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Ron Paul at LPAC: Liberty Depends on Both Non-Aggression and Tolerance

"Just because you allow somebody to have a lifestyle you disapprove of doesn't mean you have to endorse it. A lot of people don't quite understand that."

Though I missed Sen. Rand Paul at this weekend's Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Alexandria, Virginia, I was able able to catch the evening portion yesterday, featuring his papa. Unlike a lot of slightly younger libertarians I know, I didn't come into the fold via Ron Paul, and this was the first time I've heard the former Congressman and Republican presidential candidate speak live. I was charmed—the man certainly has charisma—and though he lost me a few places, I thought Paul's statements about American foreign policy and the general precepts of liberty were really great. The crowd seemed the most gung-ho when Paul spoke about foreign policy, economic matters like taxes and the gold standard, and dysfunctionality in Washington.

Toward the end of the speech, Paul stressed that there are two basic principles of liberty: non-agression and tolerance. "We have to become quite tolerant of the way people use their liberty," he said, lamenting the fact that folks on all sides seem to have a problem with this concept.  

There are many who say 'I believe in freedom, I believe in liberty—as long as you don't do stupid things or do things I consider immoral.' ... But it's not up to the government or you as a neighbor to say… well, we don't like the way you use your liberty. Your lifestyle is not what we like; you go to a church that's not a good church and it has crazy ideas and we wanna ban that church; and you read books that aren't good books and we wanna ban those books; and you have a sexual lifestyle that we don't endorse; and you put stuff into your body and into your lungs that we think are bad for you; and therefore we're going to have the government make you a better person. 

Tolerance, explained Paul, doesn't mean you necessarily endorse others' choices, only their right to make those choices. 

Just because you allow somebody to have a lifestyle you disapprove of doesn't mean you have to endorse it. A lot of people don't quite understand that. They think legalizing freedom of choice is an endorsement of what people do. And there's no reason in the world that this can't bring people together. If you have people on the left and people on the right and they want liberty for something over here, and somebody wants liberty for this over here… why shouldn't everybody come together for liberty to use it as they see fit?

Economic liberty and personal liberty can't be separate, Paul emphasized. "It's so crucial that we realize that it's one unit... that liberty is liberty and it's your life and you have a right to use it as you see fit."

Some more quotes from Paul's speech...

On Scottish independence

I was disappointed in the vote in Scotland. Who here would have been glad too see a yes vote? (Lots of cheering) That would've been very exciting, but it's still exciting that a lot of people around the world have been thinking about this. ... The smaller the units of government the better, and self-determination should be respected. Just about a hundred years ago we had a president who thought that we should make the world safe for democracy. I think we should make the world safe for liberty, not democracy.

Woodrow Wilson drags us into (World War One) and one of his big pitches was self-determination… Then he gets in and participates in this redrawing of the lines in the Middle East that we're still fighting over. And now of course there's a challenge to the lines... they were artificial then, they're artificial now, and they're going to be redrawn because we live in a new age, in a positive way, a new age because things are changing. ... People are saying enough is enough, we want to be on our own.

On American foreign policy: 

So what's wrong with an idea whose time has come, the idea that we have a foreign policy based on the Golden Rule and don't do anything to anybody else that we wouldn't want them to do to us?Wouldn't that solve a lot of problems?"

... We helped start Hamas and then we said, 'okay, I think you should have democratic elections', and they did, but then we didn't like who they elected so we decided to turn on them. So then they had an election in Lebanon, Hezbollah gets elected, and oh, we don't like them, and on and on ... How long did we support the dictator of Egypt? Tens of millions of dollars, then we decide we don't like Mumbarak so we kick him out, and we say 'okay have an election', so they elect somebody that belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. Oh, we don't like them, so we've got to get rid of him and put in the military dictator again. When are we going to wake up as an American people and say it's not working, it's stupid, it doesn't help us, it's bankrupting us, and it puts us in more danger and we ought to quit?"

On Congress: 

All this argument back and forth—I think it's all fluff, it's all fake. But there's a good reason for them to agree. They've got to get home, and … they've got to get reelected to do good. And they believe this, they ... would probably on a personal basis say they would agree with a lot of what we believe in, but … they don't want to look extreme. And 'if we're not (in Congress) how can we do all this goodness for the country?' So they sell their souls and they sell themselves, in many ways—monetarily and I think morally, too, because they just give up their beliefs and deceive the people. A lot of people campaign very well and then when they get there they compromise very well, too. 

On the non-aggression principle: 

Do you think people around the world want to emulate (America) now? Because any time we don't like anything they do, we...send sanctions to punish the people, and we send bombs to kill a bunch of people, and then we kick out the leaders we don't like. And you don't persuade people that way, you do it by setting a standard…It isn't like you have to have a PhD in some fancy science to understand well, uh, don't hurt people. 

Photo Credit: Matthew Hurtt/Twitter

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  • Winston||

    But doesn't tolerance require being intolerant to haters like Ron Paul?

  • Lt Womack||

    The same way that a good driver must cut in front of people who cut in front of them.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Resistance to ststists is intolerance? Interesting. How do you feel about the Tea Party?

  • joshrendell||

    do yuo think using the word "statist"
    makes you look smart?
    wasn't that one of billo's "word of the day"?

  • Chumby||

    How's your Herman Cain-esque 9 - 9 - .9 tax plan coming along?

  • Chumby||

    Do you think Cain borrowed your ideas or arrived at them independently?

  • Chumby||

    Sounds like they "borrowed" it. Would have been interesting if it had been implemented.

    And I'm sorry you had to live in Cleveland.

  • Warrren||

    Not having wars means being intolerant towards defense contractors. Is that what America is all about?

  • Lt Womack||

    Defense contractors do plenty of stuff that has nothing to do with foreign wars.

  • Tsumaranai||

    This is true, I'm a defense contractor and I don't do anything.

  • ||

    It isn't like you have to have a PhD in some fancy science to understand well, uh, don't hurt people.

    No, just a concept of morality, some empathy, and some principles.

    Too bad my advanced degree in Dicknology doesn't help with that. Why did I waste all that money on that PhD? Why?!?

  • Sudden||

    Dicknology... the study of dicks?

    I feel like you and Jesse should compare notes.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Who do you think designed the PhD program?

  • ||

    Dicknology... the study of dicks?

    That's dick*o*logy.

    Its like the difference between entomology and etymology.

  • Sudden||

    So it's the study of bug dicks where dickology is the study of dicks who use obscure words?

  • ||

    Are you telling me that I don't know dick? If anybody knows how to build a ship out of dicks it is me!

  • Lt Womack||

    This is bullshit. I can totally disapprove of the way people use their liberty, and say they shouldn't do what they do, as long as I don't coerce those people. Ron Paul is either wrong or being redundant.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think that was his point.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    And TFA quoted Ron Paul as saying:
    Just because you allow somebody to have a lifestyle you disapprove of doesn't mean you have to endorse it. A lot of people don't quite understand that.

  • Lt Womack||

    He also said:

    But it's not up to the government or you as a neighbor to say… well, we don't like the way you use your liberty.

    The only way those two expression are compatible is if he thinks you should shut your mouth if you disapprove. Otherwise he must be deemed illogical.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I see you took "say" literally. I took it as an idiom, probably (thinking in hindsight) that he includes "government" as one of the subjects of that sentence, and governments never literally just "say" anything; they always say with compulsion.

  • Lt Womack||

    I don't like the way you're using your liberty to postulate such a charitable interpretation.

  • walkthejosh||

    There might actually be a case that even verbally chastising someone for something that doesn't constitute aggression is a moral failure. If we believe that the individual is the ultimate unit of analysis and that individuals should and can make decisions for themselves, then there seems to be no room for moral correction. As such, even if we disagree with a decision, the decision was the best one that person could make with the information available to him or her. To attempt to correct such a person could potentially call into question the very foundation of libertarian ethics - the deference to and inviolability of individual initiative. Though I'm not sure if I'm sold on such a line of argument, I have an inkling that the 19th century American anarchists were right in saying that the only moral law is to "mind your own business."

  • Tommy_Grand||

    I agree with every quote in the FA.

  • userve32||

    Sounds like a plan to me dude.

    www.Crypt-Tools.tk

  • cavalier973||

    I was disappointed in the vote in Scotland. Who here would have been glad too see a yes vote?

    Ha! That Ron "Crazypants" Paul sure is stupid! He used "too" when he should have used "to".

  • Lt Womack||

    Mance Rayder and the Ginger Mint whore.

  • cavalier973||

    I'm almost ashamed I had to look that up.

    I still don't get the reference. Oh, well, I'll use it as an excuse to post something GoT related.

  • Sassan31||

    "And now of course there's a challenge to the lines... they were artificial then, they're artificial now, and they're going to be redrawn because we live in a new age, in a positive way, a new age because things are changing. ... People are saying enough is enough, we want to be on our own."

    In essence, Ron Paul supports ISIS and justifies their actions in that they are acting in a "new age" and "positive way". People are saying "enough is enough, we want our heads cut off". Great to see where Ron Paul stands. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to Rand Paul. He is his father's son and has held nearly identical views as his dad until his recent shapeshifting.

  • Tsumaranai||

    Look, it's a hungry troll.

  • MJGreen||

    C-

  • ||

    Not bad for a first try. If you work hard and start throwing in some "Repukes" and references to Citizens United, you could become a second-tier troll someday.

  • Sassan31||

    You Paulbots can deny it all you want, but with that statement Ron Paul effectively justified the actions of ISIS and deemed them legitimate and positive for the world.

  • Bgoptmst||

    Ron Paul justified human nature if anything. People will be horrible, great, miserable, sad, happy, emotional, rational and a bunch of other words. You can't regulate that. Paul is saying that trying to regulate behavior is a doomed enterprise.

    It's like reasoning with people that don't have a moral compass or social philosophy; instead they have a firm stance on every issue based off of party lines/talking heads.

  • MJBinAL||

    Dude,

    THINK!

    ISIS exists as a result of the attempt to force people of incompatible ethnic and religious backgrounds into these countries imposed from outside.

    The Kurds want their own country. The Sunni's was to be separate from the Shia.

    ISIS is attractive to the Sunni only because of the same stupid shit we use in our foreign policy, " the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

    Iraq has been falling apart since the day we kicked Saddam out. Because the only way to keep such a country together is with a brutal dictatorship.

    Ron Paul spoke in reference to these larger issues and trends, not to a flash-in-the-pan like ISIS.

    Are you truly unable to understand, or are you just another manipulative jerk who believes he is particularly clever?

  • ||

    It isn't like you have to have a PhD in some fancy science to understand well, uh, don't hurt people.

    Excuse me, Mr. Fancypants President guy, some of us happen to have PhDs in Pain Engineering. Elitist.

  • MJBinAL||

    What exactly IS a "State's Rights bigot"?
    Do you mean you don't believe in state's rights? or you have evidence that Ron Paul (not any of his acquaintances) is a bigot? or do you somehow associate State's Rights (a founding principle of the nation) and universally associated with bigotry?

  • Eric Bana||

    I like Ron Paul a lot. But are smaller units of government always better? If Scotland gained independence and formed a neo-USSR, that would not be better than its current situation.

  • Akira||

    I think that smaller units of government give the people much more direct control, and it reduces the number of people who are told "tough shit" because a majority voted against them.

    Think about it: in a federal election, there could be a 49/51 split. That 49% is roughly 150,000,000 people who are trod on, all because the majority rules in a democracy.

    However, in a state election, that number is much smaller. It's even smaller in a local election.

    And of course, when the individual is allowed to make their own decisions, NOBODY gets screwed over (provided that this decision does not affect anyone but the agent himself).

    In regards to decision making, smaller is better.

  • joshrendell||

    the author doesn't realize that libertarianism is not a political
    philosophy that has any bsis in reality, it's pure fantasy
    based on the need to be "different" than everybody else
    which leaves them ideas that are all "pie in the sky"

  • MJBinAL||

    Indeed, and the highest and finest form of government is a dictatorship, provided of course that I am the dictator.

    That is what you meant right?

  • Chumby||

    Did you ever get your piece of cake?

  • american socialist||

    I gained a tremendous amount of respect for Ron Paul during the Iraq war when he made these warmongers on Fox and in the Republican Party look like goobers. I think he is a principled man and you can rely on every word that he says. He wouldn't countenance the kind of sucking up to the militarists in the RP that his son engages in.

    I agree, however, with everything that Michael hinh above has to say about him and that his stances on issues like gay rights and abortion are a bridge too far for this libertarian sympathizer.

  • Marktaylor||

    Which is to say that liberty is cool until you don't get what you want. Then hire people with guns.

  • Bgoptmst||

    "Just because you allow somebody to have a lifestyle you disapprove of doesn't mean you have to endorse it. A lot of people don't quite understand that."

    A lot = just about everyone

    My neighbor has 6 cars. It's annoying. I thought once I should contact the HOA, but then I realized the real problem was I needed to stop being a whiny bitch.

    I would offer most Americans need that self-realization.

  • OrelHazard||

    Ha ha.

    Ron Paul preaches libertarian "non-aggression and tolerance".

    Until someone walks on his lawn. Then the tolerance vaporizes and the aggression arrives.

    Especially if the walker is one of those primitive colored people he wrote those newsletters about for years and years.

    Ha ha.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "therefore we're going to have the government make you a better person. "

    The fundamental axis of politics isn't between left and right, but between Libertarians and Theocrats. Libertarians want government to protect your rights, Theocrats want government to impose a standard of good and evil. You decide how to spend your life, or government decides.

    Unfortunately, the world is simply *full* of theocrats, and even in a country whose founding document says "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men", the majority are still Theocrats who want the government to force us to do good, and stop us from doing evil.

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