I’ve been challenged a few times on this blog to defend myself as a “libertarian”. Here’s a quick and incomplete statement of principles that I use to fit myself into that pigeonhole. As a “Jack Libertarian” I’m guessing that I’m in the minority of citizens of the state of Oregon, but I don’t really understand why. It’s probably the case that most people would rather let the experts (preachers, doctors, advertisers, talk show hosts, Ph.Ds, country music stars, gummint bureaucrats, etcetera) make their choices rather than listening to them and making our own choices. Small “L” libertarians are people that just wanted to be left alone to make decisions affecting their personal behavior without interference from government.
My favorite definition of “libertarian” comes from the Online Dictionary and reads as follows: “One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.” Many of us include the following qualifier: “My rights extend only to the point where they infringe on your rights.” So, for example, your right to swing your fist ends just before you make contact with my nose. If you violate my nose rights, I’ll feel free to respond in kind.
When I say that I’m “Pro-choice” on just about everything, I mean that everyone should have the right to decide how to live their lives. This includes, but is not limited to:
The right to keep and bear arms
The right to absolute control of your own body
The right to engage in risky behavior as long as I don’t put you at risk without your consent
The right of consenting adults to engage in any kind of sexual behavior
The right of citizens to protest, burn the flag, and advocate crackpot ideas, left and right
The right of any citizen to respond to violence with violence
The right to use or abuse any and all drugs, food, etcetera
The right of you and your family to be healthy
The right to commit suicide
The right to buy, sell, and trade with other citizens
The right to do what I want to do with my real estate as long as it doesn’t physically damage your real estate.
The right to protect my personal property from theft or destruction
The right to religious freedom
All of the above is limited to adults as science shows that minor children’s brains are in the development process all the way through the teen years. (Apologies to some extremely well developed intellects in the under 21 set). Also, and most importantly, you don’t have the right to impose your will or vision on someone else by use of force, intimidation, or threats of any kind.
You don’t have the right to make me pray, salute, or show any kind of loyalty to any religion, political ideal, or belief system of any kind and you don’t have the right to take my stuff or hurt my friends and family. You don’t have the right, much less the duty, to protect me from myself.
A world that actually ran this way, would require that you get informed as a matter of self preservation. You would need to know that alcohol, coffee, aspirin, water, heroin, and french fries can all kill you in the long run or the short run. You would learn moderation and tolerance or you would die sooner rather than later. You would spend some time researching the people that think they are qualified to lead us and pay attention to their actions instead of voting on the basis of whether they talk like a tough guy or whether they “look French”. You would make sure not to buy bread from the guy that uses broken glass as an ingredient. We would all have to tolerate things and people that we don’t like. In return, they would have to tolerate us.
Still, I’m forced to grudgingly accept that we do need a civil state to enforce these rights, and to step in when “individual rights” conflict with the interests of society. It is here that most civic debate takes place.
It really is that simple to me, and it really is that complicated. Follow the news from a lot of different viewpoints. Stay informed about everything that affects your life. It’s hard work in this complex world, but hey, it’s your life. Live it well. We’ll all be dead soon enough.