Libertarianism

Damon Linker Still Doesn't Seem to Know What a Libertarian Is

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If I judge these cuff links as tacky, am I no longer a libertarian?
Credit: Oberazzi / photo on flickr

In July, Damon Linker over at The Week wrote a piece claiming that "libertarian dogma" is ruining liberals based on some weird idea that libertarian influences on the left were somehow resulting in the left wanting bigger government and restricting freedom. It didn't make a whole lot of sense and Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown explained the many ways he didn't know what he was talking about.

This week, Linker has written two more pieces at The Week about how America is, indeed, having a "libertarian moment." No, this is not in response to the outrage this week as the public realized the consequences of the militarization of the police force as it played out in Ferguson, Missouri, something libertarians have been warning about for years.

No, Linker, still not quite understanding what a libertarian actually is, argues that our libertarian moment is entirely a transformation of morality and culture, not politics or economic policy. He is arguing that libertarianism is simply about being non-judgmental hippies, man. From Wednesday:

Americans now inhabit a world in which increasing numbers of individuals find it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine submitting to rule by any authority higher than themselves on moral and religious matters. Sure, people continue to accept that one will be judged harshly and punished for violating another individual's consent (the only libertarian moral consideration). But beyond that? Don't be ridiculous.

Who are you — who is anyone — to judge my behavior?

That's the rhetorical question we increasingly pose to ourselves, our family members, our neighbors, our church leaders, and our fellow citizens as a way to put a stop to any conversation that threatens to veer into moral evaluation and condemnation.

Consider the phenomenon of Miriam Weeks (Belle Knox), the Duke University undergrad who's become a breakout celebrity (and something of a libertarian folk hero) for proudly admitting that she works as a porn actress to pay for her education.

Pornography is obviously nothing new. But what is new — aside from its easy and costless availability online in effectively infinite quantities and varieties — is the claim that we shouldn't judge Weeks' decision to earn a living by having sex for money and in public, which is often the subtext behind discussion of her job choice. At least when the discussion isn't explicitly framed to make her look like a saint for "empowering women and sex workers."

In our libertarian paradise, moral judgments are perfectly acceptable, as long as they praise and never blame.

Libertarianism is a philosophy based on what power the government does and does not possess or should or should not possess. It is not a philosophy about how we, as individuals, judge each other's choices. It is about the manifestation of government authority over the individual's choices. It does not mean individual choices are correct (whatever that might mean). It does not mean individual choices cannot be judged as terrible by individuals (or groups of individuals).

Then today he thinks he hit on something in his further musings about Belle Knox by going around asking people how they'd feel if their daughter started working in porn. Unsurprisingly, most people are opposed to their daughters working in porn. He wants to try to pull together what he sees as a contradiction. He states:

One reason could be that we don't want to be ruled by any higher authority. That's what makes us libertarians (albeit superficial ones). We want to be free not just from political tyranny but from the rule of external moral standards, which can feel tyrannical in their own way — ruling us, as it were, from inside our own heads. The libertarian urge to overthrow this tyranny is what leads more and more of us to seek escape from traditional constraints as well as the vertical moral judgments that can leave us feeling low, base, and degraded. It seems easier and more pleasant to pretend that the very distinction between high and low is an illusion, even if our own thinking and convictions demonstrate that we secretly believe otherwise.

None of this has anything to do with libertarian philosophy and not wanting to be ruled by a higher authority is actually the least superficial component of being a libertarian. He concludes:

None of this should be taken to mean that I favor banning porn or making it illegal to work in the industry that produces it. In the end, I'm a libertarian, too.

But only in politics. Not in morals.

You're probably actually not a libertarian, but "only in politics" is the part that matters to us. There are extremely religious libertarians (who would object to your claim that they don't want to be ruled by any higher authority) and there are extremely atheistic libertarians who each cast their judgments on the moral choices of others. What they have in common is the "only in politics" belief that the government should not be forcing their moral choices on others.  

Brown has been writing this week over at Andrew Sullivan's blog. She has her own response to Linker here.

NEXT: Sen. Wyden Calls for Surveillance Policy Shift

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  1. I certainly agree that there is nothing in *libertarianism* as a philosophy which rules out submitting to voluntary organizations and voluntary hierarchies, or passing judgment on porn stars, etc.

    There are, however a lot of *libertarians* who just happen to adopt the ideology of non-judgmentalism – at least on sexual matters. There’s this libertarian TV program on Fox – I think it’s called The Independents – where they had Belle Knox as a guest to discuss her libertarianism – they could have interviewed some engineering major about his freedom philosophy, but they got porn-girl, bless her heart, instead.

    So while I don’t know much about this Linker fellow, I could see how someone in his position might be confused.

    1. “passing judgment on porn stars”

      I should say “passing judgment on sex work,” a key distinction.

    2. Libertarians tend to be rational enough to know that there’s nothing especially wrong with what Belle’s doing.

      1. But Shackford’s article says libertarians are totally *not* about being cool with porn stars.

        1. Well, to be fair, he IS an idiot.

        2. Well there is the Ron/Rand Paul/Mises more culturally conservative libertarians and then the cosmo/libertine/Reason more culturally liberal libertarians, but the distinction doesn’t matter and there is plenty of overlap because we all recognize government as the problem.

          1. Sure, but from the comments of some of the don’t-dare-call-us-cosmos we can see how the impression could be conveyed to the outside world.

            1. Your points are accurate — this board is filled with jeering relativism about all things upon which one might pass a traditional judgment — and I think his point about the religiosity of one’s own political beliefs in the absence of a general adherence to monotheism is not exactly a bad one. I’d just say that it’s more than libertarians that do this. It’s liberals, conservatives, it’s everyone. Even more ironically, some of the top conservatives that most ardently lament and lamented the loss of religious worship in our private lives, and the political implications thereof, are and were non-practictioners and agnostics, e.g., George Will, Irving Kristol, etc. So before one jumps the gun on either the personal becoming political because of libertarianism (! — wasn’t that feminism in the seventies?) he ought to go back and reexamine a bit. I think he might look to the Beats, the sixties, and libertinism more than Von Mises or Rand or Hayek and libertarianism.

        3. Shackford says you can not want your daughter to do porn and still be a libertarian. You are misrepresenting his statement.

        4. Hierarchies need not all be voluntary to be compliant with the NAP. You were born, you didn’t choose your parents, yet there is a clear and biologically necessary hierarchy in that relationship. In terms of who gets to make decisions with your body or your family or your property, is everyone in the world equal in that regard? That would be absurd.

          You can even collect a few bigotries but still remain philosophically compliant with the non-aggression principle. Sure we’re fairly tolerant of porn stars some of us, but I know plenty of libertarians who might condemn their actions and morality without proposing that violence be used against them.

        5. Correlation is not causation.

          That’s really all that needs to be said in response to your argument.

      2. While I don’t have a problem with it, I don’t think there’s anything unlibertarian, per se, about thinking there’s something wrong with what she’s doing. The only unlibertarian thing would be thinking the power of the state should be invoked to stop her.

    3. Libertarians can be as judgmental as anyone.

      Where we depart is what we think we should *do* about something that we judge harshly.

  2. Well, look for more of this in the coming weeks and months. This is the prelude to the “debate” stage. They’ve been laughing at us for some time. They can no longer ignore us. But they are not ready to debate us so they are, often deliberately, mischaracterizing libertarian positions in hopes that libertarians will go away.

    1. “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

      –Carl Sagan

      1. I wasn’t laughing at Bozo the clown; I was afraid afraid he’d drag me down into his subterranean lair.

        1. Tim Curry made me afraid of clowns.

          1. That’s what I was alluding to.

          2. Tim Curry made me afraid of Tim Curry.

      2. Bozo the Clown was a genius. He’s the first clown to become an international brand.

        -jcr

        1. “You’ve never heard of BOZO THE CLOWN? How can you never have heard of Bozo?”

          -Costanza to (I think) Jon Favreau in what had to be among his earliest gigs.

  3. There is a libertarian morality. Actually I find it much more strict and libertarians much more faithful to it (the NAP) than whatever the hell the liberals think they have. Utilitarianism is a reasoning method, not a morality.

    And as an aside ENB’s takedown of this was much more of an ass-ramming, no offense Shackford. Quit being a nice hippie.

      1. Scott, you sound fat.

        1. We prefer the term “jessie-esque”

      2. It’s only as part of a loving critique intended to foster your personal development. And because ENB complains on Twitter when we’re mean.

        1. But I also tweet comments that I think are awesome!

        2. “And because ENB complains on Twitter when we’re mean.”

          Wait, seriously? That’s pathetic.

    1. “Quit being a nice hippie.”

      Ooooh. That’s COLD!

  4. It’s 2014, for god’s sake. How can a person — who writes for a living — not know what a libertarian is?

    1. Because they don’t discuss libertarians in journalism school. They apparently discuss which privileges “the press” has that ordinary people don’t, and why they are so much more important than normal people.

      1. I was outside the ASU journalism school collecting signatures for a referendum. One of the little twerps actually told me, “oh, I can’t sign that. I’m a reporter.” First of all, the teenage punk was a journalism major rather than a bona fide reporter. Second, who cares? Media neutrality is a pernicious myth.

    2. All they hear about Libertarians in the leftard echo chamber is that we want to give heroin and guns to four year olds and slaughter welfare and social security recipients to feed the lions on the Koch brother’s private game reserve.

      -jcr

      1. Oh, and we’re racists if we don’t approve of the current teleprompter in chief.

        -jcr

    3. A lot of people who understand perfectly well what a libertarian is portray libertarians inaccurately. It is deliberate. They don’t want other people to become libertarians.

  5. His disconnect is the same as most people when it comes to not understanding libertarianism. Most people, if they don’t like something personally, WANT to see it banned. They can’t comprehend the fact that other people may feel differently.

    I know libertarians are supposed to lack empathy or whatever those dumb studies show, but in my experience libertarians are acutely aware that their own preferences, beliefs or opinions are not necessarily the same as others, and therefore they don’t feel the compulsion to demand that the laws of the country reflect those preferences.

    1. Yeah, along those lines…

      Can you imagine a world where rape and murder are only wrong because a majority of voters support politicians who frown on those things? Libertarians shudder to think of such a morally bankrupt world, and shudder to think that so many Americans think that’s the way things should be.

      Do they really mean to suggest that things like rape are only wrong because politicians say so?

      How can there be any legitimate system of ethics that doesn’t respect the right of people to make choices for themselves–to at least some degree?

      If rape isn’t wrong because the victim’s right to make choices for himself or herself was violated–then why is it wrong? And wouldn’t it still be wrong even if the politicians said otherwise?

      I really don’t understand this criticism of volition as the ultimate moral guide.

      No, rapists can’t make qualitative judgements for their victims. And, for goodness’ sake, that’s why raping your date is wrong. That’s why impose other qualitative judgements on other people by way of the coercive and, sometimes, violent power of government is wrong, too.

      1. I think this is a straw man. I’m not aware of anyone in the mainstream that claims all morality is determined by democratic vote. Even Tony doesn’t say that. He believes “rights” (as he views them, which is different than how you and I view them) are legal constructs subject to whatever government is in power. But he even would say rape is wrong, regardless of the democratic opinion on the matter. At least I think he would.

        1. “I’m not aware of anyone in the mainstream that claims all morality is determined by democratic vote.”

          I’d agree that moral cripples such as Tony do not derive ALL moral judgements from the government, but the ones they do (such as the immorality of avoiding taxes) are enough to demonstrate a lack of personal judgement.

        2. Tony maintains that Rosa Parks didn’t have the right to sit in the front of a public bus–because the government didn’t say they did.

          Tony maintains that Jewish people didn’t have a right to their lives during the holocaust–because the government didn’t say they did.

          Tony says that believing in rights apart from what the government gives us is like believing in magic.

          Tony doesn’t deny any of this.

          Now, what were you saying?

          1. I’ve had the same debates with Tony that you have. I’m fairly certain that he believes discrimination and murder are wrong. But he doesn’t base that on anyone’s “rights” being violated, because he doesn’t believe in a concept of rights that can form the basis of any morality. He has said plainly that he doesn’t believe in rights at all in the way that libertarians understand the word. He really shouldn’t even use the word, because it just muddles the debates wit him.

            1. He really shouldn’t even use the word, because it just muddles the debates wit him.

              His idea of government is, “I don’t care how big or intrusive it is as long as it never inconveniences my life in any way.” He calls himself a utilitarian, but he’s ultimately a solipsist.

            2. “But he doesn’t base that on anyone’s “rights” being violated, because he doesn’t believe in a concept of rights that can form the basis of any morality.”

              I think you may be putting the cart before the horse, here.

              Tony decided to try to throw a monkey wrench in a libertarian website, so he came here insisting that individual rights don’t exist–and the rest of it just bullshit he makes up along the way to support that.

              Tony doesn’t have a theory of morality that independent of rights. He’s just making it up as he goes along–and he has a room temperature IQ.

              Tony isn’t even good for batting practice–if you’re going to be going up against the unthinking masses. …because the unthinking masses aren’t singularly devoted to the non-existence of individual rights the way Tony is.

              The weird ideas Tony has to cling to give it all away. Tony will pretend that practical observations from the real world are just theories–rather than admit that individual rights exist. Tony will insist that Jews didn’t have a right to their lives during the holocaust–rather than admit that individual rights exist.

              Tony will simply deny any argument, no matter how solid, if it suggests that individual rights exist. That’s Tony’s only theory. He will say anything, anything, cite anything, all of self-contradictory and or without any substantiation at all–to insist that individual rights don’t exist.

        3. “I’m not aware of anyone in the mainstream that claims all morality is determined by democratic vote.”

          I was making a counter argument to the suggestion that our ethics would be consent driven–rather than leaning on some other justification.

          Let’s go to the text:

          “Americans now inhabit a world in which increasing numbers of individuals find it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine submitting to rule by any authority higher than themselves on moral and religious matters. Sure, people continue to accept that one will be judged harshly and punished for violating another individual’s consent (the only libertarian moral consideration). But beyond that? Don’t be ridiculous.”

          What’s wrong with faulting people by the fact that they’ve violated someone else’s right to “consent”–apart from any other claim to moral authority?

          Isn’t that the question he’s putting on the table?

          Well, I’m answering it–in the affirmative.

          I’m saying that if you have violated someone else’s right to consent–without, beyond, or in spite of any other claim to moral authority be it from the consent of the governed by way of democracy, by way of the church, or any other moral authority–if you have violated someone else’s right to consent, chances are you have done something ethically wrong.

          1. I got the impression that he was just bemoaning that the straw men libertarians in his head believe that something *can’t* be immoral as long as it is consensual. That, aside from issues of consent, libertarians are moral relativists because they don’t believe anyone can judge them or that they can judge anyone else. Whereas he would prefer that people adopt morals based on things that go beyond consent, which presumably would include traditional values and consideration of whether someone’s actions harm themselves or others, even if they have consent. And he wants people to be more willing to stand in judgement over others.

            Like I said, he’s fighting the libertarians in his head, not the ones that exist in reality.

            1. “Whereas he would prefer that people adopt morals based on things that go beyond consent, which presumably would include traditional values and consideration of whether someone’s actions harm themselves or others, even if they have consent.”

              For what it’s worth, our legal system has evolved to put a very high value on consent. It’s not like libertarians have come up with something new. Some of this stuff has deep roots in common law.

              You’re not supposed to be able to convict people of certain crimes unless you can prove “mens rea”, which basically means that the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant committed the crime on purpose. To convict someone of a crime, you have to prove that the defendant chose to commit the crime. This consent idea is nothing new.

              In fact, if you can prove that you had no choice in the matter, by way of the law, you can get away with killing somebody! A self-defense plea is basically a claim that you didn’t have any choice–if you hadn’t killed the victim, he would have killed you. Again, it’s all about consent. If you didn’t have a choice, then you didn’t consent to commit the crime–and you’re not guilty.

              Fraud is getting people to consent to things under false pretenses.

              Statutory rape is doing things with people that aren’t old enough to consent.

              Contracts are valid because both of the parties consent.

              Those are just examples off the top of my head.

              1. If you want to find a tradition in law that doesn’t give weight to consent, you’re going to have to go way back before English common law–and back to before Roman law, too. If he’s looking for a tradition that doesn’t give a heavy weight to consent, he’s chasing a dream that never happened.

                We libertarians didn’t make this consent stuff up. It’s the natural order of things, and it’s been the foundation of our legal system for a long, long time.

                1. Linker isn’t saying consent is immaterial, he is saying that when making moral judgements, consent isn’t the only consideration. Take his example of porn. All the parties have consented, maybe even enthusiastically, but he still views it as being morally wrong. I don’t know anything about him, so I don’t know why. It’s probably a fair bet, though, that it is tied to a traditional Christian view of sex. I suspect he would also judge harshly drug dealers, tobacco companies, and casinos, since they all deal in things that can bring people misery, even though all parties consented. He things libertarians are unwilling to make those judgements.

                  1. “Linker isn’t saying consent is immaterial, he is saying that when making moral judgements, consent isn’t the only consideration.”

                    Right, and he’s saying that libertarians think that consent is the primary, mandatory, principled consideration–and I’m saying he’s right!

                    He’s absolutely right about consent being the axis on which libertarian morality spins. And I’m arguing that this is exactly the way it should be.

                    I’m further arguing that the traditional moral authorities outside of our damn libertarian consent, likewise, have consent sitting there as the axis of their moral universe. I’ve already given examples from common law; I’d argue the same thing about Christian morality–although it wasn’t applied by the Catholic Church.

                    A person’s choice, however, is central to Christian morality. Christians believe God judges us based on the choices we’ve made. Even those who believe in original sin believe they’re going to punished for what they themselves have done also. Even those who believe in righteousness by faith believe that that if faith delivers them from unrighteousness–that unrighteousness is the result of the choices they’ve made in the past. Isn’t the idea that Jesus died for us, so that you can make a choice for yourself to “not perish but have everlasting life” fundamentally central to Christianity?

                    1. I want to see these outside traditions we’re not considering that don’t feature consent prominently at their centers. Any such “moral” system would necessarily have to be authoritarian. Let’s see him own up to that–if he wants to. I suspect he’s simply misappropriated systems that feature consent centrally like libertarians do–it’s just that libertarians crow about it.

                    2. Right, and he’s saying that libertarians think that consent is the primary, mandatory, principled consideration–and I’m saying he’s right!

                      Maybe I misunderstood your argument then. FWIW, I agree with you that libertarianism is concerned primarily, maybe exclusively, with consent. Linker’s fault is in believing that nothing can exist beyond libeteriainism for someone that calls themselves a libertarian.

                      As for the rest of your post, there absolutely are acts that are judged as wrong despite being totally consensual. Sex outside of marriage is one, even if both parties are single, consenting adults. Greed is viewed as immoral in and of itself, even if it doesn’t lead you to hurt anyone else in pursuit of wealth. Skipping out of church is generally viewed as a minor sin, and that doesn’t involve anyone but you. In the Christian tradition, alienating oneself from God is a major part of what defines sin. A free choice is important when determining culpability, but there are plenty of examples of the underlying act being viewed as wrong, regardless of consent.

        4. I believe he has quite correctly put his finger on the very heart of libertarian morality.

          And I’m defending that conception of morality by contrasting it with appeals to some outside authority–with the consent of the government by way of democracy being the best of them, in my opinion.

          And the fact is that violating someone’s right to choose whom they want to marry, or to choose to own a gun, or any one of dozens of other rights does not rest on the approval of the government–regardless of whether those politicians were popularly elected.

          If they repealed the Second Amendment tomorrow, I would still have a right to own a gun anyway, and depriving me of that right would still be immoral–from a libertarian perspective.

        5. “….all morality is determined by democratic vote. Even Tony doesn’t say that. He believes “rights” (as he views them, which is different than how you and I view them) are legal constructs subject to whatever government is in power. But he even would say rape is wrong, regardless of the democratic opinion on the matter.”

          And he is totally unaware of the contradiction there.

          1. I don’t think he’s unaware of it. Rather, he would say there is no contradiction, because he is coming at this from a totally different direction. He bases his moral code, such as it is, on something completely different than the concept of individual rights. He has to, because the word “rights” has a different meaning to him. Tony is a self-proclaimed utilitarian. I’m still not certain what value he is trying to maximize. I’m not sure there is one consistent one, even in theory. But his view on things doesn’t arise from an inability to understand what we are saying.

            1. “But his view on things doesn’t arise from an inability to understand what we are saying.”

              It’s not just that he wants to ignore ethical rights–he doesn’t believe in legal rights either!

              …certainly not insofar as they exist apart from the ability of the majority to vote them out of existence.

              And let’s be clear what we’re talking about when we talk about rights. We’re talking about the ability to make a choice for ourselves, aren’t we?

              When I say I have a right to free speech, it means that I get to choose what I say–not some politician or the government.

              When I say I have the right to own a gun, I’m saying that I have the right to choose for myself.

              Property rights are my ability to make choices about how that property is used.

              Rights are people making choices–if Tony doesn’t believe in them, it isn’t just an intellectual disagreement. It’s a moral failures; or, rather, it’s a stubborn refusal to behave morally in regards to other people and their right to make choices for themselves.

              Again, there is no legitimately moral system than doesn’t respect consent to some extent. Talking within the context of a moral system without rights is like going swimming without getting wet. Rights are the very stuff that morality is made of.

          2. I would say he does, but he dismisses it because it fails to fit in his little construct of “what rights are.”

            He seems to (from my reading of many, many threads) argue from the position that he is the only enlightened one here, and all contradictions are our lack of understanding and narrow-mindedness. He bristles when confronted with his logical fallacies and spurious reasoning. And he likes to argue from a perceived position of authority that automatically gives him veto power over things that don’t fit his artificial construct.

            In other words, he’s like most TV talking heads. Incapable of seeing their own bias, while at the same time overestimating their intellect and underestimating the rest of the planet’s.

            1. “He seems to (from my reading of many, many threads) argue from the position that he is the only enlightened one here, and all contradictions are our lack of understanding and narrow-mindedness.”

              He accepted that capitalism was an evil thing a long time ago, and he doesn’t really buy that any of us actually believe this stuff.

              But it’s important to remember that Tony has no authentic rational self. He’s like a trained dog. He has moral instincts that have conditioned him to snarl and bark at certain things. And after years being steeped in an environment (this website) where people question his conditioning–every day for years–he’s still incapable of overcoming that conditioning.

              Tony’s frontal lobe is for knocking down walls.

  6. …”Linker, still not quite understanding what a libertarian actually is”…

    As is obvious from our resident trolls, you cannot cure willful ignorance. It’s not that he cannot understand; he *will* not. It ruins his narrative about who is moral and why.

  7. Linkler doesn’t sound all that bright.

    A slow learner, to boot.

  8. Libertarians are all about porn?? I signed up for the guns and weed, man!

    1. The porn is only for platinum members.

  9. “Who are you ? who is anyone ? to judge my behavior?”

    By what right can anyone make qualitative judgements for other people?

    For children and the mentally impaired? Okay.

    Other than that, I don’t think anyone has a right to make qualitative judgements for other people, and I don’t think anyone can make qualitative judgements for other people with any degree of accuracy.

    This is why I don’t want my elected representatives making choices on my behalf. This is why I define libertarianism as the idea that people should be free to make choices for themselves.

    I think this guy is on the right track. He just gets confused about the difference between us not wanting politicians and bureaucrats making qualitative judgements for us–and us not making qualitative judgements ourselves.

    Just because I don’t buy the legitimacy of some jackass politician making qualitative choices for me–because he or she won a popularity contest? does not mean that I don’t have qualitative judgements of my own to make. Actually, in a libertarian world with very few laws, most of human behavior would be governed by people’s ethical judgements. And I suspect that’s why libertarians concern themselves so much with questions of ethics.

    1. “By what right can anyone make qualitative judgements for other people?”

      I’m not sure you mean this.
      We have a regular troll who walked on his mortgage since he made a bad bet. He thinks ‘the bank’ paid for that; we know other people did. I call that the action of a moral cripple.
      If that tosses me from good standing in the ranks of libertarians, so be it.

      1. We, the victims of that bailout, were forced to participate in that situation because Barack Obama, among others, decided that it was qualitatively better for me, Ken Shultz, to bail that bastard out of his home loan.

        That’s what I mean by politicians not being able to make qualitative judgements on my behalf.

        Even if it were true that the Drug War made it less likely that some children would smoke pot, how can a politician make qualitative judgements for me about the relative worth of keeping pot away from children versus, say, giving the violent gangs of Los Angeles a multigenerational multibillion dollar revenue stream?

        When I represent myself in a market, I get to make all of those qualitative judgements for myself. When the government gets involved, they are necessarily taking the personal qualitative judgements of politicians and imposing them on people who, for a million different qualitative reasons, don’t agree with those judgements.

        When Barack Obama uses Sevo’s future paychecks to bail deadbeats out of their home loans, he’s imposing his personal qualitative judgements on you. And that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Sevo should be free to make qualitative choices for Sevo, and there’s nothing about Barack Obama winning a popularity contest that legitimizes Barack Obama making qualitative choices like that for Sevo.

        1. “That’s what I mean by politicians not being able to make qualitative judgements on my behalf.”

          I agree, but that does not mean that an individual who professes to be of libertarian views does not make moral judgements.
          In fact, I would hold that to be a major factor in holding those views; I do NOT require the government’s views on morality.

          1. I think we’re in agreement.

      2. “If that tosses me from good standing in the ranks of libertarians, so be it.”

        You never had it. You spend the vast majority of your time acting like an incoherent Alzheimer’s afflicted asshole howling at anything you can’t understand or don’t like.

  10. Linker is on a fucking bender. From today:

    What if your daughter was a porn star?
    Americans have come to pride themselves on their moral libertarianism. But there are limits.

    How do I know that nearly everyone who claims moral indifference or admiration for Weeks is engaging in self-deception? Because I conducted a little thought experiment. I urge you to try it. Ask yourself how you would feel if Weeks ? porn star Belle Knox ? was your daughter.

    I submit that virtually every honest person ? those with children of their own, as well as those who merely possess a functional moral imagination ? will admit to being appalled at the thought.

    Burn that veritable Scottish man of straw, Linker.

    1. If my daughter doesn’t tend up in porn, I’ll be very disappointed.

    2. Did you see your professional expertise was being sought on the PM links thread?

      Search for “Rosetta.”

      1. No, I didn’t check the PM links. I’ll poke my head in there now.

    3. Yeah i will admit i would probably judge myself pretty harshly if my daughter went into porn to pay for her Ivy League education.

      But on the flip side if say her mother raised her secretly and i did not even know she existed until i found out she was my daughter and in an ivy league school and paying for it by being a porn star I would be pretty damn proud of her tenacious will.

      Anyway this is fairly hypothetical. I have no daughter so i really have no idea how i would react. Also none of this has anything to do with libertarianism and has everything to do with how one sees their duty as a parent.

    4. Hey Linker,

      Be truly honest about laws and consequences and ask people how they would rank these possibilities for their daughter:
      A) Doctor with a perfect life
      B) Porn actress with an Ivy League degree, no debt and lots of money
      C) ex felon (due to hypothetical new moral laws making pornography illegal), a drug addiction (attained in prison), suffering from STD (after being raped in prison)
      D) welfare recipient without a college education
      E) dead from SWAT raid while she shared a joint with college roommate who sold weed

      This poll more accurately reflects a world of limited opportunities because of a large, obtrusive and oppressive government

      Where would pornstar rank now for dads???

  11. I’ve never heard of Damon Linker, but he has plenty of company. Probably around 75% of the country couldn’t tell you what a libertarian is.

    OT: Not sure if it’s been posted here yet, but I assume everyone who knows about this has deleted all of their posts here before they get arrested:

    Woman arrested for saying fuck, for the children

    1. Probably around 75% of the country couldn’t tell you what a libertarian is.

      Sure they can, they can tell you what one is. It won’t even be close to any kind of objective reality, but they can tell you.

      It’s a small dog, right? One of the rat killers?

      1. Sure they can, they can tell you what one is. It won’t even be close to any kind of objective reality, but they can tell you.

        That’s what I meant, that they couldn’t tell you with any degree of accuracy what a libertarian is.

        A common answer would probably be something like ‘oh, that’s those people who want to do away with all government and let people starve to death’.

        It’s a small dog, right? One of the rat killers?

        That’s a liberaterrier, not a libertarian, (;

        1. It’s jokes like that that help explain why there are not more libertarians.

          1. /This is why there are no canine libertarians?

            1. That too.

              1. I’m not sure, maybe the single guys among us could use it to pick up chicks.

                You get a Rat Terrier, put a gadsen flag sweater on him and a monocle, and go out walking him. When a chick stops to pet him and says ‘oh, isn’t he so cute, what kind of dog is he?’ You say ‘He’s a Liberaterrier’, he bites both Republicans and Democrats, unless they’re a hot chick, like you…

                Think it could work?

                1. Umm, sure. You go first and let me know how it works.

                  Fortunately, my girlfriend has rapidly moved from conservative to libertarian in the last 18 months or so.

                  1. Well, my wife might get suspicious that I’m out walking my Liberaterrier and put a stop to it before my research has time to get accurate results. So I think someone else better try it.

                    1. Oh come on, don’t you see the possibilities? “Honey, I’m just going out to walk the dog…”

                    2. So I think someone else better try it.

                      I am single…but i would drown a yappy little piece of shit dog before i would walk it.

                      Note: right now my neighbor’s yappy little piece of shit dogs are barking at fucking nothing so my statements may be colored.

                2. don’t call her a chick and your chances go up 100%

      2. You’re thinking of a Liberterrier. They hunt down orphans, not rats.

    2. Woman arrested for saying fuck, for the children

      Ri-fucking-diculous.

      1. She’s lucky to be alive.

  12. This is weird guys, see, if I go to the Googles and type in ‘libertarian’ the first hit is here.

    Admittedly not the best source, it still sums up the core positions fairly well, the NAP is listed in the second paragraph of the personal autonomy section. There’s an entire section labeled ‘state’ that sums up libertarian options on that matter.

    So ‘credentialed’ journalists are either too stupid to read a very basic wikipedia page or too dishonest to argue in good faith. Very telling.

    1. If the guy this story is about is writing for a liberal audience, then ignorance is a prerequisite.

      1. Not ignorance, dishonesty.

    2. Yes, but Wikipedia is not a good source for anything. You don’t even need a license to write articles on there.

  13. Libertarianism, to me at least, lies in one’s ability to recognize the rights of people you don’t like to do things you don’t approve of. Any moral cripple can be okay with recognizing the right of others to do what he or she would want them to do. The test comes whan we are confronted by things we don’t like.

  14. I judge people all the time. I just don’t believe in backing my judgements up with force unless someone is hurting someone else.

  15. Say what you will about libertarianism, but at least it’s an ethos.

    Do Reason writers pick names out of a hat to determine who gets to eviscerate socialist columnists who can’t pass the ideological Turing test, or do you have an arm-wrestling (or, for Doherty and any other crypto-anarchos, Thunderdome) competition for the honors?

  16. I think people are missing the real point here. This asshole is accusing libertarians of being hypocrites because they [b]don’t[/b] let their personal morals dictate their politics.

    This asshole is basically suggesting with his argument that libertarians are making secret judgements about morals that they won’t admit to publicly.

    He is, in essence, a moral absolutist on top of simply not understand libertarianism. He is incapable of separating the idea of individual morality and the role of government.

  17. Americans now inhabit a world in which increasing numbers of individuals find it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine submitting to rule by any authority higher than themselves on moral and religious matters.

    Short answer: I’m perfectly happy to submit to rule by an authority higher than myself on moral and religious matters, as long as that authority is my God, not my government. YMMV.

  18. I agree with you 99%, except Government is not the fundamental aspect of Libertarianism. The most fundamental aspect is that an individual cannot aggress against another individual – a government is a collection of individuals, but so is a corporation, and a religion, and a society, etc. etc. etc.

    There are all kinds of structures aggressor-individuals find themselves in that Libertarians oppose the actions of. Governments are just one of many such structures.

  19. Libertarians, as individuals, can be very judgmental. They may do whatever they privately can to cajole, convince, persuade, and even shame others into behaving as they prescribe. But the thing that makes them libertarians is that, if those others go ahead and live or do as a libertarian doesn’t want them to live or do, he will NOT force them (including the use of government power of government) to do otherwise. Nor will he use (government) force to mitigate the mistakes of others. For a libertarian, the individual makes the choice, the individual bears (or enjoys!) all the consequences. In the case of certain actions that cause harm to others, the libertarian allows government to mete out consequences (punishments, fines, imprisonment, etc.) beyond the natural ones inherent to the actions in question. But otherwise, he demands that people be left free to govern themselves. “Toleration” can lead to acceptance, and even embrace, but not necessarily, and it is certainly not the SAME as either acceptance or embrace. Linker needs to learn what he is talking about, or give the slot to someone else.

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