“A man may obey the law and yet be neither honest nor a good neighbor.” – Legal maxim
This article may surprise a lot of people, given how much of an unapologetic Trump supporter I am. Those who’ve followed my previous work, or who follow me on Facebook, know that I’ve defended Donald Trump since way back in the primaries. Some people are even confused by how I can support a man who is “not a real libertarian”, while still calling myself one.
Actually, it’s because I’m not a zealous, partisan ideologue, as I will now prove.
While I’m swift to denounce the violent rioters chanting “Kill Donald Trump!” in the streets, I think there is a segment of anti-Trump protesters that do have legitimate grievances. Or, at least, it should be acknowledged that the way in which they go about airing those grievances is perfectly in line with libertarianism and should be recognized as such.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I happened across this article, in which fashion designer Sophie Theallet wrote a letter to Melania Trump stating that she would be preemptively refusing to do any work for the presumptive First Lady, despite having done so for Michelle Obama. The Trump supporter in me was saddened by this, and disheartened by her misguided reasons; but the libertarian in me understood and accepted her decision.
As the saying goes, “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
By virtue of her right to freedom of association, Sophie Theallet has every right to refuse to serve someone for whatever reason she chooses. At the time of my writing this, I don’t know what Trump’s response will be, but he’ll probably be upset and tweet a demand that Theallet apologize for such an insult. I understand, and respect, that he’s defending his wife, so I wouldn’t expect anything less from what would be perceived as a slight. I think Sophie Theallet is being a bit of a sore loser, but being a sore loser is not against the law, and the Trumps would have no recourse to demand service (if they even wanted it in the first place), as commodities aren’t rights and no contract has yet been formed between them.
We’ll see how that particular scenario unfolds, but I think we’ll be in for a lot more of this type of protest over the next four years. The best thing Trump can do, at this point, is be gracious and understanding and try to do better going forward. To really prove he’s not the bad guy everyone thinks he is.
Though his appointment of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General certainly isn’t easing my concerns in that regard.
The above is an example of me being consistent in my principles – defending individual liberty even when it’s against my preferred candidate. Unfortunately, the political left is far more selective in its choosing to apply its own principles.
As The Federalist article points out, this letter by Sophie Theallet harkens back to the hypocrisy of the left in choosing to suddenly become unprincipled and anti-liberty when the “victim” is one of their own. This, we know, is typical of the left as the left is not pro-[insert group here] but simply pro-left, pro-collectivist, pro-anyone-who-is-on-their-side.
Think back to the gay wedding cakes or the Confederate flag or the Nazi ISIL cakes made by Jewish bakers. You know, that thing everyone got on Gary Johnson’s case for?
In all those scenarios, the set-up is the same as with Melania and Theallet. Someone stood on their right to refuse service, which they have by virtue of their right to freedom of association and property rights, against someone who (potentially might have) demanded something that they had no right to because commodities aren’t rights, and to demand said commodities be given over is a violation of property rights and a form of forced labor in terms of what it took to produce them.
It doesn’t matter whether the motivation is bigotry or not, since bigotry isn’t against the law, and any attempt to make it so would be a violation of individual liberty. From there, it’s a slippery slope to arbitrarily enforced reverse-bigotry.
Yes, I’m looking at you, Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Of course, as the maxim I cited at the beginning of this article states, just because something is legal, doesn’t make it socially permissible.
Even if you abide by the non-aggression principle, you can still be guilty of breaking the ‘you’re a dick’ principle; but that is a social problem, rather than a legal or political problem. In this case, the left is correct in its support of Sophie Theallet, in defending her free speech. I just which they’d see that in regards to those other cases as well, and take the ideological blinders off.
This brings me to another thing that happened recently, wherein the cast of “Hamilton” delivered a passionate message to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence.
I watched their speech and I found nothing wrong with it, beyond a personal lament that they see hate where it doesn’t exist. They were merely exercising their right to free speech and using their medium as a platform, the way artists have done for thousands of years. No problem there.
I even posted on my Facebook that I disagreed with Trump’s tweet in so far as the target of his anger was misguided. That the cast were actually fairly gracious, even quieting the crowd; but that it was the crowd themselves – the crowd who booed all through the play and interrupted the performance to the point they had to pause and wait. If anyone was being disrespectful, it was them.
I also disagreed with Trump calling for the theater to be a “safe space,” since I think the entire concept of safe spaces breeds thin-skinned people, but again, none of this is a violation of anyone’s rights.
The other main problem with the “Hamilton” situation is the series of hypocrites on both sides who had lost their damned minds:
I won’t get into a detailed analysis here. It’s pretty involved. You can watch the video yourself.
But perhaps the most delicious irony of all in the “Hamilton” case is that these same people who are defending the cast while calling for an abolition of the Electoral College don’t even realize that it was Alexander Hamilton whom they have to thank for the Electoral College in the first place!
Setting aside that whole thing, however, I actually agree that the Electoral College is an abomination. I understand its origins as part of the federal system in which the states were party to the Constitution, not the people directly. So we either need to go back to that system of limited government or, as is more likely, move forward towards a more direct democracy.
At this point, I would much prefer a direct popular vote – ideally under an instant run-off system. Towards that end, I even signed their little petitions to get rid of the Electoral College, but not because of anything to do with Trump. I’d been opposed to it long before him, and am still opposed to it even though he only won because of it.
Trump, himself, even agreed in an interview on 60 Minutes that it should be gotten rid of. How gracious is that?
As I said in my previous article, I think those of us who supported Trump bear the responsibility of keeping him in line and holding him to his promises. Chief among those is in not falling prey to the vocal minority of ideological zealots in the alt-right, and I think the way that we do that is to not become the fascists detractors think we are, but to recognize and respect the difference between insurrection and conscientious objection. Be strict on the former; hands off the latter.
It’s a lesson both sides need to learn, but one that the right especially needs to be cognizant of, as it currently holds the reins of power. With a clean sweep of all three branches of government, there won’t be any option to pin failures onto Democrats the way Obama did with the Republicans. Trump, his supporters, and what remains of the GOP will have to tread carefully. The eyes of the world are watching.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, , exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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