Skip to comments.Penn Jillette: Why Iím a Libertarian Nut Instead of Just a Nut
Posted on 05/20/2009 2:10:08 PM PDT by FreeKeys
I dont speak for all Libertarians any more than Sean Penn speaks for all Democrats. Im not even sure my LP membership card is up to date. Ive voted Libertarian as long as I can remember but I dont really remember much before the Clintons and the Bushes. Those clans made a lot of us bugnutty. When I go on Glenns show he calls me a Libertarian, I think thats 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 dont know if everyone would be better off under a Libertarian government. I dont know what would be best for anyone. I dont even know whats best for me. What makes me Libertarian is I dont think anyone else really knows whats 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 hes 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, its not okay for our government to use force in any situation where I personally wouldnt use force.
For example, if Im not willing to kill a cute cow, I shouldnt eat steak. I dont 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 its not okay for me, its not okay for a slaughterhouse. Asking someone else to do something immoral is immoral. If its not okay for me to break David Blaines hands so my magic show has less competition, its 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, (were speaking hypothetically here, Im 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. Im 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 wouldnt 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 wouldnt pull a gun on you. I wouldnt 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 dont want to pay for it. If you have to use a gun, its not really a very good idea. Democracy without respect for individual rights sucks. Its just ganging up on the weird kid, and Im always the weird kid.
People try to argue that government isnt 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, Im 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.
Its 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 were compassionate, well 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.
Im a Libertarian nut because I dont want my government to do anything in my name that I wouldnt 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.
Penn and Teller are the greatest show in Las Vegas. Well worth every penny.
I believe I’m much more in agreement with Libertarians these days than with big government republicans.
“I dont know what would be best for anyone. I dont even know whats best for me.”
The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘p-a-r-a-l-y-s-i-s’: Churchill
Well said. I wonder if Teller feels the same. ;)
“the principles of LIVE-AND-LET-LIVE”
Just who is against those principles? Could you please be specific, rather than create a faceless imaginary boogeyman like Meghan McCain does?
If you want societal acceptance of homos, leading to more & more teaching of the joys of sodomy to kids in school, then please say so. If you want legalized drugs, then please, say so.
A conservative inherantly believes in live and let live. What particularly causes you to use the caps lock there?
He doesn’t speak for everyone, he claims. Teller doesn’t speak for anyone!
Same here. The only major issue where I disagree with Libertarians is legalization of recreational drugs.
“I believe Im much more in agreement with Libertarians these days than with big government republicans.”
Conservatives like me are, too...wierd, huh?
I watched their show around Easter at the Rio. It was meh. I guess I have seen some of their tricks before on television and on the internet so it somewhat ruined my experience. However, Ka at the MGM was freaking amazing. Expensive, but amazing.
For example, if Im not willing to kill a cute cow, I shouldnt eat steak.
Yep, he's just a nut. Equating the use of physical force with the killing of an animal as a source of food? Seriously???
Good for Penn Jillette. I think I’m about a 98 percent libertarian.
Oh, I don't know. Just thought the concept's been way too ignored lately. Your message appears a bit hostile. Did you mean to be? If so, I'm not in the mood for an argument today. I simply thought some of our friends here would like to see this column, and that's why I posted it. Period.
Teller is a staunch libertarian too. In fact I think he has influenced Penn more than the other way around.
If he's a Libertarian, he doesn't want them discriminated against BY THE GOVERNMENT. Like laws against sodomy.
That does NOT mean private individuals can't discriminate. No Libertarian would force you to rent to a homosexual couple, or employ a homosexual.
Hence, no "societal acceptance".
The shot across the bow....to the Republicans. Even my 82 year old MIL has become a Libertarian....after a lifetime of straight Republican voting.
What have you done RNC? Are you insane or just stupid...?
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.
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.
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.
Can I take the kids?
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.
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.
Perhaps he would have been better off making his case by speaking to the death penalty instead.
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...
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.
I once believed that. Without the love of others I might never have seen the light, so to speak.
It’s a bad metaphor for what he’s trying to say. The issue of the Death Penalty would have provided a clearer example.
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.
He did seem to have trouble trying to articulate his thought.
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.
Also see later post here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2254980/posts?page=26#26
I believe that. That’s great. Every conservative who’s up on the issue believes in that
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.
“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.
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/
Law of Unintended Consequences is inviolable. Government is not the solution to our problem...
Well, at least FReepers are able to rationally understand what his true message was. I’m not so confident that others will.
We need a Conservative Party—with Libertarian Ideals but without the egghead notions expressed by them. Ron Paul is my idea of a good thinker. Still, I would welcome Penn and Teller into a new Conservative Party but don’t see their show unless you can handle the F-word being used a lot.
“Government is not the solution to our problem”
sure absolutely. no one here thinks that it is.
We really could nitpick this thing to death.
Bottom line: I like it when a Hollywood-type is an in-your-face NON-lefty. Conservative would be better than Libertarian, but it still feels like a small victory.
“Ron Paul is my idea of a good thinker”
He’s my idea of someone who’s heart is in the right place.
Social conservatism does not have to mean executing abortionists or locking up people suspected of homosexual behavior. Certainly it would be a big achievement if the govt simply stopped *promoting* such behavior ($ for planned parenthood, special gay rights such as marriage) but there is a lot the govt can do without being coercive or expansionist. If the govt can put out an ad campaign to encourage people to join the Army or discourage drugs, it should also encourage better, perhaps private education or discourage abortion. It all falls under the ‘power’ of the bully pulpit; the govt should be able to use the modern media.
“Fudge” and “sodomy” in the same sentence is a somewhat less than ideal way of expressing a serious point. But hey, we all have our days.
I agree that “libertarian” is less well defined than many political labels. FYI, I consider myself a libertarian conservative. Or was it conservative libertarian? It’s so easy to get mixed up on these things.
Not shutting down the Border Patrol and opening the border, not totally unrestricted abortion, not fully opening the military and adoption to homosexuals?
The Wickard Commerce Clause is used by fedgov for hate crime laws¹, gun control, Obamacare, the WOD, and a host of others.
Do you think Wickard is in keeping with the original meaning of the Commerce Clause?
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.
(6) Such violence substantially affects interstate commerce in many ways, including the following:
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