Yep, nothing worse. Why, those libertarians are holdin' conservatives back and helpin' the lib'rals-- Or so says one of my friends. I guess I owe him a link, but not a fight: there is no prize to be won. The cake is a lie.
We can disagree without loathing one another, or at least I can. So I'm going to.
Fair warning: I'm not really a "libertarian." I'm a g-ddammed anarchist; I think governments are just Huns and Visigoths in nice suits, wielding obfuscatory language and fines instead of swords and axes. In the real world, most people police themselves; they're no better than they have to be to get along, but 99% of their actual "getting along" has nothing to do with laws and regulations.
We already live in anarchy. There's not a cop at your side every hour of every day, and you darned well act like it, don't you? Speeding, blowing though empty four-way stops, turning right on red when the sign says No but nobody's there to see-- You probably don't steal, though you may carry a pen or notepad home from work sometimes and never count it theft; and you'll lie when you have to; you didn't really forget Mom's birthday, you had to work over. Probably. And you'll use illegal drugs, too, or at least a majority of you will at some point in your life.
The ketchup company isn't refraining from putting paint in that bottle of red goo because there's a law against it -- they know dead guys don't buy more than the one bottle and food companies that make people sick stop making sales. (Dunno about you, but "Made in China" is still a warning on foodstuffs for me).
But much as I'd like to see the useless deadwood of Senates and City Councils go to the wall, to help batter down the walls at NSA and put their tapes to the torch, to see wild dogs howling in the wretched ruins of the White House, to see Congressthings forced to get real jobs, it ain't a-gonna happen. Too many of the rest of you see Government as a security blanket and you'd be dreadfully unhappy without it. Weirdly, that, too is a part of anarchy: I gotta live in the middle of you people and that means I have to go along with some of your crazy stuff.
Okay. But I don't have to dance with your strawmen, and the best one I've seen yet is when my friend spins the notion that "harm" is too subjective to ever fairly define...and then uses it to ride his hobbyhorse of opposition to gay marriage right over the horizon of logic. You see, he claims it's all A Plot To Destroy Religion -- 'cos gay people could do that, right? Some fraction of less than 10% of the population are gonna pull down the cathedral, probably using rainbow ribbons...? Ummm, no. Not all by their lonesome; you religious types have them outnumbered, something like 6 or 7 to one. And the only force-multiplier they might use is Government (oops!) and it's First-Amendmented right out of that game -- or it least it is so far. (See, now, without Government-- Ahem.) This may help 'splain why, if you've just got to have this "Government" teddy bear to sleep tight, you had better be watching it like a hawk: it bites. Like a child or a spirited horse, it will always test its limits.
My friend thinks libertarians believe everyone either wants to be just like 'em, or should be made to be. I disagree. Most people are no better than they have to be -- but the forces that make them that good are primarily social and economic, not the result of laws and regulations. Who affects you more, your spouse and your boss, or your Representative and your Mayor?
Most people are already personal anarchists -- they just aren't so confident about everyone else being safe to be around without a whole bunch of Official Rules, Official Rulers and Official Rule-Enforcers for them. I have sad, sad news for you: the neighbors don't have a cop following them around, either, and they're probably crazier than you are. Still, you want 'em ruled: Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, you want there to be some laws so other folk abjure evil and embrace good, and you don't make any secret of it. I'm pretty sure you're only a "libertarian" for yourself, and perhaps not even that; some people delight in being ruled.
As for "harm," you have no promise you won't be offended, even at the most basic and deeply personal level (geez, go read the Erin Palette bit about the Navy-SEAL-turned-woman for a whole Greek chorus of the offended and offensive,* on all sides); nor is your safety something you can delegate to others. The real issue is "rights." Any Government or other body that starts talking about some *positive* right you have to some nifty thing, they're only going to be able to give it to you if they take it away from someone else. No, the only real right you have is the right to be left alone -- in your church or your marriage; and if your church don't like your marriage, why, they can leave you alone, too, and you're obliged to abide by it.
This isn't rocket science. It's way harder: it's learning to stop meddling. Few manage; they're no better at it than they have to be, same as they are about anything else. You want to live in a better world? Start with yourself. Then move on to the neighbors and remember, don't push. I get into politics, but mostly 'cos there's nothing good on TV. I don't think we'll vote our way outta anything but I'm sure not going to let the rest of you cast your ballots without casting one right back at you. I may just gore your electoral ox; you may gore mine; we'll get over it.
* And how clever is is it to get all upside a Navy SEAL, even a retired one, over anything, ever? Do you know what they do for a living?
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
9 months ago