayek. (For me the greatest freedom of all is the freedom to eschew 400,000-page books.) It's Ted Brown's gone-but-not-forgotten argument against California's 1998 ballot initiative Proposition 6, an anti-horsemeat bill that was supported by the Horse Whisperer himself (second item down the page). While dutifully trudging through my voter info booklet, I came across something I hadn't seen before: an argument that spoke about a ridiculous initiative in the ridiculous language it deserved. Thanks to the good citizens at smartvoter.org, Brown's equinophobic cri de coeur has been preserved for the ages:
If horsemeat is outlawed, only outlaws will eat horsemeat! People have the right to eat horsemeat if they choose. Horses would still be killed for dog food. Violators would be felons, taking up scarce prison space. Just say neigh to nutty, unconstitutional proposals by wealthy socialites with nothing better to do.
It wasn't just that I agreed precisely with the argument (though I did), but that seeing Brown identified as the "libertarian" made me think there might be something agreeable in this philosophy—until then I had figured "libertarianism" sounded too much like "liberalism" and must be something I wouldn't like. And of course, Brown's 51-word manifesto was a great libertarian text in the truest sense of all: It was a total failure; Prop 6 passed with flying colors.
So here's to you, Ted! We'll never share a leg-of-Barbaro roast in this open-air prison we call the Golden State. But someday I'll eat a kangaroo steak or chocolate-covered praying mantis in your honor!