Here we are, closing out the second
day of Reason’s 2014
Webathon! Thanks to all the folks who have already given—and a
pox upon those who have yet to drop some coins (gold, bit, what
have you) into the hat.
Reason magazine, Reason.com, and Reason TV are
all published by the nonprofit Reason
Foundation and we’re looking for $200,000 in (tax-deductible!)
donations to support our journalism in 2015.
In all of our work and across each of our platforms, Reason
promotes libertarian approaches to politics, culture, and ideas. We
believe in “Free Minds and Free Markets,” that economic and civil
liberties are indivisible, and that increasing individual autonomy,
choice, and responsibility is a good thing.
We believe in open borders (for people as well as goods),
deregulated markets (and no bailouts for banks or automakers),
school choice, drug legalization, sound science, religious freedom,
and pluralism. And if you can believe it, we kind of insist on
equal treatment of people under the law.
All of which apparently doesn’t just make us an enemy of the
state but of evolution (which we believe in,
Writing in Sunday’s New York Times, University of
Illinois at Chicago anthropologist John Terrell
The sanctification of the rights of individuals and their
liberties today by libertarians and Tea Party conservatives is
contrary to our evolved human nature as social animals. There was
never a time in history before civil society when we were each
totally free to do whatever we elected to do. We have always been
social and caring creatures. The thought that it is both rational
and natural for each of us to care only for ourselves, our own
preservation, and our own achievements is a treacherous
fabrication. This is not how we got to be the kind of species we
You got that? We libertarians
are not just a little odd but are actual, honest-to-god freaks of
Nature (Hi, Mom)!
And to make things even worse, the good professor—who curiously
quotes not a single line, word, or punctuation mark from a
libertarian in his essay—rubs our nose in the fact that
“self-described libertarians generally also pride themselves on
their high valuation of logic and reasoning over emotion.” What is
it that Dr. Smith used to say on Lost in Space? “Oh the
pain! The pain!”
I can’t speak for “Tea Party conservatives” and wouldn’t dare to
speak for the rest of my colleagues at Reason, much less the
heterodox, rag-tag crew of glorious, crazy bastards collected under
any and all definitions of the term libertarian. But this
sort of smug, fact-free, ahistorical, and just plain dumb dismissal
of libertarianism is yet one more thing we’re fighting
here at Reason. Add it to the list that includes such me-me-me
concerns that we cover frequently such as sentencing reform,
occupational licensing hassles, marriage equality, and
A simple scroll through today’s
articles at Reason.com suggests just how out-to-lunch Terrell’s
brand of criticism is. There’s all those goddamn stories about how
the NYPD cop who placed Eric Garner in a lethal
chokehold wasn’t indicted by a grand jury. You know why?
Because we just don’t fucking care about other people, that’s
why! And then there’s that interview with anti-Putin activist
and former World Chess Champion
Garry Kasparov. Could we have been thinking that the
experiences of people living under past and current repressive
regimes might be of interest? Nah, come on already!
And that story about how
some conservatives are rethinking their support for the death
penalty. You know, that story simply can’t exist because as
Professor Terrell wrote, we care “only for ourselves, our own
preservation, and our own achievements.” Don’t believe your
eyes—also a product of evolution, come to think of it—when you
stumble across Reason stories and videos that talk about the lives
of others and the communities they build when they are given more
freedom to choose for themselves where to live, what to eat, whom
Founded in 1968, Reason does indeed
try to bring “logic and reasoning” to discussions of public policy.
That’s not because we think we stand apart from evolution or civil
society or other humans or because unlike the rest of you looters
and moochers, we paid full-market rent in the womb and breast-fed
ourselves as babies. No, it’s precisely because we’re human.
Rationality is every bit as much a part of evolution as is emotion,
I’d wager. And contra Terrell, we emphasize that part of being
human is being fallible and epistemologically limited. One of the
biggest problems the world has always faced is the surplus of folks
who think they have indeed got everything figured out. Beware the
man with a plan so perfect that he needn’t convince you of its
wisdom but instead just bullies or coerces you into doing what he
thinks is best. But if you do insist on using emotion to forge
public policy, I’ve got some Salem Witchcraft Trials,
Japanese-American Internments, and Ritual Satanic Child Abuse
Panics I can show you.
If wanting to inform public policy with, uh, rational discourse
makes us freaks, then all I can say, with apologies to the
Ramones, is we accept you, we accept you.
So if you are able and willing to donate to our 2014
Webathon, you’ll not only help us reach our goal of $200,000
(and get some
cool swag in the deal), you’ll be committing an honest-to-god
crime against Nature!