Acceptance

This Think Tank’s Name is Ironic (Sort of)

by Brian William Waddell

The Libertarian Center for Tolerance. Think about it. If you’re a libertarian, or a Libertarian, or an anarchist, or a Republican with libertarian views, or even a civil libertarian you probably understand why this is ironic. Libertarians, in all their stripes, can barely tolerate each other’s views. I’ve seen liberty loving people arguing (albeit usually more intelligently than the arguments I’ve seen between the “two” “major” parties) over tiny points of disagreement that mean nothing in the larger scheme because neither side would ever push to have government step in and regulate the issue. I’ve been guilty myself at times. We need to be tolerant, and accepting, of the views of all liberty lovers because we are all on the same team. We need that team to be as strong as possible to accomplish the shrinking of government intrusion that we all desire.

Big “L’s” Small “l’s” and Other Letters

Yes, there is a difference between a libertarian and a Libertarian. Many libertarians are Libertarians, but not all. Many Libertarians are also libertarians, but still, not all. I’m not helping am I? Look at it this way, someone who believes in the philosophy of libertarianism is a libertarian. Somebody who registers as a member of the Libertarian Party is a Libertarian. There is also a difference between these two and anarchists and civil libertarians. Anarchists sit on the absolutist end of the liberty scale: They want zero government and each individual to be free to do as they please as long as they don’t harm others. How that works, and if it’s even possible, is fodder for another post, but for now just know they’re on the side of liberty. Civil libertarians tend to be the ones who are registered Democrats, and are fine with government intrusion into your wallet, but will fight to keep the government out of your bedroom or reproductive system. These are the people who are valuable allies in many situations and should not be alienated despite their generally big government leanings. Their belief in liberty bears as many caveats as the Republicans with libertarian views, but the caveats tend to be opposites.

In short, the liberty philosophy continuum goes something like this: anarchists::voluntaryists::libertarians::constitutionalists::civil libertarians and Republicans with libertarian views::Republicans and Democrats. All these differences should not divide liberty lovers of any type from one another. Our diversity should be our strength, not our weakness. The ability of liberty in any form to find a place in the hearts of humans should be celebrated and nurtured. We shouldn’t ridicule or ostracize those with slightly different views as long as they are working in the same direction, and everyone on the continuum up to Republicans with libertarian views is working in the same direction at least part of the time. Don’t get me wrong, healthy debate is fine. But when’s the last time you saw a truly healthy debate on Facebook?

Why the Name Works

The Libertarian Center for Tolerance. Most outside of the liberty movement don’t think of tolerance when they think of libertarianism. This is ironic, too. Tolerance and acceptance are cornerstones of libertarian philosophy. Just because I don’t agree with how you live doesn’t mean I can, or should, stop you from doing it. As long as one doesn’t steal or injure, a person’s decisions are their own.

The reality is, those who understand libertarianism and have been around the liberty movement for a while will see the name of this think tank as both redundant and ironic at the same time. Libertarianism is tolerance. It also needs a dose of it among its own members. But, it’s important to have that “Libertarian” out in front of the title so that more people start to realize how liberty, tolerance, and acceptance really do go hand in hand.

It’s Ok! Libertarians Can Think Something is Bad or Wrong

by Brian William Waddell

After my last piece, someone questioned whether a “true Libertarian” (this phrase alone begs the question of what a true libertarian is, and whether the size of the “L” matters, but that’s for another post) is allowed to think that having a female-only tavern or Christians only theater is wrong. Sure. Why not? I don’t personally think it’s wrong, I just think it’s bad business. But the idea that holding an anti-segregationist opinion flies in the face of libertarianism is absurd. The key distinction is that I will fight for your right to have that silly segregated business while I tell you it’s a bad idea and you shouldn’t do it. If that makes it so that I’m not a “true Libertarian” I’m okay with that.

Why Limit Your Possibilities?

If you were opening a retail business that had a target demographic of, let’s say, women between the ages of 21 and 35, would you only allow people in that specific group to come in? No, that’s silly. Maybe just limit it to women? That seems like a slightly smarter choice. But what if a man wants to purchase some of your goods for his significant other? Clearly this means the best route for the business is to be open to men and women. I can understand the niche market for a tavern only allowing women, ostensibly for a less meat market-like environment, but there is a reason there are not many of them around. Limiting your audience of your own accord is bad business. Usually the audience that a business serves is limited enough by outside factors without internal silliness.

I’ve run enough businesses over the years to understand that the best policy for building and maintaining a business is one of open arms and friendly smiles. Nobody should be turned away.

Right to Refuse Service

On that note, I’ve already written a piece on my own liberty-centric site regarding a recent event where a bakery declined to make a wedding cake for a wedding between two men. The baker was well within his rights as a business owner. He wasn’t within his legal capabilities as a business owner (according to one judge) in Colorado, however. Therefore, he was ordered that he had to make cakes for same-sex couples. This is the problem, and also the distinction. A business owner should be able to choose to not serve people for any reason. Yes, I said any reason. It’s wrong and ignorant to do it for certain reasons, but it’s still something that must be allowed. The free market dictates that just as the business owner need not serve people, people need not patronize that business.

I‘m Allowed

I think taking adverse action toward people based on the color of their skin is wrong. I think taking adverse action toward people based on their sexual preferences is wrong. I think taking adverse action toward people based on their religion is wrong. I’m allowed to think these things are wrong. I’m also allowed to say, “Yeah, that’s wrong, but he can run his business how he chooses. I’ll just never shop there.” On a philosophical level, at least, I have no problem with the creation of “black only” schools or other institutions. I have no problem with “Asian only” schools. I have no problem with “white only” schools. Frankly, as long as all groups are allowed to have their own institutions I don’t see how anyone is actually left out. Another requirement would be that nobody would be compelled to (they can if they want to, of course) pay for the institution. This would be allowed if we were truly living in a place of liberty. (I think all of the above institutions are silly and run counter to improving society because experiencing diversity is a key to becoming a well rounded individual. But, to each his own.)

Make My Day

Go ahead. Open a business where you only allow redheaded men with handlebar mustaches over the age of 33. Call me when you reach your first anniversary and I’ll throw you a huge party to celebrate.

Libertarians Should Lead the Way for Transgender Acceptance

by Alex Merced

Libertarianism is often well known for its concerns over the use of government power in solving economic and social issues, primarily because such power often attracts the wrong people to wield it and can often do more harm than good (a government that is powerful enough to establish and enforce hate crime legislation is also a government strong enough to establish and enforce the fugitive slave act.) So when it comes to issues of tolerance, you won’t find a philosophy more celebratory of diversity and tolerance (a free market works because of a diversity of goods, services, firms, and individuals) but often lambasted for its refusal to cross the line of using government power to compel tolerance or intolerance (or compel anything in that matter).

Although, just because libertarians do not want to use government power to force social progress, it doesn’t mean libertarians shouldn’t express social values and engage in the discussion of social norms. Over time, social attitudes have changed to more tolerant ones. Tolerant in a greater way than just “I don’t mind those people” but extending to being able to share space and participation in social institutions such as entrepreneurship, leisure, and family. In the generation prior to mine this battle over tolerance was focused here in the U.S. over tensions between the African American and White populations, and in my generation it has been about tensions between homosexual and heterosexual populations. These days it’s not just that there is tolerance for African Americans and Homosexuals but widespread acceptance of their participation as business owners, as co-workers, consumers, and as part of household formation.

The struggle for tolerance and acceptance in the coming generation will have a lot to do with gender identity. We are currently witnessing controversy over how to handle bathrooms for transgender students, and physical assaults against them in photos on instagram or video on YouTube. While the transgender population has enjoyed an increase in tolerance along with homosexuals (the two populations are not the same despite often being lumped in the same category) acceptance of the transgender population still has a long way to go.

Now, tolerance and acceptance is not just about feeling good that peoples lives are a little bit better. It serves an economic and social function as well. A broader participation in economic institutions such as entrepreneurship benefits everyone, adding people to the labor force benefits everyone, but sometimes intolerance and a lack of acceptance can reduce participation in these institutions.

So how can libertarians improve tolerance & acceptance of Transgendered and other populations suffering intolerance at no fault of their own without the use of government force?

– Media: Shows like Cosby, Will & Grace, and other introduced these populations in a broader way not as a spectacle but as people with their own lives, challenges, and families. How about a sitcom with a transgender protagonist facing many of the same family issues we all do? The images we grow up with in our culture determine many of our sensibilities, so we should use this to our advantage. Transgender characters often do exist in media but often as a “spectacle” in roles that societies “allow” to be accepted (hairdresser, model, prostitute) but where is the transgender business owner or engineer (they do exist) in the public eye?
*The character of Sophia Burset in Orange is the new Black is by far the boldest transgender character on tv with complex family and health issues that make her interesting, although she is often found doing hair, thus keeping transgender activities in a narrow band.

– Support: Sometimes it’s just about breaking vicious cycles, many young children who open up to their parents are often cast out and forced to be runaways. Being ripped away from the support system of the family affects their ability to get educated and to later be able to participate in the traditional labor force. Fundraising and volunteering for shelters and education for runaway youth can help break the cycle.

Conclusion

While empowering government to solve social problems will often result in empowering them to create social problems, libertarians should not allow big government progressives to attempt to hold a monopoly on the fight for broader tolerance and acceptance of individuals of all types. We should come with a message not just more tolerance for a particular community, but that we want to include everyone in the greater community of individuals who can participate in social and economic institutions to all our benefit. We must make real front line efforts to advance these values through education and volunteering, and help craft the norms that make society wealthier economically and socially.