Actually, Lisa…

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

….it’s because one politician is a raving “family values” hypocrite, and the other has for most of his career adopted a more tolerant attitude toward passing judgment on other people’s private lives.

I will give Vito Fossella some credit, though. At least he had the good sense to recognize his hypocrisy and resign. Which is more than we can say about David Vitter.

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24 Responses to “Actually, Lisa…”

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    Good point Radley. “true believers” (aka drinkers of the Kool Aid) on both sides seem to forget that hypocrisy is one of the things that most agitates voters.

  2. #2 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Nevertheless, hyprocisy is not the greater sin. Would you rather be ruled by people who speak the truth but live a lie, or people who both live and teach lies?

    By elevating hypocrisy to a crime greater than anything else, all you’re doing is demanding that people flagrantly promote their wicked ways in public.

    Libertarians say they’re against GOVERNMENT coersion, but then you go ahead and attack “moralizers.” Stuff like this is just evidence that libertarians don’t like people teaching morality at all.

  3. #3 |  Matt Moore | 

    Sydney – How is attacking moralizers in any way coersion?

  4. #4 |  Matt Moore | 

    Coercion, I mean.

  5. #5 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Matt,

    You misunderstand me. I was saying that libertarians are supposedly against “government morality” in the form of laws, and that theoretically they’d therefore be in favor of “private morality” in the form of social concepts like shame, and family values promoted by churches and other private individuals. However, when Randy praises a person for having “more tolerant attitude toward passing judgment on other people’s private lives”, he’s criticizing morality in general, because all morality passes judgment. And therefore, it proves to me that libertarians really don’t care about the government/private distinction about morality. It’s not WHO says things, it’s WHAT is said.

    This lie that libertarians care only about government power is easily seen through, and is why people don’t support libertarians more in general. If it was only about government power, family values wouldn’t be mocked.

  6. #6 |  Aaron | 

    That’s not saying he doesn’t like morality. It’s saying he doesn’t like *your* morals. Not all morals judge individual actions that don’t affect others.

  7. #7 |  Les | 

    However, when Randy praises a person for having “more tolerant attitude toward passing judgment on other people’s private lives”, he’s criticizing morality in general, because all morality passes judgment.

    I think the point is that Fossella was bigoted against people who had different sexual preferences than he did and he wanted the government to enforce his bigotry. Not being a bigot doesn’t equal criticizing morality.

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    Sydney,

    It’s not that libertarians don’t have morals. It’s that we don’t have your morals. There’s a big difference. My morality runs along the lines of, so long as you aren’t hurting anyone else (or, at least someone else who doesn’t consent to being hurt), what you do on your own time and in private is none of my business. If churches, friends, or family want to help someone they feel is making bad choices, that’s their prerogative.

    Also, I’m not sure where your point that this has nothing to do with government comes from. Vitter and Fossella both hold federal office. They both regularly attempted to codify their own morality into law. They both wanted to use the government to condemn and discriminate against gay people. Then they went out and cheated on their wives.

  9. #9 |  SJE | 

    When a person has the power to create and/or enforce the laws, and any moral code implicit therein, he or she should be similarly bound by those laws. This is a very libertarian position, as it forces those who create and enforce the laws to be judicious in their creation and enforcement.

    What we see, however, is politicians who create/enforce laws against corruption, drugs, prostitution, gay marriage, rights for homosexuals, etc THEN ask that whatever law they passed does not apply to them.

    For example, David Vitter is caught using a prostitute, he is not prosecuted, but the DC Madam is., under Federal Law. He could have resigned, given that his behavior is inconsistent with his public pronouncements, or he could have introduced a bill to decriminalize prostitution. He did not.

  10. #10 |  SJE | 

    Oh, and in the interests of equal time, don’t forget the Democratic Congress who was elected with calls for accountability in government, but then bent over backwards to find ways to protect William Jefferson; or Bill Clinton, who loves being the first black president, until he needs to marginalize the black vote to boost his wife’s chance of becoming President.

  11. #11 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Randy,

    I understand that libertarian philosophy generally argues that government laws regarding moral things shouldn’t be necessary if private parties undertook to instill morality and to criticize people who don’t act morally. Thus, laws against drugs wouldn’t be enacted because (among many other reasons) a strong private morality would ensure that people wouldn’t abuse them. But if you criticize private actors for speaking out on their morals, then you’re undercutting one of the arguments that libertarian philosophy depends on. In the absence of law, corrective moral action would come from private parties. Unless libertarianism is essentially an anarchist system, order must come from somewhere and in the absence of government it will be social morals. You get nowhere fast by criticizing the people who would create that necessary function.

    Oh, and “If it feels good and doesn’t hurt anyone, do it” is hardly a system of morals, but that’s a subject for another thread.

  12. #12 |  Matt Moore | 

    Who the fuck is Randy?

  13. #13 |  Les | 

    Thus, laws against drugs wouldn’t be enacted because (among many other reasons) a strong private morality would ensure that people wouldn’t abuse them.

    I’ve never seen this argument made by a libertarian, maybe because it’s nonsense. There will always be people who abuse drugs, just as there will always be people who abuse alcohol and any other thing that gives pleasure. The government simply has no business protecting me from myself.

    But if you criticize private actors for speaking out on their morals, then you’re undercutting one of the arguments that libertarian philosophy depends on.

    That’s simply false. Libertarian philosophy depends on freedom of speech and the notion that all philosophies should be held up to criticism. If a person publicly describes a “morality” I find to be repugnant (say, bigotry towards others based on a harmless lifestyle), it’s my right to explain why I find that philosophy to be repugnant. Then that person has a right to defend their philosophy and so on and so forth. That’s one of the things which make for a free society.

  14. #14 |  Sydney Carton | 

    “Who the fuck is Randy?”

    It’s a typo, you moron. Radley, I apologize for misspelling your name.

  15. #15 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Les,

    Of course libertarians think that the GOVERNMENT has no business protecting you from yourself. But do libertarians also think society should be silent about your self-harm? What if there were no laws against doing drugs, but that people in society refused to deal with you? No, you wouldn’t go to jail, but you couldn’t get a job because no one would hire you, no one would extend you credit, no one listen to you, want you soliciting their businesses on their private property, etc. You’d be a modern-day leper. What do libertarians think about that? You’re “free” to do things that you want, and people are just as free to avoid you because of your behavior.

    That’s the distinction I am making between “government morality” and “private morality.” The private morality is the morality that doesn’t hire drug users. Government morality, by contrast, sends drug users to jail. I thought that libertarians thought that private morality was desirable because it’s the creation of a law that is of social persuasion and avoids FORCE.

    You’re right about the criticism of differing philosophies, though. I was badly trying to say that private morality of some kind that is accepted in civilization is necessary to get people to act harmoniously in order to avoid government force. For instance, I’d go far as saying that (at least today) if there were no laws against incest, American culture would shun and treat as lepers anyone known to engage in incest.

  16. #16 |  JJH2 | 

    There is no such thing as “public morality” or “private morality.” “Public morality” is, as near as I can tell, simply a euphemism for using systematized violence against individuals who have violated nobody’s rights. Using violence against those who haven’t violated anybody’s rights is WRONG, regardless or whether the government does it or an individual does it. An employer should have every right to refuse to hire a recreational pot smoker, but as some of the most brilliant and creative people have been pot smokers, I think it’s a pretty stupid policy. Similarly, an employer should have every right to refuse to hire people of other races – but simply having the right to do something doesn’t mean doing it isn’t immoral. Lots of immoral actions violate nobody’s rights.

  17. #17 |  Radley Balko | 

    Syndey,

    Why should an employer refuse to hire someone who “uses drugs,” if said drug use has no bearing on how the employee does his job?

    Simply because it’s “immoral” to do drugs? By whose standard? If we were to live in a world where drugs were legal–that is, a world in which you think “private morality” should control consensual behavior–should an employer also refuse to hire someone who drinks coffee every day? Who smokes? Who takes prescription drugs off label? If none of these are affecting the employee’s job performance, why should the employer care? Why should he care if the drug in question is marijuana or cocaine?

    Now, if people were abusing a given drug–alcohol, cocaine, heroin–to the point where they couldn’t do their job, then yeah, I guess if I were an employer, I’d want to fire them. But not because they were doing drugs, but because they weren’t productive.

    You’re saying we should shun people who make “immoral” choices because immorality (or, at least, what you call immorality) leads to chaos, anarchy, social breakdown, etc. I’m saying that to the extent that bad choices do lead to bad outcomes, people will suffer for those choices. To the extent that the choices you find immoral don’t lead to bad outcomes, and aren’t destructive, and aren’t causing anyone else harm, I don’t see the point in condemning people for them. It makes them happy, it isn’t hurting anyone else, so what’s the problem?

    That leaves us with the notion that you think some people should be condemned and ostracized for no other reason than that you, personally, don’t like the choices they make, and find them immoral. But then, I’d imagine there are plenty of people who’d feel the same way about some of the choices you make. Your choice to ostracize gay people, for example.

    Instead, why not just let everyone make their own choices, and let everyone deal with the consequences of his own choices?

  18. #18 |  Les | 

    Sidney,

    But do libertarians also think society should be silent about your self-harm?

    I would hope not. Society should be able to say whatever it wants. Unfortunately, sometimes this manifests as pure bigotry (as in not hiring drug users or homosexuals or people of different faiths), but as long as the government isn’t taking part in the bigotry, there’s not much that can be done except for the victims of the bigotry to find communities which will not discriminate against them.

    Then again, I don’t think it makes good business sense to discriminate based on those things, which is why most large companies don’t care about a person’s private life (with, perhaps, the unfortunate and hypocritical exception of illicit drug use), as long as he or she can do the job and do it well.

    For instance, I’d go far as saying that (at least today) if there were no laws against incest, American culture would shun and treat as lepers anyone known to engage in incest.

    I agree, which is why I think laws against incest are unjust.

  19. #19 |  the friendly grizzly | 

    “Who is … Randy?” Obviously Vitter and Fosella, or they’d not be doing what they did. (Sorry. SOMEone had to do it…)

  20. #20 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    Radley, you’ve got your tenses mixed up here: “…should an employer also refuse to hire someone… Who smokes?”

    Already happening. And not just refusing to hire, firing people for smoking too.

    The new prohibitionists aren’t just focusing on alcohol (like MADD) or on the huge list the so-called drug warriors have.

    Coffee will be in there soon. They’re already after any foods they consider “wrong.”

    “Sir! Do you have a permit for that candy bar?”

    I can see where it is all heading and I don’t like it. (He says, mildly.)

  21. #21 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Sydney writes: “What if there were no laws against doing drugs, but that people in society refused to deal with you? No, you wouldn’t go to jail, but you couldn’t get a job because no one would hire you, no one would extend you credit, no one listen to you, want you soliciting their businesses on their private property, etc. You’d be a modern-day leper. What do libertarians think about that? You’re “free” to do things that you want, and people are just as free to avoid you because of your behavior.”

    You mean like Rush Limbaugh?

  22. #22 |  Andrew Williams | 

    I am free to do as they tell me! I am free to do as they tell me!

  23. #23 |  dsmallwood | 

    bad choices lead to bad outcomes … people will suffer for those choices

    um, not really. i know lots of people who do drugs. i’m told that they are making ‘bad choices’. but they don’t seem to suffer. a few of them have better careers than me and they all seem happy. i also have some friends who do the same drugs but got busted by the cops. that didn’t work out well.

    i don’t see the difference as the “bad choices”. i just see the government ‘protecting people’ by putting them in jail. that’s a ‘bad’ thing. me, i don’t worry if they do drugs. or if the drugs hurt them. but i also don’t tell them to skip trans-fats or lay off the risky sex. what kind of life would that be?

    anyway .. if bad outcomes help to deter bad choices … how come gays CAN’T marry but i can get my way-over-my-head-sub-prime-mortgage covered by a bail out?

  24. #24 |  Bronwyn | 

    Les, don’t know that you care or pay attention, but I accidentally down-thumbed one of your comments when I meant to up-thumb it.

    Sorry about that.

    And “Randy” was a typo? Twice? Uh huh.

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