Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Legalizing Marijuana and Gay Marriage Seemed Impossible

But losing taught libertarians how to win

It is 2012 in Washington state, where voters are facing an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. The airwaves reverberate with ads on both sides. At a glance, it's not always obvious which side is which. One pro-legalization ad features an authoritative man who introduces himself as "the former chief federal prosecutor." Initiative 502, he says, "brings marijuana under tight regulatory control." In another 30-second spot, a "Washington mom" looks up from her newspaper and coffee to declare that she does not like marijuana personally, but "what if we regulate it? Have background checks for retailers? Stiff penalties for selling to minors?"

Joanna AndreassonJoanna AndreassonIn Alaska's 2014 legalization campaign, a police officer intones: "Passing Ballot Measure 2 will allow law enforcement to focus on serious issues in Alaska." Nevada's spots in 2016 urge "voting Yes on 2 to regulate marijuana."

You don't need a Ph.D. to see the pattern. "It was about control," says Anna Greenberg, a pollster with the Washington, D.C., firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, who worked on the legalization campaign in Washington. "It was almost hostile to marijuana, as opposed to celebrating it and making it legal."

In 2012, at the same time initiatives in two states legalized recreational cannabis, ballot campaigns in four states legalized same-sex-marriage. Some of the messaging might have been mistaken for a family-values campaign. In a Washington TV ad, a state senator talks about love, commitment, "everything that makes for a good marriage." In a Minnesota spot, an elderly couple extol their 59-year marriage. "Why shouldn't gay people be allowed to enjoy the same happiness and the love that we've enjoyed through our lifetime?" asks the craggy-faced husband, whose emblazoned Marine Corps cap proclaims his military service in Korea.

This, it appears, is how the cause of freedom wins in today's America: by not talking about freedom. As Reason senior editor and drug policy expert Jacob Sullum tells me, "To some extent, you have to talk like a statist."

Today can seem a bleak time for libertarian causes. Republicans are in thrall to populist nationalism. Democrats are flirting with socialism. Deficits, government spending, border barriers, and tariffs are rising. Yet the most significant social policy breakthroughs of this century—the legalization of recreational marijuana and the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage—were in the direction of liberalization. Both were causes supported by libertarians decades before the public took them seriously. (Impressively, Reason carried an editorial in 1975 supporting gay marriage. Even more impressively, the following year the Libertarian Party endorsed the idea. As for marijuana legalization, Reason has been on that case since at least 1969.) Both represented dramatic reversals of long-established public opinion; both broke through at the same moment.

Structurally, the two issues are different in too many ways to count. But their trajectories in the opinion polls have tracked closely. Like birds and bats, they underwent convergent evolution on their way to liftoff. Compelled by the political and cultural environment to make similar choices, they took parallel routes to legalization—and those routes reveal a lot about how liberalization happens in a country that has more libertarian sympathies than libertarian voters.

Mission: Impossible

In the mid-1990s, when I began my own public advocacy of same-sex marriage, it seemed a quixotic crusade. In 1993, a court in Hawaii cracked open the door for marriage equality; Congress and the (Democratic) president responded with a pre-emptive slap-down, the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A movement to write gay-marriage bans into the U.S. and state constitutions swept the country, enjoying crushing success. The cause seemed so hopeless that my father urged me to drop it, lest people think I was a nut—a credible worry at the time.

I was not involved in the marijuana debate—or, I should say, the marijuana issue, because, as with same-sex marriage, there really was no debate. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) had been founded in 1970 and made some headway in the following decade, but it crashed against the reef of "Just Say No" in the 1980s.

Still, had we compared notes, advocates for both issues would have observed similarities. Gay and lesbian people and marijuana users were social outsiders, considered deviant by mainstream opinion. "Both groups were not held in high regard by mainstream America," says Keith Stroup, NORML's founder. The reforms they advocated threatened to undermine the social order and cause a cascade of uncontrollable consequences, or so the public feared.

With no precedent to point to, advocates had no real-world counter to predictions of social chaos and doom. Both issues had zero mainstream political support. Gay marriage advocates could not get bills introduced in state legislatures, let alone enacted (an often overlooked reason for their sometimes-criticized recourse to the courts). Attempts by centrists to float compromises—decriminalization for marijuana, civil unions for marriage—were deemed too weak by reformers and too strong by resisters.

Below the surface, though, even when not much seemed to be happening aboveground, change was happening. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easier to see how.

It's the Morality, Stupid

Begin with a fact that seems unlikely ever to change: In America, libertarian support for social change is not enough. Marijuana aficionados, gays and lesbians, and cultural libertarians between them could not push their public support above about 25 percent. To win, both issues needed to find unnatural allies among communities with quite different interests and values.

That required trial and error and, especially, patience. "We knew we weren't going to persuade somebody immediately," says Marc Solomon, a veteran of the marriage fight and the author of Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won. "We wanted to take people on a journey."

Stroup concurs: "For these difficult social issues, I don't think there are any shortcuts. You have to take the time to re-educate the American public."

Joanna Andreasson. Source image: Victor_Tongdee/iStock.Joanna Andreasson. Source image: Victor_Tongdee/iStock.Eventually, both movements succeeded with policy arguments that appealed to voters' slow-thinking, evidence-based reasoning circuits. Legal marijuana would provide tax revenues, weaken drug cartels, improve law-enforcement priorities; same-sex marriage would offer stability for gay couples, protect their children, ease medical decisions. But those consequentialist arguments acted more as clinchers than as prime movers—and sometimes they backfired, as when messaging about same-sex couples' need for spousal benefits perversely bolstered the notion that gay couples marry for money instead of love and commitment.

Over time, it became evident that marijuana and marriage, like most political issues today, were primarily about morals and values, and only secondarily about policy trade-offs. For marriage equality, the real hang-up was the majority's belief that same-sex relations, in or out of marriage, are morally wrong, something most Americans told Gallup they believed until 2010. Attitudes toward same-sex marriage closely tracked with attitudes toward same-sex morality. People regarded support for legalization as a form of personal approval.

Much the same is true for marijuana. In 2006, most Americans told Pew Research that using marijuana was morally wrong. That figure had declined to only a third in 2013, a crucial breakthrough, given that most Americans do not distinguish clearly between public policy and personal morality. "As long as they saw marijuana as a threat to the safety of their children, we couldn't win," Stroup says. "As long as it was considered sinful or bad conduct or immoral, they were not about to" support legalization.

In other words, it was not enough to show that getting married or high is my right; activists needed to show that it is right—or at least not wrong.

This battle, seemingly unwinnable a few years ago, has now been won. In 2018, according to Gallup, 67 percent of Americans say that gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable, and 65 percent say the same of smoking marijuana.

Changing the Frame

How was this sea change in public morality achieved? Partly as a result of natural generational changes, and partly as a result of growing public familiarity with marijuana use and same-sex couples. But partly, also, because of shrewd strategic choices.

In the 1960s, Frank Kameny, a pioneering gay-rights activist, coined the slogan "Gay Is Good!" He considered the coinage one of his proudest achievements, because he realized that appeals against discrimination could not, by themselves, overcome the country's moral qualms about homosexuality.

To his disappointment, Kameny's slogan never caught on. It was premature. Americans at the time saw homosexuality as strange and sinister. Changing that attitude required a decadeslong slog through the AIDS crisis, the marriage movement, and the campaign to increase visibility by encouraging people to come out. Crucially, the share of Americans who reported having gay and lesbian friends, relatives, and co-workers rose, reaching a majority in the early 2000s (according to Gallup) and hitting 75 percent in 2013—an astonishing development for a gay man of my generation, to whom the closet had for so long seemed an immutable prison.

Advocates of marijuana legalization had a harder problem: How could they make a moral case for toking? Certainly not by chanting, "We're here, we're high, get used to it!" The answer, hit upon by activists in the 1990s: medical use. "It was medical marijuana or nothing," recalls Allen St. Pierre, a former executive director of NORML. Here, potentially, was a story about helping cancer and AIDS patients eat, and about preventing seizures in children for whom traditional medications had failed. California's approval, in 1996, of an initiative legalizing doctor-recommended marijuana proved seminal; four more states followed in 1998, and in the 2000s the trickle became a flood. (As of mid-2018, 31 states and the District of Columbia had medical-use laws.) California's disorderly medical-use system was prone to abuse, but it didn't matter. That was the price of helping suffering kids. "When marijuana began to be considered a helpful medicine for hundreds of thousands of patients around the country, that's when we really began to see our political support pick up and move forward," says Stroup.

Today can seem a bleak time for libertarian causes. Yet the two most significant social policy breakthroughs of this century happened in the direction of liberalization.

Changing the moral frame by destigmatizing marijuana and homosexuality was a necessary condition for change. It prepared the public to listen to pragmatic arguments about the harms of prohibition and the benefits of legalization, but those arguments still needed to be advanced in a climate of intense skepticism. Swing voters, people like well-educated suburban parents, had been conditioned to believe that legal pot and Adam-weds-Steve were radical notions and slippery slopes. For both movements, America's unusual governmental structure provided the opening.

The Federalism Gap

Historically, marriage policies in the U.S. were made by the states. Marijuana policy has been set in Washington since 1937, but the federal government has nowhere near enough cops and jails to enforce its drug laws without cooperation from state and local police and politicians. Progress at the state level, therefore, was possible.

Public opinion on these issues also displayed an interesting wrinkle. Many people who opposed legalization of marijuana or same-sex marriage nonetheless opposed federal pre-emption of states' choices, even if the states favored legalization. Conservatives, in particular, wanted the federal government to butt out. Writing in 2013, E.J. Dionne Jr. and William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution noted: "The gap among Republicans between the proportion supporting [marijuana] legalization and the proportion who nonetheless want the federal government to stand down in the face of state legalization decisions is 20 percentage points." Similarly, many gay-marriage opponents on the right were against a federal constitutional amendment to ban it.

This willingness to let states experiment—call it the federalism gap—provided a critical opportunity. As medical-use laws spread, they became part of the status quo and suggested to the persuadable that maybe the harms of cannabis had been overhyped. After 2012, when Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in open defiance of federal law, the sky did not fall. As the credibility of anti-marijuana hyperbole crumbled, drug warriors lost their most reliable weapon. "When you take those allegations out of the quiver, there's not a lot they can say," says Stroup.

To drive the point home, legalization advocates hammered on a point that even many skeptics agreed had merit: Marijuana is safer than alcohol. Beginning in the mid-2000s, advocates took up the rallying cry that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol. The strategy, says Mason Tvert, who co-founded the group Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation, was not uncontroversial. Some activists were reluctant to line up behind government paternalism or were wary of provoking the alcohol industry. But it proved effective.

"You had to win people who don't like marijuana," says Greenberg, the pollster. Audiences who didn't want to hear "Legalize pot!" were willing to consider "Regulate pot!"

Those dynamics were even more dramatic with same-sex marriage. In 2004, Massachusetts OKed it. The result was a wave of setbacks for gay-rights supporters as voters across the country enacted dozens of state-level bans. Yet in Massachusetts, nothing terrible happened. In fact, nothing noticeable happened, except that gay couples got married.

The idea that allowing gay couples to marry would harm straight couples had never been sturdy. The experience with marriage in Massachusetts, and with marriage-like civil unions in other places, confirmed the doubts. Without morality or harm on their side, legalization opponents were at sea.

To win, however, legalizers still needed one more element. "It's hearing from people you know and trust," says Tvert—nonactivists, or what Solomon calls the "non-usual suspects."

The moveable middle did not want to hear from movement veterans. They wanted to hear from authority figures and regular Americans like themselves. That was why ad campaigns for marijuana legalization took care to foreground moms, cops, and prosecutors, many of whom began by averring that they personally did not like marijuana. And it was why ad campaigns for same-sex marriage in Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state in 2012 often featured parents, neighbors, working-class folks, and military veterans.

For many gay marriage advocates, spotlighting straights in a gay-rights campaign seemed a demeaning step back toward invisibility. But tests with focus groups found the public to be consistently squeamish about depictions of same-sex couples—what P.R. pros called the ick factor. Marriage-equality advocates had run campaigns urging voters not to hate and discriminate, a negative, accusatory message that fell short everywhere it was tried.

Joanna Andreasson. Source image: Victor_Tongdee/iStock.Joanna Andreasson. Source image: Victor_Tongdee/iStock.In 2008, the movement's catastrophic loss in California—the passage of Proposition 8, an initiative banning gay marriage in the state—finally forced a reckoning, then a recalibration. "Instead of talking about rights," says Cato Institute senior fellow Walter Olson, who worked on the Maryland marriage campaign in 2012, "they talked about family and connectedness and caring about each other. Instead of putting the gay person at the center, they focused brilliantly on the other members of the family. It would be grandpa. It would be mom or dad." Those messages, he says, "reached people where the talk of 'We have rights and you'd better respect them' had failed."

And so, on Election Day 2012, when the voters spoke, they made recreational marijuana legal in two states and same-sex marriage legal in four. As of mid-2018, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, recreational cannabis was legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. Although marijuana liberalization remains a work in progress, the political and cultural fundamentals have shifted such that there is no turning back. And same-sex marriage, thanks to the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, is legal nationwide.

Only Failure Succeeds

For those seeking liberalizing social breakthroughs in the face of abiding public skepticism and official hostility, what is to be learned from these parallel stories? Perhaps quite a bit.

First, the breakthroughs of 2012 appeared sudden, and in a narrow sense they were. But they could not have happened without decades of groundwork and the convergence of multiple strategic elements. There is no magic bullet. You need to be persistent in the face of apparent hopelessness and get a variety of settings right. That requires perseverance, flexibility, and pragmatism. Those who are unwilling to toil at hard political labor or who insist on purist messaging need not apply.

Second, all hard political issues are in some sense moral issues. They touch on personal identity and public morality, things that arguments about policy, money, and even harm cannot reach. Historically, American libertarians have been skilled at appeals to reason. But the neurons they need to excite lie deeper in the brain.

That is why research on the net-positive effects of immigration misses the point. As long as the public believes that immigrants are a threat to law and order or undermine the country's social fabric, ears will be shut. Opening them requires telling moral stories, not reeling off crime statistics. Whatever his shortcomings as a messenger, Jeb Bush was gesturing in the right direction when he said that many illegal immigrants come as an act of love.

Third, and consequently, freedom is not enough. Appeals grounded in the right to make lifestyle choices and the right to be free of discrimination were mainly persuasive to the audience that least needed persuading. To win, libertarians will need to sound, well, less libertarian. As when marijuana activists foregrounded government regulation and marriage activists foregrounded straight messengers, campaigners need to learn to sideline their own instincts and speak in alien tongues.

Fourth, the states are powerful and often underutilized change agents. By allowing for policy experimentation in the places where the public is most comfortable with it, they reduce the fear factor and circumvent conflict. It was easy for opponents to argue that gay marriage and legal marijuana were too risky to try everywhere. Much harder was arguing they should never be tried anywhere. Arguments for state-level reform and experimentation deserve more strategic attention than they typically receive.

Immigration reform, for instance, has come to seem intractable at the federal level. However, there may be more room to maneuver by delegating authority to the states—for example, with state-sponsored visas, an idea that has the support of elected officials and legislatures in multiple states, some Republican members of Congress, and the Cato Institute. To tamp down political conflict, push it down to lower levels of government.

Finally, nothing succeeds like failure. Both movements were defeated again and again but learned from their mistakes. They had to see their own messaging instincts lose repeatedly before they learned how to steal the other side's rhetorical clothing. Opponents of reform, by contrast, proved unable to adapt. Accustomed to winning effortlessly, they became intellectually lazy and politically complacent.

From experience, I can attest to the pain of losing on marriage ballot initiatives in every one of the 31 states that floated them prior to 2012. It was perhaps the most comprehensive political shellacking in American history. Yet those same defeats catalyzed the strategic reboot that finally broke through six years ago. True, President Barack Obama's change of heart that year shifted crucial African-American votes. True, more people than ever had openly gay friends and relatives. True, many other stars had to line up for us to succeed. In the end, however, all of what went right would not have been enough if so much had not first gone wrong.

Photo Credit: Joanna Andreasson. Source image: Victor_Tongdee/iStock

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

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Thanks for helping to get that sweet, sweet government approval we so crave for our weed habits and personal relationships!

  • Fancylad||

    "Winning" gay marriage for libertarians, would've been for the government to stop defining, classifying and regulating people's sexual relationships. However, neo-Reason somehow believes that gaining official state verification of your sex life is libertarian as fuck.

  • Kevin Smith||

    It's a step in the right direction. Remember, the state has always defined and classified people's sexual relationships, but they also went the extra step of banning it as well. Getting rid of the ban is more libertarian than keeping it. The rest will come eventually

  • Kevin Smith||

    It's a step in the right direction. Remember, the state has always defined and classified people's sexual relationships, but they also went the extra step of banning it as well. Getting rid of the ban is more libertarian than keeping it. The rest will come eventually

  • Fancylad||

    That's wrong. Gay marriage was never "banned", that potential ended with anti-sodomy laws. It just wasn't recognized by the state as marriage. There's a big important difference here, lack of recognition is not forbidding something.

    State validation of sexual relationships is anti-libertarian.

  • Fancylad||

    Libertarian marriage equality would have been for the state to stop recognizing heterosexual marriage.

  • Robert||

    Unfortunately family law is a necessity.

  • Fancylad||

    You can recognize parentage without having to have the state bless a marriage. It would unfuck child custody for one thing.

  • JesseAz||

    Family law is insanity. It is a dissolution of an undefined contract after conflict between the two parties has gone nuclear. Marriage should require pre nuptial contracts in order to be recognized by the government. Keep the government out of marriage, let them arbitrate documented agreements and contracts.

  • CE||

    keep the government out of contract arbitration

  • CE||

    and arises naturally in common law courts, without any need for government intervention

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    The implicit marriage contract that can be entered into in a completely drunken state with little oversight has very little to do with protecting the family and everything to do with enriching divorce attorneys and empowering statists.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    "Winning" gay marriage for libertarians, would've been for the government to stop defining, classifying and regulating people's sexual relationships. However, neo-Reason somehow believes that gaining official state verification of your sex life is libertarian as fuck.

    The first step for libertarians, which annoys backward and bigoted right-wingers and other prudish authoritarians, was to remove superstition-laced government intolerance from the situation.

    Carry on, clingers. While wondering why your intolerance, anti-social natures, and stale thinking make you ineffective in most contexts of modern America, of course.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    Buy a gun and shoot yourself in the face.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I'm having too much fun shoving progress down the throats of guys like you, and watching your expression when you recognize your failure and plight.

  • DiegoF||

    To some extent, you have to talk like a statist.

    Apparently you also have to act like one; that is the truly brilliant part!

    Today can seem a bleak time for libertarian causes. Republicans are in thrall to populist nationalism.

    What does that mean and why, precisely, is it a threat to libertarianism? Maybe say what exactly you mean, instead of some vague slur out of an anti-Brexit campaign ad. If you mean "protectionism" say protectionism. Or if you mean something more sinister, come out and say it (so you can defend it) instead of leaving it as a vague dark implication. Me, I think the worst thing about today's GOP, with Trump as much as without, is how set they are on building a regulatory and activist-government framework that is elitist "pro-business" not pro-market (or pro-freedom, pro-little guy, etc.) But that hardly seems particularly "populist nationalist." Trump is too much like Mike Bloomberg not too little!

    Yet the most significant social policy breakthroughs of this century—the legalization of recreational marijuana and the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage—were in the direction of liberalization.

    Those are the most significant social policy breakthroughs of this century--and by "breakthroughs" we mean for better or for worse? Good Lord. Good Lord, Reason.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    You need to be told why populism can lead to negative results?

    Okay how about this: Populism puts the passions of the mob in charge, and the passions of the mob are easily manipulated and can be directed (or mis-directed) by demagogues who only seek power.

  • DiegoF||

    No one loathes majoritarianism more than me! Lamb, two wolves, lunch, etc. I sometimes have to remind folks around here I feel! But is the mood currently more into banging on about "the will of the majority" or the people, or whatever, than it was a few years ago? To the extent that it is, I only hear it from Democrats. Who is always going on about "popular vote" nonsense (now even "Senate popular vote"), not even waiting for that electoral college abolition they are openly demanding? Who is always going on about "the people not being heard" during elections, and pushing to get the most ignorant and reluctant voters to the polls as though low turnout were some sort of inherent moral outrage and high turnout some sort of inherent moral good? (Their beloved president even said he wished he could make not voting a crime.) Who is trying to push a false narrative about the wisdom of children and their political opinions over those of older people, praising them for "getting involved" and shaming those who do not defer to their young wisdom?

    Yes I see precisely what you describe, just not where you see it!

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    But is the mood currently more into banging on about "the will of the majority" or the people, or whatever, than it was a few years ago? To the extent that it is, I only hear it from Democrats.

    Are you kidding? You're kidding, right? The entire Trumpism phenomenon is about how the so-called 'forgotten majority' in flyover country was being ignored by the elites on the coasts, and Trump was going to be the warrior who would stick up for them.

    I agree that there is a strong "power to the people" narrative on the left. But there is also a strong narrative on the right about how *they* are the "real citizens" and their votes should matter more than the votes of those supposedly un-American globalist elites.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Trump's candidacy rode a wave of downscale parasites hoping for bailouts and, if possible, a chance to smite the successful, educated, reasoning, tolerant "elites" who -- believe it or not -- tend to look down on people who make bad decisions, avoid marketable skills, believe in fairy tales, and are bigots.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    You should have your retarded face repeatedly beaten with a brick.

  • Thomas O.||

    '...avoid marketable skills..."

    Um, isn't it the lefty college-goer types who usually major in the "non-marketable-skills" degrees like philosophy, leisure studies, gender relations etc.?

  • Fancylad||

    Populism puts the passions of the mob in charge
    Not the proles! How horrific. They're "passionate". Ordinary people don't know what's good for them.
    If only we could hand the power over to a small cabal of the rich and wise who could farm guide them. Sooo libertarian.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The "proles" can't be trusted with the levers of power any more than the "elites" can. That is why power should be devolved down to the level of the individual as much as possible.

    Libertarianism is not "put the mob in charge", it is "put the individual in charge".

  • Fancylad||

    Which particular individual are you putting in charge then? Seeing as you don't seem to view the plebeians as a group of individuals.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Me over my life, you over your life. The state should have as little power as feasible. Was this supposed to be a trick question?

  • Fancylad||

    The state should have as little power as feasible.
    I don't disagree; but wherever government is still a necessity, I would rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Topeka phonebook, than the combined faculties of Harvard and MIT.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Ordinary people don't know what's good for them.

    Damn these elitists, who figure marketable skills are superior to economic irrelevance, who believe education to be better than ignorance, who prefer reason to superstition, tolerance to bigotry, and progress to backwardness!

    Letting these ivory-towered fancypants call the shots has led to modern, successful, attractive cities and suburbs; strong, popular, liberal-libertarian colleges and universities; medical, technological, and social advances; diminished respect for white men, traditional values, faith healers, and the southern way of live.

    Why, I tell you, a decent mediocre man just might not be able to abide much more of this damnable progress!

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    You're not even mediocre.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Hey Rev I need an anime recommendation. What ya got?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    This one was Oscar-nominated, but it might be over the head of a half-educated, bigoted yahoo.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "I hate self government. The peasants should be ruled by their betters, and be grateful for it. Or else."

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    "I love the mob, except when I disagree with the mob, then, the mob is just full of brainwashed fools."

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Those are the most significant social policy breakthroughs of this century--and by "breakthroughs" we mean for better or for worse?

    Of the 21st Century? Sure, why not?

  • DiegoF||

    Off the top of my head, the 21st century has seen the USA PATRIOT act, which has seen a complete revolution in the concept of personal privacy. Also, the assault weapon ban expired, and lots of state gun laws changed (initially for the better). Both of those are far more important; it's not even close.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Thank you for the right-winger-masquerading-as-libertarian perspective, DiegoF.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    I hope and pray every single day that someone murders you and throws your worthless corpse into a garbage pile.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    A vivid imagination seems to be the last refuge of a disaffected, impotent, right-wing loser.

    So at least you have that going for you, which is nice.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I'll give you the gun laws liberalization. But the Patriot Act wasn't really this huge change, honestly. It was just a continuation of the same statist ideas from the previous century. We had things like warrantless wiretaps before the Patriot Act, and the anti-terrorist NSA wiretap program was authorized by the AUMF, not the Patriot Act anyway. It's bad, but not bad in this epically discontinuous manner the way that, say, SSM legalization was discontinuously positive.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Unless you were a florist or baker, in which case it was discontinuously negative.

  • CE||

    isn't populism giving the people what they want? how is that bad?

  • Arizona_Guy||

    So:

    1. You can smoke weed in some places where state governments approve.
    2. Gay couples can get marriage licenses. Because a marriage license from The Crown is some kind of right, or something.

    Libertarian Moment.

  • DiegoF||

    You can smoke heavily taxed and regulated weed in some places. Let's not forget what this is all about. Hey, at least it's not being demagogued as much as tobacco is anymore!

    Also, let's not forget that gay couples also have the right to conscript wedding catering and photography from their Christian neighbor to celebrate that license from the Crown! Everything will be just fine and free in gay paradise for the happy couple until and unless they happen to have a kid who is also gay--in which case he will be pressured into being trans by his school, who will only inform them of their child's new gender when it is time for the surgery.

  • DiegoF||

    Or, of course, until they need to defend themselves from the remaining gay bashers out there, in which case they will be told to go fuck themselves and just rely on the age-old allies of the gay community, the police.

  • CE||

    Wasn't there a cop in the Village People?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Not putting people in prison for life for possessing some plant matter seems to me like a pretty good step in the right direction. You obviously have a different perspective.

  • DiegoF||

    I don't know where I said it was a step in the wrong direction. I don't think anyone should have to pay a $1 fine for possession of any drug; I don't particularly know what being a plant has to do with it one way or the other. But who was imprisoned for life for simple possession? In the United States not Saudi Arabia. I don't even think three strikes laws folks could get a life sentence as their third strike for possession of weed. Drug offenses are not quite as large a proportion of the prison population as many people suppose.

  • Hugh Akston||

    But who was imprisoned for life for simple possession? In the United States not Saudi Arabia. I don't even think three strikes laws folks could get a life sentence as their third strike for possession of weed.

    Jeff Mizanskey of Missouri, USA among others. You should try researching instead of thinking some time.

  • DiegoF||

    First of all, that was why I asked you not concluded.

    Second of all, Jeff Mizanskey...was that fucking possession? You should try reading--my words, and even your own--some time!

  • DiegoF||

    That was a bit harsh.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Possession with intent to sell. You're not free to possess something if nobody is allowed to provide it to you.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You sound like a disaffected dope, Deconstructed Potato. And an ingrate. Thank goodness some people are able and willing to effect progress without you.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    Throw yourself in front of a speeding train.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    As much as I enjoy your creative responses to the continued persistence and existence of the dear Reverend, I don't think it would be very libertarian to cause undue delay to the train, paying passengers/cargo etc. Although, it would be consistent for his final act to be a big petulant cry for attention, with a note that read "CARRY ON CLINGERS" stapled to his forehead.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The Reverend gives a new spin on the Trolley Problem.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The attempting ankle-biting from the vanquished lessers is a small price for victory in the culture war.

    Have fun complying with my preferences, clingers. And you will obey.

  • Robert||

    These issues are entirely different. The prohib'n of marijuana is fairly recent, & entirely a fx of authoritarianism. Enforcing it requires the initiation of force vs. people just doing their thing.

    OTOH, marriage is an institution that predates the state, the church, & AFAICT, H. sapiens. It was recognized by both church & state as an accomod'n they had to make. The law, very libertarian-wise, traditionally treated individuals a individuals; however, pragmatic exceptions now understood as family law had to be made. There are drawbacks in law to having to do so, but the costs of not doing so were greater. A same-sex coupling is a cynical attempt to exploit the ancient understanding of marriage as a loophole that was necessary in law for certain purposes.

    "Legalizing same-sex marriage" is not about letting individuals or consenting couples "do their thing". Rather, it's about forcing others to deal with such couples on a basis which was different from the prevous understanding, altering the terms of existing contracts, and converting a necessity of law into a silly institution that complicates human relationships unnecessarily.

  • Robert||

    It's the same kind of usurpation as when the sovereign made a certain banker's "dollar" to be treated legally as the traditional wt. of Ag it represented in common law. This is not a gain in freedom, "allowing" this banker to emit hir own "dollar".The law can allow persons to emit notes & circulate them as what they are w/o bestowing the privilege of making everyone accept them for what they are not. Similarly, the law can (& mostly does) allow couples to make certain deals between themselves w/o forcing others to treat them as married.

  • Robert||

    "Why shouldn't we be allowed to issue our own dollars & have them be legal tender, to be treated just as the banker's whose dollar represents an established wt. of Ag? Don't we have equal liberty?"

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I bet you also complained when they got rid of coverture laws.

  • Robert||

    No, coverture was 1 possible defect resulting from the need to treat a family as a legal entity. They later settled on less-bad ways to do it.

  • Hugh Akston||

    it's about forcing others to deal with such couples on a basis which was different from the prevous understanding,

    How so?

    altering the terms of existing contracts,

    What existing contracts contracts were altered by the state licensing of gay marriage and in what way?

    converting a necessity of law into a silly institution that complicates human relationships unnecessarily.

    What is the 'necessity of law' to which you refer and how did the state licensing of gay marriage alter it? How are human relationships generally more complicated now than they were before the Obergefell decision?

  • Robert||

    Say you had a contract w someone that included provisions for a spouse. The party knew you were gay or lesbian, therefore didn't expect you to get married. But then you got "married".

    The necessity of law was dealing w families in some cases as unitary entities rather than individuals. Same sex marriage altered it because people of the same sex were not expected to marry, because they couldn't possibly bear children.

    The more people who have more ways to compel others to treat them as part of an entity, rather than as a legal entity themselves, the more complicated law is.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Before gay marriage, gay people could (and sometimes did) marry people they weren't sleeping with specifically for the privileges conferred by that legal status. The only thing gay marriage changed is the boxes on the license application.

  • Robert||

    True: changed it to something the dictionary didn't recognize as such. When people referred to "spouse" in legal documents, there was an understanding, via the spontaneous order of language & custom, that it had to be someone of the opposite sex. Why is this any different from gov't's decreeing a new meaning to money terms such as $ or lb. that contradicted their customary meanings?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    That was one of my complaints about it. "Marriage" just didn't mean THAT. Who licensed the judiciary to redefine words?

    It was just a fad that swept the world's judiciaries, and a demonstration that judges have way, way too much power, and not nearly enough constraints.

    Even if you liked the outcome, you ought to worry what they'll get into their heads to do next, now that they've felt their power.

  • Robert||

    Yes, but I don't like other arms of the sovereign having the power to redefine words either, as in the example of monetary units.

  • MWAocdoc||

    This narrative approach is very useful for the "socially liberal" side of liberty. After all, I have a lot of friends who are aliens and they and their families, whether legal or illegal, are some of the most polite, law-abiding, family-oriented and productive people in our region. I never miss a chance to tell my skeptical friends about my observations, and their predictable response is frequently, "What about the murder last week in Pasco?" Individual states can stand up to the self-defeating Federal immigration policies in the same way that they stood up to Federal policies on marijuana and marriage bans. But how can this approach work on the "fiscally conservative" side of liberty? Federal welfare spending programs are seen as "helping" people who "need help" and our counter-intuitive logical response is on the non-sympathetic side of the trend!

  • DiegoF||

    "Weed, buttsex, and Mexicans" seem to be mentioned so frequently around here, as we are always suspecting, because they are some of the only remaining issues on which "socially liberal" (in the current sense of the term) and "pro-personal liberty" actually align. The two concepts have been coming steadily apart for nearly a half century now. Being "pro-liberty" is not the same thing as "socially liberal and fiscally conservative" in the commonly understood sense; people should probably stop talking as though it is, as I don't think it is even pragmatically wise for attracting more people to the movement.

  • Robert||

    True. I'm trying to think of others that still align so, & keep running into facts that say they don't any more, or at least are arguably neutralized. Porn's an example. On the cutting edge, the "social liberal" is no more for legal porn than is the "conservative".

    Even "butt sex" doesn't really align us any more—well, I guess if taken literally it must—inasmuch as the fight in the USA is not to legalize homosexual activity but to impose privileges by it on everyone else.

  • DiegoF||

    That's a good point! No one beyond a vanishing few has wanted to ban buttsex in years. (Even the marriage debate is acknowledged by all as a dead issue at this point.) After the sodomy SCOTUS decision, the gay rights movement passed through two "neutral" milestones that were neither rights per se nor violations of anyone else's rights (i.e. military service and marriage); now we are straight up into nothing but the struggle to oppress others. There is nothing at all that I can see left for libertarians in the entire mainstream LGBT "rights" movement. Libertarians had their back (no homo) back when no progressive did; now this marriage has ended in divorce, with complete estrangement.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    What about Mexican buttsex..... on weed?

  • DiegoF||

    Well, let me tell you something: I love weed, OK? I love it.

    ...But not as much as I love butts!

  • DiegoF||

    Alright I just can't help myself it's just so damn quotable:

    "For $400 I got Jerry Garcia in a pouch, man!"

    "Who the hell told you that?"

    "The man who sold it to me, Barry Garcia."

    "So who that supposed to be, Jerry Garcia's brother?"

    "No, actually it was Andy Garcia's brother."
  • Arizona_Guy||

    Such a good movie.

  • Robert||

    That's always the cartoon in my head: a stereotypic sombrero-wearing Mexican getting it up the butt while smoking a doob, balloon saying, "Si!"

  • Hank Phillips||

    Note to Texas readers: The Robert sockpuppet is the Aggie in the dog joke, the one who said: "Me too, but I'm afraid he'd bite me"

  • Mr. JD||

    The biggest threat to libertarianism is the libertarians.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Giving a couple hundred million statist third worlders a vote in the US is sure to usher in Libertopia!

  • Robert||

    Wanna know how mj got legal? Mostly:

    1. It got popular enough among the young that people realized it wasn't so toxic, as w tomatoes much earlier.

    2. The old people opposed to it died.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The old people opposed to it died.

    At a practical level, this explains much about American progress. The old-timers take their stale, intolerant, ignorant thinking to the grave and are replaced by better, younger people in our communities and electorate. This does not diminish the courage, skill, and efforts of people who strive to effect progress; it complements the work.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    I would pay a compliment to anyone who finally does the world a favor and beats your head in with a Louisville Slugger.

  • CE||

    #LibertariansforCortez, heh Rev?

  • Hank Phillips||

    2. Rent seekers who bought the law began losing elections because it wrecked the economy, same as in 1932. Beer was banned because Budweiser could sell more corn sugar and malt powder and Fleischmann's more yeast to grocery shoppers and bootleggers at higher prices. Every corn sugar and yeast plant in These States except Anheuser was under indictment or convicted by the time FDR was elected. Now it's the brewers and heroin smugglers--and their bought televangelists and politicians--who need to let go of the Concorde fallacy.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    ThinkProgress DESTROYS gun fetishists!

    Romaine lettuce is too dangerous to be in stores, but guns are still available 24 hours per day

    This is a truly insightful tweet that demonstrates the extent to which the NRA influences American law. Guns are far too easy to buy in this country. Fortunately Democrats have promised to use their #BlueTsunami House majority to advocate common sense gun safety legislation.

    #LibertariansForGunSense
    #BanAssaultWeapons

  • Eddy||

    Lettuce have common-sense gun laws.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Best to leaf well enough alone.

  • DiegoF||

    Your #WhitePrivilege is showing, OBL. To you, this lettuce scare is nothing but an effort by the Trump-dominated CDC to distract from the uncontrolled epidemic of gun violence. But to me, it is a clear dog-whistle to their ethno-supremacist base: Hispanics are dirty; we carry E. Coli. Perhaps we do not even wipe ourselves properly after taking a dump, or wipe ourselves with the lettuce itself. Do such people belong in this country; can we assimilate into the first-world wiping habits of a country whose Yankee imperialism infected our homelands with E. Coli in the first place? The very question is insulting.

  • Ecoli||

    First they came for the assault lettuce...

  • Arizona_Guy||

    You've overreached with the push for gun laws OBL. Not your best work.

  • Eddy||

    As the article seems to confirm, it's not that people got more freedom-oriented on the issues of pot and SSM. Instead, they decided these things were OK and worth being recognized - and in the case of SSM, promoted - because they were OK.

    If the public had grown more "libertarian," they wouldn't be letting tobacco be subject to new regulations. They wouldn't be advocating for compulsory cakes.

    The public simply decided that they would drop their prior moral qualms about smoking pot and gay sex. They didn't question the premise that *if* you don't like a behavior or group, you can ban or regulate it. They simply decided they no longer disliked two kinds of behavior and no longer disliked the people who engaged in it. But now they've decided they don't like the tobacco smokers and the Christian bakers, so too bad for them, get ready for more regulation.

  • Eddy||

    I suppose I should say "nicotine," not tobacco.

  • Robert||

    This is true, but it's also true for the advance of liberty most places, most times. The main thing is to make the persecuted less unpopular, or preferably more popular. There's always some weight on the pro-liberty side of the scale, though it may not be enough at any given time to overcome disapproval on the anti-liberty side; but if the wt. of disapproval can be reduced, the scale may be tipped by the pro-approval side, even if pro-liberty sentiment was only a small part of the total force.

  • Eddy||

    In the case of dope, the new approval - if it culminates in full legalization - will be generally positive, in the sense that the govt will have to find a different excuse to break down your door, steal your stuff, or put you in prison. On the flip side, any health warnings about pot will be more likely to be dismissed as the rantings of haters.

    In the case of SSM, we've gone in a generation from the govt shaking down gay nightclubs and otherwise persecuting gay people to saying "if you don't want to bake gay cakes, don't be a baker."

    And of course, a government marriage license isn't what stopped the police harassment - I suspect that task was accomplished by AIDS, when the natural compassion for sick and dying people preempted the desire for persecution.

  • DiegoF||

    Beyond the fact that it seems rather blithe about it all, this is actually a pretty good article because it does lay it all out clearly and frankly. There has been little or no change in the underlying political culture that was seeing gays and pot smokers harassed and oppressed straight through to the end of the previous century. (Indeed, there has probably been a regression.) We have simply moved on from those two specific activities, because we now think they are cute and actively morally approve of them. Again, this article is commendably honest about it all.

    Incidentally, I also love seeing parallels drawn between these two issues because they are even more similar than seen here. I see absolutely no reason, in the current context, that potheads should not be protected by hate-crime, anti-discrimination, and cake laws, and that we should dedicate our society to eradicating "hatred" (i.e. personal moral codes that forbid the activity that they happen to enjoy engaging in) of them from polite society. And don't even get me started on parents, in thrall to medieval barbaric moral notions, who will not accept their children as potheads while they live under their roof. Essentially child abuse.

  • Robert||

    Will it stop there, or will pot & ass sex become mandatory? Will we have to turn Mexican too?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The public simply decided that they would drop their prior moral qualms about smoking pot and gay sex.

    That's a whitewashed depiction of what occurred -- people learning that their religious leaders were liars and criminals, that the authoritarian prudes were full of shit, and that the pot-smokers and gays were better people than the "traditional values" peddlers.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    Please blow your brains out with a shotgun.

  • Eddy||

    Kirkland's thought process (if we can call it thought) confirms my point: "They didn't question the premise that *if* you don't like a behavior or group, you can ban or regulate it....now they've decided they don't like the () smokers and the Christian bakers, so too bad for them, get ready for more regulation."

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Oh, please. I've been in favor of drug re-legalization, (They used to all be legal!) for most of my life, going back decades.

    I didn't, and don't, favor re-legalizing drugs because I admire people who use drugs. That would be stupid, drugging yourself into incoherence isn't anything admirable.

    I favor it because I don't care what happens to stupid people, they can drill holes in their heads and pour in battery acid for all I care. But I do care about what happens to sensible people, and the war on drugs was hurting people who were smart enough NOT to use drugs. It was costing us civil liberties. It was feeding organized crime, making urban gangs rich.

    I oppose the war on drugs, because everybody suffers from it, while if the drugs are legal, it will mostly be the people stupid enough to use them who suffer, and that's only appropriate.

  • AlmightyJB||

    GO BUCKS! BEAT *ichigan!! Woot! Woot!

  • Arizona_Guy||

    I also think "legalize" SSM is incorrect terminology. Strictly speaking, it wasn't illegal. I don't recall anyone being prosecuted for having a SSM, unlike Loving v Virginia.

    It's not that anyone's SSM was illegal, they just didn't have a piece of paper from The Crown validating the marriage.

  • Tony||

    Perhaps the term "marriage equality" thus makes things clearer. Gays have been harassed plenty by the pigs, too, not that it's a competition.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    I'm currently in a polygamous marriage. What's that? I can't get a marriage license? I guess some marriages are more equal than others.

  • DiegoF||

    "Two dicks good! Four dicks bad!"

  • Robert||

    LOL, have to catch breath!

  • Robert||

    When I 1st heard of "Heather Has 2 Mommies", I though it was about polygamy.

  • buybuydandavis||

    +1

  • Tony||

    But neither straight people nor gay people nor black people nor white people can get such a license. Why is this so difficult?

  • Brian||

    And gay people can get marriage licenses, just like straight people. To marry people of the opposite sex, just like straight people.

    It's not difficult at all.

    I'm just glad it's often easy to ignore democracy. You don't really have to tell the government you're married.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    "straight people nor gay people nor black people nor white people"

    None of which has anything to do with polygamy. So what is your point?

    People have had polygamous marriages throughout history (and still do). These are not recognized by any state in the USA and are criminal offenses.

    So no, we do not have "marriage equality".

  • Tony||

    Everyone equally cannot enter a polygamous marriage legally. So yes we do.

  • Mock-star||

    ....just like everyone equally could not enter a homosexual marriage legally not too long ago. You missed the point Tony.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    And everyone equally could not enter into a same sex marriage. (until recently)

    But then society decided that gay people were no longer icky and they became a protected class.

    Polygamous people are still icky and therefore not a protected class.

    The solution is simple: 'poly-amorous' is my sexual orientation and now protected by law. Recognize my marriage, bigot.

  • Tony||

    I don't really give a shit. But it's not up to gay people to fight your legal battles for you.

  • See Double You||

    Shorter Tony: Fuck you, I got mine.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    "I'm taking my ball and going home"

  • Tony||

    So you're saying I'm a true libertarian?? No, can't be, because once I get what I want from government I don't tell everyone else that their desires are illegitimate.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    " because once I get what I want from government I don't tell everyone else that their desires are illegitimate."

    Funny, that's what you're doing here.

    "I can get my same-sex marriage blessed by The Crown. Oh, those polygamists will get prosecuted for trying the same thing? I don't really give a shit."

    A little bit ironic, don't ya think?

  • Arizona_Guy||

    "So you're saying I'm a true libertarian??"

    No, you're just obtuse. How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?

  • Brian||

    I'm the most libertarian, because I want a government that gives people the most personal freedom, especially for the way they were born.

    For example: I was born a rugged individualist.

    But Tony was born loving a fuck in his ass.

    I don't see why we can't get along. I don't go around knocking the cock out of Tony's ass, and all I ask is the same respect.

  • MSimon||

    I'm the most libertarian because I want a government that doesn't give people anything.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "But then society decided that gay people were no longer icky and they became a protected class."

    Society didn't decide this. The Nazgul did.

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    It was passed the same way the Lisbon treaty was passed. The left kept putting it on the ballot until the peasants finally voted right.

    Then there were no more votes. It's their Standard Operating Procedure.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    " Gays have been harassed plenty by the pigs"

    No one is disputing that.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    I think you get harassed not for being gay but because you're such an insufferable, stupid, malignant asshole.

  • Tony||

    I must be awful considering you're the one telling people to violently mangle themselves in this thread.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "In America, libertarian support for social change is not enough. Marijuana aficionados, gays and lesbians, and cultural libertarians between them could not push their public support above about 25 percent. To win, both issues needed to find unnatural allies among communities with quite different interests and values.

    That required trial and error and, especially, patience. "We knew we weren't going to persuade somebody immediately," says Marc Solomon, a veteran of the marriage fight and the author of Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—and Won. "We wanted to take people on a journey."

    Stroup concurs: "For these difficult social issues, I don't think there are any shortcuts. You have to take the time to re-educate the American public."

  • Ken Shultz||

    The thing this gets most right is that progress in achieving libertarian goals is not measured by what they're doing in the state legislatures or by who is winning at the polls. That's because the goal is not for libertarians to seize the reigns of power and inflict libertarian solutions on the American people using the coercive power of government. That way lies Pinochet!

    The way to measure libertarian progress is by looking at changing attitudes and the way to achieve libertarian progress is by talking to your own friends and family. The influence you have with the people you know if far more important than anything any politician does. Hell, in terms of gay marriage, Freddie Mercury, Boy George, Rob Halford, David Bowie, and Elton John were far more influential than any politician. Politicians are a windsock. They don't initiate cultural change.

    MLK didn't march in the streets because some politicians initiated change. The politicians will always be the last ones on board. Politicians changed because people like MLK changed people's attitudes. If and when we become more capitalist, it will be for the same reasons. It's on you to change the minds of your friends and family. There isn't any other libertarian way but the power of persuasion. It's an awesome power. Dictators are scared to death of what their own people are saying about them--for good reason.

  • Fancylad||

    To some extent, but the only country in the world where gay marriage wasn't forced through by the courts was Ireland. And even though polls show majority approval now, in 2012 a majority were against.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't believe the courts are entirely invulnerable to the power of popular opinion either. It's not just that they're part of the same culture as the rest of us, so they're also susceptible to changes in the thinking of the larger culture. It's also that they're appointed and confirmed by elected politicians. If the substance of their rulings is in any way a function of the people who appointed and confirmed them, and the people who appointed and confirmed them are ultimately a reflection of changes in the culture, then who's the tail and who's the dog?

  • Fancylad||

    But the larger culture wasn't in favor of Gay Marriage at the time. The culture of the elite overclass however, was. Overwhelmingly.
    If the judges were influenced by a culture, it was that of their fellow travelers in the clerisy and haute bourgeoisie, not that of the general population's.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But the larger culture wasn't in favor of Gay Marriage at the time."

    There may not have been a critical mass of people who cared more about going to the polls to vote for it than there were people so upset that they were willing to stop by the voting booth on the way home that night to vote against it, but we're still talking about a huge shift in the culture in terms of acceptance. What was voter participation like? Were they voting for or against other things, too?

    Also, please note, I'm not saying that no one can ever pass an unpopular piece of legislation. ObamaCare was also unpopular when it was passed. It wasn't implemented until after Obama was reelected, and the most unpopular parts of it were mostly gutted after the last election. In other words, ObamaCare wasn't popular enough with average people to survive for long.

    I've seen that happen in other countries, too. In Australia, PM Gillard was elected with the promise that although allied with the Greens, she wouldn't implement a carbon tax. Subsequent to being elected, she implemented a carbon tax. Seemed popular initially--until the home heating bills came in that winter. It was so unpopular, the Australian people threw both her and her party out of power.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Acceptance, resignation. I don't think they're the same thing. The judiciary started imposing SSM on the nation. The public did what they could at the ballot box to stop them, and the judiciary steamrollered right over them, with a bit of help from politicians who'd lied about their own position on the topic to get elected, and were deliberately ineffectual in opposing the judiciary.

    Having it proven to them that their opinions simply didn't matter, and that they stood a significant chance of being punished if they continued expressing them, (Brendan Eich, for instance.) the public largely gave up, and STFU about it.

    In another generation opinions might actually change. But that's not what the polls are showing now; They're measuring resignation and fear, not assent.

    SSM didn't succeed because it was majority opinion. (Unlike pot legalization!) It succeeded because the minority in favor of it were positioned to impose their will regardless of what the majority thought about it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Gay marriage or any other issue probably wouldn't survive for very long if there weren't significant popular support in the culture for it. Surely, you'll agree that the culture has become significantly more tolerant of homosexuality than it was in 1980, and it would be absurd to suggest that this has nothing to do with gay marriage becoming enshrined in policy and law. That's the way things change (and stay changed).

    If you wanted to change things back, say to get a constitutional amendment or something, you'd necessarily need to change the culture first. If the culture won't support your change, whatever it is, your chances of inflicting it on 350 million people for long are mighty slim in a free society. Right?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Tweaking this law, winning that court case, or winning a certain election isn't the issue.

    We're not one law, one court case, or one election away from getting Congress, the courts, and the president to gut the commerce clause, overturn Wickard v. Filburn, and abolish both the EPA and another 50% of the regulatory state. The courts by themselves would rather contrive a novel interpretation than completely disrupt public policy with just one case (see penaltax).

    You want to change things, you must persuade.

    Jesus had no internet, 12 guys, and one of them was a traitor. No reason why we can't have a similarly profound impact on the culture over time. Hell, in 1990, I'd still have thought we'd be rid of the income tax before we saw recreational marijuana legalized and gay marriage. Some people seem to think that changing other people's minds is somehow impossible, but we influence each other's thinking all the time.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    In a free society, yeah. Too bad we aren't really a free society, just sorta, kinda free, where the political elites don't care enough to enslave us.

    Today if you want to change something, you don't set out to change the minds of the majority, because their opinions don't much matter. You set out to change the opinions of the elite; The judiciary, the media, the politicians.

    You win them over, you win, even if the rest of the people don't agree with you, because the system is sufficiently rigged that the majority can't prevail against the elite. Until the day comes that the majority get pissed enough to revolt, anyway.

    You're sort of right, that the public lost on SSM because, while they were against it, they weren't against it enough to stage a revolution over it. And that's the working rule now: The majority only get their way on things the elite either don't care about, or believe the majority care enough about to get violent over.

    A generation earlier SSM was a bridge too far. It happened when it did because public opinion HAD shifted; Not to favoring it, but to being sufficiently ambivalent about it that the elites could get away with thwarting the public on the topic.

    That's why they're holding off on gun control now; Not because a majority of the elite oppose it, but because they still believe it's a topic where they have to watch what they do or get overthrown.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "In a free society, yeah. Too bad we aren't really a free society, just sorta, kinda free, where the political elites don't care enough to enslave us."

    Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good seems to be a consistent thing with you.

    Pinochet tortured political prisoners by the tens of thousands, but he was a capitalist and fighting communism.

    We're not just like China because the NSA tracks our emails and phone calls.

    We are a relatively free society, and, certainly, within the context of the libertarian society I want to build, using the coercive power of government to inflict anything (freedom being one example) is what I'm trying to avoid.

    Q: What's the first rule if you want to get out of a clusterfuck?

    A: Let go of whatever you're holding onto.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    For example, prominent Dems weren't in favor of SSM until it was politically safe to do so. They jumped on the bandwagon and then acted like they were driving.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I remember the stunned look on progressives faces when I told them I wouldn't vote for Obama for a number of reasons--among them? Because he was a homophobic bigot who campaigned on the slogan that marriage was between a man and a woman.

    The left doesn't hate us because of our capitalism. They hate us because we expose them as frauds on civil rights.

    The right doesn't hate us because of our support for civil rights. They hate us because we expose them as frauds on capitalism.

  • Tony||

    So Republicans were better on gay rights at the time?

  • Arizona_Guy||

    No one claimed that.

  • DiegoF||

    Pinochet threw people out of helicopters. That was what was wrong with Pinochet. He was not, for example, unlibertarian because he had overthrown a government by force.

    Given that libertarianism is a philosophy consisting of restraints on the use of force--in practice, restraining (if allowing at all) the special privileges of the single party in society (i.e. the "government") that has such special privileges of using what would be for any other party impermissible force against the other parties--I am not quite sure what it would mean to "inflict libertarian solutions on the American people using the coercive power of government."

    Whatever are the legitimate--in other words, the libertarian--privileges of government, those are they and no more. No government has the right to impose itself an inch more upon me. Not if you want it to. Not if every other man in the country also wants it to. If someone "forces" the government to stop operating according to your tastes in that regard, and start operating according to mine, he has "inflicted himself" upon you not a bit; he has only done justice by me.

    Anyway I'm just addressing a small tiny part of what you said.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Pinochet threw people out of helicopters. That was what was wrong with Pinochet. He was not, for example, unlibertarian because he had overthrown a government by force."

    Pinochet inflicted capitalism on the Chilean people at the point of a gun. That's not what we're about. We don't want to seize power to inflict capitalism or any other libertarian goal on anybody--certainly not using the coercive power of government.

    Libertarianism is incompatible with authoritarianism. I don't want an authoritarian dictator--not even one that's a rabid capitalist disciple of Milton Friedman's economic ideas.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Boys

    That was the point of:

    "The goal is not for libertarians to seize the reigns of power and inflict libertarian solutions on the American people using the coercive power of government. That way lies Pinochet!"

  • Ken Shultz||

    In other words, no--the problem with Pinochet was not that he threw people out of helicopters. The problem is that he was an authoritarian, and honest libertarians need to own that--just like George Orwell being a socialist who disavowed Stalinism.

    "The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians."

    ----George Orwell

  • DiegoF||

    This just looks like a repeat of what you said before. I don't know what you mean by "capitalism," but the free market is not something that can be "inflicted" upon anyone. It is simply the absence of economic coercion--an economy rconsisting of voluntary agreements between private parties. I do not understand how one might "inflict" that, or "inflict" free speech, or whatever, upon any person or persons.

    Can a libertarian government go around murdering members of its society that it deems a threat? No. It can be as "capitalist" as it wants; that will always be inadequate. "Milton Friedman's economic ideas" are insufficient for libertarianism. One must also have libertarian policies on "noneconomic" ideas (as Friedman himself advocated). If a government does not overstep its rights and infringe upon those of its citizens, "economic" or otherwise, it is by that very nature not "authoritarian" (on the common use of the term). And if it does remain within its legitimate bounds, I fail to see how it has by coming to power "imposed" itself upon any party except the former regime (and perhaps those who preferred its own illegitimate use of force against other citizens). Good for it!

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I don't know what you mean by "capitalism," but the free market is not something that can be "inflicted" upon anyone."

    Actually, when Pinochet seized power and overthrew the democratically elected Allende government, he inflicted capitalism onto a country that was about to go communist during the Cold War.

    To the extent that Chile is a capitalist country today, certainly more so than its neighbors, it is largely as a result of Pinochet seizing power and inflicting capitalism on the country by force over the course of his dictatorship.

    No need to pretend otherwise--not even if you support the U.S. helping Pinochet seize power as a pragmatic move within the context of U.S. security policy during the Cold War.

    Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan may be other examples of dictatorships having inflicted capitalism on its people. Just because we don't like people using authoritarianism to impose capitalism is no reason to pretend it can't be or hasn't been done.

    Oh, and if we don't want to pretend that anything less than perfect capitalism isn't really capitalism, then we need to accept that some less than perfect examples of capitalism are still capitalist.

  • DiegoF||

    I think we might be getting somewhere. You seem to think that being "democratically elected" confers some sort of moral legitimacy, and/or "seizing power" moral illegitimacy. I do not. But even if I did, I would not believe it had anything to do with libertarianism.

    I do not particularly care that Allende first came to power from an election. I care that he was a Communist and was closing that system in upon innocent people. (I do not care how many Chileans had "chosen" him, or even whether they still supported him. Elections do not confer consent.) Neither do I care that Pinochet "seized power." I care that his government was brutal and ruthless and showed no respect for the basic rights of man, whatever some Chicagoans may have taught him about interest rates.

    Once again, liberty cannot, by its very nature, be "imposed" upon people. Liberty is the absence of coercion. Even if 99% of the people in a country prefer a coercive government, someone who overthrows such a government "at the point of a gun" and replaces it with a genuinely pro-liberty one (not e.g. one that mixes Chicago style economics with brutal repression and murder and torture of political dissidents) has "imposed" upon no one. He is a hero. I support such actions without shame or reservation.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You seem to think that being "democratically elected" confers some sort of moral legitimacy, and/or "seizing power" moral illegitimacy. I do not."

    I've said no such thing.

    I don't see much difference between them if we're talking about things outside the proper purview of democracy. Democracy does confer a certain amount of legitimacy to a war, a treaty, a presidential appointment, to some forms of taxation, etc., but that's about the extent of it.

    The purpose of libertarianism is not to seize power and inflict libertarian solutions on the unwilling through democratic elections or otherwise. The only truly libertarian means of change is through persuading people to want more freedom--everything else reeks of coercion.

    Lucky for us, persuasion is the only long-term means of substantial change anyway. People who think they can elect politicans to change people's hearts are delusional. It has no basis in history or reality. In realty, people's hearts change firs--in a free society--and then comes change. I've given several examples and counterexamples.

  • DiegoF||

    I agree with your practical assessment. Even kings need to keep everyone throughout society's heirarchy willing to keep participating and respecting the status quo in order to keep the whole thing going--a willingness not to be confused with consent, which was a serious error in centuries past. In a democracy popular sentiment becomes more directly and explicitly vital.

    I still do not understand this business about "libertarian means of change." What about a means of change is inherently "libertarian" or otherwise? Why does it matter, except for the aforementioned practical reasons, whether anyone "wants more freedom" or not? Freedom (and with it its responsibilities) is theirs by right whether they like it or not, and certainly whether anyone else likes it or not, simply by virtue of their humanity. It is libertarian to respect that freedom. It is not libertarian not to. Period. Always. What else is there to say about it? And how on earth can granting that freedom--respecting that God-given right--ever be considered "coercion" under any circumstances?

  • Rock Lobster||

    It's the same logic used by those who wail and moan about "cuts" in some pet federal social program at the hands of the cruel, mean 'ol meanies, when what has actually occurred is a slight decrease in the rate of overall increase.

    Libertarian solutions are not "inflicted," any more than spending is really "cut."

  • Ken Shultz||

    Cutting the rate of spending growth lower than it would be otherwise is a cut just like an improving rate of negative profits really is an increase in profits.

    And trying to use the ballot box, the courts, or the president to inflict things like gay marriage on people against their will is attempting to inflict freedom. Every libertarian solution is only a libertarian solution if people choose it for themselves. The people who want to use forced association laws to kill prejudice are trying to use the coercive power of government to inflict freedom.

    Politicians are not the solution to our problems--not even libertarian politicians--and using the coercive power of the state to try to solve our problems cannot be a libertarian thing to do outside the purview of justice and national defense. When we persuade enough of our fellow Americans to understand this, our politicians will quickly realign themselves accordingly . . .

    . . . like George Wallace went from, "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" to embracing integration almost as quickly as the American people changed their minds. The libertarian politicians we need are already in congress today. We don't need different politicians. We just need to change the minds of their constituents.

  • DiegoF||

    Well, yes, any person or government who attempts to force a person to associate or do business with any other person, much less how to run his own bathroom facilities or whatever, is not remotely acting remotely in accordance with liberty, in fact or in spirit. I'm not sure how such a person can even be said to be "trying to use the coercive power of government to inflict freedom," unless it is "freedom" in some utterly Orwellian sense unrecognizable to us.

    This is why the only truly libertarian approach to marriage is privatization.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Cutting the rate of spending growth lower than it would be otherwise is a cut just like an improving rate of negative profits really is an increase in profits.

    Please. That's an obfuscation worthy of a lawyer.

    As to the rest, I disagree in principle with any imposition of positive liberties at the expense of negative liberties, and I don't regard ceasing the enforcement of any "freedom" that has to be extracted from others by governmental compulsion to be an infliction in any meaningful sense of the word.

    That being said, I understand that reality is what it is and that libertarian ideology is, like any ideology, a signpost for one's ideal viewpoint. In practice, I concede the necessity of government coercion to the extent it is necessary and possible to protect private property rights, to protect people from physical assault, and to provide for the common defense, but that's about it. So, I agree with you on freedom of association.

    However, if you want to pay lip service to the legitimacy of the status quo of government's intrusiveness by parsing "people" as a collective term versus individual persons, have at it. I won't go along with it. I disagree that the status quo is ipso facto legitimate simply because it exists.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Please. That's an obfuscation worthy of a lawyer."

    Losing less money than you did before is an increase in profits, and spending less than you were planning to spend before is a spending cut.

    There's no obfuscation about it. It's just a fact.

    If anything is an obfuscation, it's pretending that spending less than we'd planned to spend before isn't an improvement because it isn't my favorite total solution. That's black and white thinking, false dichotomy fallacious, and irrational. An improvement is an improvement even if it doesn't completely solve the problem. Why pretend otherwise?

  • Rock Lobster||

    If you're losing money, you aren't making a profit, you are incurring a loss. Calling that a "negative profit" is like a general who has lost a battle insisting that he is not retreating, he is simply advancing toward the rear. Twisting words in this manner is a textbook example an obfuscation.

    Furthermore, using the word "profit" while trying to spin a slight decrease in the rate of increase in any given misappropriation of citizens' monies by the government compounds the misdirection. This whole deceitful exercise is worthy not only of a lawyer, it is worthy of a Republican senator.

    This is the same rationalization they trot out at election time to portray themselves as responsible stewards of our tax dollars while decrying the economically illiterate Democrats for spending like drunken sailors in a Hong Kong whorehouse. This spin, together with their characterization of the Democrats (which is true), is used to cover for their own lack of fiscal honesty.

    Meanwhile, every year--every hour--the national debt continues to grow as a percentage of the GDP. This inconvenient fact belies all the bullshit. And it isn't fallacious or irrational to notice it and call the bullshit what it is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Libertarianism is a group of ideas clustered around the belief that people should be free to make choices for themselves.

  • DiegoF||

    Indeed. And if you wish to infringe upon my choices, including if you recruit a "government" to do the same, no one should care a whit if some fellow comes along and "forces" you to stop "at the point of a gun." Good for him. Your original coercion was illegitimate.

  • Matthew Chalice||

    So, the positions social liberals decided to back now qualify as libertarian victories? LOL. At this point, supporting marijuana legalization doesn't require a backbone. Supporting the elimination of the War on Drugs in its entirety, however, does.

    But no, this isn't the Libertarian Moment. We're still in Afghanistan, we still have thousands of troops stationed all over the world, we're funding wars in Syria and Yemen and everywhere else, we're still pushing for war with Iran. I could go on, but just on foreign policy alone, things aren't moving in a libertarian direction. And for all the talk about Trump's non-interventionism, he sure enjoys bombing Syria every April.

  • chipper me timbers||

    "supporting marijuana legalization doesn't require a backbone. Supporting the elimination of the War on Drugs in its entirety, however, does."

    ^THIS 100x

    Literally 100% of anyone I've ever talked to about this issue who are liberal are horrified by the idea of ending the War on Drugs.

  • Rockabilly||

    I've been growing and smoking the marijuana since I was 15.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "Structurally, the two issues are different in too many ways to count. But their trajectories in the opinion polls have tracked closely. Like birds and bats, they underwent convergent evolution on their way to liftoff. Compelled by the political and cultural environment to make similar choices, they took parallel routes to legalization."

    Man, talk about historical revisionism!

    Parallel routes, except of course that one was achieved by persuading the public to agree, and the other was imposed judicially in the teeth of desperate efforts to stop it through democratic channels. Which is kind of a big difference, isn't it?

    I wouldn't say the public has changed to supporting SSM. It's more a matter of resignation, since this topic is obviously one our lords and masters won't allow the peons to have any say about.

  • Tony||

    It's getting close to 70% support. Only two states have populations in which more people oppose than support it (guess which two). The courts waited around until it was a popular idea before acting, so it was democracy by other means. Exactly like how you gained a constitutional right to own a firearm.

  • Mock-star||

    By being endowed by our creator with it?

  • Tony||

    Yes the omnipotent creator of the entire cosmos specifically concerned Himself with the right of 5% of the world's population to own something invented in the last speck of an instant, cosmically speaking.

    Sell your magic to a child who might believe it.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|11.24.18 @ 5:25PM|#
    "Yes the omnipotent creator of the entire cosmos specifically concerned Himself with the right of 5% of the world's population to own something invented in the last speck of an instant, cosmically speaking."

    Disregarding any creator, who are you do deny me the right to own anything I desire, especially if it is very helpful in protecting me an my family, regardless of when it was invented?
    You see to think "guns" are some magic object, separate in some way to, oh a knife. Why is that, shitbag? What makes those things "magic" to you?

  • Tony||

    You've already qualified your right: it's helpful to protect your family (even though it's not). Since we have qualified rights, we can dispense with the mysticism and the illogical argument by assertion and assess whether the policy actually helps or harms society. That's when we get to the data, and it's not on your side.

  • Sevo||

    "You've already qualified your right: it's helpful to protect your family (even though it's not)."
    I did not "qualify" anything, scumbag.

    "Since we have qualified rights, we can dispense with the mysticism and the illogical argument by assertion and assess whether the policy actually helps or harms society. That's when we get to the data, and it's not on your side."
    You jumped from a lie to a unjustifed conclusion; fail, scumbag.

  • Tony||

    I suppose its your Harvard graduate studies and Mensa commitments that prevent you from ever making a comment with any substance whatsoever.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Note to foreign readers: The Tony sockpuppet is an anonymous force-initiating collectivist sold on coercion, and therefore the first person honest people can be expected to shoot--just as after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. All were encouraged to shoot masked looters. Socialism and Kristallnacht gun laws go together for precisely this reason.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Oh, BS. It had nothing to do with public opinion; The courts decided they were going to impose SSM on the nation, and to hell with what the public thought. Even California voted against it!

  • Tony||

    And now 70% of Americans are cool with it. Aren't there actual problems in the world to worry about?

  • Robert||

    Probably what's meant by "the teaching function of the law": that people derive their ideas of right & wrong partly from what's legal & illegal. That is, you make something the law, i.e. impose it by force, & people come to think it's the right thing. They may think, there must be something to this or they wouldn't've made it the law; or maybe it's too distressing to think the law is evil, so they come to think it's good; or maybe doing something a certain way, because it's required by law, ingrains the idea that it's best that way.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Both issues were in Libertarian party platforms, and voting integrity on the part of queers or hippies could have defeated Republican nationalsocialism for a third time in a row. The sudden wave of legalization is akin to the Gee-Oh-Pee finally deciding--after Dewey lost to Truman--that making beer a shoot-first felony wasn't worth having to find an honest job. And it was the Liberal Party of 1930 that delivered the manly take-no-prisoners repeal plank aimed directly at the mystical Prohibition amendment, just like the LP has done since 1972 (when Nixon's nationalsocialism was wrecking the economy).

  • dchang0||

    I don't think libertarianism can take credit for these wins. Not that they weren't in there, working on it, but they didn't do much at all.

    These appear to be due to slow but massive cultural shifts. I give more credit to the entertainment industry than to fringe activists. Snoop Dogg did more for marijuana acceptance than NORML and Ellen Degeneres did more for LGBT, in other words.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I agree with your first point but not as much with your second. I think the entertainment industry was reflecting the cultural shift you point out (as art often does). But it was the growing number of regular people ignoring stupid laws and cultural norms that made both inevitable.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Wrong. Libertarian spoiler votes are what every looter feels when the ballot counts say YOU'RE FIRED! The LP rattled the casting of over 90 electoral votes with its 4 million votecount. That was way in excess of the difference between the fascist and socialist candidates in the popular vote. The commies got the income tax with barely 2% on average, and Bryan's bigots also amended the Constitution by making the more hostile to their platform lose. We are doing the exact same thing, and got the right to birth control enforced with ONE electoral vote cast in 1972. So OF COURSE the lying looters are going to pretend it's something else. Beating the snot out of looter politicians, making them LOSE, makes them change the laws. Just ask Herbert Hoover or Emperor Hirohito.

  • Sevo||

    OT:
    Mexico opens their borders, but only for transit, acts surprised when the intended destination acts as promised and denies the crowd access:

    "Tijuana mayor declares "humanitarian crisis" over migrants, asks UN for help"
    [...]
    "TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) - The mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city and said Friday that he has asked the United Nations for aid to deal with the approximately 5,000 Central American migrants who have arrived.
    Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said that the Mexican federal government has provided little assistance and he is not going to commit the city's public resources to dealing with the situation. He said 4,976 migrants had come to the city."
    http://www.ktvu.com/news/tijuana-mayor-
    declares-humanitarian-crisis-over-
    migrants-asks-un-for-help

    That miserable hag says 'let 'em eat cake'.

  • Robert||

    Or in a country with vague enough constitutional provisions, you can get a ruling like the one in Mexico that required mj to be legalized.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Article skips over the inconvenient truth that gay marriage was imposed by the Nazgul on the entire country over explicit referendums barring it in multiple states.

    The lesson to learn is that judicial authoritarianism is all smiles and giggles when it's on your side.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Those damn authoritarians expanding liberty.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Liberty is being ruled by the whimsy of the Nazgul."

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    You know, buybuy, the "Nazgul" also gave us broad free speech rights that go beyond the text of the First Amendment itself. Was that "judicial authoritarianism"?

    Maybe the "Nazgul" should have said that sure, since money is not literally speech, that McCain-Feingold 'Campaign Finance Reform' Bill was all hunky-dory. I'm sure you would have loved that.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Oh, come on, does anybody actually take that "we're not regulating speech, just money" nonsense seriously? If you only regulate spending the money when it's spent on speech you don't want spoken, you're regulating the speech, not the money, and everybody knows it.

    Might as well ban arranging ink on paper into the form of a particular book, and claim you're just regulating ink, instead of banning a book.

    If campaign finance regulations had been contemporaneous with the 1st amendment, you might be able to make a case that they were consistent with expected application. But they actually originated TWO FREAKING CENTURIES LATER.

    They weren't anything but Congress deciding that if they came up with some BS excuse for violating freedom of political speech, the Court would probably let them get away with it.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Look, if you're going to be a Constitutional literalist, then speech means speech.

    Now I happen to agree with the Citizens United decision. I am glad that the court decided the way it did. But I'm not going to pretend that they didn't stretch the Constitution a little bit when they did it.

    Frankly the complains about "judicial activism" that come from the right ring quite hollow. It is just another phrase to rile up the base, like "government takeover of health care", or "caravan of invaders".

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I don't think they stretched it a bit. Congress, when they passed the BCRA, were attempting to compress it, from where it already had been. "We're just regulating the money" was a new excuse for censorship, not an established one.

    It's easy for people with sort time horizons to forget, but campaign finance "reform" is a relatively recent development, historically speaking, particularly at the federal level. The BCRA wasn't just the latest in a long series of laws, that the Court eventually overturned out of the blue. It was a new power grab, a venture into regulating what had previously been free.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I don't think they stretched it a bit.

    Where does the First Amendment say "money = speech"? It doesn't. If one wanted to construe the First Amendment literally and narrowly, one could legitimately argue that the First Amendment prohibits Congress from regulating speech, but does not prohibit Congress from regulating how that speech is paid for. Now SCOTUS saw through this backdoor attempt at censorship, interpreted the First Amendment more broadly than that, and rightly struck down the law. But it was via an act of judicial activism that got them there. The people on the right who routinely scream about "activist judges" are strangely silent on this, for obvious reasons - they are complete hypocrites on the matter. But that is not surprising. I personally don't care, I am in favor of whatever increases liberty, whether it's in the Constitution or not. I don't worship the Constitution as Holy Writ the same as some on the right claim to do. But at least I'm honest about it.

    "We're just regulating the money" was a new excuse for censorship, not an established one.

    http://ballotpedia.org/Federal.....ct_of_1971

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "If one wanted to construe the First Amendment literally and narrowly, one could legitimately argue that the First Amendment prohibits Congress from regulating speech, but does not prohibit Congress from regulating how that speech is paid for. "

    If you wanted to construe it absurdly, with the aim of rendering it moot, sure. (Which is the aim of the campaign finance "reformers".)

    Have you ever seen me complain about "judicial activism"? I'm concerned about judicial malfeasance. Which is equally capable of manifesting itself as passivity in the face of constitutional violations, as it is active misconstrual of the Constitution.

    Sure, active malfeasance gets more loud complaints, because there's an act to point to, not a void.

    " I am in favor of whatever increases liberty, whether it's in the Constitution or not. "

    This is foolish. The rule of law is one of the more important bulwarks of liberty. It may seem in the first instance that a Constitutional violation that increases liberty is a win, but in the long run it just opens the door to generally violating the Constitution, and most such violations will be liberty reducing, because the Constitution is a relatively libertarian document.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    If you wanted to construe it absurdly, with the aim of rendering it moot, sure.

    Really? So is all taxation then an infringement of the First Amendment? After all, if the government taxes me, then it is taking away some of my money that I otherwise could use to pay for speech. I don't think even a libertarian lawyer would make that argument.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I don't think even a libertarian lawyer would make that argument.


    A libertarian lawyer, maybe not.

    A libertarian armchair-lawyer, like you get a lot of around here? Not that far off from what I actually see around here...

  • ||

    Now that is some really weird reasoning as why to keep unlibertarian parts of the Constitution.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    You know, buybuy, sometimes the mob is wrong. And which institution should be the one that tells the mob that they are wrong?

    Don't come crying to me when the mob decides to take away your 'assault weapons' or your right to burn flags.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Unless you're a florist or baker.

    That was my chief reason for opposing it; In the present legal environment, you can't just legalize something like SSM. The moment you legalize it, everybody else loses rights. It was utterly predictable that those court rulings would lead to people being punished for merely not wanting to be part of it.

  • Sevo||

    I resisted this argument for exactly as long as it proved to be true.

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    That moment you realize the freedom of libertarianism is the freedom for the whole wide world to take a massive dump on you, and you have the freedom to do Jack Shit about it. But at least you'll have legal hookers and blow to drown your sorrows with while you're enjoying baking gay weeding cakes with your new Somali neighbors.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The sockpuppet really IS nationalsocialist! I thought it was humor for a while there. Someone explain the difference between freedom from coercion and the power to make aggressors rue the day to corporal Shickelgruber here.

  • ||

    Who is Jack Shit? More importantly, where does he and the rest of the defecator elite have their private poopyland? I´m not interested in the whole wide world, most of their shits are not worth shit.

  • AJ_Liberty||

    I think society is better off when public accommodations don't discriminate on superficial characteristics. Maybe part of this is line drawing. For instance, I don't think that ministers, singers, or videographers should be made to participate in events that they perceive as immoral.....but creating a cake that does not include compelled speech.....and setting up said cake at an event location removed from the wedding.....is not a substantial burden on free speech or free exercise. Taken to extreme, would you want every person you contract with looking into your personal activities to decide if they will do business with you? Many here would argue this is the heart of free association....but it's also the heart of segregation....and why is it morally unacceptable to deny service based on race but perfectly OK to deny it based on sexual orientation? If the answer is "I'm fine going back to pre-1964" because....freedom....it's only because you currently have the strength in numbers. In general, you would not want to be on the losing side of superficial discrimination.

  • Tony||

    They must also be constantly reminded that it's not a choice between freedom and government coercion. Obviously, if you permit discrimination in public accommodations, that necessarily means government agents will be dragging undesirables from your shop. The cops have to take one side or the other. There is no position that doesn't involve government force.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Yeah, and if a motorcycle gang decided to make your cake shop their local hangout, and not buy any cakes, you'd be entitled to have them dragged out. It's a normal incident of property ownership. The police are just doing it so that you don't have to do it yourself.

    But, we're not arguing about whether or not the police should drag non-customers out of cake shops. We're arguing about whether bakers should be compelled to involuntarily serve people they don't want for customers.

    I thought we settled the question of involuntary servitude with the 13th amendment. But the creation of fake rights does naturally imply the destruction of real ones, and freedom from involuntary servitude is falling fast.

  • Tony||

    You wouldn't be so flippant with your language if we were still talking about the apartheid conditions of the Jim Crow South, though defenders of that system would be using the exact same ridiculous rhetoric. Owning property, especially owning a business, does not afford you infinite rights. You still have to follow laws.Why isn't it slavery if restaurant owners have to follow safety regulations too? Or is it?

  • AJ_Liberty||

    From Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. vs. United States: "the Thirteenth Amendment claim fails because it is entirely frivolous to say that an amendment directed to the abolition of human bondage and the removal of widespread disabilities associated with slavery places discrimination in public accommodations beyond the reach of both federal and state law."

    This follows from English common law regarding an Innkeeper's responsibility to serve the public indiscriminately. Once you open your door to the public, you must accept all customers within hours of operation, within the capability of the establishment, and within the advertised terms. The retailer is not obliged to serve anyone who has or may create a disturbance, poses a health concern, or is no longer a customer. The Innkeeper is not allowed to unilaterally downgrade a customer. So you are working against the common right of service that has a much more rich history than base discrimination.

  • Qsl||

    I've come to suspect that maybe the market isn't the best place to exercise freedom of association.

    Another type of freedom of association in the market is the cartel, which given the laborious arguments against monopoly, rings hollow coming from libertarians. Do you support freedom of association or not?

    And of course the well-worn arguments against unions vs. corporations; libertarians seem quite selective in their freedom of association.

  • Eddy||

    "Legalizing gay marriage" can be dated no later than the Lawrence decision of c. 2003, legalizing consensual, noncommercial adult sex done in private. Even before Lawrence, most states had decriminalized such sex. (And such sex represented only a minority of sodomy charges even when it was criminal, though on the other hand the threat of arrest gave leverage to blackmailers.)

    No later than Lawrence (earlier depending on the state), there was no legal obstacle to same-sex couples proclaiming themselves married, holding whatever religious ceremonies they wished, and living together as sex partners.

    The issue of hospital visitation was complicated by HIPPA, but that could have been resolved without state-issued marriage licenses, as with visiting any friend in the hospital.

    We heard more about hospital visitation than about estate taxes, though we heard about the estate tax too. But it's hard to critique the estate tax on gays without bringing into question the estate tax itself. Which the SSM folks, being class warriors, often didn't want to do. The estate tax is fine as long as it applies to other people.

    As for discrimination, non-erotic same-sex friendships are discriminated against in an SSM regime.

  • Robert||

    There's plenty bad about the imposition of SSM on family law, but I never saw that last bit. Please explain how non-erotic friendships are discriminated vs.

  • Eddy||

    If you have a state marriage license, you get the 10,001 (or whatever) legal benefits of marriage, but if you're literally just friends, and don't want to get a marriage license, then not so much.

  • Robert||

    But that's about marriage, nothing erotic.

  • Eddy||

    Ba-dum, tsssh.

  • AJ_Liberty||

    Once privileges and benefits (government or private) are conferred based on marital status....and government sets the rules for who is allowed to marry....there is a conflict on how well the classification serves a compelling government interest....or even a rational basis. From my point of view, the Constitution did not compel SSM and such significant change to a key social institution should have occurred through the state legislatures....but the arguments against SSM were also exposed as being pretty emaciatingly thin. It seemed to boil down to....Bible....and this still really creeps us out. Is maintaining a supposed moral order sufficient to establishing a rational basis? Pre-Lawrence it seemed to be. What changed....and should that change have been reflected in new legislation and new laws....or in a change to how our Constitution is interpreted? My sense is that 30 years from now we will all be wondering what the whole fuss was about. Still, process should matter....we the people should govern....not we the Court....

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    It seemed to boil down to....Bible....

    Competent people neither advance nor accept fiction-based arguments in reasoned debates among adults, especially in the context of public policy.

    Libertarians understand this.

  • AJ_Liberty||

    There may have been good practical reasons in ancient times to discourage homosexuality....certainly survival was oftentimes a question of numbers.....and there was an all hands on deck attitude toward reproduction. Homosexuality could easily be seen as counter to the seemingly reasonable call to "be fruitful and multiply"...and a dead end to blood line. So the question is whether any of this is relevant in modern times....or are there modern concerns about disease or social difficulties that animate new moral objections? The driver is probably more so taboo and a sense of taste....and that that preferred taste reflects something that should be conserved.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Well, in terms of health... male homosexuals ARE the primary disease reservoir for STDs, and incubator for new strains. I don't think that's remotely a sufficient reason to outlaw it, but to disapprove of it? Sure. I disapprove of people who don't wash their hands on the way out of the bathroom, too, but I don't feel some overwhelming urge to mandate it.

  • AJ_Liberty||

    There are certainly lots of voluntary activities that pose personal health risks (vice public health risks).....over eating, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, being too sedentary, engaging in high risk activities like mountain biking, rock climbing, or having multiple anonymous sex partners. I'm sure you're not suggesting that there should be laws that prevent individuals from exercising their liberty to expose themselves to these risks....or laws that validate discriminating against customers...not based on some neutral criterion...but based on what activities they voluntarily participate in....are you? If someone poses a real public health concern, fine, but if the supposed objection is just cover for discrimination based on taste, can we agree that is not fine?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Probably more than anything else, the marijuana issue opened my eyes to the way that most people hold a fundamentally different worldview. They mention how it can now be regulated and also taxed. It's profoundly weird.

    Imagine someone shows you their newborn baby and you say something like, "Ah yes, he or she looks like they will grow up to be a great taxpayer. Perhaps they will also run for office, so they can contribute directly to our glorious state." They'd probably look at you like you have three eyes. But that's exactly how I feel about them and their reasoning.

    It's a fucking plant. Who cares what people do with it? It's not the government's business and never should have been. I'm saddened that so many people around me are statist clingers. They can't see any other way, it seems.

  • Robert||

    Doesn't seem weird at all to me. Societal change is usu. incremental. What's the closest thing to having something be illegal? Having it be legal but heavily taxed & restricted. The next closest thing to that is moderately taxed & lightly restricted. Next closest to that would be lightly taxed & nearly unrestricted. I see a continuum.

    When states ended their prohib'n on booze, nothing close to laissez faire replaced the prohib'n. Why would you expect different w mj? People talk about change along the continuum, not abrupt changes. Most people's world view is that things shouldn't change too fast.

    Even things like the abolition of slavery in the USA were not as abrupt as they may seen. 1st there was a long period in which slavery was restricted to non-whites. Then import'n of slaves was forbidden.

  • Juice||

    I didn't realize that conservatives were still this mega butthurt about gay marriage. Damn, guys. Move on.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Right-wingers still butthurt about gay marriage? Hell, they're still pissed that black men are no longer compelled to lower their gaze in the company of white women!

  • Tony||

    These aren't conservatives, they're libertarians. They are definitely on the side of maximum freedom for a maximum number of people and absolutely do not let their stunted mental development and petty bigotries affect their worldview. As freedom maximalists, they would be the last people to let this happen. (Just don't pay attention to what they say.)

  • Robert||

    That's correct. But do pay att'n to what I say, because I'm very, very smart.

  • CE||

    20 years ago, pro-freedom types roundly criticized the Libertarian Party for focusing on ending the drug war. Yet it has been the LP's biggest (perhaps only) success.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Rausch's looter argument boils down to "selling out works," so let's "us" do that. The guy has not a hint of the meaning of morality or ethics or the values in which it is grounded. Nor does he realize the value of money or votes and has no clue as to history or economics. We went through this after WWI. Women had the vote and were tired of Comstock-law prohibition of ALL forms of birth control. Prosecutors found that juries would not convict neighbors for beer and such, and so the 4th and 5th Amendments were burned at the stake and the Income tax used to enforce prohibition through asset forfeiture and murder. The asset forfeiture confiscations caused money to flee banks in 1929-1933. The collapse led the Liberal party to form with a 1931 repeal plank the Dems copied in 1932, and won 5 times running thanks to women voters. The same pattern followed in 1987, but the connection was disguised. It was repeated in the Bush faith-based asset-forfeiture crash of 2007 which led to the Obama victories. Fear of black power, fear of loss of government jobs and boodle, and fear of more economic collapse was intensified by two prohibition-related flash crashes and the steady increase in law-changing libertarian spoiler votes as parents sought to stop police from murdering our kids over plant leaves. That, analogous to the situation in 1932--is bringing quick change.

  • BunkerBill||

    So we can all smoke pot on the way to the re-education camps, the left libertarian utopia achieved.

  • Surgeon Putnam Valley||

    Yeah, you'll agree that the culture has become significantly more tolerant of homosexuality than it was in 1980, and it would be absurd to suggest that this has nothing to do with gay marriage becoming enshrined in policy and law.

  • HenryC||

    I still think that the word marriage means man and woman. I am not against civil unions that give gay couples equal rights, but the definition of marriage is over 3000 years old. It gay marriage changes the definition of the word.

  • HenryC||

    I still think that the word marriage means man and woman. I am not against civil unions that give gay couples equal rights, but the definition of marriage is over 3000 years old. It gay marriage changes the definition of the word.

  • HenryC||

    I still think that the word marriage means man and woman. I am not against civil unions that give gay couples equal rights, but the definition of marriage is over 3000 years old. It gay marriage changes the definition of the word.

  • M.L.||

    You have to wonder about people who seem to care about "rights" involving sex, drugs, suicide and infanticide above all else -- even when it means abandoning the original meaning of the Constitution.