Free Speech

"The gay movement should always, always be about expanding freedom for everyone, even bigots"

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So says Andrew Sullivan, in a pretty persuasive (to me) chunk of writing about the controversy over Barack Obama inviting Prop. 8 supporter Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation (on which, make sure to read Katherine Mangu-Ward's piece from Friday). Excerpt from Sullivan:

Virtually Normal was an attempt to construct a theory for gay civil rights which rests on as much freedom and as little power as possible. I want to live in a free society alongside people who genuinely believe I am a sinner destined for hell—and I want to get along with them. I am concerned (but not obsessed) with changing their minds, but totally repelled by the idea of coercing or pressuring them to do so. I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them. Once we establish that, we can all believe and say and argue for precisely what we want. May a thousand theologies bloom.

So I oppose hate crime laws because they walk too close to the line of trying to police people's thoughts. I support the right of various religious associations to discriminate against homosexuals in employment. I support the right of the most fanatical Christianist to spread the most defamatory stuff about me and the right of the most persuasive Christianist to teach me the error of my ways. I support the right of the St Patrick's Day Parade to exclude gay people—because that's what freedom of association requires. In my ideal libertarian world, I would even support the right of employers to fire gay people at will (although I am in a tiny minority of gays and straights who would tolerate such a thing). All I ask in return is a reciprocal respect: the right to express myself freely and to be treated by the government exactly as any heterosexual in my position would be treated.

I deliberately framed my own case for gay rights away from forcing or even pressuring any other citizen to accept me—because that impedes their freedom and, in my view, the gay movement should always, always be about expanding freedom for everyone, even bigots. That's why I focused on the government treating gays and straights alike.

Whole thing here. Reason on gay/lesbian issues here, including:

* Walter Olson's 1996 review of Virtually Normal, in which Sullivan "emerges much more clearly as a partisan of classical-liberal, if not quite libertarian, views."

* Senior Editor Jacob Sullum more recent argument that "legal equality does not mean requiring universal acceptance of homosexuality," and

* Jonathan Rauch's 2004 examination of "what Friedrich Hayek can teach us about gay marriage."

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  1. To me, the question about Rick Warren that’s worth asking is: Why is a religious ceremony part of the inauguration?

  2. parse,

    First answer the question why the inauguration is part of the government?

    Anything beyond the oath is superfluous.

  3. robc,

    What, you don’t like pomp with your circumstance?

  4. Why is the government?

  5. Now, if Mr. Sullivan would only apply the same principle to income taxation-if a person objects to the payment of the income tax, leave him alone. Persuade him to part with his money instead of using force.

  6. Speaking of hate crime laws, why have we no Reason scribes who relentlessly hammer the hate crime laws that provide for the incarceration of those who either deny the so called “jewish” holocaust or question the assertions by the ADL and the holocaust industry that six million jews perished?

    Answer-they are pussies.

  7. Besides the whole church-and-state thing (you can thank radical right-wing theocrat FDR for that), the point for most gays who are indignant about the Warren pick has nothing to do with any right/left/libertarian purity/impurity test. Few if any gays would give much of a dang if Obama were, say, to have Warren lead the first presidential prayer breakfast.

    The indignation comes from other observations:

    –As Hitchens (no theocrat) notes, the only feasible justification for a religious invocation is because an inauguration is a special event intended to unite all Americans in a brief moment of national solemnity. But its special nature in turn demands that the least divisive figures possible be selected for the invocation and benediction. Billy Graham was no supporter of gay marriage, but he acheived the status he did precisely because of his ability to dilute down his faith-in-the-public-square sermons to lowest-common-denominator milquetoast drivel. Warren is as far from that as is Louis Farrakahn.

    –Warren, and most of the MSM, are distorting the issue by suggesting that this is only about Warren’s role in Prop 8. It’s more than that. As recently as one week ago, Warren equated gay marriage with incest and pedophilia. Call us perverts (wrongly) and we call you bigots (rightly). It’s that simple.

    –Many are reaching the increasingly undeniable conclusion that the pick was politically based. Typical Clinton-Rove maneuver: How can we milk this apolitical event for maximum political points? (Or, if you prefer: This is a bleeping valuable thing! You don’t just give something like this away for bleeping nothing!) Obama simply miscalculated how it would play out.

    –Finally, there is the lie that Warren is a different kind of right-wing theocrat. Gays cannot join Saddleback Church, but gays are expected to “reach out to him”? Warren has stated publicly that Jews cannot get into heaven, that Mormonism is a cult, and that it is a sin to vote for an atheist. Etc. (But don’t you dare call him “homophobic,” because he gives us doughnuts and stands vigil over dying gay AIDS patients — so he can assure them, a la Pat Boone, that God forgives them for their sinful lifestyle.)

    With all due respect to Sullivan, publicly shaming and shunning people for their misconduct is a long-standing, revered tool of dogmatic Christianity. Gays are finally figuring that out and using it against the bigots. “Can’t we all just get along?” has given way to “No more Mister Nice Gay.” Enough is enough.

  8. libmike – No doubt, a law like that HORRIBLE! By the way, which US law is it again that provides for incarceration of holocaust deniers? I’d like to do a little research on it (please be specific).

  9. why have we no Reason scribes who relentlessly hammer the hate crime laws that provide for the incarceration of those who either deny the so called “jewish” holocaust or question the assertions by the ADL and the holocaust industry that six million jews perished?

    Here’s a link to stuff we’ve written about David Irving, if that helps.

  10. “First answer the question why the inauguration is part of the government?”

    EXACTLY. The parade, the music, the screaming underlings. I can hardly handle it. This isn’t the the swearing in of a monarch.

    Also, Obama’s “everyone sits at my table” line is bullshit. If that were true there’d be foreign policy hawks and fiscal conservatives present along with the Christian whack job. The simple fact is this: Obama doesn’t support equal rights for homosexuals. The only people who sit at his table are the people who agree, or at least mostly agree with him. Obama mostly agrees with Warren.

  11. Doosh-

    France, Austria, Germany and Canada all have such hate crime legislation. There are people currently incarcerated, like Ernst Zundel, for expressing their inalienable right to express their thoughts and opinions.

  12. “if a person objects to the payment of the income tax, leave him alone. Persuade him to part with his money instead of using force.”

    When he eschews the benefits of police and military protection, of environmental and food safety laws and creates his own paths with a machete somehow leaping over privately owned land for which he does not have permission to be on then we can talk about that.

  13. Oh, I thought you were getting on the Reason staff for not speaking out against a US law. It’s Austrian law they should be spending their resources on.

  14. But LM I agree with these “hate crime” laws about speech. The European ones are egregious, but hey Canada has versions too that are wrong.
    But Matt’s right, Reason has spoke about this before on the right side.

  15. Matt (and libertymike) – there’s also “Europe’s Choice”, which discusses European laws against Holocaust denial, but not Irving.

  16. Actually, “holocaust denial” comes up with 10 pages of search results.

  17. Warren has stated publicly that Jews cannot get into heaven, that Mormonism is a cult, and that it is a sin to vote for an atheist.

    1.5 of those are very mainstream Christian. (The 1/2 is for the technical question of whether a Jew who becomes a Christian remains a Jew also. My reading of Paul says yes, but Im no theologian. Im guessing you arent quoting Warren directly so depending on his view on that, his point is probably more fine than what you are stating.)

  18. MNG,

    When he eschews the benefits of police and military protection, of environmental and food safety laws and creates his own paths with a machete somehow leaping over privately owned land for which he does not have permission to be on then we can talk about that.

    You have the order backwards. As long as he is having taxes forced upon him, he has no reason not to partake in the benefits. Cut the benefits and the taxes at the same time if you want to follow that logic. There is NOTHING hypocritical about an opponent of benefit X (and the tax to pay for benefit X) partaking in benefit X.

  19. Back OT, Sullivan’s comments are laudable. What he doesn’t mention is that it’s not possible to force “acceptance” of any lifestyle, creed or idea. At most, you can create legal sanctions against the utterance of ideologically ‘incorrect’ opinions. So Sullivan’s apparently moderate principled position winds up being the most utilitarian as well.

  20. Why is the government?

    Damnit, beaten.

  21. “No more Mister Nice Gay.”

    Back in November he was commenting as “Cock Eating Dumbass”

  22. Andrew is right for the wrong reasons. Make no mistake about it. If McCain had won and chose Warrent to speak at the innuaguration, Sullivan would be railing about how it tells gays and lesbians they have no part in polite society. He only writes this because he is so in love with Obama. I used to think that Sullivan would eventually turn on Obama like he did Bush. Now I don’t think so. Sullivan will always find away to excuse Obama no matter what he does.

  23. MNG-

    As I have pointed out to you before, your way necessarily involves force, coercion, intimidation and slaughter of human life. Your money or your freedom. Your money or your life.

    As to Reason’s position on the hate crime laws, I just perused the links Matt supplied. Some of the links were no good; the others that I skimmed were not a paragon of unqualified, passionate denunciations of the hate crime laws. IMO, intellectual honesty and consistency demand a relentless, unqualified denunciation of such laws-period. In other words, no gratutious slams of those who question the holocaust or those who question the claims of the holocaust industry.

  24. There should not be any statutes that criminalize the denial of the Blessed Virgin appearing at Fatima.

  25. Doosh-

    BTW, the United States gvt. did forcibly kidnap Mr. Zundel.

  26. he acheived the status he did precisely because of his ability to dilute down his faith-in-the-public-square sermons to lowest-common-denominator milquetoast drivel. Warren is as far from that

    Oh, c’mon. If the whole “purpose-driven life” schtick isn’t lowest-common-denominator milquetoast drivel, I don’t know what is.

    And, of course, both BakedPenguin and John are entirely correct.

  27. Instead of dancing around the fringes of the marriage debate, libertarians should ask for what we really want: “Love, now Law!!”

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38567563846

    Equal in Freedom, not Equal in Chains.
    Abolish the marriage license, Today!!

  28. If we’re just going to have at-will firing for reasons completely unrelated to job performance or other business-related considerations, then why do we have laws or government at all? Why not just total anarchy? I’m sorry, but other issues aside, Mr. Sullivan’s ideas about not having employment non-discrimination laws is simply ridiculous.

  29. BTW, the United States gvt. did forcibly kidnap Mr. Zundel.

    By “kidnap”, do you mean “arrest and deport for overstaying his visa waiver”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Z%C3%BCndel#Detention_and_deportation

  30. John K,

    For national defense and a court system to settle disputes.

    Beyond that, I dont see much need for a government. Maybe a few other things here or there.

    I dont see how non-discrimination laws in employment gets even remotely near the top of the list. You have the courts to settle employment contract violations, but I dont see why someone should have to hire someone they dont want to, for whatever reason.

  31. If we’re just going to have at-will firing for reasons completely unrelated to job performance or other business-related considerations, then why do we have laws or government at all?

    You might check the enumerated powers of the national government for a perfectly good list of things the government can do (and arguably should) do that have nothing whatsoever with micromanaging hiring and firing.

  32. John K.

    Hilarious, but who are you parodying?

    why do we have laws or government at all? Why not just total anarchy?

    I do agree with the above out of context quote.

  33. One more example of Reason’s defense of full free speech (including idiotic positions such as holocaust denial).

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/112583.html

  34. Gays came out in force for Barack Obama.

    Meet the new boss,* guys and gals.
    Back into the closet you go.

    * You know the rest.

  35. “The gay movement should always, always be about expanding freedom for everyone, even bigots”

    Unless they’re polygamists, in which case let’s consistently leave them out of any proposal to expand state recognition of marriages to gays, because those folks are Teh Preverts TM.

  36. “if a person objects to the payment of the income tax, leave him alone. Persuade him to part with his money instead of using force.”

    When he eschews the benefits of police and military protection, of environmental and food safety laws and creates his own paths with a machete somehow leaping over privately owned land for which he does not have permission to be on then we can talk about that.

    MNG — I would be delighted to have the option of having police protection be a line item on my state income tax that I can opt out of, if I chose to hire a private security service.

    I would be delighted to have government-run food safety inspections be a voluntary service that companies can chose whether or not to subscribe to in exchange for a label on their products certifying that their food has been vetted by the government — with the option of having a competing private inspection service doing the certifying.

    I’d love to have public roads financed entirely by user fees, with private toll roads competing with the public roads.

    So, are you in favor of abolishing compulsory taxation and replacing it with an ala carte menu of government services we each can choose whether to subscribe to?

    And, are you in favor of letting those who like to bail out banks and automakers who have screwed up royally to do so, and let the rest of us opt out of paying for that?

    I suspect not. I suspect you like the current system of coercive redistribution of wealth just fine.

  37. “Obama simply miscalculated how it would play out.”

    Not necessarily. I think that part of his plan includes having the hard-core leftists and gay-libbers denounce him for inviting Warren. This would give Obama a Sister Souljah moment – an opportunity to piss off the crazies among his supporters and thereby burnish his moderate credentials.

  38. I want to get along with them… I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them.

    Sort of sounds like the Golden Rule. Maybe Jesus was ahead of his time, and into libertarianism long before libertarians started getting their rocks off by bashing him.

  39. Sullivan supports “the right of various religious associations to discriminate against homosexuals in employment.”

    Me, too. But what about other employers? If “agin my beliefs” is justification then cannot anyone say it? And why stop with gays? Anything about you (yes, including race) could be “agin my beliefs.” Sullivan is on the proverbial slippery slope and might accidentally slide … to the top. Freedom dwells there.

  40. Unless they’re polygamists, in which case let’s consistently leave them out of any proposal to expand state recognition of marriages to gays, because those folks are Teh Preverts TM.

    I’m open to the idea of state recognition of polygamous marriages, but I have a few questions.

    – How would that effect joint income tax filing?

    – If a person has a pre-existing employment contract that includes health care benefits for “the employee and his/her spouse”, how would that be interpreted if the person marries multiple spouses after such polygamy is legalized? Would it be interpreted in a way that imposed a greater burden that anticipated on the employer/insurer?

    – In custody cases, suppose the two biological parents of a minor die. Do other spouses in the marriage group get first dibs on custody?

    – State recognition of marriage includes immigration and naturalization benefits if one party is a non-citizen. Should a practicing polygamist be able to give a fast track to citizenship to an unlimited number of partners at once?

    With same-sex monogamous marriage that stuff would be dealt with the same way it is now (though some have proposed eliminating joint income tax filing period). But it is not clear how that would work with polygamy.

  41. no gratutious slams of those who question the holocaust or those who question the claims of the holocaust industry.

    i’m still waiting for reason to prove the existence of so-called “slavery” in the 19th century. it’s clear from daguerreotypes of the period that the wearing of ankle restraints and forcible breeding were in fashion with the darker-skinned members of society.

  42. Who is Spain? Why is Hitler? Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

  43. Dhex-

    Are you part of the holocaust industry? You know the totalitarains who want to imprison folks who doubt the phantasmajoric claim that 6 million were gassed.

  44. Never again!

  45. I agree with Libertymike. If only Reason were courageous enough to speak out about the appalling way 99.5 percent of humanity is secretly controlled by the .5 percent that happens to be Jewish.

  46. Brandybuck | December 22, 2008, 2:45pm | #

    I want to get along with them… I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them.

    Sort of sounds like the Golden Rule. Maybe Jesus was ahead of his time, and into libertarianism long before libertarians started getting their rocks off by bashing him.

    I don’t recall any libertarians bashing Jesus. I do recall bashing of people who claim to be his followers, but whose actions and proclaimed values have little in common with what Jesus preached.

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