Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A libertarian's dangerous liasons

You probably haven't heard of Gary North, but he's a prolific commentator at Lewrockwell.com. He's also a "Christian reconstructionist," whose ultimate goal is, in his own words, to

use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.

Gary North also claims to be a libertarian and is an ardent supporter of Ron Paul's presidency. In one article on Rockwell's website, he calls Dr. Paul "the Gandhi of our time." (Yes, seriously.)

Aside from his desire to punish homosexuality with stoning (again, yes, seriously), another interesting fact about North is his interest in the so-called Y2k bug. Circa '99, he went on and on about how Y2k "will call into question science, technology, the free market, and the welfare state. It will call into question all of modern humanism." Etc. For 225 dollars, you could (can?) subscribe to his magazine and learn how to protect yourself from the banking collapse that was supposed to occur.

And didn't occur, of course. But I wonder how many subscriptions North sold to libertarians. How much money did he take in? I'm not claiming North talked up Y2K in order to bilk people out of their money -- on the contrary, I believe he was sincere in his uninformed paranoia, like many of Rockwell's folks. To quote a Wired article, "[North] wants to make sure the banking system crashes. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy."

North's advice for surviving the collapse included stocking up on food, weapons, and gold, and moving to the middle of nowhere in order to avoid riots and looters. Probably, he would suggest gathering up a whole lot of rocks, too, in order to bash in the heads of rampaging homosexuals (in accordance with Biblical law, naturally.)

I ask this question: why does Gary North support Ron Paul? I can think of a few reasons. Ron Paul has described the Supreme Court's action in cases like Lawrence v. Texas as the imposition of an "imaginary constutition." Like Justice Scalia, he apparently believes there is no right to "sodomy" in the federal Constitution. He would leave the criminalization of homosexuality for each state to decide on its own.

Can you see why someone like Gary North would support this doctrine? Suppose a state like Texas outlaws gay sex and actually enforces the prohibition in a way it did NOT just prior to the time of the Lawrence decision. Ron Paul's supporters will say, "Well, ok, if you don't like it, then move out of Texas." Great. Now there are even fewer gays in Texas, and more opportunity for someone like Gary North to marginalize those who remain.

It's not a big leap from my scenario to North's favored scenario, in which, based on Biblical law, gay people have their heads smashed in with stones in the city square.

(Oh, and what's so great about stoning? Quoting an article in Reason magazine that quotes North extensively:

"Why stoning?" asks North. "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost." Thrift and ubiquity aside, "executions are community projects--not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his' duty, but rather with actual participants." You might even say that like square dances or quilting bees, they represent the kind of hands-on neighborliness so often missed in this impersonal era. "That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes," North continues, "indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians."

See? Stoning is cool. Just like knitting, except you don't need needles. Or yarn. Just lots of fairly big rocks.)

It'll never happen, you say? Maybe. But Gary North knows a Ron Paul presidency would make it just a little more likely. Real libertarians should recognize that as well.

We need to separate those who merely want to use liberty in order to eventually quash it (as North is wont to do) from those who truly value liberty for all.

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