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Penn Jillette: Why Iím a Libertarian Nut Instead of Just a Nut
Glenn Beck dot com ^ | May 20, 2009 - 11:27 ET | Penn Gillette

Posted on 05/20/2009 2:10:08 PM PDT by FreeKeys

I don’t speak for all Libertarians any more than Sean Penn speaks for all Democrats. I’m not even sure my LP membership card is up to date. I’ve voted Libertarian as long as I can remember but I don’t really remember much before the Clintons and the Bushes. Those clans made a lot of us bugnutty. When I go on Glenn’s show he calls me a Libertarian, I think that’s my only real credential.

There are historical reasons and pragmatic reasons to be a Libertarian, but there are historic and pragmatic reasons to be a Democrat, a Republican or a Socialist. I don’t know if everyone would be better off under a Libertarian government. I don’t know what would be best for anyone. I don’t even know what’s best for me. What makes me Libertarian is I don’t think anyone else really knows what’s best for anyone. My argument for Libertarianism is simple - personal morality.

I start with the Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” So, essentially our government does what they do with my consent.

I know barely enough about Max Weber to type his name into Google, but it seems he’s credited with asserting the idea that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. I put those two ideas together (my consent and use of physical force) and figure we all give our government the right to use force. So, the way I figure, it’s not okay for our government to use force in any situation where I personally wouldn’t use force.

For example, if I’m not willing to kill a cute cow, I shouldn’t eat steak. I don’t have to kill Bessy right now with my bare hands, but I have to be willing to snuff her if I want to chow down on a T-bone. If it’s not okay for me, it’s not okay for a slaughterhouse. Asking someone else to do something immoral is immoral. If it’s not okay for me to break David Blaine’s hands so my magic show has less competition, it’s not okay for me to ask someone else to beat him up. Someone else doing your dirty work is still your dirty work.

If I had a gun, and I knew a murder was happening, (we’re speaking hypothetically here, I’m not asking you to believe that I could accurately tell a murder from aggressive CPR), I would use that gun to stop that murder. I might be too much of a coward to use a gun myself to stop a murder or rape or robbery, but I think the use of a gun is justified. I’m even okay with using force to enforce voluntary contracts. If I were a hero, I would use a gun to protect the people who choose to live under this free system and to stop another country from attacking America. But I wouldn’t use a gun to force someone to love something like say…a library.

Look, I love libraries. I spent a lot of time in the Greenfield Public Library when I was a child. I would give money to build a library. I would ask you to give money to build a library. But, if for some reason you were crazy enough to think you had a better idea for your money than building my library, I wouldn’t pull a gun on you. I wouldn’t use a gun to build an art museum, look at the wonders of the universe through a big telescope, or even find a cure for cancer.

The fact that the majority wants something good does not give them the right to use force on the minority that don’t want to pay for it. If you have to use a gun, it’s not really a very good idea. Democracy without respect for individual rights sucks. It’s just ganging up on the weird kid, and I’m always the weird kid.

People try to argue that government isn’t really force. You believe that? Try not paying your taxes. (This is only a thought experiment though -- suggesting someone not pay their taxes is probably a federal offense, and while I may be a nut, I’m not crazy.) When they come to get you for not paying your taxes, try not going to court. Guns will be drawn. Government is force.

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered. If we’re compassionate, we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

I’m a Libertarian nut because I don’t want my government to do anything in my name that I wouldn’t do myself.

Penn Jillette is a celebrated magician, comedian, actor, author and producer. He is best known as the larger, louder half of Penn & Teller, a role he has held since 1975. With his partner Teller, Jillette has been awarded an Obie and an Emmy Award. Their critically acclaimed stage show spent several years both on and off-Broadway, and now has a permanent home at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Jillette can be seen weekly co-hosting the 11 time Emmy-nominated Showtime series. He also posts daily rants on his "Penn Says" VLog at Sony's www.Crackle.com site.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: glennbeck; libertarian; liveandletlive; pennandteller; penngillette
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To: SoldierDad

Do you remember when Chrissy Matthews was berating Zell Miller at the 2004 Republican convention for something that he said? (Chrissy was taking it very literally).

Zell responded, “You do know what a metaphor is, don’t you Chris”?

Penn Jillette may not be the most sophisticated speaker (which is both good and bad), but he seemed to be making an appropriate use of metaphor.

IMHO, his point was that one should strive for consistency between their expressed opinions and their actions. That doesn’t sound too nutty to me.


21 posted on 05/20/2009 2:36:07 PM PDT by neocon1984
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To: FreeKeys
This guy speaks in language so plain

This guy speaks in language so vulgar, he is impossible to listen to, even though he has good points. He is also violently Anti-Christian, calling the Bible bullshit.

22 posted on 05/20/2009 2:36:15 PM PDT by itsahoot (Each generation takes to excess, what the previous generation accepted in moderation.)
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To: SoldierDad
So, the way I figure, it’s not okay for our government to use force in any situation where I personally wouldn’t use force. For example, if I’m not willing to kill a cute cow, I shouldn’t eat steak.

I think he's referring to hypocrisy i.e. someone who thinks it is immoral to kill cattle but still eats steak.

Or someone who thinks it's immoral for someone else to kill to rescue another but would want that someone else to kill if he was the one needing rescue.

23 posted on 05/20/2009 2:37:55 PM PDT by Tribune7 (Better to convert enemies to allies than to destroy them)
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To: Drango
Penn and Teller are the greatest show in Las Vegas. Well worth every penny.

Can I take the kids?

24 posted on 05/20/2009 2:39:39 PM PDT by ghost of nixon
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To: KoRn

I’m more convinced every day that the Republicans and the Democrats are morphing into the WWE: lots of bluster, lots of “rivalry”, but everyone gets to stick around for next month’s show, and both the heroes and villains get their paychecks from the same boyz.


25 posted on 05/20/2009 2:41:12 PM PDT by Notary Sojac (Chains you can believe in...)
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To: FreeKeys

No, I didn’t mean to be hostile. A lot of times I see that though; a generic attack on a faceless group. CNN does it a lot, they create a big black “they” cloud which they can then demonize in generic ways. It seemed by your statement that you had some intent, but it seemed like that.

Sometimes people calling themselves “libertarian” use that technique on “social conservatives”, but generally they just want some license for their particular vice: drugs, butt****ing boys, whatever.

The whole point about being a conservative is it should transcend whatever dumb vice you might have. You recognize that societal acceptance of sodomites, or legal drugs is detrimental to society, and something the KGB pushed bigtime for years, because it screws up society.

Even if you have a problem with something like porn, you should recognize that it’s a problem, and ideally you wouldn’t be doing it, and that a country permeated with porn is not going to be a stable society. It’s just a principle of self-protection. You want to survive, so you want the country to survive. You might have a porn addiction, but you don’t want to see it promoted. A lot of decent conservatives on this site have a problem with porn. But I hope that most of them would realize that America is on the brink of a demographics nightmare and porn isn’t helping with that. For example.


26 posted on 05/20/2009 2:42:14 PM PDT by chuck_the_tv_out (click my name)
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To: neocon1984
The problem with his metaphor, though, is that is is misplaced in this context. The government does not slaughter our beef (or any other animal food source). That is a private industry activity (though the government does provide a regulatory function over the quality of that food source). Thus, trying to say that it is immoral to eat beef unless I'm willing to kill it myself doesn't hold water. The same could be said for any type of activity that we do not do ourselves, but contract out to others who do. It just doesn't work with respect to looking at government's use of force.

Perhaps he would have been better off making his case by speaking to the death penalty instead.

27 posted on 05/20/2009 2:44:35 PM PDT by SoldierDad (Proud Dad of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier presently instructing at Ft. Benning.)
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To: chuck_the_tv_out
I think you missed the point. Society can disapprove of homosexuality without getting government involved.

Government has but one tool - the gun. Just as all problems look like nails if your only tool is a hammer, all resistance to government looks like crime if your only tool is a gun.

Just look what happened to marriage when people looked for government for help in raising children. We get gay "marriage."

Render unto the Lord...

28 posted on 05/20/2009 2:44:42 PM PDT by Aevery_Freeman (Our Last Best Hope: REPEAL THE 16th AMENDMENT!)
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To: AlaskaErik
The only major issue where I disagree with Libertarians is legalization of recreational drugs.

As a libertarian (small l) I would certainly be willing to compromise on the drug issue.

We could keep those drugs illegal in the same way they were in, say the 1950's...go to jail if you are dealing or publicly under the influence.

But we have to get rid of the no-knock raids, the asset forfeitures, and the local cops tricked out like military commandos.

29 posted on 05/20/2009 2:45:28 PM PDT by Notary Sojac (Chains you can believe in...)
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To: itsahoot
calling the Bible bullshit.

I once believed that. Without the love of others I might never have seen the light, so to speak.

30 posted on 05/20/2009 2:47:01 PM PDT by Tribune7 (Better to convert enemies to allies than to destroy them)
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To: Tribune7

It’s a bad metaphor for what he’s trying to say. The issue of the Death Penalty would have provided a clearer example.


31 posted on 05/20/2009 2:48:45 PM PDT by SoldierDad (Proud Dad of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier presently instructing at Ft. Benning.)
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To: Aevery_Freeman
What?? Government is ALREADY involved. They are teaching kids about sodomy in public schools. They are making it a protected right so people can't hire or fire who they want.

Get the government OUT of that is the kind of thing a conservative would say.

Who is getting the government involved? WHO?
32 posted on 05/20/2009 2:50:30 PM PDT by chuck_the_tv_out (click my name)
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To: FreeKeys
For example, if I’m not willing to kill a cute cow, I shouldn’t eat steak. I don’t have to kill Bessy right now with my bare hands, but I have to be willing to snuff her if I want to chow down on a T-bone. If it’s not okay for me, it’s not okay for a slaughterhouse. Asking someone else to do something immoral is immoral.

It's a little convoluted.

A more proper argument is that if you find it immoral to kill a cow to eat or for leather or for birth control, etc, then it doesn't matter if you do not EAT beef, that cows are harvested in this world is immoral.

Now then, if you oppose abortion on the grounds that it violates the rights of the unborn growing children, then taking a stance "not to have an abortion" still does nothing to end the immorality of 50 million dead people.

The mother's body ends at the umbilical cord, where one or more babies are growing. We recognize that a woman who smokes, dopes, or drinks or even takes necessary medications, may be doing her child physical harm if she does these things during her pregnancy. Can the mother be convicted of child abuse for doing these things if it isn't really a baby? If she abused her own body PRIOR to becoming pregnant, she would be unlikely to be charged with child abuse for any problems her child has during a later pregnancy.

The father is obligated to the child for 18 years if the mother becomes pregnant but the woman is permitted to opt out of her own obligations to that same child on demand.

33 posted on 05/20/2009 2:50:38 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: SoldierDad

He did seem to have trouble trying to articulate his thought.


34 posted on 05/20/2009 2:50:41 PM PDT by Tribune7 (Better to convert enemies to allies than to destroy them)
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To: chuck_the_tv_out

A true libertarian doesn’t believe in public schools anyway. If we have to educate the children, it should be with vouchers only, where parents could choose a parochial school if they wish. That is my utopia.


35 posted on 05/20/2009 2:51:09 PM PDT by sportutegrl (If liberals could do math, they would be conservatives.)
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To: Aevery_Freeman

Also see later post here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2254980/posts?page=26#26


36 posted on 05/20/2009 2:51:20 PM PDT by chuck_the_tv_out (click my name)
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To: sportutegrl

I believe that. That’s great. Every conservative who’s up on the issue believes in that


37 posted on 05/20/2009 2:52:38 PM PDT by chuck_the_tv_out (click my name)
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To: Tribune7

I don’t know of these people who find it immoral to kill animals for food yet eat them.

I do find people who find it immoral to kill animals for food or clothing and who only eat veggies.

I do find people who are UNwilling to confront themselves with the aftermath of abortions (aborted fetuses) and yet who insist that it is just tissue and not human.


38 posted on 05/20/2009 2:53:08 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: jimt

“Like laws against sodomy”

OK but there are no (enforced at least) laws against sodomy, and no credible attempt to create such laws. So do you have an actual example? Because I think I’m the one against government intervention here. I think the conservative is the real “libertarian” here, and the “libertarian” is something quite undefined and largely a fudge.


39 posted on 05/20/2009 2:58:41 PM PDT by chuck_the_tv_out (click my name)
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To: ghost of nixon
Can I take the kids?

Don't remember...I believe there is some adult content and 4 letter words, but it was 2 years ago and my memory is fuzzy. http://www.pennandteller.com/

40 posted on 05/20/2009 3:00:25 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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