It's Reason's annual webathon and we're looking to pull in $250,000 between now and December 8. Your tax-deductible donations help make Reason magazine, Reason TV, and Reason.com possible. We're published by a nonprofit and need to raise every dollar of revenue we spend every year. We're not just a source for cutting-edge news and conversation from a principled libertarian perspective, we're your voice in every debate over politics, culture, and ideas. (Go here for giving levels and more info.)
And unlike just about every other media crew out there, we're trying to bring more than fast-twitch reactions to the news of the day.
Just a couple of months ago, after a mass shooting in Oregon, the country somewhat understandably freaked out—serious, traumatic events will do that. Within a few hours, President Barack Obama was immediately proposing various sorts of vague restrictions on the rights of people to own guns and tons of folks, especially elected officials and media types, were calling for a "gun-free America" to finally stop the violence.
At Reason, we took a different route—the same one we do after all sorts of difficult events. Rather than immediately grabbing for the "do something" lever, we pulled in breaking news, culled the best information, and offered up ongoing analyses and policy recommendations based both on new developments in that particular story and a longer-view understanding of how gun rights have actually led to significant decreases in gun-related deaths and violent crime over time.
And Reason TV's Austin Bragg put out this video that laid bare the impracticality behind the push for a gun-free America:
We try to bring some level of perspective and insight to all sorts of events that have most people—and certainly most politicians and media folks—going ape-shit. Remember when everyone was flipping out about Ebola? Reason's science correspondent, Ronald Bailey, wrote a piece titled "First Ebola Case in U.S. Confirmed. Don't Panic!" The story lays out what turned out to be true: that there was no reason to flip your wig. While CNN, The New York Times, and Republicans and Democrats were yammering on and on about zombie apocalypses and stopping flights from "diseased" countries, Ron kept adding more and more information until the Ebola fever broke, literally and figuratively. In fact, Ron has written a new book called The End of Doom, which passionately but rationally lays out the overwhelming case for "environmental renewal in the 21st century."
Do you remember when Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner? The right wing flipped out like Rex Reed at the end of movie version of Myra Breckinridge, amirite? No bathroom in the country is safe now, don't you know, from weirdos just waiting to watch your daughters shower or take a tinkle! Though nobody was forcing them to, an endless series of right-wing pundits stammered that they would. never. call. him. Caitlyn. Never. At Reason, we took the change in stride, as one more example of self-fashioning that should be celebrated, even if Jenner's driving skills should not.
When it comes to the trend in helicopter parenting—more like surveillance drone parenting, actually—we've been pushing back on the ridiculous notion that kids are in more danger than ever for more than 20 years. Back then, we warned against noxious, freedom-killing, and soul-crushing attempts by Hillary Clinton, Janet Reno, and others to "child-proof the world." Now, Lenore Skenazy is preaching the gospel of "free-range parenting" and calling much-needed attention to a world in which parents get arrested for letting their kids walk to school, play alone in their own yards, or otherwise engage in what was once known as growing up.
I could go on—about the erosion of due process on college campuses thanks to phony statistics, say, or the supposedly godawful environmental effects of plastic bags—but I think you get the point: Among Reason's many virtues is our willingness to, you know, actually take a measured look at the most important issues of the day, ask questions, and factor in all sorts of information, perspective, and experience rather than immediately crying out for the next great super-fix for whatever ails us at the moment.
When the 9/11 attacks happened and the right and the left alike called for the suspension of all sorts of basic rights, we said no. When the economy tanked (in large part due to government interventions) and first George Bush and then Barack Obama pushed TARP, we said no. And when Barack Obama was beating the drums for war against Syria (and Libya, and Iraq again), we said no.
This isn't to say that Reason is the preferred magazine of Vulcans everywhere. More than most, we buy into David Hume's notion that our critical faculty—our reason, as it were—is bounded by our humanity and our emotions. At best, we've got imperfect knowledge that is provisional and subject to massive and wholesale revision over time. Which is precisely one of the reasons we bring something different to our discussion and investigation of politics, culture, and ideas. We know that what we know isn't all it seems to be. And we're not being coy here, like Donald Rumsfeld, whose bullshitting about known unknowns etcetera we skewered for the ass-covering flapdoodle that is was.
Where your typical right winger or left winger feels pretty certain of how to run your life, we're willing to admit that, as the great Penn Jillette once put it a great Reason interview, we don't know all the answers. Certainly not the answers about how you should live your life.
So if you like the idea of non-hysterical, non-reactionary journalism and you've got some spare change floating around, please consider giving to Reason's annual webathon. We can't do what we do without your support.
And truth be told, we wouldn't want to.
And check out that Penn Jillette interview about how libertarianism for him is all about admitting the limits of his (and your!) knowledge: