Friday, June 3, 2011

"Me Libertarianism"... or "F**k you, Jim Peron!"

F**k you, Jim Peron.
I've been egregiously offended by a "major" libertarian writer.

It doesn't happen often, and as with most offenses, it happened because it struck a nerve that deeply reflects how I feel about myself and how I view my own life and beliefs.

I just got called "a bigot", and a "me libertarian"... Seriously.

It started because of a post I made on Facebook (and probably Twitter? I don't know now) about a new book and accompanying short video clips by conservative writer, Ben Shapiro, on Hollywood's "liberal" bias. Shapiro appears to have a bunch of interviews with top producers and executives in the film industry getting them to own up to their bias on shows like House, Friends, MacGyver and others.

The premise of Shapiro's book is undoubtedly correct... In that Hollywood is particularly biased towards leftist ideas, and is aggressively dismissive and exclusionary to "conservatives" and Republicans. I don't know how anyone could really disagree with that point, but that's not really what sparked the argument anyway.

Jim Peron - libertarian writer, President of the Moorfield Storey Institute, and accused NAMBLA supporter (I believe he's now banned from New Zealand?) - commented first, saying something that I was actually basically in the process of writing when his post came in.

[I should note here that as I have over 700 "friends" on Facebook, most of whom are involved in the libertarian/agorist/anarcho-capitalist movements and many of whom use pseudonyms, I wasn't initially certain that the Jim Peron commenting was in fact the writer of some notoriety. Apparently, it was...]

But in any case, he wrote:
"This shouldn't particularly concern libertarians however, since we are not conservatives. And given that conservatives despise social freedom, tend to be war mongers, and really are pathetically weak when it comes to free markets and fiscal sanity, we have virtually nothing in common with them anymore."
I agreed, as I would have if anyone else had made such a comment. In fact, I was going to write something very similar to that as a disclaimer anyway, and noted as such on the post:
"ha... I was just gonna add something to that effect, James... Except, here's the problem. The liberal sensibility winds up being just as anti-freedom and unquestionably anti-market/business, just in different ways."
My point was that there is nothing that exists within the progressive/liberal ethos that is more in favor of liberty in any meaningful way. Or at least, that's certainly how I view the "left".

Mr. Peron disagrees with that assessment... Fine.
"Sean: Actually they are more pro-freedom than conservatives, so, if one of them had to dominate I'd take Hollywood liberals over conservatives any day. At the very least they tend to be anti-war and pro-social freedom and, can often see the "little guy as the victim of govt/corporate" collusion side of state regulations..."
Generally, my response to someone who disagrees with me on a point - especially when I believe that we're both basically coming from the same place philosophically speaking - is to expand the point and state my case.

And so, I did.

I explained, as did another one of my friends, that Hollywood really isn't all that much in favor of "social freedom", and they certainly aren't realistically against war. The obvious point here is that they're actually generally very big fans of war as a subject matter, and in general they wind up being immensely pro-state authority. Think of the countless glorifications of the state, and glorifications of war that we see in film and television, particularly in the abstract and long-ago historical cases.

While they appear to be more pro-liberty on "social" issues, that only applies to social activities that are approved of by the sort of metropolitan sensibilities of the producers and writers of most film & television... So they're pro-gay, but largely against all kinds of other important social freedoms anywhere from what opinions and types of speech are acceptable, to what kinds of religions are acceptable, to limiting something as basic as a persons right to decide how and where they are educated.

For better or worse, what Hollywood is really first and foremost pro-Democrat, and failing that, generally pro-big government (particularly when that government forces people to do the socially acceptable things that are popular with that crowd).

As I've mentioned in the past, I've experienced this with weekly DNC talking-point style emails sent out to all employees by the bosses at jobs I've held in entertainment & commercial music. In a big way, they are mostly New Deal/FDR nostalgia buffs - which I guess, given the mythology created by Hollywood during that "golden" era, shouldn't be a big surprise.

But this is why it is my contention that in fact, they are not more "pro-freedom" at all.

And although they do regularly feature support for the right of people to love and marry whomever they want, the total balance of their support in broad generalizations goes towards expanding the power of the state. Even within the realm of marriage equality, the idea is to have the state give special protections to another "group", rather than getting out of the business of granting marriage licenses to begin with.

Moreover, I noted to Mr. Peron; the serious damage done by the leftist bias in Hollywood by mis-educating people on economics grossly outweighs - in my opinion - the positive effects of supporting all-inclusive, multi-racial/gendered/sexually-orientated/cultural romantic relationships.

At this point, the accusations started to fly, and Mr. Peron claimed that:
""Here is the difference between us. I will fight for both social freedom and economic freedom and I find that "liberals" will listen to me because I fight for both. You seem to only care about economic issues, dismiss concerns about social freedom,"
Bullshit, I said. And anyone who knows me well should know how bullshit such a claim truly is. I proceeded to explain, I think relatively clearly, that I while I see the "economic" and "social" freedoms as two sides of the same coin, I tend to focus a bit more on the regulation and economic side in part because I'm obviously interested in and passionate about the study of economics, but perhaps more importantly because if you look at the trend, the reality is that things like gay-rights are constantly getting better.

I said, it's not quite a "dead issue" yet, but it's getting there and it will be there in less than a generation as far as I'm concerned. The only people who care about it, I said, were a small handful of religious right types that may be loud and obnoxious, but who are dying out. Quothe myself:
"‎I honestly think that like so many other issues, it [meaning gay marriage] *is* a non-issue for a majority of Americans, but it's a very big deal to a fairly small and incredibly loud minority and that minority gets amplified through a news system that likes to generate controversy."
By contrast, I see the very real danger of increased economic illiteracy and class warfare, largely propagated by the entertainment industry as an incredibly large (and this is the key part...) growing problem.

The nanny state is a larger and ever-expanding danger to liberty overall, and that is so heavily driven by Hollywood-supported "liberals". I'm painting with a very broad brush of course, plenty of conservatives are ridiculous nanny-staters as well, and they both seem to be all about the police state burgeoning in the United States.

Thing is, I can see the big trends, and they are this: Gays are increasingly (and rather quickly by historical standards) gaining ground in the culture, and in the legal system. This is wonderful news... And while they are by no means treated equally everywhere in the eyes of the law, the trend is positive if your value is liberty overall.

The trend on the other issues I mentioned - controls on what you can eat, what you can say, where you can say it, what you can produce, when and for what price you can work, whether you need a license to work, who you can trade with, etc. - is decidedly negative.

Apparently, that view is "uncaring".

Mr. Peron wasn't content to leave it at that, and he clearly wasn't interested in reviewing this blog, or any of my other Facebook posts, so he pressed on and insisted that [emphasis mine]:
"Your remarks sound just like the conservatives who are bigoted, even if that is not your intent. It is an example of "me libertarianism" where issues are mainly looked at by what impacts the lives of white, straight men, and doesn't care about issues where the state hurts others who aren't like them."
"Your kind of libertarianism sounds more conservative than libertarian. You say you are not a bigot, but you sound just like the bigots and what you say will resonate with them. It doesn't sound libertarian at all. Libertarians historically defended the rights of all people who were oppressed by state power. It championed the workers when the corn laws denied them cheap food. It called for freedom of religion when state churches stifled unpopular, but loud, minorities. It led the charge for the abolition of slavery, even though only a minority of people were slaves. It supported equality of rights for black Americans who an "incredibly loud minority" who were treated like second class citizens."
Get that?

Simply because I disagreed with his assessment of broad trends, and specifically that I don't see "liberals" as big ol' champions of social freedom and that I think that the limitation of so-called "economic" liberty effects a wider array of people and is trending in a very bad direction, compared to the uncontrollable progress being made in the area of so-called "social" freedom particularly for the GLBT community... I am "a bigot".

Or at least, "I claim I'm not a bigot, but I sound just like one". Again, I said... Bullshit.

Also, by the way, Peron's reading comprehension failed him spectacularly when he quoted my "incredibly loud minority" line, as you can see. Somehow, he interpreted it to mean that I was saying that gay people were an "incredibly loud minority" who we should otherwise not care about when what I clearly said was that the religious right was a loud minority, but which most of the country doesn't really care about that much or put that much stock in.

All that was clear from the context of my writing if Peron had bothered to read it. But he couldn't, apparently, be bothered to read what I actually wrote just as he couldn't be bothered to read anything else I'd ever written on this blog or observing any of my other posts before being such a spectacularly judgmental dick to me on my own turf.

His accusations of "bigotry" and "me libertarianism are immensely offensive to me because they are precisely the traits that I have worked so long and hard to avoid.

I've spent the majority of my adult life embroiled in defending the rights of people who I have nothing in common with purely on the principles of liberty, self-ownership and natural rights. Consider:
  • I strongly support people who are gay, lesbian, bi-gendered, transgendered to marry and to live their lives free from state interference - though I am none of those things myself. I've even written on how freedom of association has been used by gays to improve their social situation (and how that same freedom results in eventual inclusiveness).
  • I support the right of people to have multiple simultaneous relationships, polyamorous or polygamous marriages - though not only am I uninterested in such things myself, I think it's an incredibly bad idea in general.
  • I support the right of people to use drugs and put whatever the hell they want in their bodies. I've opposed smoking bans, the drug war, marijuana criminalization, I've voted to reduce/eliminate sentencing requirements for non-violent drug offenders... And, by the way, I've taken all manner of abuse for the position because people treat you like a stoner the minute you say anything on the topic... And yet, I've never smoked a single puff of marijuana, never had a cigarette or done any other illicit drug of any type in my life.
  • I support the right of people to keep and bear arms, to hunt to fish, to protect themselves in their homes and to be free from state reprisal... Yet I am not a gun owner and probably never will be.
  • I've contributed to media production that supports cases against state abuses of eminent domain, police asset seizure, yoga & cosmetic salon "licensing" requirements... And yet, I've never been the victim of an illegal seizure of my home or property, I've never been to a beauty salon and I routinely mock yoga as mystical jive + stretching.
  • I've done numerous volunteer projects for, contributing to their efforts to put an end to illegal wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, though I am not a soldier and fortunately don't personally know many who have been killed in those conflicts.
  • I have written countless pages on minimum wage and economic issues that primarily drive unemployment in poor, minority neighborhoods... Yet... I am, as Peron noted, a "straight, white male".
  • I dislike most "organic" food as a matter of course, and in fact think that for the most part rich Americans' obsession with the stuff contributes unnecessarily to starvation in the third world, and yet I recently produced a video supporting the right of individuals to choose whatever products from whichever sources they wish to consume.
On issue after issue, I have an immense track record of supporting precisely those issues in which I have no personal stake. I am the antithesis of the "me" libertarian. If anything, I'm a "not me" libertarian.

I want freedom for everyone to do things that I personally have no interest in, and sometimes even strongly dislike. I want this freedom for everyone because I understand how incredibly important it is for every individual to be allowed to do and say whatever they want free from initiations of force if we want a happy, peaceful and prosperous society, and if I want to see those same rights respected for me to live the white bread, quiet, quasi-teetotaling atheist existence I personally enjoy.

I want a prosperous and peaceful society.

After calling me a "bigot" and a "me libertarian", I demanded an apology and called Mr. Peron "a dick"... And hilariously, this was his response:
"Well, that's a conservative argument, name call."
Yep... Called me a bigot, then whined about name calling.


Anonymous said...

What a whiner you are? Exactly why do you think your private FB spat is of interest to the public? And you sure do get nasty to anyone to defriends you. That is actually a warning as to why people should avoid friending you in the first place, you get bitchy and start attacking and smearing anyone who offends you. That is rather adolescent.

Sean W. Malone said...

Actually... "Anonymous"... Perhaps you failed to read the post above, but to offend me in the way that Peron did is virtually impossible.

It was precisely because Jim so grossly misrepresented me and my views and was so incredibly rude and disrespectful to me that I wrote this post. He did so aggressively, and ignorantly, and throughout the "discussion" - which almost entirely consisted of him calling me names and insinuating that I am a Republican shill of some kind - he failed at every opportunity to read or honestly acknowledge what I had said and what I have done. He effectively slandered me repeatedly on my own Facebook page. Seemed worth a serious response elsewhere, especially since he disappeared.

Many people at the time did read it and were shocked on my behalf and now perhaps a few more have read it and are wary of Peron in the future. If so, then mission accomplished.

And for the record... If you read the hundreds of other posts on this blog, you will find that a handful are sparked because of Facebook discussions or discussions I have with other bloggers/commentariat, yet it is only *this* post in which I display anything approaching actual anger. And people defriend me from time to time and I defriend others occasionally. Makes little difference to me ordinarily... This was a special case for all the reasons noted above.

It is VERY difficult to actually make me angry or offended. But the anger visible in this post was caused by Mr. Peron's actions. I can count on one hand the number of times anyone has been so deeply offensive to me in my entire life... So as this is my personal blog, where I am open about things like this, I wrote a post on it.

Sorry you think it is "whining". I will assume you will not subscribe to my RSS. Somehow, I just can't bring myself to care about the loss.

Out of curiosity, when other people write about their experiences being grotesquely offended by well known figures, do you go post comments on their blogs accusing them of "whining" too? It strikes me as a bit amusing that Peron's pals would come here to defend his ridiculous behavior, but I guess it is fitting.

Kyle Bennett said...

I just got notified that Peron will be speaking in my area this weekend, I googled him to find out who the hell he is, and yours was the third hit. I guess now I know. I think I'll pass.