Progressives

Progressive Puritans

From e-cigarettes to sex classifieds, the once-transgressive left tries to criminalize fun.

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When I first started hearing people on the political left describe themselves with some frequency as progressive back in the 1990s, the term did not seem tethered to the epoch-defining, early-20th-century spasm of moral crusading and government centralization that helped give us everything from trust busting to Prohibition to the Federal Reserve. As articulated by champions like Ralph Nader and Molly Ivins, the progressive label was both a way to get out from under the generation-old baggage of liberal-a term Ronald Reagan and others had turned into an epithet-and to differentiate lefties from seemingly apologetic triangulators like Bill Clinton and that now-vanished tribe known as the New Democrats.

From a libertarian perspective, '90s progressives were good on issues the New Democrats stunk up (particularly criminal justice and the drug war) and bad on those that made the Clintonites worthwhile, such as lowering trade barriers and restraining federal budget growth. At their best, such as at the "shadow conventions" organized by Arianna Huffington in 2000, progressives of the era challenged both parties to address long-neglected issues and reverse government policies that actively damaged people's lives.

Since many of the people who self-identified that way came of political age in the '60s and '70s, progressives on the whole clearly belonged to the longhaired side of the culture war. They were the ones mocking the squares, pushing the envelope on free expression, and taking up arms in the sexual revolution. The more progressive the publication, the kinkier the sex classifieds in the back.

If you could put a date on when modern-day progressives fully re-inhabited the moral rigidity of their Progressive Era forebears, it might be September 24, 2012. That's when Village Voice Media, the country's biggest chain of alternative newsweeklies, split off its online classifieds site Backpage.com after a years-long, progressive-led campaign to shutter the site over claims that it facilitates "sex trafficking."

"If street pimps go to jail for profiteering on under-age girls, should their media partners like Village Voice Media really get a pass?" New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country's most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn't exist in 2003. "Paradoxically, Village Voice began as an alternative newspaper to speak truth to power. So it's sad to see it accept business from pimps in the greediest and most depraved kind of exploitation."

Kristof had the paradox almost exactly backward. It is he and his fellow crusaders, not the buyers and sellers of controversial products and services, who are aggrandizing power at the expense of the little guy and mangling truth in the service of that unseemly goal.

Take e-cigarettes. In March, the 15-member Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to outlaw vaping in all the places that cigarette smoking is currently banned, including parks, beaches, and restaurant patios. Among the anti-scientific reasons cited by councilmembers was the nastiness of secondhand smoke (even though inhaling vaporized nicotine instead of the byproduct from burning leaves does not create any of the stuff) and the horrors of long-term cigarette addiction (which vaping is tailor-made to prevent).

Look around the country and you'll find a strong correlation between e-cigarette bans and progressivism. Los Angeles joined New York, Boston, and Chicago with its prohibition, and now D.C. is threatening to get into the act with regulation from the Food and Drug Administration. The same moralizing impulse is leading to blue-city bans on everything from plastic bags to fried chicken joints to bottled water.

Banging the journalistic drum loudest for these buttinsky interventions is modern progressivism's hometown newspaper, The New York Times. In a series of breathless front page scare stories, the Times this year has warned darkly that the "emergence of e-hookahs and their ilk is frustrating public health officials who are already struggling to measure the spread of e-cigarettes, particularly among young people."

Senior Editor Jacob Sullum summarized the newspaper's alarmism at reason.com: "E-cigarettes are bad because they look like cigarettes. E-hookahs are worse because they don't. Using either of them might lead to smoking, although we can't find any real-life examples of that. Fruity flavors show these products are aimed at children-or maybe at young women, middle-aged actresses, or old Arab men. But the point is, they are aimed at somebody, and the companies selling them clearly are trying to make them appealing, which cannot be tolerated."

One reason that turn-of-the-century Progressivism lost its attractiveness as a self-label was its inextricable linkage to the disaster of alcohol prohibition. Yet many modern-day progressives have seemed to forget those policy lessons as well.

Kristof in 2012 advocated the boycott of Anheuser-Busch on the grounds that the brewer was selling too much beer just outside the alcoholism-ravaged Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. And in February of this year, the columnist made the amazing claim that prostitution can finally be nipped in the bud if only we got serious about locking up johns. "Police increasingly recognize that the simplest way to reduce the scale of human trafficking is to arrest men who buy sex," he wrote. "That isn't prudishness or sanctimony but a strategy to dampen demand."

Au contraire, as Thaddeus Russell demonstrates on "Sex Slaves and the Surveillance State" (page 62). Not only were prudishness and sanctimony vital to the Progressive Era project of cracking down on the chimera of "white slavery," but that misguided strategy to dampen demand helped give rise to the modern FBI and a host of illiberal laws, which were deployed like clubs against disfavored populations. And instead of learning from that history, modern-day progressives are repeating it with their factually untethered ranting about "human trafficking."

This issue of reason is filled with such stories about progressivism gone terribly wrong. In both the cover story by Sonny Bunch (page 44) and the economics column by Veronique de Rugy (page 20), the Progressive Era bureaucracy known as the Department of Commerce comes under fire for crony capitalism, mission incoherence, and indestructibility.

Jim Epstein's "Port Authoritarians" (page 26) explains how the real villain of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's bridge scandal is an unaccountable, corruption-wracked agency that was once held up as a model for enlightened Progressive Era governance. The bad news is that even a prolonged national outrage isn't shining a critical light on the Port Authority. The worse news is that the agency has spawned literally thousands of imitators across the country. And on page 76, Thaddeus Russell is back with a provocative essay ("'That Kind of Luxe Just Ain't for Us'") about how progressive pop culture congratulates itself by sneering at the consumption choices of lower classes.

The transformation of modern-day progressives from transgressives to scolds was on display after the death in February of legendary comedic writer/director/actor Harold Ramis, of Animal House, Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters fame. Over at Salon.com, professional sourpuss Thomas Frank offered up the unintentionally comic headline, "Baby Boomer Humor's Big Lie: Ghostbusters and Caddyshack really liberated Reagan and Wall Street."

"Each of the films," Frank wrote, "features some prudish or strait-laced patriarch who is spectacularly humiliated by a band of slobs or misfits or smart alecks. With their dick jokes and cruel insults, these movies represented, collectively, the righteous rising-up of a generation determined to get justice for the little guy. [But] the dick joke is not always what it seems to be. The dick joke is not always your friend."

The skill and dedication of our puritan progressives should not be underestimated. If you can take the fun out of Caddyshack, you can take the fun out of anything.

NEXT: The Vast Divide Between Too-Big-to-Jail and Too-Poor-to-Fight-Back

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  1. OT Senate Committee Votes To Keep Driver Black Box Data Private

    Drivers are one step safer to having improved privacy behind the wheel. The Senate Commerce Committee has granted bipartisan approval to legislation that aims to protect the information on automotive Event Data Recorders (EDR), also known as black boxes. The committee concluded that the vehicle owner is the one who owns the information stored on the device.

    Black boxes are already installed in over 90-percent of vehicles and track data like speed, braking, airbag deployment and some even know the vehicle’s location. Previously, NHTSA proposed that all future vehicles must come with data recorders.

    Well thank Christ the government voted and agreed that I own the shit on MY own fucking car. Can’t imagine why new vehicles are so expensive?

    One more way to hang you.

    1. The innocent have nothing to hide, and if you don’t want our selfless and dedicated public servants knowing what you’re up to, move to Somalia.

    2. Just one more reason to not buy a new car.

  2. So, Matt, what’s the story on Friday’s TI thread? We were worried you might be dead?

    1. Sorry, I was at Reason Weekend (interviewing John Stossel!), and could not/did not get it together. I will overcompensate this week….

      1. Nobody interviews Stossel. Stossel tells you what to write down, and you oblige.

        1. In Libertopia, the Stache interview you!

      2. Have I mentioned I like Stossel?

        1. Yes. But you never specified if platonic or not.

      3. Really, Welch? You could have simply blamed Bush. You didn’t have to lie.

      4. “Sorry, I was at Reason Weekend…”

        Ah, the annual Koch bros ‘Bohemian-Grove’ knock-off where the World Domination Agenda is refreshed, the quasi-trans-bi-sexual orgies are had, and Matt’s shirt-tie Subliminal Semaphore is reprogrammed to transmit a fresh batch of “undermine authority and buy Quilted Northern toilet paper”-signals.

        Boring.

        1. I actually wore the one Gilmore-approved outfit!

          1. And many compliments were received, no doubt.

      5. While my first thought on this is that we are wicked slave drivers, it must be gratifying to be missed. You must be doing something right.

  3. If you could put a date on when modern-day progressives fully re-inhabited the moral rigidity of their Progressive Era forebears, it might be September 24, 2012.

    It had been brewing for a while. The progressive puritans of the Pat-Robertson-in-Birkenstocks branch of feminism were very much in evidence at least as far back as the eighties. By circa 1990, when home HIV test kits became an issue, the LGBT rights movement cast aside its stated goals and joined forces with social conservatives for its revealed goal of reduced freedom as its own reward. But remember: It has always been those nasty Reaganites who want to deprive you of the right to make choices over your own body.

    1. Republicans are just democrats with bibles.

  4. The progressive betterment continues so long as there’s even one person eating a higher percentage of calories from animal protein than organic kale.

  5. Smoking pot is cool. Smoking cigarettes is genocide.

    Gay sex is cool. Hetero sex is 99% rape.

    Expressing yourself is cool. Expressing yourself, while drunk, is offensive.

    Learning about other cultures by eating their cuisine is cool. Unless that culture likes fried foods, meat, or flavor.

    Priuses are cool. Old Dodge Dart’s are killing Mother Gaia.

    As always, with Progressives, it’s principals not principles.

    1. Choice in the uterus is cool. Choice outside the outside the womb is a Teathuglican plot to enslave us to the KKKochorations.

      1. I’m hesitant to post this, because I don’t want to start an abortion thread hijack. But.

        Woman kills 7 of her own new born infants

        Now she’s up on 7 counts of murder. If she would have killed them right before they left the womb, it would have been a woman’s right to choose. Now it’s murder.

        Although, she looks wacked in that photo and I bet she gets off on a claim of some alphabet condition that she was suffering from.

        1. Oh, I’m not trying to start an abortion thread, fuck no, but that little tidbit of the highjacking of language has always bugged me the shit out of me.

          No, you’re not actually for choice, when in virtually every other area of life, you insist on proscription.

          1. I’ve had some very confusing conversations with people who really believe “choice” and “abortion” to be synonyms.

            1. I bet Venezuelans would love an average grocery store in America right about now. So much abortion!

          2. You read way too much into that, and missed my point.

            1. Hyperion, I think you missed JW’s point. He’s agreeing with you. And expanding on how to progressives, “choice” means “abortion”. Every other behavior or action is open for regulation/banning.

              1. Yes, I see. It’s the first sentence that threw me off. Because I really didn’t want to start another abortion thread. There is nothing good that ever comes out of that. It’s clear that abortion is one issue that libertarians are all not on the same page with.

              2. That’s true. They look completely befuddled if you say you’re pro-choice on schooling, for instance. Like, what do schools have to do with abortions?

                The language is a 1-way street: They want to make abortions sound better by using the word “choice” for it, to make you forget that it’s a about abortions and tie it to something you’d think of as good, i.e. choice. But at the same time, they want you to forget that choice is good! It’s like they want to somehow sever from anything else the goodness that is choice and transplant it to abortions.

                1. BTW, I’ve also noticed that “amnesty” now means “immigration”. When people stopped making that cx explicit, I had to stop & think for a while about which amnesties were being discussed. I remember amnesty for the draft dodgers, then an amnesty for illegal immigrants, figured the issue must’ve moved on from there…whoops, it’s up for another round. But I was thinking there might be amnesty re pot violations now. I guess not; you can have no more than 1 amnesty on the table of policy discussions at a time, because people are a little simple-minded & have short memories.

                  1. That’s actually a fascinating point about semantics. I wonder if you could run on a bureaucratic amnesty? Perhaps you could apply for Obamacare amnesty? I have long said that Democrats love regulation and hate enforcement. It could go a long way in making them shut up if you say, “OK, because it’s going to make us all so much better off, we’ll keep Obamacare (since you’ve already spent the money), but we’ll give blanket amnesty to anyone who opts out. This includes everyone: providers, states, doctors, entire insurance companies, and employers. We will simply not enforce the law. If you love it, by all means, voluntarily comply.

        2. You should really be able to abort them up to the age of five. I mean, how do you know what you’re getting until then?

          1. This is sort of the point I was trying to make. There are actually progs who are calling for things like that, and not in secret either.

            I was trying to point out the hypocrisy of the left, and was not even expressing my own views on the subject, at all. Although, some apparently decided on their own, that I was indeed expressing my own views.

            I don’t want to start an abortion thread, I really meant that.

            1. I don’t want to start an abortion thread, I really meant that.

              I would never throw gas on your abortion hijack fire. 😉

              The people that really need some federal reining in are those bastards who mutilate their kid’s penises.

              1. Can I sue my parents for that, now?

                1. Can I sue my parents for that, now?

                  You’re damn right you can. You were wronged lessened.

              2. You dirty bastard.

              3. You know you can regrow that shit if you want, right?

          2. “I don’t want to start an abortion thread hijack”

            With an article about infanticide? It’s only a hijack because infanticide is creepily close to certain versions of abortion.

            But I would think that unless a Jezzie or a NOW president comes here, being against abortions so late term that it’s hard to distinguish them from infanticide would not be controversial.

            1. There we go. Now we’re getting all the players in place.

              1. So near-infanticide abortions *are* controversial? I had thought this was an area of agreement with all but the wackiest choicers?

                1. They’re not controversial with me, because I’m not against infanticide. I’m against killing things only if someone who owns them minds their dying.

          3. More importantly, how do they know until “then” (actually probably a good deal earlier) what they’re getting into re life? Babies have no fear of death, because they make no plans for life, therefore killing them (if they’re yours) is a victimless crime, like killing other things that don’t have that awareness.

            1. Similarly, if someone distributes porn of them, and knowledge of that never gets back to them (so it never bothers them), that’s a victimless crime too.

              1. If you ever lose consciousness, however briefly, I hope somebody kills you, rapes the corpse, and makes a fortune selling the snuff tapes.

          4. As the mother of two pre-teens, I’d suggest you have no idea until they’re in their twenties…

        3. I’ve seen it as telling how my “liberal” friends don’t like to engage in arguments criticizing the left’s move away from liberalism when it comes to personal matters. I’ve made the case that they can’t be trusted with marijuana legalization because of how they treat e-cigs. One tried to tell me that Michael Bloomberg isn’t exactly progressive when I made a post about bans on giving food to the homeless.

          1. OK, but so what if they can’t be “trusted”? It’s not like you have any choice as to “whom to put in charge of marijuana legaliz’n”. If you’re going to get legaliz’n, you’re going to need their help, and if you need them more than they need you, chances are they’re going to wind up in charge. So why bring up “trust”?

          2. Isn’t it weird how their mentality leads to exactly the opposite of what they claim to want? My friend’s seven year old just got suspended for using the word “penis” at lunch. In the name of freedom of speech, they taught the seven year olds all about their bodies, but in the name of political correctness they told them they can’t use any of the new words they’ve learned (straight up, that’s what they told them “you can’t use these words outside of the classroom”). Who thinks you’re going to teach a seven year old about his penis and he’s not going to try and take that word for a drive (not to mention the body part in question)? Additionally, isn’t it somewhat better they use the word to do crazy stuff, like ask questions?

            1. “Ding-dong” would’ve been OK?

  6. These are puritan progressives and they will take the fun out of anything

    Because they can’t have any fun themselves. It’s impossible to have fun when you spend your entire life hating yourself and everyone else, and are constantly filled with envy of everyone and everything.

    Misery loves company.

    1. That doesn’t explain the plastic bags, though. Mr. Welch conflated some things.

      1. Plastic bags are products for the uneducated masses. All right thinking people use canvas bags with clever slogans when purchasing organic kale. It’s referenced here:

        And on page 76, Thaddeus Russell is back with a provocative essay (“‘That Kind of Luxe Just Ain’t for Us'”) about how progressive pop culture congratulates itself by sneering at the consumption choices of lower classes.

        1. But they’re not fun, unless you use them to collect & hold gases for huffing. So it’s not all about stifling fun.

          1. There’s plenty of time in a day for stifling fun AND convenience.

  7. They were the ones… taking up arms in the sexual revolution.

    So being fisted?

    1. Just a baby arm, holding an apple.

  8. The communist manifesto has trappings of conservative thought. The control of so-called vice so workers can be more focused and adaptable to corporate/state needs is a requisite of authority-based political philosophy.

    I can certainly appreciate the Progressive Puritan label. It is appropriate, but in some ways isn’t the Puritan really seeking the same outcome whether oriented as a progressive or conservative? The outcome which is to utilize centralized power to modify and force human behavior for application within broader utilitarian social purposes. Conservatives view corporate labor on a utilitarian paradigm in exactly the same way the socialist/communist views strategic labor allocation within state-designated production schemes.

    1. The difference between SoCons and Proglodytes, is that SoCons want to ban certain types of behavior that they don’t like, drugs, gay marriage, abortion and they don’t really care about other things. While Proglodytes want to allow certain types of behavior that they like, mostly gay marriage and abortion, and pretty much ban everything else.

      1. You give the Socons too much credit. They have just as much a ban-boner as the progs. The only difference, as you note, is the topic. They are not friends of liberty, in any way. The Socons want a highly regimented society as much as the progs do.

        A flaming, cleansing pox on both of their houses.

        1. I agree with you on this, actually, I was giving too much credit in that post.

          I’ve always wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt that they aren’t as bad as proggies, but a thread I was on a few weeks ago on another site, where the SoCons wanted to turn CO into a giant prison camp because they legalized weed, that made me a lot more critical of them than I have previously been.

          1. Oh no! Bo Cara is starting to rub off on you!

            1. Haha, not quite. I’m just still reeling from that ‘make CO a prison camp’ thread that I wasted an entire day of my life on. People were actually saying things like ‘If you go to Colorado, then you deserve to be harassed and arrested! And don’t let anyone leave the state!’.

              And that was so called conservatives that were ready to nuke CO if necessary to save us from the devil’s weed. Most of the brain dead progs were actually on my side of the fight.

          2. Although, reading the post by Calvin Coolidge below, once again reminds me that what makes proggies possibly worse than SoCons is their total faith in big government.

            1. Except that the socons don’t even have that. At best, their faith in markets is vestigial and referential, applying to only those instances they approve of and even then, with the wise guiding hand Top Elders.

              Looking at the behavior and demands of the socon gliteratti over the past 30 years, even working along side them for a time, makes me wonder how they would be any more desirable than the progoldytes. Both would happily march their enemies off into the camps.

              1. Maybe they’ll join forces once again, like they did before and during prohibition. Then they can make everything illegal. Oh wait … everything already is illegal, unless you’re a senator or top level bureaucrat.

              2. “Both would happily march their enemies off into the camps.”

                Labeled ‘freedoms’ tend to foster this it seems. Remove the label and just focus on freedom in its purest essence and the progs and socons lose their way immediately- because freedom to these cretans can never be derived from an individualistic state. Freedom is a state-based concept. Without collective approval and disapproval normalcy cannot be established. And without normalcy a socon or prog cannot justify marching people off to the camps.

                I hate to bring up the most successful at sending people to the camps but on the far edge of the spectrum the Nazis were brilliant at establishing social normalcy in the midst of social purge.

                1. without normalcy a socon or prog cannot justify marching people off to the camps.

                  You mean they *can* justify it, correct?

                  The normalcy was only the nominal cover and justification for their crimes as “the will of the people.” The Volk was central to their announced intentions.

                  1. You just stated it differently. Without normalcy some forms of atrocity cannot be justified. No normalcy, no justification.

            2. Remember when “you can’t tax and spend your way to prosperity” was considered a straw man argument? Now, it is Progressive dogma. People who barely remember Econ 101 and the IS-LM models now take it as a matter of established fact that “government deficit spending makes the economy grow!”.

              So-Cons are much more focused on using social pressure, backup up by government fiat as needed, to make people comply with their morality. Progs won’t even admit they are on a moral crusade, it is all “you can’t act that way, it is costing the government money! And government is just all of us, working together, to make sure everybody stays in line!”

      2. I disagree that the proglodytes want to allow certain behavior. They want to regulate certain behavior. IE: you can have gay marriage, as long as you do it through our regulated methodology and we give you permission. Aren’t we open minded? You can have drugs, as long as you purchase them from a legally regulated facility that meets our strict quality controlled standards. Aren’t we cool?

        1. exactly true.

          they have a bleeding edge of progressivism where choice is all the rage. once an issue falls off the bleeding edge, rapacious statism starts gouging massive hunks of flesh from the livestock.

          my choice my body will be a ‘extreme right’ position if they keep on winning the culture war.

          they aren’t about choice and never have been. choice is the bait.

    2. “Conservatives view corporate labor on a utilitarian paradigm in exactly the same way the socialist/communist views strategic labor allocation within state-designated production schemes.”

      Um, could you clarify this?

      1. In one word: China

  9. I kinda like that the progs are moving south on the Nolan chart and the righties are moving north. Eliminates the gray areas.

  10. With their resurgence, Progressives are now confronting the inevitable dilemma of maintaining their facade of compassion for all humanity while at the same time exploting the fruits of their power. They are arrogant enough to let go of the mask and revel in their ability to force you to comply with their wishes. “Well, ACA is the law now, so SUCK IT and get used to it!”. “If you are white, and over 30, we don’t care what you think, you are subhuman scum who must be forced into line!”

    The arrogance is backed up by an unwavering belief that demographic trends mean the future electorate will be composed of a majority of blacks and hispanics who all vote in lockstep for bigger government.

    Ultimately, this arrogance is always what dooms them and sends them back to the coffee houses to mutter about how it isn’t fair that their neighbor has a new car while they can’t even find a job that is high-paying, personally rewarding, and will understand when they start complaining about the hours and the boss who tells them to do things that they don’t feel like doing.

    1. The arrogance is backed up by an unwavering belief that demographic trends mean the future electorate will be composed of a majority of blacks and hispanics who all vote in lockstep for bigger government.

      with white progs in charge, of course, because diversity.

    2. “while they can’t even find a job that is high-paying”

      Quite a few upper middle-class types and millionaires are Democrats who are very comfortable being told what to do.

      On another note, as an Atheist Libertarian I despise bosses and over-work. Conflating boss irritation and laziness with progressives is a premature. Many a successful invention was created purely out of a desire to avoid being bossed and to work less.

      1. True, there is a White Guilt wing of the Progressive party that tends to hold the leadership positions. After all, diversity doesn’t mean different views, it means a whole nation of people of all races and creeds moving in lockstep toward whatever goals their masters set for them.

        Irritation and laziness are universal, but I’m always forced to roll my eyes when I read Progressive web sites and see the way they complain about their own jobs. On the second day, they start a campaign to restrict their boss’ ability to manage their employees, and then they wonder why they end up being one of the first people laid off, or being stuck in the same job for years.

        1. Progressive DO want to be bossed- just not by Capitalists.

          1. Close. They want to be bossed by Crony Capitalists, not those nasty anarchist free market types.

            1. The term ‘Capitalism’ is short for ‘Crony-Capitalism’. 😉

              1. Or should be…

          2. They don’t want to be bossed, they want to be the bosses. And, of course, pointing out that corporate cronyism only works when government and industry collude to generate and distribute rents based on their ability to regulate and subsidize only leads to a blank stare. “But, that is just because the Wrong People are in charge! Once we have one-party rule by dispassionate solons, government will finally work the way it should!”

        2. Heh, and the greed thing. I think it’s adorable they way they blame every evil on greed, as though bureaucrats are issued a special neurotoxin that makes them exempt from greed and laziness.

      2. I am inclined to believe that all human material progress is attributable to creative laziness.

        1. I concur. Even if the energy poured into said endeavor was initially exhausting the result is typically to find a route less taxing and more independent.

  11. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold

    A very simple mathematical formula can express this:

    X where the value is old boss = Y where the value is new boss.

  12. You’re a little late to the game.

    It might also be worth pointing out that in most essential ways, “Puritan” is just as applicable to Cosmotarians as it is to Progressives.

  13. OK, now that sounds like some pretty serious biddness to me.

    http://www.GotsDatAnon.tk

  14. Thomas Frank offered up … The dick joke is not always your friend.

    Hey, Frank! The joke’s in your column.

    1. Hey, Frank! The joke’s in your column.

      Hey….let’s be fair here….his books are a joke too.

      1. I think you misspelled colon.

  15. The article conflates nonviolent “Puritanism” like boycotts and “scolding” with coercive measure like arresting or fining e-cig smokers.

    Some of the article seems phrased in such a way that it sounds like anyone who objects to sex ads or drunkenness is some kind of tyrant because they *ought not* to be against such things. But in a regime of legalized vice, boycotts and shaming become more, not less important, since these will be the only means left to deal with those things which are legally permitted but socially dubious.

    By the say, can we not retire the term “social liberal,” or at least reverse the meaning to mean people who want to regulate personal behavior for left-wing reasons?

    1. can we *now* retire…

    2. “The article conflates nonviolent “Puritanism” like boycotts and “scolding” with coercive measure like arresting or fining e-cig smokers.”

      Bingo.

      1. Why would a socialist make such distinctions?

      2. The danger is really in the middle ground between voluntary boycotts and simply making certain behavior illegal. “Nudging” is the new preference of the nanny state. Just make the vice more expensive or inconvenient. Restrict alcohol sales to specific stores, and impose prohibitive taxes. Ban soda cups of over a certain size.

        The notion of the government intentionally inconveniencing you in order to encourage you to behave in a manner that the State approves of is the new frontier in Progressive governance.

    3. Notorious G.K.C.:

      Some of the article seems phrased in such a way that it sounds like anyone who objects to sex ads or drunkenness is some kind of tyrant because they *ought not* to be against such things.

      I didn’t take it that way:

      New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn’t exist in 2003.

      That’s not people honestly objecting to sex ads. That’s a journalist engaging in a smear campaign that fails under the slightest fact-checking scrutiny. At that point, it sounds pretty close to committing libel in order to advance an agenda, and I don’t think that qualifies as honest boycotting and shaming.

      It’s not that people “ought” to be OK with sex ads, but they shouldn’t engage in defamation in order to achieve whatever goal they deem worthy of any course of action.

  16. Seems to me that the leftards did the jargon shift as a reaction to the failure of the Soviets. Their favorite empire had just been overthrown by an actual worker’s uprising, and they felt like they needed to shed their skins in a hurry.

    Man, can you imagine a commie rat bastard like Pete Seegar showing his face at the shipyard in Gdansk?

    -jcr

    1. “Man, can you imagine a commie rat bastard like Pete Seegar showing his face at the shipyard in Gdansk?”

      If that happened, I’d call the Ghostbusters.

      1. Well, obviously I’m talking about the days when Solidarity was in the process of overthrowing their Soviet colonial regime. “Yeah, sing a song about the plight of the working man, you Harvard sissy!”

        -jcr

        1. I was yanking your chain.

  17. just so we’re clear… i support the right for “libertarians” to blow their heads off with automatic rifles and get type-2 diabetes from their Big Ass Soda. Can we be friends now?

    matt, if i applied the level of stereotyping of “progressives” from articles written by nicolas kristof i’d conclude that you were a moralizing, neocon who wants to spend a trillion dollars on the military based upon your articles in right-wing journals.

    matt, is it now required to condemn Thomas Frank in all published Reason pieces now or just 90% of them? he must be hitting a nerve with the Kochs.

    1. One thing Progressives and Social Conservatives share is a preference for stating their policy preferences as moral crusades. At least the SoCons admit it is a religious crusade. Progressives throw around all kinds of appropriated Christian rhetoric about rich people being evil, the meek being deserving, compassion toward everyone (unless they are white, or male, or not an American), and society being judged based on how it treats the “most vulnerable”.

      To me, people who have the most powerful military in the history of the world backing their ability to take other people’s money and spend it themselves are not the “most vulnerable” ones, except to the extent that they are vulnerable to the government moving on to giving preferences to a different group.

      And when I think of history’s great civilizations – Rome, Athens, Egypt, America – I usually think of what they accomplished rather than what kind of welfare benefits they paid out.

      1. One thing Progressives and Social Conservatives share is a preference for stating their policy preferences as moral crusades.

        That’s because they both are descendants of the Puritans, and keep the Puritan’s conceit that people can be forced by the state to be “better” than if they were free.

        Harvard started out as a Puritan bible-thumping academy, like the Bob Jones University of its day. It has ALWAYS taught its students that they were entitled to tell other people what to do.

        Look at the first two great Progressive campaigns after Lincoln’s great land-grab: the attempted genocide of the plains indians, and the crusade against the Irish, Polacks and Italians that they called the “temperance movement”.

        -jcr

    2. Don’t you have the masses somewhere to go murder to bring about your magnificent utopia?

      1. He’s taking a break from rounding up the wreckers and saboteurs into cattle cars headed for the camps. It’s hard work, you know. /sarc

        1. somebody has got to show these bankers the inside of a prison door

          1. When you get started, let me know.

    3. “if i applied the level of stereotyping of “progressives” from articles written by nicolas kristof i’d conclude that you were a moralizing, neocon who wants to spend a trillion dollars on the military based upon your articles in right-wing journals. “

      This is laughable on at least 2 or 3 dimensions.

      1) Progressives ALREADY stereotype libertarians as CORPORATION-OWNED RACIST SELFISH GUN-CRAZY PLUTOCRATIC HATEMONGERS WHO PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT ‘LIBERTY’ BUT WANT TO ENSLAVE THE POOR AND DRAIN THE BLOOD OF THE PLANET

      …and you’re pretending *they’re* the objective and reasonable ones.

      By contrast = every single “libertarian scold of progressives” is based on their *actual* actions and statements. Is there something mentioned in this article progressives DO NOT ACTUALLY SUPPORT? What you object to is not any MIScharacterization of progressives; you object to the UNFAVORABLY ACCURATE characterization of progressives. You simply want their bullshit to be presented in its most ‘charitable light’.

      and
      2)”A Neocon who wants to spend a trillon dollars on the military”…

      …That would indeed be a progressive-worthy (Bo Cara Esq-level) re-interpretations of reality… given that Matt specifically writes about *Cutting the military budget* (see last independents interview w/ Mike Lee) and is a determined Non-Interventionist (to a fault, I’d even say).

      so, no = your false equivalence is false.

    4. “i support the right for “libertarians” to blow their heads off with automatic rifles” Implying socialists wouldn’t cheerfully do that for us… only I’m not sure there are 100million libertarians so you’ll have to find some other reactionaries to lump in with us.

  18. Once the progs ban prostitution, they will then ban E-prostitution.

  19. I was waiting my turn at my doctor’s office today and observed a man arguing with the receptionist. He worked for the subway transit (and is no doubt unionized and probably thinks left). He didn’t win his argument of course as he walked away but it made me realize that these people would rather deal and be told ‘no’ with the bureaucracy because there’s no incentive motive (hence, no greed ready to screw them over) rather than ever deal with a private option because greed and profits.

    1. Sorry for the run-on.

  20. i laughed out loud rereading the article and the totally awesome segue between child prostitution and e-cigerette use. yeah, matt, same-same. Really.

    i’m radically libertarian on issues of personal liberty so i don’t want the government involved in either of those issues. but… i’m perfectly fine with a journalist who condemns child prostitution and advocates shunning a periodical because it indulges in such things. the problem with the article is it conflates a campaign by private individuals to stop a morally repugnant activity with government sanction– two completely and utterly different things.

    1. i’m radically libertarian on issues of personal liberty

      Bullshit.

      -jcr

    2. i laughed out loud rereading the article and the totally awesome segue between child prostitution and e-cigerette use.

      It’s especially funny since the word “child” never actually appears anywhere in the article as a modifier for “prostitution” – and didn’t in the original piece either.

      1. “…New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn’t exist in 2003. “Paradoxically, Village Voice began as an alternative newspaper to speak truth to power. So it’s sad to see it accept business from pimps in the greediest and most depraved kind of exploitation.”

        (boring and meaningless paragraph)

        Take e-cigarettes…”

        hilarious. these reason writers deserve a frackin Pullitzer.

        1. or is it a howitzer? i get those things confused sometimes.

          1. What fabulous word play. Pullitzer (sic). Howitzer. And it rhymes.

            Now that’s comedy.

    3. American socialist:

      i laughed out loud rereading the article and the totally awesome segue between child prostitution false, trumped up allegations of child prostitution as part of a smear campaign and e-cigerette use.

      FIFY.

      i’m perfectly fine with a journalist who condemns child prostitution and advocates shunning a periodical because it indulges in such things.

      Great. Are you totally fine with a journalist who makes it up and is off by ten years such that the condemnation can’t possibly be accurate? Personally, I’m not totally fine with smear campaigns.

      I admit, though, that a smear campaign and an outright government sanction are two completely different things. They both suck, however, despite their differences.

  21. Thaddeus Russell is back with a provocative essay (“‘That Kind of Luxe Just Ain’t for Us'”) about how progressive pop culture congratulates itself by sneering at the consumption choices of lower classes.

    Ironically, Lorde got roasted by American progressives for racism, because a song castigating consumerism could only possibly be targeted at blinged out rap stars, who are, natch, universally black.

    No, seriously

  22. I don’t think ranking SoCons and Progressives by their penchant for using the state to enforce behavior this way is all that instructive. When SoCons had the numbers to force things at the ballot box, they did so. And when Progs didn’t have the numbers, many did advocate violent and nonviolent end runs around the ballot box. Now the Progs have the numbers, and surprisingly, they are not squeamish about using that power at all. And the SoCons have discovered limited government principles to use in arguments for why the Progs shouldn’t force their righteousness down the SoCon’s throats.

    It seems like the natural distribution of humans in every population produces a large plurality of people who are so compelled to enforce their standards of behavior on others. Some governments just enable those tendencies to a greater or lesser effect.

  23. It has always been those nasty Reaganites who want to deprive you of the right to make choices over your own body.

  24. 90s progressives were good on issues the New Democrats

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