Tag Archives: liberty

I do not have an opinion on gay rights – nothing, at all.

I was just speaking with a friend regarding LGBT marriage in the United States (and the world) and she told me that I clearly have an opinion. People who know me would scoff at this, I have an opinion on just about everything. But on this admittedly important topic, I actively do not have an opinion.

Everyone knows all that social contract theory or whatever. We’re all in some so called state of nature ready to kill each other… Blah blah blah… We form a government, trade security for liberty… Yada yada yada… And thusly comes the modern state (I’m sure I’ve made a whole bunch of philosophical flaws in the process so preemptive apologies to Locke and friends).

Ultimately, I feel the distinction between a free and authoritarian society lies in the method of legal execution. Is all that is not explicitly prohibited condoned or is all that is not explicitly condoned prohibited?

Of course, the United States is a shining example of the former. I am free to do what I will that is not explicitly made illegal by law like murder or, unfortunately, gay marriage in many of our states. In days of old vassalage or, sadly, slavery in my own country (or caste in my other one) the lives of many were subject to arbitrary subordination in which all that is not specifically allowed by the master is implicitly illegal.

There is something fundamentally better – philosophically and practically – about a culture based on negative liberty. Imagine writing laws for every minute act or utterance to ensure their legality?

I do have an opinion about taxes (which is the explicit negation of income). I do have an opinion on murder. Positive laws must exist only for the direst of needs. To maintain order. To maintain our state. In this sense, I suppose I am a libertarian. But I am a liberal because my idea of maintaining a state is a far cry from the sad cruelty of being deprived of modern prosperity by sheer luck of being born to a poor family. But I sympathize with the libertarian belief that only in overwhelming situations must positive law be enforced.

I have an opinion about drug addiction. I have an opinion about rape. I have an opinion about poverty. I have an opinion about national security.

I do not have an opinion about people buying chewing gum on a Friday night. I do not have an opinion about walking my pet on the Manhattan sidewalk. I do not have an opinion about wearing scarves at a Baseball game. I do not have an opinion about two men making love.