Some self-described ‘libertarians’ have been trumpeting the cause of ‘free speech’ and ‘tolerance of differing opinions’. Yet, they don’t seem to know what any of those words mean. They complain about the silencing of bigoted speakers on college campuses, like Milo or Anne Coulter, and they fear that European laws against ‘hate speech’ will soon reach this country. While I don’t necessarily support ‘hate speech laws’, I don’t feel the need to defend the right of others to speak. What value does Milo or Anne Coulter bring to a debate? What is gained by using misogynistic or homophobic words? The most perplexing thing that these self-described ‘libertarians’ complain about is ‘political correctness’ and a phenomenon known as ‘call out culture’.
Certain alt-right denizens who claim to be ‘libertarian’, like Tom Woods or Jeff Deist, seem awfully concerned with ‘political correctness’ (or, more aptly called ‘being polite’). Woods, himself, always begins his podcast of hate by declaring that the listener should ‘prepare to set fire to the index card of allowable opinion’. How ridiculous. What is ‘libertarian’ about questioning popular opinion? Of course, Woods, always targets the most mundane and inconsequential issues of the day, otherwise, what would he have to talk about? For instance, a recent post by Woods on Twitter bemoaned the firing of a Google employee who created an inflammatory report suggesting that women are not underrepresented at the tech company because of discrimination, but instead because, based off of college majors, women are predisposed to want to study other fields besides engineering and computer sciences. Woods and his fellow travelers think that the employee’s firing proves the point that Google does not value diversity of opinion. Ok, so? When did diversity of opinion become more important than diversity of race, sex, or gender? Opinions (especially those that are wrong) can and should be changed, but a woman cannot change being a woman and a transgender man cannot help being a man. The notion that libertarianism should only view people as individuals, which, therefore, should negate the lived experiences of minority communities is childish and fueled by bigotry.
These faux libertarians are also the same people that got worked up about other alt-right cause de celebre, such as Brendan Eich being forced out as CEO of Mozilla in 2014 after an uproar began because of his past opposition to same-sex marriage. I’m not sure if Woods and his Mises colleagues genuinely hate gays (considering how many of them are congregants of the reactionary Roman Catholic Church, it wouldn’t surprise me) or if they are just insincere asses. For those who don’t recall, Eich was a bigot who donated $1,000 to a campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California through Proposition 8 (rightly dubbed ‘Proposition Hate’). Though the proposition was eventually approved by voters, the courts later overturned the results and our country rightly began denouncing the religious fanatics and heteronormative reactionaries (redundancy between the latter and the former) who forced their religious views onto marriage. To be sure, Woods and the alt-right blowhards at the Mises Institute do support gay marriage, though they disagree on whether or not there is a constitutional right to such a union, if states should decide the qualifications for marriage, or if the government should be involved in marriages at all. All of these arguments are insincere efforts to maintain a marital status quo that was indiscernible from the Jim Crow South. And they do in fact support the notion of ‘separate but equal’, otherwise they wouldn’t defend Christian zealots who don’t want to serve gay weddings. It is not libertarian to oppose the natural right to have a government contract recognizing your marital union. And yes, anyone who opposes that right, or has in the past, will and should face consequences by their employer. Eich got what he deserved and the market, fueled by professional agitators, worked.
I sincerely believe that the opposition to the firing of Eich and the Google employee is a symptom of the Mises Institute’s disdain for democracy and the market, along with their latent bigotry. Both Eich and the Google employee were fired due to outrage by consumers. How is that not the free market functioning as it should? Sure, mobs can be a dangerous phenomenon, but not when they support just ideas. A mob of ignorant drug-addled hicks propelled a racist buffoon into the White House with a message of isolationism and scapegoating immigrants. That was bad. But, a mob that insists on tolerance by stamping out vulgar ideas that question the progress of society is good.
I’m glad that there are more tolerant voices within the Libertarian Movement today. Voices like Nick Sarwark of the Libertarian Party who rightly pointed out via Twitter that Murray Rothbard was a bigot. Sarwark has also been good about respectfully engaging with members of Antifa about their radical ideology supporting violence against racists who spew hate speech. These are thought-provoking conversations, unlike Mises Institute events which discuss inane topics such as an imagined ‘right of conscience’ and a ‘right to free association’. Brink Lindsey, with the CATO Institute, has also been excellent in his criticisms of the ‘Paulista Cult’. He’s noted, recently via Twitter, that “Ron Paul’s xenophobia was a hideous corruption of libertarian ideas and puts his movement in the Trumpism family tree.” Yes! And he went on “But the most prominent libertarian voice of recent times, Ron Paul, opposed all trade agreements and promoted anti-trade conspiracy theories.” I’m glad that someone said it. Naturally, the ‘Paulistas’ promptly attacked and noted that Brink Lindsey has supported nearly every American conflict since the 1990’s, including both Iraq Wars. As if supporting the expansion of state authority to engage in armed conflict is somehow a greater ‘sin’ than Paul opposing NAFTA. How ill-informed must one be to honestly believe that supporting our military is bad?
I’m hopeful that the reactionary brand of libertarianism, as embodied by Tom Woods and the Mises Institute will soon be relegated to the trash bin of history. No more will we true libertarians be inundated with ridiculous remarks about the ‘non-aggression principle’ and how dividing people into identity groups somehow betrays the message of ‘individualism’ (whatever you say, George Wallace). And things are moving in a positive direction, especially after the tolerant campaign message furthered by great libertarians like Bill Weld and Gary Johnson. So long as we libertarians focus on the important issues at hand, such as promoting Uber and food trucks, we won’t need to be bogged down in culture war issues like free speech and diversity of opinion.