Are You Tired of The Great American Shouting Match?: Please Support Reason

For 50 years, we've fought for tolerance, pluralism, and free speech. We've won a lot of fights, but Reason's voice is needed now more than ever.



It's our annual webathon, during which we ask readers to support our journalism with tax-deductible donations (go here to give; scroll down to see swag levels). This is a good time to go back to the very beginning of Reason:

Introducing REASON: We accept the responsibility that others have defaulted on. Others preferred to smear the issues with irrelevancies and falsifications. We don't. Others preferred to be incomprehensible and incoherent. We don't. Others preferred to ignore your mind. We won't.

When REASON speaks of poverty, racism, the draft, the war, student power, politics, and other vital issues, it shall be reasons, not slogans, it gives for conclusions. Proof, not belligerent assertion. Logic, not legends. Coherence, not contradictions. This is our promise; this is the reason for REASON.

Those paragraphs are from the first issue of Reason, which debuted in the generally awful year of 1968 (the second paragraph is emblazoned our own brand-new T-shirt, and complimentary with a $250 donation). We've come a long way since then, as a magazine and as a country. Founded by the late Lanny Friedlander, a 20-year-old student at Boston University, Reason started out as a mimeographed 'zine but now is nothing short of a multimedia juggernaut. The monthly magazine is flourishing, and so are our website, video platform, and podcasts. Fifty years ago in America, the Vietnam War was raging and the draft seemed inescapable; pot and homosexuality and abortion were completely or mostly illegal; women and blacks were shut out from anything approaching full participation in society. The media were dominated by a handful of broadcast networks, newspapers, and publishing houses. Airlines, interstate trucking, and phone service, along with most of the economy, were regulated to the hilt. Freak flags were starting to fly, but really just barely.

We didn't know it then, but what we might call The Great American Shouting Match was just getting started, between parents and kids, squares and hippies, main frames and personal computers, gray-flannel suits and blue jeans, beehivers and bra burners…the unbuttoning of everything was underway. That's mostly been a good thing, for individuals and society. It's been a messy evolution, for sure, with a lot of mistakes, dead-ends, and failures; but we are, in powerful and incalculable ways, more able to develop and speak our minds than we were a half-century ago. We're also more able to live however we want. One quick example: Around the time of Reason's founding, a majority of states prohibited unmarried women from legally purchasing birth control (that "right" would only be fully established in 1972 by a Supreme Court ruling).

Everett Collection/Newscom

One of the reasons I'm proud to work at Reason is that we've played a consistent role in advancing the rights of individuals to live however they want, as long as it's peaceful and consensual. From our earliest days, we advocated equality for women, gays, and racial and ethnic minorities even as our counterparts on the right and left remained trapped in older ways of thinking (blacks wanted to live in ghettos, women didn't really want to work outside the home, homosexuality was a mental illness, right?). The same goes for arguing for the rights of entrepreneurs to come up with new ways of doing business, even or especially when innovation challenges established interests. Yet Reason has never simply or mindlessly argued for mere iconoclasm, either. We just think that people should be more free.

That commitment to individualism—and hence tolerance and pluralism—is matched by how we strive to express ourselves: "Proof, not belligerent assertion. Logic, not legends. Coherence, not contradictions." Do we live up to those ideals 100 percent of the time? No, but in a world seemingly populated exclusively by troops of howler monkeys flinging rhetorical feces at one another, we don't argue from mere authority, tradition, or attitude. We present the best-available evidence and lay out our case for this or that point of view, policy, or position. We can respect the past and learn from it without being trapped by it (the conservative's problem) without insisting on redesigning society from scratch (the progressive's problem).

This is the golden age of distrust, of "belligerent assertion" in Lanny Friedlander's term. Nobody believes anyone anymore, and the volume on most discussions of politics and culture is turned up to 11, especially among lefties suffering from Stage 4 Trump Derangement Syndrome and right-wingers obsessed with dunking on the libs.

When you support Reason, you're not just helping us imagine, investigate, and champion a world of "Free Minds and Free Markets," you're also making a statement about how we should comport ourselves as a society. You're saying no to The Great American Shouting Match and the rank polarization and politicization of everything. You're saying yes to a future that is more free, more fair, and ultimately more fun.

Here's what different gift levels get you:

$50 Reason bumper sticker.

$100 All of the above PLUS a Reason magazine subscription (includes print or digital; digital includes access to archives of 50 years of Reason magazine). Receive invitations to Reason events in your area.

$250 All of the above PLUS a newly designed Reason T-Shirt (see image).

$500 All of the above PLUS books by Reason authors.

$1,000 All of the above PLUS a private lunch in Washington, DC with a Reason editor and an invitation to Reason Weekend 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona.

$5,000 All of the above PLUS 1 ticket to Reason Weekend for first-time attendees

$10,000 All of the above PLUS 2 tickets to Reason Weekend for first-time attendees.

Your support is vital to everything we do—and massively appreciated.