• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

You do the label

The minute you label yourself, whether it's "conservative" or "liberal" or "libertarian" or whatever, you become judged by that label. People will study everything you say to see if it lives up to the purity of that philosophy. Much better to just say what you think and let others come up with the label for you. That's why, when I'm pushed, I say I'm "a moderate conservative with strong libertarian tendencies and a few liberal skeletons in the closet." It doesn't begin to completely describe where I am on my philosophical journey, but at least it provides a moving target that makes it harder for the ad hominem snarkers to draw a bead on me:

The first stage of identity politics is using a word to describe yourself. Thus, I've always hesitated to call myself a liberal or a conservative, and I've just about reached the same point with the word "libertarian." Ron Paul hasn't helped much, and I can think of no one who has done more to discredit the word. It's a real pain in the ass to call yourself something which is more and more evocative of paranoid beliefs, if not outright 9/11 Trutherism.

But Ron Paul is only part of the problem. Putting on any word which goes to your identity word is a bit like putting on clothes. Right there, I would have said "political identity" but the personal has become so increasingly political that what's the difference?

Increasingly, people (even respected authors and journalists) are unable to distinguish between advocacy and conduct. So, a libertarian who thinks the government should stay out of the bedroom and pornography should be legal becomes a "hedonist." Or, in the latest terminology, a "freedom fetishist."

Like this author, though, I get tired of having to defend libertarianism to people who think advocating freedom is the same as endorsing all the behaviors that freedom will bring. Because I support the right to make bad choices does not mean I think you should or that I would consider making them myself. The point is who gets to decide:

The more the government gets involved, the more the definitions of both are blurred. Rights are seen as government-bestowed largesse, and freedom is seen as official license.

Pretty soon no one will know what these words mean, and everyone will look to the government, which will be in charge of freedom and rights.

The more they give, the more they take away.

If you've been listening to the presidential debates, you will have found hardly anyone from either party willing to let you just live your own life, enjoying the rewards and suffering the consequences of your own decisions. You will have discovered merely different ways to use government to push you in one direction or another.


Wed, 09/19/2007 - 9:19am

As is usual with Libertarians, you confuse free will with freedom. Everyone has a free will, in that they can choose to do whatever they want (or can) do, regardless of whether it is legal or beneficial to them or others. Freedom, on the other hand, is the ability to make right and good choices, as they relate to the individual and/or society. What those choices are have changed and evolved over the millenia. Slave owning was obviously a "freedom" bestowed on certain landed gentry in our history. Fortunately, that "freedom" was rescinded. Reasonable people can and should debate what right and good choices are, but it is the proper function of a just society to facilitate those choices, not just be an interested observer.

Jennifer Jeffrey
Wed, 09/19/2007 - 10:08am

I don't know any one who is confusing it besides some of the media and old hand politicians.

It is as simple as Mr. Morris states: enjoy your life, and live with the consequences.

I encourage you to look at some local Libertarian ideas which are not morally outrageous, just insist on personal responsibility.


Jennifer Jeffrey, Chair
Allen County Libertarian Party

Robert Enders
Wed, 09/19/2007 - 10:46am

You are correct to point out that there is a difference between freedom and free will. The question of free will is a philosophical one, while the question of freedom is a political one.

Slavery meant that freedom was denied to 4 million Americans prior to the Civil War. Slavery was upheld and maintained by the federal government. To call slavery a "freedom" even in quotes is an oxymoron.

By what means do you propose to "facilitate" those choices? The methods available to a government are taxes, subsidies, fines, and imprisonment. Unless one's actions interfere with someone else's rights, then that person should be left alone by the government. If that person makes a bad choice that only affects him, such as drinking too much or eating too many Twinkies, then the consequenses are theirs alone to suffer.

Wed, 09/19/2007 - 12:24pm

>>Live your own life, enjoying the rewards and suffering the consequences <<

There is a campaign slogan in there somewhere.

Wed, 09/19/2007 - 12:30pm

I have spent considerable time examining the platform of the Libertarian Party, as adoped July 2, 2006. Neither time nor space allows me to express how much of it I find outrageous and offensive. Suffice it to say, it is in no way, shape, or form "as simple as enjoy your life and live with the consequences." That is a morally bankrupt philosophy, couched in the broad brush phrase "personal responsibilty". Libertarians must have some difficulty not choking on those words.

Wed, 09/19/2007 - 2:13pm

I did not call slavery a freedom. I said that the ability to OWN slaves was a "freedom" that existed in our society for a time. And you think that drinking too much affects only the drinker? You do live in a different society than I do, then. And do you notice that where you use the term government, I use the term society? They are not synonomous.

Both free will and freedom are ultimately moral, even theological, issues. They are both affected by philosophy and politics.

Wed, 09/19/2007 - 3:32pm

Twenty-some years ago I might have called myself a libertarian, dissatisfied as I was with traditional conservatives and liberals and their crappy agendas. I found the libertarian philosophy very appealing at the time, particularly as it related to the criminalization of vice and how this feeds graft and corruption and makes poor use of law enforcement.

Then the gun and energy industries coopted grassroots libertarianism with the founding of the Heartland Institute, a think tank that thinks we the people are even stupider than Republicans or Democrats do. That's when I decided I'm none of the above.

A J Bogle
Wed, 09/19/2007 - 9:35pm

Exactly Alex - I might have been lured into libertarianism myself, had they not been co-opted by the gun nuts and the pro-regressive taxation bunch.

A J Bogle
Wed, 09/19/2007 - 9:36pm

Oh and their stand that average people should not have the right to vote

A J Bogle
Wed, 09/19/2007 - 9:46pm

They also lose me on "free" trade and globalization

Jennifer Jeffrey
Thu, 09/20/2007 - 9:38am

You should come hear what the candidates have to say at the Northwest Area Partnership Candidate night tonight to really grasp the ideas of what the Allen County Libertarians stand for.

Also, the Northside Candidate night Oct 15.
And the YLNI the Vote night Oct 3.
And the BCA Candidate night Oct 16.

And any time you would like to talk with one of us, feel free to contact us. Many of you are mistaken as to the real core ideas of what we think would make the City of Fort Wayne a reasonable place to be.