What Then is This Strange Beast, This Libertarian? Please Explain for Our Pals at The Atlantic.


Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg and Ta-Nehisi Coates have been debating gun ownership by private citizens (Goldberg is generally for it, Coates against it). But like many intense conversations about politics, ideology, rights, and cold, hard steel, this one has given rise to strange and wonderful feelings that can both titillate and terrify. At least on the part of Goldberg, who explains that during his debate, certain long-buried—one might even say repressed—tendencies of his bubbled to the surface:

This is what I wrote to Ta-Nehisi after he said he would rather not own a gun for self-protection: "You don't want a gun to defend yourself, fine. That's your right. But denying someone else that right—someone who is screened and vetted and trained and feels that he needs a gun to defend himself or his home—is that right?"

I went on to write that my feeling about gun-ownership tracked with my feelings about pot-smoking (people should do it if they want to do it and not be punished for it); gay marriage (pro); and abortion (I don't like it, but I'm not going to tell a woman what to do with her body). I suppose my loathing for privacy-invading airport security procedures tracks with these beliefs. On guns, I believe that that people who are screened and vetted should be allowed to participate in their own defense. I think people should be treated like adults, and be allowed, within reason, to make their choices about who they want to be with, how they want to organize their lives, what they ingest and how they protect themselves.

After I wrote this, it struck me that I might be a libertarian. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this feeling. I don't even know anyone at Reason magazine.

Whole thing here.

My question, dear readers, is this: What then is this strange beast, this libertarian?

How do you define libertarian and what are the hints, if not the tell-tale signs, that a person is indeed one?

Flesh out the comments below but, as always, keep it classy.