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Saturday, December 6, 2003
The Freedom Brigade

By Steven Taylor @ 9:18 am

James of OTB and Matthew J. Stinson have issues with Reason’s 35 Heroes of Freedom (since 1968). Matthews’ assessment is apt:

Is it just me, or does Reason’s list of “35 Heroes of Freedom” read like it was written by the president of a high school Cbjectivist club?


The list includes such luminaries as Larry Flynt, Dennis Rodman, Madonna and Willie Nelson (and declares John Ashcroft to scourge of Civil Liberties everywhere), while leaving off, as James notes, Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, and Lech Walesa. Heck, I’d put Antonin Scalia, Helmut Kohl and Boris Yeltsin on the list well before Reason’s list of show business libertines. I’m with James: Dennis Rodman? Please.

Sometimes I think that hardcore libertarians have a hard time distinguishing between the idea that people have the right to do what they will with as little government interference as possible without acknowledging that it doesn’t mean that these behaviors in and of itself are good, or produces good for the person in question. And, by good in this contest, I am not talking about moral good (thats a different discussion), but the lack of harm to the individual engaged in the activity.

Drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and hedonism in general can produce harmful outcomes in the lives of those who pursue such actions. That isn’t to say that the government should stop people from doing such-I tend to agree with Mill’s Harm Principle-but that still doesn’t mean that such behaviors should be extolled as virtues. And in the real world, an individual who fought to defeat tyrannical governments is substantially more important to the process of forwarding freedom than someone who makes it easier to see pictures of naked people, or who make us feel better about smoking weed.

Of course, since the article was subtitled Celebrating the people who have made the world groovier and groovier since 1968it may be possible to get a clue ad to Reasons definition of freedom.

Filed under: Political Philosophy/ Theory
  • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with Juvenile libertarianism

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  1. Sometimes I think that hardcore libertarians have a hard time distinguishing between the idea that people have the right to do what they will with as little government interference as possible without acknowledging that it doesn’t mean that these behaviors in and of itself are good, or produces good for the person in question.

    Actually, I have yet to meet a single libertarian who fails to understand this point. They just differ as to what constitutes good.

    Comment by Dodd — Saturday, December 6, 2003 @ 1:01 pm

  2. Ok-fair enough: but explain why the list woudl extol Larry Flynt and Dennis Rodman-just to pick two.

    Comment by Steven — Saturday, December 6, 2003 @ 2:20 pm

  3. I’ve noticed that libertarians refuse to say that some personal behaviors are bad. If an alcholic wants to drink himself to death, they’d say that’s his right. Their cultural criticism mostly entails condemning government intervention (usually a good idea) rather than criticizing the act itself.

    Comment by Sean Hackbarth — Saturday, December 6, 2003 @ 10:39 pm

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