I usually don’t pick on people who write letters to the editor very often, but I’d like to take a look at two which were published today because they show an absolute lack of understanding about libertarianism. The first comes from the Pittsburgh Review-Tribune, and here’s the pertinent section:
Although Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethloisberger must take primary responsibility for being foolish enough to ride a motorcycle and, even more irresponsible, for doing so without a helmet, it is clear he was aided and abetted in his abdication of reason by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In one of his few decisive acts while in office, and early in his administration, Gov. Ed Rendell signed legislation that repealed Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet law. This is perhaps the only time this big-government, tax-and-spend governor will ever be found to have adopted a Libertarian position on any issue.
Roethlisberger was influenced by the legislation, interpreting it as government’s stamp of approval on risk-taking. He is known to have consistently shrugged off wearing a helmet and was previously quoted as saying, “Obviously, Pennsylvania doesn’t think people need to (wear a helmet).”
It seems the Governor did act in a libertarian manner in this case (I didn’t check the bill, so who knows what pork may have been involved, what other compromises were made, etc.). However, the argument that the government bears any responsibility in the matter is absolutely absurd. The government hasn’t told me that dropping cement blocks on my foot is painful and dangerous. Are they aiding and abetting my abdication of reason if I drop one and injure myself?
The second one comes from the Montgomery Advertiser:
What on Earth are Alabama’s Democrats thinking, giving attorney Larry Darby 43 percent of the votes for attorney general? Darby is libertarian in principle, but also holds some views that those who voted for him may not understand.
According to the Advertiser, Darby advocates martial law to stop illegal aliens from entering the country, going so far as to say they “should be shot on sight.”
He claims that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is “greatly exaggerated.” And the cherry on top of this nutcase sundae? The Advertiser quotes Darby as saying, “It would be good for Iran to blow Israel off the map.”
Let’s make this clear (once again). The only libertarian principle Darby maintains that I know of is for the legalization of marijuana. Preemptively blowing a country off the map is about as anti-libertarian a thing one can do. Randomly shooting undocumented workers is the antithesis of libertarianism. His position on the Holocaust has absolutely nothing to do with libertarianism.
Darby once tried to run as a Libertarian, but Libertarians wouldn’t even let him in the door. Almost half the Democrats in the state voted for him. Perhaps Democrats could learn a lesson from this embarrassing episode and support privately funded party conventions as opposed to taxpayer funded primary elections. Also, letter writers (and LTE editors) should learn the meanings of such big words before placing them in print. That is unless the writer was aware of the meaning of “libertarian” and the letter was written with malicious intent.