Libertarian History/Philosophy

Freedom ? Polygamy and Heroin

Conservatives are wrong to worry that libertarian policies will lead to libertinism.

|

Cultural conservatives can't be too happy about the country's growing tolerance for gay marriage and legal marijuana, both of which a slim majority now supports. This erosion of traditional moral codes, they fear, will put America on the highway to Gomorrah.

But removing government from the business of enforcing morality doesn't mean that individuals will celebrate their liberation by smoking crack and throwing orgies. It means that they'll become active agents in choosing their own morality.

The late Robert Bork famously warned in his 1996 jeremiad Slouching Toward Gomorrah that America would succumb to moral decadence if Uncle Sam didn't censor pornography and promote traditional marriage. Eighteen years earlier, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a literature Nobelist who served time in the Gulag for criticizing Stalin, offered an identical prognosis in a Harvard speech. American society, the anti-communist hero lamented, "has turned out to have scarce defense against the abyss of human decadence."

Conservatives no longer speak in such overwrought tones, but that doesn't mean their worries about America's moral decline have vanished. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently wrote that gay marriage will further sever the link between marriage and procreation, presumably opening the door to incest, polygamy, and other sexual arrangements. Likewise, former drug czar Bill Bennett has exhorted the administration to go after Colorado and Washington, which recently legalized marijuana, lest they pave the way for harder drugs. 

The assumption driving such worries is that individuals are inherently hedonistic and, absent the threat of punishment in this world and damnation in the next, they'll seek only their own pleasure and ignore family and community, ripping the social fabric.

But life doesn't work that way. Individuals don't simply discard an old order in favor of no order. They look for a new order that better accommodates their personal goals and social needs.

There is no better evidence for this than the modern recalibration of the feminist movement. In the '60s, when feminists such as Alice Walker were comparing motherhood and family to slavery, alarmed conservatives warned of rampant abortions, wholesale child neglect, the devaluation of fathers, and family breakdown. For a while such fears seemed borne out by soaring divorce rates, increasing pro-choice sentiment (which I share), and Murphy Brown–style celebrations of single motherhood.

Fast-forward a couple of decades. Walker's own daughter, Rebecca, has condemned her mother's views and become an evangelist for motherhood and family. And many indices are now trending conservative. Divorce peaked at 50 percent in the 1980s and has dropped about 10 percentage points since then. A 2013 USA Today/Gallup poll shows that support for unregulated abortion is declining, with a slight majority now describing itself as pro-life, a startling reversal from a decade ago.

Such trends have prompted the former neoconservative thinker Francis Fukuyama to observe that "Great Disruptions" produced by social movements such as feminism don't necessarily lead to a net "decrease in social capital." Instead, the capital —cultural norms and mores—gets reconstituted, and even expands.

Why? Freedom allows individuals to sort through existing social rules, discarding ones that don't work and embracing ones that do. In a free market, early adopters signal to others whether the cost of a new invention is worth the return. Likewise, in a free society, social mavericks who defy conventional morality indicate to others whether risking social opprobrium is worth the personal gain.

There is no a priori reason to believe that widespread polygamy and heroin use, for example, would pass this social test. "Flexibility of moral rules…makes gradual evolution and social growth possible," observed F.A. Hayek, a libertarian but also a great defender of tradition. This, he added, "allows experience to lead to modifications and improvements."

William F. Buckley exhorted conservatives to "stand athwart history" and yell stop. But conservatives can save their breath. Free individuals are perfectly capable of yelling themselves.  

NEXT: Pro-Assad Forces Gaining Ground in Syria

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There is no a priori reason to believe that widespread polygamy and heroin use, for example, would pass this social test.

    If you believe the law makes it too risky for some people to engage in some activities which they otherwise would the, yeah, there kinda is an a priori reason to believe that removing the law will result in more of the behavior.

    Way to throw in “widespread” as a weasel word, though.

    1. otherwise wouldn’t

      1. my friend’s half-sister makes $89 every hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $12383 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site WEP6.COM

    2. And why are polygamy and heroin even mentioned in the same breath? There are obvious personal risks involved with heroin, but none that I can see in polygamy.

      1. More wives to get angry enough to chop your dick off.

        1. Plus the emotional trauma of having that many wives

          1. some women in russia are actually lobbying to legalize polygamy

            1. I believe it. I think last I checked the life expectancy for men in Russia is like 15 years less than the rate for women. Sort of like a reverse of China’s demographic issue.

              Maybe they can have one big barn dance in Siberia?

      2. but none that I can see in polygamy

        Personally, I have enough problems with just one wife.

    3. Actually in this case widespread is not a weasel word, even with those activities being illegal today it does not stop them. There always has been and always will be a fringe that engages in socially unacceptable behaviors the question is how much more prevalent would they become with the laws removed.

      Polygamy going from being practiced by a fraction of a percent of the population to 1 percent of the population would not possibly create a society wide upheaval, going to 20% would.

      Finally, if you believe that “the law makes it too risky for some people to engage in some activities which they otherwise would” then you are either blind to or ignorant of the evidence provided by history. Laws, even ones with far more draconian punishments than we give for doing Heroin have never successfully disuaded more than a tiny fraction of the population who would otherwise wish to engage in it and in a great many cases those laws have actually been counter productive actually making the disfavored behavior more common than it would have been without the laws in place.

      1. Laws, even ones with far more draconian punishments than we give for doing Heroin have never successfully disuaded more than a tiny fraction of the population who would otherwise wish to engage in it…

        How in the hell can anyone purport to know how many people would do heroin if it weren’t illegal and hadn’t been illegal for so long that it was essentially a cultural given?

        While it’s possible that drugs would still be unpopular with employers even if they were legal, the possibility of failing a drug test and losing a job is a very potent disincentive for a lot of people with whom I’ve worked. And more anecdotes, the only reason I don’t use cocaine is because it is illegal.

        laws have actually been counter productive

        Yeah, I’m sure some people do drugs because they are illegal and otherwise wouldn’t, but I don’t know how to quantify that number. Do you?

        1. I concur. The only reason I don’t try most of these things is because they are illegal and represent a grave professional risk to me.

          1. Many people would undoubtedly either try coke or do it more often if it was legally available. That doesn’t mean we would have chaos in the streets and tons of cokeheads. Most people don’t get addicted to it and can manage to not destroy their lives, the same as most people don’t let alcohol destroy their lives.

        2. I once read the paper of an economist that claimed the servicing of the demand for cocaine had reached its saturation point based on the price dropping in the years before the study, the increase in quality of the retail product (quality is increased at the wholesale end for distribution purposes). Given 98% of the product was reaching the intended market, he argued you would not see a spike in usage given there wasn’t any demand not being serviced.

          1. years before the study,where there existed an the increase in

    4. my friend’s half-sister makes $89 every hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $12383 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site WEP6.COM

    5. How about we look at the incidence of drug addiction in 19th century US when heroin and morphine could be legally purchased through the mail. Should give us a clue as to whether there would be widespread heroin use.

      1. The essay is a straw man.

        As a fiscal/social conservative, the main issue is the ramming down the throats of the gay agenda. Public schools enforce liberal indoctrination. You can privately profess your religion but don’t run a public business in accordance to them. Religious freedom previous was a constitutional right. Now, gay sex (try to find it in the Constitution) but religious freedom is not.

        I think that marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t want my kids being told that I am a hateful homophobe by his teacher. Churches, if the open their facilities up to the American legion, are being forced to allow gay marriages.

    6. Yet legality and drastically reduced criminal penalties has resulted in a a drastic decrease in drug use in every modern country where this is the case. Your argument sounds intuitive but defies reality.

      1. Portugal, Switzerland, Holland.

  2. “”””The assumption driving such worries is that individuals are inherently hedonistic and, absent the threat of punishment in this world and damnation in the next, they’ll seek only their own pleasure and ignore family and community, ripping the social fabric.”””

    Some individuals will, they do it now.

    Shikha Dalmia does not seem to understand that when talking about individuals then you should not assume any group behavior, whether behavior you approve of or disapprove.

  3. I was nodding along in agreement with Shikha’s premise, and then she throws this out there:

    In the ’60s…alarmed conservatives warned of rampant abortions, wholesale child neglect, the devaluation of fathers, and family breakdown.

    All of which have happened, especially if you count the current state of public schools as child neglect.

    I put the blame mostly on the welfare state, though, rather than a lack of laws enforcing morality. But this is classic Shikha, undercutting her position in her own article.

    1. You need to blame economic conditions. It’s usually the culprit.

      1. Economic conditions created by welfare and child support laws. Yes, thanks for clearing that up.

        1. Of course.

          1. Only in the sense that increased wealth allows you to afford a welfare state (with the establishment thereof degrading the incentive structure until you can no longer afford it). “Facilitate” is a better word than “create”.

            But not in the sense that you want it to mean, ie that ecnonomic conditions create the need for a welfare state, because there is no need for it.

      2. You mean economic conditions like single-parent homes, teen pregnancy, and the like? Yeah, choices like that tend to be pretty good predictors of how your economic situation will turn out.

        1. No, those would be the cultural conditions that result from poor economic conditions. Wealthy, well-educated people don’t get pregnant young and tend to be married more.

          You can’t seriously claim that a society-wide change in cultural behaviors is the result of millions of free individual choices coinciding.

          1. But Tony, we’ve had changes in economic conditions before, but these family breakdowns are relatively unheard of. So how can it be economic conditions alone?

            1. What else? Something in the water?

              I think you’ll find if you look at history that marriage (and family stability) has always been more prevalent among the rich than the poor.

              1. Sure, but it seems much less prevalent in recent decades and in many ways the poor have it much better off than they used to, so it seems it must be something else this time.

                1. I would like to think that marriage as an institution is declining just because society is becoming more liberalized (less social pressure to get married). But it is very much true that major economic downturns have a huge effect on marriage rates and childbirth rates, and this is true for both the Great Depression and the more recent downturn.

                  But we seem to be talking about a vaguely defined disruption in social order rather than concrete statistics. I guess I agree with this piece in one respect–people free to make their own choices will do OK. BUT they will be more able to make better choices if they have enough wealth to take care of their basic needs and comforts. Let’s fix the worst wealth stratification in this country since the Gilded Age, and I promise you a lot of these problems will start to go away.

                  1. But you kind of made our point: I bet family breadown in the Gilded Age was significantly lower than it is today. So it must not be about ‘wealth stratification’ today.

                    1. “But you kind of made our point: I bet family breadown in the Gilded Age was significantly lower than it is today.”

                      Not to mention the working class was FAR worse-off in absolute terms, and it’s not even close. It’s almost like he thinks the standard-of-living today is at a historical low rather than the historical high that is the reality.

                    2. I love the “modern poverty is good enough” argument. Since your ideology is totally responsible for today’s wealth stratification, why don’t you go explain that to their faces?

                      Then look up relative poverty.

                    3. relative poverty is related to income inequality, not living conditions. So, are you arguing that more single people are having more babies, not because of their circumstances, but because someone else is much more rich?

              2. Appeal to ignorance: he can’t imagine anything else mattering, so it doesn’t.

          2. “No, those would be the cultural conditions that result from poor economic conditions.”

            Except there were no poor economic conditions. The 60s was a economic boom across the board, and economic conditions have improved further since then.

            “You can’t seriously claim that a society-wide change in cultural behaviors is the result of millions of free individual choices coinciding.”

            It wasn’t random, if that’s what you mean. It was an effort driven by the intelligentsia, who came to the conclusion during the post-war era that the rise of fascism had proven that their little socialist wet dream would require not just the establishment of state dependency, but also the destruction of private institutions that carried out those functions.

            1. Economic conditions have improved since the 60s? Not for most people.

              I’m not saying cultural changes are irrelevant. Sure, women being liberated from being solely baby factories (due to the innovation of birth control) to full citizens will have consequences.

              But most bad social metrics–education, teen pregnancy, family instability, things like that–proceed from poor economic conditions (and probably compound them a little). If everyone had access to a decent education and made a decent living, there would be nothing to complain about, since everyone’s situation would be the result of choice to a larger degree.

              It was the postwar Big Government programs that created the healthy economic conditions of the 50s and 60s and that created the world’s largest middle class. We have a much more stingy welfare state now, and people are worse off. Interesting. If you think about it–including thinking about the differing metrics for minorities–you can’t but conclude that economic conditions come first.

              1. How is our welfare state more stingy? There may be some drop historically in welfare, but you see incredible increases in things like food stamps, unemployment and disability.

                I’m not going to argue about whether people will good educations and jobs have these problems, but don’t you think there is a significant underclass that is so pathologized that they are not inclined, and could not function, in quality educational or work settings even if they were paid for?

                1. “How is our welfare state more stingy?”

                  His reading of the facts are ass-backwards, as usual.

                2. More people on food stamps does not mean the welfare state has grown more generous, it means more people have gone into poverty.

                  There were significant cuts to the welfare state throughout the 80s and 90s and Republicans are still trying to gut it more. We will only see more poor people and fewer middle class people. And you guys will go on blaming the newly poor and their bad decision making for it all.

              2. “Economic conditions have improved since the 60s? Not for most people.”

                You’re an idiot. I won’t even read the rest of that garbage after that comment. By every measure economic conditions have improved, but even if I accept that they haven’t, they certainly haven’t gotten worse, which is what your argument REQUIRES to have happened.

              3. Just for starters, the government shrank considerably Post-War.

                And the middle class was rising long before WW1 even.

              4. “But most bad social metrics–education, teen pregnancy, family instability, things like that–proceed from poor economic conditions (and probably compound them a little)”

                You have your cause-and-effect backwards. Piss-poor social norms lead to both degraded social and economic conditions (and probably compound the latter a little). People with integrity and character don’t cheat on their wives. Teenagers taught to consider their futures use birth control. And they end up wealthier, to boot.

                1. Liberals consider children to be a risk that the state can mitigate for people. Don’t worry about the moral hazards.

                2. “You have your cause-and-effect backwards.”

                  This

                  stable marriages = good kids and more wealth, not the reverse.

              5. “It was the postwar Big Government programs that created the healthy economic conditions of the 50s and 60s and that created the world’s largest middle class.”

                Bullshit.

                Government during that era was much smaller as a percent of GDP than it is today. Why hasn’t the boom continued?

              6. Tony, were you around in the 1960s?

              7. “Economic conditions have improved since the 60s? Not for most people.”

                Total bullshit, tony style.

          3. No, those would be the cultural conditions that result from poor economic conditions. Wealthy, well-educated people don’t get pregnant young and tend to be married more.

            What poor economic conditions cause people to be single and pregnant? They can’t afford birth control? That seems unlikely.

            1. I think he’s talking about as a general matter it is true that well off, college educated people tend to have stable marriages and few out of wedlock births. Charles Murray describes these statistics at length in his book Coming Apart.

              1. I’m not talking about what well off, well-educated people do. They can afford to fuck up, within certain parameters.

                I’m talking about what poor people do to keep themselves poor or make themselves poorer. There were times when I couldn’t eat for days because I didn’t have the money. If I’d have had a kid, or kids, it’s entirely conceivable that I never would have broken out of that situation, never would have gone to college or law school or learned to program. It wouldn’t have been the fault of “economic conditions” it would have been my dumbassery.

                1. When there is a strong correlation between education and income and these behaviors what does that mean? Maybe the behavior causes the poverty and bad education rather than the other way around, but one can’t deny the correlation. He’s wrong on a lot of things but Tony is correct that generally people that are well off and educated tend have stable marriages and kids within wedlock, while for those who do not the reverse is true.

                  1. It kinda makes sense, though, from an incentives point of view.

                    If you’re poor, you’ll live in poverty. The state will support your poverty. You won’t starve, and you can watch TV, but you’re probably not investing in real estate anytime soon. If you have kids single and out of wedlock, the state gives you even more support. You’re incentivized to avoid marriage. This makes single parenthood, and absentee parenting, more common, and it becomes more acceptable. Having children doesn’t change your circumstances very much, especially if you’re a father, skipping out any personal relationship with your children. After all, the state is the real father.

                    If you’re wealthy, the state isn’t coming in to help you out. You bear all the risk, financially. You probably also don’t come from a culture that accepts absentee parenting and child abuse, like our president does.

                    Obama jokes in speeches about fondly remembering a time when people would beat other people’s kids for acting up. And the NAACP laughed. Beating wives is bad, but, apparently, beating children is pure awesome. And, we care about the weak and the downtrodden. As long as they’re old enough to vote, I guess.

                    What a screwed up system.

                    1. Whoa, wait a minute. Are you saying that incentives still exist even outside of the cold, cruel marketplace? Or that government actions can have negative consequences? Well I’ll be damned…

                    2. Statists prefer not to incorporate that into their models. That’s their best way of dealing with the complexity of the world: don’t model it, just assume it away.

                      And, if you try to model it, they’ll accuse you of being to simplistic, since you’re not appreciating that the world is too complex to model.

                      It might sound crazy when I say it, but that’s the pitch.

                    3. If you’re wealthy, the state isn’t coming in to help you out. You bear all the risk, financially.

                      Everything that’s wrong with your worldview summed up in two sentences. The rich live riskier lives? The rich don’t get helped out by the state as much as the poor? Are you out of your mind?

                      You cannot come up with a theory that explains society-wide wealth stratification that puts the cause on personal behavior. It is simply moralistic bullshit. Macro changes require macro explanations.

                    4. The rich don’t get helped out by the state as much as the poor? Are you out of your mind?

                      Read for comprehension. If you’re rich, you’re not getting paid specifically for making babies. You may get a lot of other shit that the government throws their way, but not cash for babies. This creates a different incentive, since they are responsible for the costs themselves.

                      Of course, if you’re really rich, being a single parent is a piece of cake. You just hire nannies, spend a few hours each day bonding with your child, and then write a blog about it.

                      If you’re a poor mom, you deal with crying and screaming while you watch TV and wait for checks to show up in the mail. If you’re a poor dad, you’re someone where else, waiting for checks to show up in the mail. And, if you’re both, you’re probably beating the children, when possible, which probably effects the outcome for those children more than anything else (coming into this world being beaten by your primary caregivers is great preparation for the state, though).

                    5. If you’re rich, you’re not getting paid specifically for making babies.

                      And, you’re not getting paid more money specifically for being single and having babies. And, since you’re rich, even if you were getting paid, it means much less to you.

                    6. Macro changes require macro explanations.

                      Oh, I forgot about that one: google “Lucas critique”. Effective macro studies are based on micro foundations.

          4. You can’t seriously claim that a society-wide change in cultural behaviors is the result of millions of free individual choices coinciding.

            You can seriously claim it because any society-wide change in cultural behavior is the result of millions of individual choices. Society is not a hive-mind, it’s millions of ostensibly free individuals making choices. As a collectivist I know that’s hard for you to accept…

          5. economics is downstream from the culture, not the other way around. Poverty doesn’t cause crime, crime causes poverty-detroit.

        2. And those things are, if anything, a consequence of the expansion of the state. In effect, the expansion of the state has lowered the cost of these outcomes. On their own these outcomes are generally disastrous. On the other hand, if Uncle Sugar is going to absorb part of that hit, it’s a marginally more attractive option.

      3. Isn’t that what he blamed?

    2. How much of what changed during the 60s was sparked by legislative changes anyway? No-fault divorce, for example, didn’t proliferate until after divorce rates exploded. If the 60s resulted in libertine cultural changes, it was because it was a libertine cultural movement.

      1. I agree about the changes during the 60’s, but I think some of the changes since have been due to the growth of the welfare state, with the government replacing the role of the father in many cases.

        1. Both are certainly true, also an overall increase in prosperity and productivity – thanks to capitalism – has made it more possible for a single woman to support herself and children.

          If nothing else, the conservative’s are at least excellent at forecasting.

          1. I don’t see it as very impressive.

            If divorce laws are liberalized more people will choose divorce! If abortion laws are liberalized more people will get abortions!

            Of course. I’m not sure that’s ‘excellent forecasting.’

            1. And when you subsidize something, you get more of it.

            2. They’re batting higher than their peers, whether that’s impressive to you or not is irrelevant.

              1. Are they better? I think supporters of abortion and divorce liberalization thought if the laws were liberalized more people would take advantage of them. In fact, they were probably counting on it.

                1. Yes, considerably.

                  It really doesn’t take much research to find a plethora of failed progressive predictions. This should be fairly obvious in the U.S. alone. Just look at the colossal failures of the Progressive era, New Deal, and Great Society.

                  Possibly just due to their general pessimism but conservatives have had more accurate predictions.

  4. In the ’60s, when feminists such as Alice Walker were comparing motherhood and family to slavery, alarmed conservatives warned of rampant abortions, wholesale child neglect, the devaluation of fathers, and family breakdown.

    Uh… Shikha? Don’t look now, but… the conservatives were right. Whoops!

  5. “In the ’60s, when feminists such as Alice Walker were comparing motherhood and family to slavery, alarmed conservatives warned of rampant abortions, wholesale child neglect, the devaluation of fathers, and family breakdown. For a while such fears seemed borne out,” [but it got better!]

    How were these “alarmed conservatives” wrong? The things they warned about happened! There *have* been rampant abortions, there *has* been family breakdown, devaluation of fathers, and child neglect. And while there’s been a backlash against such things, as Dalmia notes, the situation hasn’t gone back to anything remotely like it was when the “alarmed conservatives” were uttering their warnings.

    And part of the good news Dalmia cites about abortion is that “support for unregulated abortion is declining,” meaning that there’s more support for legal restrictions on the practice.

  6. It means that they’ll become active agents in choosing their own morality.

    Drug-fueled orgies it is!

  7. doesn’t mean that individuals will celebrate their liberation by smoking crack and throwing orgies

    … and I was planning a smokin’ crack orgy!

    1. Orgies are already legal.

      1. Depends, try to open a club that caters to swingers and you might find it’s not as legal as you think. Most have to be kept private and not ‘commercial’, ie. charging admitance to support your overhead for the facility. And private can get you in trouble if you have too many cars in the neighborhood.

        WTF is a safe and non-addictive activity like an orgy lumped in with crack cocaine use anyway?

  8. A 2013 USA Today/Gallup poll shows that support for unregulated abortion is declining, with a slight majority now describing itself as pro-life, a startling reversal from a decade ago.

    And I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for your meddling ultrasounds!

    Freedom allows individuals to sort through existing social rules, discarding ones that don’t work and embracing ones that do.

    Whereas socialism and the welfare state lead to the sort of social degradation that conservatives decry. See: Europe. Or ancient Rome.

    1. As an anarchist you should probably figure out how to be OK with people living lifestyles you don’t approve of.

      1. As an anarchist, he can love or hate any lifestyle as he sees fit, he just can’t demand that the state enforce his preference on others at the barrel of a gun, the way you do.

        1. Tolerance would, however, seem to be a practical virtue to have.

          1. Get back to us once you demonstrate some yourself.

      2. As a statist you should probably figure out how to be OK with the fact that government policies have directly led to the breakdown of the family and have been an utter failure in the War on Poverty (and other stuff).

    2. I’m just curious, what is the ‘social degradation’ in Europe?

      1. Europeans tend to be unfriendly and cold-shouldered to strangers, at least compared to North Americans. I don’t think that’s controversial, although I’m sure it’s controversial whether that amounts to something you could call “social degradation”, but it’s probably evidence for, at least.

        1. don’t forget the weekly muslim “CAR-B-Qs

    1. Niggaz be gay.

      1. No homo

    2. Two snaps up!

    3. Check out this brilliant comment:

      Duh. This is stupid. There are fewer African Americans in the US than White people so of course the percentage is higher. If you look at raw numbers, then it makes a huge difference. I could also argue that Native Americans have the highest percentage of gay people in the US.

      It’s depressing to think this person’s vote counts just as much as mine.

      1. holy shit!

        140% of americans don’t know shit about statistics

  9. Pointing to the divorce rate as proof of how the libertine attitudes of the 1960s were reversed is classic Dalmia mendacity. Sure the divorce rates are lower. But the number of births out of wedlock have skyrocketed. People don’t get divorced as much as they used to. They also don’t marry as much and think nothing of having a child out of wedlock. Can’t Nick get off his ass and help Dalmia with some editing? Someone should stop her before she publishes this stuff.

    1. How is it ‘mendacity’? Because she didn’t consider another thing?

      1. Yes. How could she honestly think divorce rates could be considered without looking at marriage and bastard rates?

        1. Because she’s that fucking dumb, John.

        2. Mendacity refers to lies, considering one thing without considering another is not a lie.

          She talks about several things social conservatives were worried about then she points out that some of them don’t seem to have kept increasing. That she didn’t point out about all of them isn’t lying.

          1. Mendacity-

            1. the quality of mendaciousness; a tendency to lie

            2. an instance of lying; a falsehood

            1. Yes. I don’t think it’s lying. The author basically argues that social conservatives predicted because of legal changes we would face inevitable, ever-increasing license in areas such as a, b, and c. Then she says they seem wrong about that because in area a and b for example the increases stopped and are reversing. Is it a lie that she doesn’t address c? I guess you could say a lie by omission, but that seems a stretch. If she had said something like there are less of c when there was more of it I’d say that’s a lie. Of course even then she might just be incorrect, a lie means she would have to know better.

              I try not to throw out charges of lying when a charge of not being thorough or being incorrect will do.

    2. Shikha is sincerely stupid, not mendacious.

      1. I think it’s both.

        1. Hanlon’s Razor anyone?

  10. A 2013 USA Today/Gallup poll shows that support for unregulated abortion is declining, with a slight majority now describing itself as pro-life, a startling reversal from a decade ago.

    Translation: the boomers our now out of their fooling around years and now that the various social controls they rebelled against as youths no longer impacts them anyways, they’re all too happy to bring them back.

    It’s the same reason the boomers who spent the 60s and 70s protesting the draft want it back now that they’re no longer young enough to be drafted.

    1. They say they are pro-life, but they couldn’t even pass a fully pro-life referendum in S. Dakota and Mississippi recently so I’m not sure what they are saying means much.

    2. Nice try but the changes are across all age demographics, and the young ones are some the strongest in support of the 20 week restrictions.

    3. Well after all they do need grandkids

  11. Conservatives really don’t care as much as some think about gays and drugs or other issues that work for divisible politicking.
    We just want the government to stop telling us and forcing us to think certain things are alright. Any conservative politician pushing an agenda is as bad as a lefty Marxist doing the same.
    It is the job of the people and their private institutions to decide what’s best for them, not some faceless bureaucrat in DC.

    1. The trouble is, there’s still too many conservative politicians (and group leaders/members) pushing agendas. They think God will give them brownie points if they succeed in making one of his edicts into law. This is what ultimately soured the Tea Party movement: Initially, the organizers were trying like hell to keep the mission pure – fiscal responsibility in government and nothing else. Then the socons in the movement got greedy and thought “hey, these tea party folks are mostly in our camp, so it shouldn’t be a problem to throw in a rally against gay marriage!” And when they went with those kinds of messages, Big Religion’s coffers opened up, and they got their big bucks to further their cause. All of a sudden the image became Tea Party = same old conservative GOP crap.

      We need some big money folks on our side, that’s the only way libertarians and TRUE small-government conservatives will get any chance to thrive.

      1. The trouble is, there’s still too many conservative politicians (and group leaders/members) pushing agendas.

        While I think that is true, gay marriage is an odd example since it is an expansion of state welfare and control.

        I also think that libertarians will thrive by building coalitions where they can, even if it is on narrow issues and not comprehensive agreement.

  12. -Any conservative politician pushing an agenda is as bad as a lefty Marxist doing the same.

    I agree. They both have this utopian version of how things should be, and both see their versions threatened by even small minorities of people who want to live and choose otherwise. Just having a single porn shop or gay couple in the neighborhood will lead to the breakdown of everything, just like having a few kulaks selling their own beets will destroy the collective farm. A pox on both their houses.

    1. Its the same house.

    2. So calling for legal restraints on porn shops and non-recognition of same-sex marriage is not only wrong, it is the moral equivalent of starvation-inducing collectivization of agriculture?

      It’s possible to disagree with “conservative” policy proposals without losing sense of perspective. Or is it a matter of preserving one’s precious moral equivalence?

      1. Putting someone in jail (which is what used to happen to sellers of porn and gay ‘sodomites’) is exactly what they did to the kulaks.

        1. They also starved peasants to death, by the millions, with their collectivization policies.

          Is putting pornographers in jail really on the same moral level, even if you don’t like it?

          1. Why not just go Godwin and get it over with?

            “You know who else built prisons where he put people he didn’t like?”

            1. Ronald Reagan?

          2. “Is putting pornographers in jail really on the same moral level?”

            Yes. It all involves asserting ownership over other individuals. Even though the consequences were different, it’s the same act.

          3. Yeah

    3. Completely agree

  13. Any fashion for either Heroin or Polygamy will necessarily be self limiting. Incautious use of heroin is highly likely to be a case in point of evolution in action, and under modern divorce laws polygamous marriages strike me as unlikely to be widespread.

    1. Freedom = Modern divorce laws?

      1. Historical polygamy has tended to be in societies where wives have little in the way of rights. Try that in modern America and your, say, four wives are likely to hale you into court, and metaphorically each grab a limb and make a wish

        1. Freedom = Modern America?

          1. Freedom = being drawn and quartered?

            1. Metaphorically, maybe.

        2. C.S.P. that is a pretty funny, but accurate description of what a polygamist man is likely to face in Family Court.

    2. It all depends what modern benefits the government provides for marriage.

  14. I think you are confusing a slippery slope fallacy with an argument against gay marriage by examining its proponents arguments for it. Slippery slope: if you do a, then b will eventually occur. You lump conservatives who argue that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamous or incestuous marriage in with all the other groups you talk about.
    The “best” argument for same-sex marriage is that it is between two consenting adults. However, if that argument is valid, it begs the question, why would consent between adults be enough to justify redefining marriage for two same-sex individuals but not for two cousins, two siblings, a parent and their adult consenting child, or three or more consenting adults? If you don’t answer any of those straight-forward questions, you are failing to articulate your libertarian principles fully.

    Saying that conservatives think that gay marriage will lead to heroin and orgies is a red herring because heroin and orgies are not the same thing as any two or more individuals who want the state to recognize them as married, provide them with tax benefits, and compel others like wedding photographers and wedding cake bakers to either recognize their marriage or get out of the wedding business.

    1. between two unrelated consenting adults

      FTFY. Consent alone is not enough. Marriage is the creation and recognition of a familial relationship that did not exist before such marriage under the law. That takes care of all of your examples in which two persons are already related by blood.

      compel others like wedding photographers and wedding cake bakers to either recognize their marriage or get out of the wedding business

      Talk about red herring. Compelling others to do business is an issue separate from equal protection under the law.

      1. That takes care of all of your examples in which two persons are already related by blood.

        No, marriage is not simply the “creation and recognition of a familial relationship”. A familial relationship is legally distinct from marriage.

        “Equal protection under the law” should apply to everyone, not just non-blood relatives and not just pairs of people.

    2. Saying that conservatives think that gay marriage will lead to heroin and orgies is a red herring because heroin and orgies

      She didn’t actually say this. She said ‘presumably’ Douthat is saying this, which admittedly is about the same things, but she thinks it’s ok if she puts the words in someone else’s mouth.

  15. But removing government from the business of enforcing morality doesn’t mean that individuals will celebrate their liberation by smoking crack and throwing orgies.

    Darn.

  16. SOrry, but freedom DOES mean polygamy and heroin. I don’t care what any of you have posited here; none of you has made any strong case against it. I can think of a dozen people offhand who NEED a shot of heroin, and quick. I don’t… now… and I didn’t turn into Beelzebub when I did, over THREE DECADES ago. I stopped because I wanted to, and my health was suffering because of adulterants and the ebb and flow of quality supply. If I were in Switzerland, I could be one of the majority of maintenance patients working and living a pretty normal life. Read about it — unless you have already formed you argument against it. Like a lot of the above automata…

    1. SOrry, but freedom DOES mean polygamy and heroin.

      It means polygamy and heroin should be legal. It doesn’t imply the moral panic that conservatives think. Undoubtedly there would be marginal increases, but by and large, the people who aren’t going to use heroin wouldn’t use it even if it were legal, while the people who are going to use heroin will use it whether it is legal or not.

      In any case, even if legality DID imply the dreaded moral panic, the question conservatives need to ask themselves is whether you’ve really got a moral society when the only reason anyone complies with the moral standards is out of fear. That was essentially the object lesson of A Clockwork Orange, but ironically, none of the conservatives saw it because it was X-rated.

  17. Hey, only two typos with this lousy virtual screem … screed … screen.

  18. IMO the authors failure to discuss the falling marriage rate while divorce rate stays constant says a lot about her competence.

    There has long been a growing culture trend for men to shun marriage. http://blowmeuptom.com/ (basically Jerry Springer life advice for horny young boys who don’t want to endure natural consequences)
    These are godless hedonistic men who have no pretenses of meaning in their lives. One of their axioms is to get more tail than a toilet seat.

    Anyway the point is that the most zealous and religious marry for purity’s sake. As a percentage of who is getting married, they are going up since social pressure to marry is shrinking on others. That the general rate stays the same is catastrophic. It’s not just decadence within the lower class who shun marriage altogether, but the religious who divorce more than previously.

    1. Her handling of the issue is akin to legalizing gay marriage and saying morality is increasing since more people are choosing to get married. the moral lower class now selfselect themselves out of the whole marriage institution. Traditionalists are divorcing more. Yet somehow that is remaining constant because of a raw statistic?

      The reasons for this are very complex and includes a war on men. the media campaign on this has been so successful that society at large feels not only that there is no war on men, but that there is a war on women. Good luck trying to sell that to any man who has been thru a divorce. Good luck trying to tell a radfem it isnt true.

      As an option, marriage is inferior to divorce for a woman. This is by design. Baby boomer divorces are overwhelmingly initiated by women, cheating isnt even one of the top 3 reasons. This isnt about some gender bearing fault for the decay, just to say that the laws are gender discriminatory.

      Women are the nesters who try to trap men into commitment, by evolution. In american life they are the ones who quit the institution of marriage. Why is this? Our govt has incentivized them to reject the family as a way of life. And they are going for it in droves.

      Yeah, that isn’t moral decadence to betray your commitments. /sarcasm

      1. well, all that is a problem of the laws, not freedom. Insane subsidies to divorce, which is a BREACH of a CONTRACT, is NOT freedom.
        Part of FREEDOM is that you’re held to your contracts/commitments. This is what we DONT have in the marriage sphere.
        If landlords could kick you out of your apartment regardless of the lease contract, people wouldn’t call it “freedom”.

  19. Why the heck not? Who’s afraid of freedom?

  20. I should hope it leads to polygamy. Why not, except for all of the platitudes put forth by the nanny-state.

  21. Legalized heroin would be a good thing as it could be regulated and people would OD less as they would know exactly what dose they were taking, not to mention it would be free of dangerous adulerants. The price would go down, so people wouldn’t steal or prostitute themselves so they could buy it. Violent crime would go down as it would not be blackmarket. Everclear is legal and we don’t see society grinding to a halt..Oh, I forgot, I’m on Reason, I’m preaching to the choir!

  22. You must have missed the article on how polygamy is supposed to be cool now, at this very site. OOPS. Back to the books!

  23. “It means that they’ll become active agents in choosing their own morality.”

    Everyone choosing their own morality is kind of a problem. Some people believe it is moral to have kids they can’t afford so they just dump the cost of raising them on society. Many of these little urchins end up victimizing others.

    We HAVE a libertine society already, and social decay is the result. There is no way to restrain the size of the state if we have an immoral populace. The framers understood this quite well but modern day Libertarians are living in a fantasy world.

  24. well, freedom definitely doesn’t mean polygamy, because obviously few men would choose polygymy, since it involves HAVING MULTIPLE WIVES.

    Polygynists have always fascinated me – I figure there must be some deep-seated masochism strek in a culture of men who want to actually deal with multiple wives.

    1. whats masochistic about having a pile of stacked and oiled up pussy?

      1. People stack and oil their cats? That sounds incredibly messy to me. How could you possibly keep them stacked, and they’d get oil all over everything.

      2. If you’re poor you couldn’t afford the upkeep. If you’re rich, you have that many more ways to become poor.

    2. He has control over them though so it’s not like they’re bitching all the time as is the case in forward thinking modern America.

  25. we have a declining moral landscape, but it’s nothing to do with stuff becoming legalized.
    Blue state culture has become a retarded echo chamber of mass media, people don’t even raise their kids anymore, because our shitty public schools keep them locked up all day, and then they have endless amounts of homework. The entire time, they’re not actually learning anything, and certainly not anything culturally, since schools have to be morality-neutral.
    Those who do “succeed” are only the most empty-souled, sponge-like people who absorb our hedonistic party culture and manage to make it through the B.S. of college. In theory, these are the people that could have the highest chances of a good family life, but years of mass-media feel-good-isms have taught them that they have to be “successful”; that the only standard of living that’s acceptable is owning a $500,000 to $1 million condo in a city, paying for it by being doctor/lawyer/investor or some other completely non-productive person, that our society decided to shower money on. So they wait until they’re freaking 40 to get married and start spitting out kids, even though at that age, that’s impossible. That is if they don’t prefer to live their pretend Sex in The City lifestyle that they imagine they have, where it’s all about me

    1. meanwhile, all the people who don’t manage to make that much money, again, the women think their husbands are failures, so they divorce them, and our courts give them lifetime supplies of money as a reward. I mean, damn, the amounts of money of alimony and child support are amounts of money that LOTTERIES give away if you win; anybody remember that “win $500/week” or whatever lottery? Alimony is easily that, and it’s lifetime.

      Otherwise, everyone else waits for some magicl romantic love that they know exists, because they’ve seen it in movies, and that’s the only way to get married in their minds. It’s a completely passive process “true love”, it’s not up to the individual.

      1. In the end, no one really knows how to be HAPPY, that happiness isn’t about a series of instances of “having fun”, that the only way you’ll ever be happy is when you finally learn that everything isn’t about you.

        So what we end up having is a very subtle hedonism and nihilism. People think happiness is “having fun”, and can’t imagine that THEY can ACTIVELY create a better life for themselves.

        The idea that part of being married is actually, you know, WANTING TO BE MARRIED, and that you actively WORK AT IT, would be considered crazy talk by modern youth. That maybe you don’t have to be subject to your own whims.

        They would call it equally crazy to think that life in itself might be enjoyabkle, that you don’t have to drink and/or smoke marijuana and “party” to have fun/be happy. That the little things in life, life itself, could be where happiness comes from.

        1. and then everyone wonders why the mormons and other religious sects are growing.

          It’s because it’s pretty much the only way now to live a NORMAL ass life, with a family life. If one of your life goals is to just be normal and live a reguar life, to JUST BE, a seriously-taken religion is like the only option you got

        2. Smoking ‘marijuana’ (Spanish word for cannabis) can be a positive part of life if you take it for what it is and not as the hedonistic vice that American culture has deemed it.

          1. I think the effects of habitual cannabis use generally range from neutral to negative, but it’s really none of my business what bad choices you make. Which is the real point.

  26. Gay marriage is different than a number of issues that libertarians rally around. One of the problems with gay marriage is that it is not neutrality. The true libertarian position on marriage, which some of the writers on this site understand, is to get the government out of it. When you give out positive rights (a marriage license), you are implicitly, if not explicitly, validating said thing.

  27. Sure maybe not wide spread polygamy and heroin use, but hopefully wide spread polygamy and extasy use!

  28. Hey Bill Bennett,

    Don’t tell me what plants I can ingest and I won’t tell you where to gamble your money. My body is my property just as your money is yours. Tool.

    Am I alone in not caring if polygamy and incest is allowed by the federal government?

  29. Even if it does lead to libertinism it’s sort of besides the point, isn’t it?

  30. I might just point out that despite other misplaced rhetoric, conservatives were right about rampant abortions. I mean, I’d call over 1000000 elective abortions a year pretty rampant…

  31. I find myself right up there with literally every ” classically libertarian” belief until it comes to abortion. ..libertarians don’t seem even remotely interested in the idea that a fetus might be a human and therefore entitled to all human rights…even though, scientifically speaking, we know that life begins at conception with any animal by definition

    1. I believe real libertarianism would say every individual has the right to have an opinion on when life begins. If you believe it begins at conception (for example), it would only make sense that you would support laws to protect that life. It would be completely contrary to libertarianism not to. If you believe it begins at birth, you can support laws that make killing the unborn prior to that point legal as it would then be an assault on someone’s property (their body) otherwise. Either would actually require a law of some kind. In the first, you can’t really hold the position that it’s strictly the mother’s choice as you would be endorsing the option to commit murder which would certainly be contrary to libertarianism. In the second case, it would make perfect sense to defer to the mother, but it should still be codified to defend against those who hold the first position.

      BTW, I find it useful to differentiate between biological life and metaphysical life. Biological life begins at conception. The argument is over when metaphysical life begins.

  32. There may be no reason for overreaction, but there is some reason for concern. Take the author’s example of feminism. “…alarmed conservatives warned of rampant abortions, wholesale child neglect, the devaluation of fathers, and family breakdown. For a while such fears seemed borne out by soaring divorce rates, increasing pro-choice sentiment (which I share), and Murphy Brown?style celebrations of single motherhood.” Well, a lot of those things are still on-going, to which one could add the “boys in crisis” and the Alice Walker school of feminism views on the hook-up culture. Yes, there is a reaction, as exemplified by Ms. Walker’s daughter, but we are still very much living with the “liberationist” consequences of feminism. To say that viewing women as legal and moral equals required modern feminism’s particular ethos, politics, baggage, and in particular it’s false view that gender is a social construct with no basis in reality, is absurd. And, that’s just one example.

    It’s also worth remembering something de Tocqueville wrote about work in his essay on pauperism. He noted that men work either out of a desire to fulfill and better themselves, or simply to avoid starvation, and that for most people, the latter is the primary driver. Take that away in the form of welfare, and a lot of people will fall by the wayside. The last 60 years of social policy in our country confirm that and the entitlement mentality has increasingly spread to the middle class.

  33. “In the ’60s, when feminists such as Alice Walker were comparing motherhood and family to slavery, alarmed conservatives warned of rampant abortions, wholesale child neglect, the devaluation of fathers, and family breakdown.”

    Such fears have been borne out. Look at illegitimacy rates for White children. Yes, the divorce rate decreased slightly, but the marriage rate decreased even faster.

    “There is no a priori reason to believe that widespread polygamy and heroin use, for example, would pass this social test.”

    Heroin use, no, polygamy, probably. We already see what could be called polygamy in the form of the “hook up culture” as old people call it, whereby some alpha males get many partners and betas and omegas get little or none. Polygamy is the natural human impulse, any non-feminist anthropologist will tell you that. Only with Artic-style farming and societal morality did we see monogamy be required. With these economic and social changes, we should eventually see more tolerance for polygamous relationships in the future. Probably not “marriage” because who wants to get married?

  34. Conservatives have already been vindicated completely on this issue. The decline in moral values has already led to a gigantic expansion of the welfare state as well as further infringements on our civil liberties. An immoral populace cannot remain free.

  35. This article is partly true but mostly misses the point.

    Our culture is mostly driven by how we raise our children. Raising children is done by the government (mostly).

    Therefore, our culture is a product of government institutions. Remove the government from schooling, and our culture will heal – even without changing welfare policy much.

    Conservatives need to learn this lesson: You want a conservative culture? Vote for deregulated and customer driven schooling.

    Libertarians need to learn this lesson: You want a free society? Sell your movement as a path to a conservative culture through schooling freedom.

    The movements could easily fuse together by seeing the above truth, but fighting between each other is too rewarding somehow.

    Meanwhile, progressives want to talk about abortion all day long. Why? It drives libertarians and conservatives apart – divide and conquer. Don’t take the bait, no matter how tasty. Privatize the culture wars by privatizing schooling. The cultural of the future will be determined by how people raise their kids, which will be decided without government involvement.

    1. I agree completely that we need to get the government out of the education business.

      1. There are libertarian abortion opponents. I am one. The issue of when life begins and when and how much value a life has is a philosophical issue, and anyone of any religion or none has to have an opinion on that matter.

        You can be a libertarian atheist and believe that unborn children have individual human rights and that, therefore, their individual human rights must be protected, as is the legitimate responsibility of a limited libertarian government.

  36. Ross Douthat recently wrote that gay marriage will further sever the link between marriage and procreation, presumably opening the door to incest, polygamy, and other sexual arrangements.

    ‘Presumably’? He either said it or he didn’t. It sounds like you’re indulging in hysterical hyperbole rather than addressing Douthat’s argument.

  37. As someone who embraces a lot of both conservative and libertarian values, I’d be perfectly happy for government to keep legalize both gay marriage and marijuana, if it would also respect business peoples’ right to freedom of association — to choose who to serve and not to serve in their places of business.

    Likewise, I can’t support open borders as long as we have a welfare state.

  38. Statism, even morally intended statism, has a tendency to crowd out virtue. Central to moral behavior is moral discernment. But, statism renders the individual citizen moot as a moral agent. Morality becomes, not a code of proper and virtuous behavior, but a set of rules that are to gotten around or obeyed grudgingly. We don’t take seriously the notion of children as moral agents. Is it any surprise that people treated all their lives as children have trouble behaving morally?
    In our own country the degradation of morality has been coincident with the expansion of government power.

  39. Solzhenitsyn, a literature Nobelist who served time in the Gulag

  40. business of enforcing morality doesn’t mean that individuals

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.