The admin of the ADF blog has a post where he diligently and gleefully beats the tar out of his straw man version of “leftist libertarians”. Being one of those myself, I find the whole exercise quite amusing and absurd. The straw man is apparent in his false portrayal of what libertarians believe about liberty:
In the final analysis, the debate comes down to differing conceptions of freedom. Is freedom solely about me and doing whatever I want? Or, is freedom conditioned on adherence to such notions as virtue, responsibility, civic duty, and duty to one’s Creator? History teaches that the former conception leads to anarchy and hence to tyranny.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a sillier paragraph than that anytime soon. Libertarians, leftist or otherwise, do not believe that freedom is “doing whatever I want.” We believe that freedom is doing what you want within the confines of the equal rights of others. It’s all about reciprocity: each person owns themselves and has the self-determination that comes with that self-ownership. As long as their actions do not deprive another of their equal right to self-determination (including the right to the property they freely acquire through their efforts and actions), they are within the boundaries of what Jefferson called their rightful liberty:
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
That last sentence is very important. Notice that Jefferson makes no distinction between laws passed democratically and laws imposed by royal decree; any law that violates the rights of the individual, no matter how it may be enacted, is unjust. That is the standard by which we determine the limits of individual liberty, not by whatever duties an ADF attorney might think we owe to a Creator. If you think you owe a duty to your Creator, then by all means follow through on that debt. But that doesn’t mean someone else who does not accept such a duty can be forced to do so as well.
Then there’s this absolutely bizarre paragraph that just throws out every religious right bugaboo in a single spew without anything resembling a coherent point:
Yet, many American libertarians have apparently adopted the former view of freedom along with the American left, the ACLU, and the French.
The only possible response to that is a horselaugh. It’s written as though he’s playing that game with refrigerator magnets with different words on them, just throwing together all their favorite buzzwords into one sentence. What on earth do the French have to do with this? They certainly don’t share the libertarian perspective of liberty, as evidenced by their national ban on wearing religious clothing in schools, a clear violation of liberty by almost any definition. Wait, I think he’s going to explain why it’s there:
American libertarians may go along with that conception of freedom for a time, but it is doubtful they will like the all encompassing brand of socialism that is the hallmark of French government and which necessarily flows from an abandonment of marriage as a fundamental societal institution.
Uh, okay. But who exactly is advocating an abandonment of marriage? Certainly not libertarians. Certainly not advocates of gay marriage either; for crying out loud, they want more marriages and more focus on marriage as an enforced set of rights and responsibilities. And if there’s some connection between fewer people getting married and socialism, I’m stumped as to what it might be. This is absolutely ridiculous rhetoric.
Invoking America’s Founding Fathers, social conservatives have historically held to the notion that marriage and stable families are prerequisites to any system of limited government. The American experience with welfare and crime confirms this notion as evidenced by an abundance of statistical data.
Great. And I’m all for marraige and stable families. I’m so in favor of marriage and stable families that I think we should encourage families headed by gay couples to make the same commitment to make their families more stable. For some reason, the anti-gay marriage crowd seems to think that stability and commitment only matters to families headed by straight people and that the same arguments they make in favor of marriage magically don’t apply to anyone they disapprove of.