The Left and Sex

Some time ago, I made a humorous throwaway observation that Democrats didn’t believe in individual freedom of choice except in matters pertaining to sexuality.

At the time, I thought the statement a mere comedic exaggeration. As a libertarian, I consider each political ideology a mixed bag. Each political group gives freedom with one hand and takes it away with the other. I assumed that a little honest examination of all the Left’s policy positions would quickly reveal many areas completely unrelated to sex in which the Left advocated letting individuals make the decisions about what or what not to do.

However, to my disquiet, I cannot think of a single one! I honestly cannot think of a single non-sexual area in which the contemporary Left advocates letting individuals decide what or what not to do.

Can anyone else? I’m really serious about this. If you can think of an area please say so. If you can’t, ask around your leftist friends and contact me at

Let me expand on this a bit.

Prior to the 1960s, one could at least rely on the Left to protect free speech. Yet, since then, the Left has waged a war on all speech, unrelated to sex, that they disapprove of. They protect speech relating to sex rigorously but feel no qualms about advocating censoring depictions of violence, the speech of corporations or non-leftist speech on public airways. Leftist dominated universities have become the only public places in America where an individual can be actively penalized for speech that isn’t incitement.

Let’s look at major policy areas and see if leftists advocate individual choice: Health care? Nope. Social security? Nope. Employment? Nope. Crime? Nope. Housing? Nope. Transportation? Nope. Environment? Nope. Education? Big Nope. Communications? Nope. Economics in general? Nope.

Hell, a major leftist politician even recently advocated bringing back the military draft!

In every policy area except sex, leftists advocate moving the authority to make decisions away from individuals and to the state.

Of course leftist don’t think of themselves as restricting individual choice. They play rhetorical games to deceive themselves into believing they actually provide greater freedom of choice. For example, leftist will commonly consider a person “free” to chose a course of action only if that person possesses the actual material resources to do so. For example, they do not consider a person unable to afford to attend college “free” to choose whether or not to attend even though no one else otherwise restricts them from choosing to do so. I think this is tantamount to defining someone as not free to have sex with other consenting adults because they lack the good looks, money or status to attract the partners they desire.

If leftists do admit they restrict the right of individuals to chose, they say that they only restrict the choices of a minority to benefit the majority. This usually takes the form of penalizing one side of an inherently two-sided interaction and claiming that only one side loses the ability to chose. For example, leftists do not advocate penalizing individual employees who work for below minimum wage or without a union. They merely penalize the employer who hires them. As long as an individual employee can find an employer who will hire them at the risk of punishment by the state, that individual can work for whatever wage they wish.

I find this position similar to the alcohol laws of the Prohibition era. Prohibition laws did not outlaw the consumption of alcohol. They merely outlawed the manufacture, distribution and selling of alcohol. As long as an individual could find alcohol manufactured before prohibition, which no one had transported anywhere and which someone gave away for free, why that individual remained free to chose to drink all the booze they wanted. Strangely, no one describes this era as time in which Americans could individually chose whether or not to drink alcohol.

The Left’s apparent post-’60s opposition to virtually all matters touching on the state’s police and military powers offers a ray of hope but I think that a detailed examination of their actual record shows them just as willing to expand such powers as those on the Right when they have the power to do so. The Left expanded police powers in the areas of the war on drugs, domestic violence, schools, personal protection and environmental regulation. Leftists also created much of the military intelligence apparatus they now so passionately criticize. Even if we grant the Left a point in the pro-freedom column for their opposition to military intelligence, it seems like one lone candle in an otherwise all-enveloping darkness creeping into every other non-sexual part of our lives.

I think it a sad truth that in the ’60s, the Left discovered the age old marketing truth that sex sells. They discovered that as long as they give people freedom in sexual matters they can steal away their freedoms in every other facet of their lives. Thus freed, they raged ahead, stripping away our ability to actually make concrete choices about most matters in our lives.

Beyond sex, they made every choice we make subject to political oversight. They disguise these restrictions so that most people do not realize they have lost the ability to chose. People do not miss choices they never realized they could make in the first place. For example, people will not realize that they have lost the ability to chose to drive a “gas guzzling” vehicle if the government simply makes it illegal for manufactures to provide them. Ditto for housing, education, medical care, etc. Leftists simply improved on Henry Ford’s quip that his customers could freely chose any color they wished for their Model T as long as they wished it painted black. Individuals can freely chose between the options that the state dictates to them.

I think we need to start repeatedly asking leftists just how often they do or do not advocate individual decision making. If we force them to address a long, long list of policy positions in which they restrict individual choice, the electorate will see them in a much different light. Compared to the ability to chose one’s own medical care, education. transportation, housing, retirement, employment, media, etc, the freedom to screw anyone agreeable will seem rather trivial.

At least to anyone over 30.

[Update 2007.8.24.13:27] Declan McManus suggest in the comments that Leftist generally advocate a loosening of the laws pertaining to recreational drugs and allowing individuals more choice in whether or whether not to give themselves a chemical happy. I think that a fair observation.

We could honestly say that Leftist advocate personal choice in matters pertaining to sex and drugs. Sex and Soma for you Huxley fans.

50 thoughts on “The Left and Sex”

  1. You are kidding, I assume. In the 60s, the “l;eft” as you lable a huge population, believed in free love, communes, letting one do one’s thing.It waws the right, the religious right, that got all crazy about such things. It is the left (or liberal) that believes in marriage between consenting adults–gay or otherwise–and NOT the right> I is or was the Left that wanted and finallyu got birth control pil from France accepted here and it was the Left and not the so-called libertarians that fought tooth and nail for the right of women to choose. What, by contrast, have “libertarians” given us but votes for the Republican party, a party, it seems, that has a leader who still is god-driven and does not believe in sexual eduction taught in our schools.

  2. That was a weird comment. First you say, “You’re kidding, I assume.” Then you go on to provide a bunch of examples that agree with the thesis of the post. So it’s difficult to tell whether you agree or disagree. Or read the article, for that matter.

  3. Shannon Love:
    I honestly cannot think of a single non-sexual(TE) area in which the contemporary Left advocates letting individuals decide what or what not to do.
    David Still: free love, communes, letting one do one’s thing,…marriage between consenting adults–gay or otherwise…birth control pil from France…right of women to choose

    Reading comprehension? Spelling and grammar? Looks like “sexual eduction” in schools replaced all those basic subjects…

  4. One of the oddest things about thinking on the left (if thinking is the word I want) is that there is a complete insistence on the woman’s right to choose abortion but should she have the baby, neither she nor the child’s father should have any choice in how to educate that child. Weird, isn’t it.

  5. I wonder how much of that stems from “the personal is political”? After all, if it is political, it can logically be considered subject to political control…

  6. In the USA, religious conservatives started to become politically active in the 1970s, mainly in reaction to the Left’s politicization of primary and secondary education. Yet to this day leftists blame religious conservatives for imposing their views. The leftist belief in education as indoctrination in their views of correct political, social and sexual behavior remains so entrenched in our govt-run and -regulated educational establishment that leftists see the system as ideologically neutral, and therefore (with irony that flies over their heads) see conservatives’ opposition to the imposition of leftist values as an assault on a neutral liberalism.

  7. david stil,

    I really don’t understand your point. Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing? I agree that all the polices you list came from the Left and did serve (for good or ill) to enable individuals to make decisions.

    However, all the polices you list deal with sexuality. I am looking for Leftist policies or policy recommendations that DON’T deal with sexuality but still increase an individuals authority to make their own decisions.

  8. The freedom (regardless of age) to alter one’s body through piercing, tattooing, etc. This freedom does not, of course, extend to body alteration resulting from the consumption of unapproved food items.

  9. Thing is the Left don’t care much about freedom for “the others”, you ain’t toeing the ideological line, you ain’t nothin’. The left cared only about their own freedom, which looks to be more of a license rather than true freedom. They want to be free to do anything they want, but also to be free from the consequences of their actions. It seems to be nothing more than nihilism combined with egocentrism. The do-it-if-it-feels-good-i-tis that it created pretty much guaranteed a group that claims moral superiority without real moral authority.

    Just a bunch of blind fools who believed that they are sighted trying to lead others without sight.

  10. Actually, the great paradoxes of freedom (free will & predestination, the belief that God-given rights cannot be touched by the government which then leads to a belief the government must ensure these rights, which are greater than the government itself and trump its measures) require the stands I understand Bush as rather often referring to. Of course, some see this as an attempt to install a theocracy, but in a sense it is just the opposite, since it delineates the distinctions between what a government can and can’t do. Of course, what he is saying is generally about what Paine or Jefferson – hardly theocrats – would say.

    So, we confuse license with freedom as Blademonkey notes and we see freedom (for teacher, president, adult) to have sex and ignore not only the curious application of this power in some situations (to student, intern, child) but also its inherent vulgarization. We soon suspect this freedom is a poor bargain; some think that is because boundaries remain, so they push farther and farther out. But of course they don’t feel free because such acts do not lead us to feel free – this goes against our human nature, our desire to live in a community with others, our need not to treat others as objects, as means. David Hackett Fischer speaks of that word, freedom, as coming from words that mean free to belong to. We hardly belong to our communal society if we see sex in terms of license; NAMBLA and abortion and meaningless sex are likely to indicate our alienation from rather than membership in human society. And such alienation is not something we tend to see as freeing. (Well, there’s always Kristofferson’s, freedom’s just another word for nothing else to lose.)

    Of course, I was a child of the 60’s. We saw free sex as liberating. But then, we were idiots. That’s all I can say. Well, I’ll add something else: In a real sense, the one area of freedom that Shannon is arguing is the one liberty liberals will fight for is really a slavery – to the body and to the moment. Much of this is also more of an argument for the sex of masturbation – that is sex for the self, without consequences in terms of partner, child, and disease. I’ll go along with how we might as well at least try to liberate sex from disease but I’m not sure the first two are a freedom an adult really wants.

  11. I recommend that Shannon queries the editor of The Spectator (the British Spectator) for a piece. I think she has hit on something very interesting.

  12. The notion of a do-your-own-thing bohemian-individualist left does seem quaintly archaic nowadays. Makes you wonder how many old hippies were betrayed by the left, and how many actually turned into today’s control-freak busybodies.

  13. 1. The Freedom of Information Act
    What’s more important than the human right to know what your government has done? The left fought for and won this against opposition from conservatives. The right is still fighting for more government secrecy as I type this, as the left campaigns for more disinfecting political sunshine.

    2. Academic freedom
    Remember Angela Davis? She and many others were fired from their posts as a professors for advocating communism. No one has ever been fired from an American university for advocating capitalism, nor for advocating any other conservative cause. That’s because liberals have historically supported academic freedom, whereas conservatives have not. To be sure, there have been a increasing incidences in recent years of academics getting into trouble for disparaging–or appearing to disparage–women or ethnic minorities–but if we look at the broader history of American education and what has gone on, this is very small potatoes compared with the 50s and 60s academic purges of leftists from universities.
    David Horowitz has sought to revive the red scare tradition on campuses and has even won grant money to promote campus thought police who monitor professors lectures for the purpose of exerting pressure on those who espouse non-conservative views.
    Horowitz should be free to pursue that, but I don’t think anyone would argue that his project is encouraging free speech, free thought or free expression.
    Horowitz backers and/or apologists will argue that he seeks ”balance,” but that is the worst sort of ideological relativism. Universities shouldn’t be in the business of providing ideological balance. They should teach truth exactly as they see it. At least that’s the libertarian view and the left agrees wholeheartedly with it.

    2. Flag burning
    The left is foursquare against government control of this political act. The right campaigns against it relentlessly.


  14. 3. The Hollywood 10
    Shannon may be too young to recall red scare paranoia, but I would have thought he’d be at least aware of it. It’s effects are still with us. One of my best friend’s father’s directing career came to a screeching halt because he happened to have directed a Bolshoi Ballet performance and subsequently refused to ”name names” at a witch trial. He was blacklisted and could get no directing work for a decade. He was later able to deploy his talents and went on to direct several hit films, including MASH. Scores of writers, directors and actors had their careers destroyed simply because their political views were to the left.
    The American left has never been involved in any campaign like that. Never.
    Perhaps some conservatives want to believe things a different now. Surely they are, but it’s not because the right has mended its ways so much as moderates and liberals have gained political power and simply wouldn’t stand for that kind of repression.
    If there have ever been any apologies, regrets or remorse on the part of conservatives for participating in that ugly episode of repression, I have never heard one. I do know that Ann Coulter calls the right wing thought police of that era heroes, and she’s a fixture in today’s

  15. mainstream media.

    4. Freedom of science
    The Bush administration, and his party’s conservative wing, have fought against stem cell research, climate change data gathering and other efforts by scientists to carry about their work independently of ideological strictures. The left has campaigned for their scientific freedom.

    5. Free expression in art
    The right has sought to supress free expression in art in cases where that art is perceived as desecrating their religious values. In many cases, the campaigns have tried to end government funding of said projects, which is a separate issue and argument. Still, undeniable, the right in America has lined up against free artistic expression, while the left has lined up in favor of it, even when it’s got nothing to do with sex.

    6. Drugs
    The left has been far more supportive of the libertarian position on personal drug use. The right has made a huge issue of this on the other side, campaigning for the stricter and stricter anti-drug laws.

    7. Free speech on war
    Bill Maher lost his job for saying that suicide bombing takes more courage than dropping bombs from an airplane does. He’s a comedian, of course, but the reaction from the right put a chill on the free speech of many other entertainers. The Dixie Chicks and many others were accused of being anti-American or unpatriotic simply for criticizing Bush. I can’t think of anyone who’s ever been fired from their job in entertainment, journalism or other media for being too right-wing or pro-war. It just doesn’t happen.

  16. “Habeas corpus isn’t a fancy legal term. It’s the freedom from being thrown in prison illegally, with no help and no end in sight. No president should ever be given the power to call someone an enemy, wave his hand, and lock them away indefinitely. The Founders made the president subject to the rule of law. They rejected dungeons and chose due process.”
    from the ACLU Web site.

    The right argues consistently and vehemently against a libertarian interpretation of habeas corpus. Their argument has merit, though I don’t happen to agree with it. The left has argued with equal vigor FOR the libertarian interpretation. Yet another example of favoring civil liberties completely unrelated to sex.

  17. “What’s more important than the human right to know what your government has done? ”

    Couldn’t get past the first sentence: I suppose this is a rhetorical question, but still, quite a few things with respect to basic “governmental qualities” (much less other practical, existential issues) are more important.

    Government “in the sunshine” is at best a double-edged sword. Immediate interference caused by public knowledge makes for ineffective government. Often this is less desirable than the public’s right to know in a democratic society. The desire for effective governance is why the founders invested so much power in the executive branch, the presidency….aspects of monarchy which allow for a strong person to wield power effectively in a timely way.

  18. Is sit possible to frame an argument–or a comment to an arguement–without recourse to nake calling, innudendo, and snarkiness? Or does that come with advanced degrees.

  19. Declan McManus,

    Thank you for your polite, well reasoned and detailed post. However, I am primarily concerned with policies that allow ordinary individuals to make decisions without political oversight or dictation. I am disturbed that you can’t seem to find more examples that touch on everyday life.

    I also note that you don’t write as if you are analyzing the Left in isolation but rather make many of arguments in terms of the Left’s supposed superiority to the Right. You should be thinking first about how the Left acts regardless of whether it acts better or worse than its political competition in any particular instance. We don’t want to find ourselves choosing between Stalin or Hitler.

    (As an aside, I don’t suppose you noticed how many of the freedoms you listed disproportionate benefit the immediate economic well being and social status of articulate intellectuals? Just something you might think about.)

    Let’s look at your points one by one:

    1. The Freedom of Information Act: As I noted in the parent post, Leftist do a decent job of monitoring some of the police and military powers of the state. However, they pretty much trust the rest of government completely and often fight tooth and nail to hide information about its operations. Leftist fought very hard to prevent objective evaluations of education. They have fought to keep the raw data used by the EPA secret. They have fought to hide information about the effectiveness of job training and housing programs.

    2. Academic freedom: Here I must completely disagree. As I noted in the parent, contemporary Leftist are waging a war against academic freedom. They use the administrative and police power of both public and private universities to punish both academicians and students who expose non-Leftist views. Look at Larry Sanders at Harvard as an example. Thousands of similar cases exist.

    Up until the 60’s, the Left did have a good track record of defending Academic freedom but since then they have not.

    2. Flag burning I agree that Leftist have been on the forefront of protecting an individuals right to destroy the symbol of our collective identity. That on in the plus column.

    3. The Hollywood 10 I don’t personally remember the Red Scare but I have a better than ordinary knowledge of the history of communism in America, most it acquired after the Cold War ended and the truth about the scale and scope of communist activities became better known. You should reflect that the common or Hollywood version of the Red Scare is a story about how the great ignorant masses persecuted Leftist articulate intellectuals. This story is told to us by…well…it’s told to us by Leftist articulate intellectuals. The common story of what happened is rather self-serving to say the least.

    The Red Scare was an overreaction but the threat of American born communist working under the direction of Joseph Stalin was very real. The Truman administrations had quietly neutralized most the threats but they didn’t tell anyone.

    The true story of the Red Scare reveals that the majority of people who lost their jobs had been communist at one time. Karmically, they deserved what they got. (Would you feel sorry for them if they had been Fascist instead? There is little difference.) The communist aggravated the matter by widely claiming that many prominent people were covert communist. (That’s what got Oppenhiemer.)

    Besides, again, I really interested in contemporary Leftist not something that happened 50 years ago.

    4. Freedom of science There is a rapidly accelerating politicization of science but it is easily an assault launched by political activist of all kinds. Scientist gore all sacred cows when they do their job right. The Left easily engages in this kind of activity as much as the Right.

    For example: Catastrophic Anthrogenic Global Warming is an untestable scientific hypothesis. There is no measurement we can make of the natural world right now that could conceivably prove that CAGW was NOT occurring. If you can’t prove an hypothesis wrong, you can’t ever know if its actually right. We can’t determine if the warming we think we see originates from anthrogenic or natural sources. There may be a consensus among climate modelers about CAGW but 30 years ago there was a scientific consensus about the energy crisis and that consensus turned out to be completely wrong. In science, if you can’t test an hypothesis, it’s nothing better than an educated guess.

    Yet, Leftist feels morally justified in analogizing people who question the “crisis” to holocaust deniers. Recently, a major Leftist figure stated publicly that people who question CAGW should be treated as traitors. Scientist whose work cast doubt on the hypothesis find themselves personally attacked. Bjorn Lomeburg received a corruptly administered professional censure (since revoked) because he dared claim that the most probable outcome of the major climate models showed that AGW was a minor problem.

    Leftist are particularly bad about warping or suppressing research in sociology or economics which they disapprove of. They rage hypocritically about creationist while at the same time launching ferocious attacks on E.O. Wilson when he suggested that evolutionary theory could tell us something important about human behavior. I could go on and on about this.

    5. Free expression in art Just as in science, Leftist protect art that expresses their values and censors art that attacks them. Leftist controlled colleges routinely suppress art that offends their sensibilities. Dozens of instances exist of art being removed because it supports Israel or because someone claims its racist,sexist, homophobic etc. A couple of years back two Leftist city councilmen in Chicago stole a painting they disapproved of. I don’t think it ever got back.

    6. Drugs I will give you that one Leftist probably are more likely than not to support some legalization of recreational drugs. After all, the modern drug problem began with the Leftist assault on the traditional culture of self-restaint. Leftist theorist have long advocate both drug use and promiscuous sex as means of personal and social change.

    On the other hand, they fight to restrict individual access to actual pharmaceuticals.

    7. Free speech on war Well, again Leftist do attack those who speak out with positions on which they disagree. Academicians, reporters, and actors who support the Liberation and Democratization of Iraq have reported professional negative consequences for their speech.

    It is a common claim by Leftist that if people simply to refuse to consume or pay for the speech or expression of a Leftist then that refusal itself constitutes censorship. It doesn’t. Censorship is the positive act of preventing a third party from consuming the work.

    Bill Mayer, the Dixie Chicks etc suffered because they came across as idiots or hate filled maniacs. Mass market artist develop a brand identity and when they say something offensive to their target market they damage their brand and their careers. I used to like the Dixie Chicks, now when I hear a song of theirs I think of their hate filled ranting and I no longer enjoy their music. Ditto for Garison Keeler. I used to love listening to his Lake Woebegon stories but after listening to one of his hateful rants I can no longer enjoy them even though I own many of the recordings. No Leftist claims that Mel Gibson is being censored because he revealed himself to be a drunken anti-semite.

    Leftist always seem to conflate the right of individuals to speak freely with the desire of artist to make money. The don’t overlap in the least.

    In short, I think you are correct that Leftist do increase individual choice in the matters of flag burning and recreational drugs. I will make an update to the parent post.

  20. Declan McManus,

    Upon reflection, I think that Flag Burning simply falls under Leftist protecting speech with which they agree. I don’t see any indication that contemporary Leftist will protect the public destruction of a symbol of something they care for.

    I’ll just add recreational drugs to the post.

  21. I used to like Ezra Pound’s [poetry till I discovered he was a ascisit anti-semite. I still think he is a great poet.So, too, TS Eliot, E. Hemingway et al

  22. david still,

    I still think he is a great poet

    I actively avoid learning to much about the personal life and views artist whose work I enjoy. I find that negative association reduce my enjoyment of the art. I avoid interviews shows, celebrity journalism or other sources of news about artist themselves.

    I really miss listening to Garrison Keiller but you can’t un-ring a bell.

  23. flag burning…not too long ago, the administrators of San Francisco State University decided to persecute the College Republicans for stepping on flags–Hezbollah and Hamas flags. It it unlikely that these administrators identify as conservatives.

    Regarding broader issues of free speech, there have been many attempts by leftists to shut down dissent via disruption and physical intimidation, as well as via campus “speech codes.” See for example here,
    here, and here.

  24. Certainly the thought fascists in the UK are 100% of the left and they include the Blair government, the new Brown government, the BBC, the police and great swathes of the judicial system. (People are getting a slap on the wrist – not prison – for paedophilia, including an attack on a little baby.)

    They have expanded their tolerance portfolio slightly, as mentioned above, to anything to do with islam, which automatically trumps traditional British culture and Christianity.

  25. Those to the right of center tried to keep America out of WWII; those to the left of center, once the war began, locked up all those of Japanese background. Take this stuff cse by case instead of simplistic labels. One could be a communist, for example, in the 50s, and that was a political party…what took place was lawlessness and I know of examples of decent people losing academic jobs because they refused to name names but in fact were NOT members of the party…again, both sides of the political spectrum have been guilty.

  26. Shannon, I think there are two kinds of “freedom” that many of those on today’s left seek, in addition to the sexual freedom you mention. The quotation marks are there for a reason, though:

    1)The “freedom” to be supported financially in one’s career choice. There are quite a few people (many with advanced degrees) who are unhappy with their current jobs and job outlook, and feel that “society” should provide them with jobs as writers, artists, policy analysts, whatever.

    2)The “freedom” to not be offended–to be provided with an environment in which they will not risk being exposed to ideas of which they disapprove.

    The above statements by no means apply to all who identify as leftists, but I think they apply to quite a few of them.

  27. Of course, freedom is a bit slippery – as is liberty. But David Still’s point had, I suspect, more resonance in the 50’s before we knew more (as well as when blacklisting was actually occurring). To say it was a political party is a bit ingenuous since the party chose their response and it was not that of a “political party.”

    Interviews with some of those blacklisted and even a cursory look at some government funded art would indicate a fairly homogeneous perspective and it wasn’t from the right. Sure, accepting the restraints of a party on your art is a choice – McCarthy’s committee was not. But history shows us that those restraints were harsher than not being played on the radio because your audience thinks you are rude and not very bright. I might observe that a great deal more American culture has been devoted to condemning & describing McCarthyism than condemning & describing the gulaqs.

    But, still, that was when people proudly called themselves liberals who were cold warriors; it was also when some of the neo-cons considered themselves liberal.

  28. Shannon appears to have conceded.

    His thesis is that leftists only support civil liberties related to sex. I provided numerous detailed examples of civil liberties the left supports.

    Shannon failed to rebut a single example.

    Instead, he responded by noting other examples of civil liberties the left opposed. I agree that leftists have in many cases opposed civil liberties, but that wasn’t Shannon’s thesis. Again, his claim was that leftists only support civil liberties related to sex.

    He should concede that he’s wrong on that point, rather than trying to represent his thesis as having been that leftists oppose some civil liberties.

    Are leftists more, or less, inclined to limit civil liberties than rightists?

    That’s an interesting question and we could probably have an enlightening discussion about it. But before that discussion starts, we’d need to agree on the metrics. Otherwise, it would most likely devolve into a desultory to and fro of assertion and counter-assertion.

    I would argue that, broadly speaking, across history, and even across societies around the world, the right and left have roughly equal records as regards civil liberties. The difference between the left and right on this issue, in America and abroad, is that the left tends to support liberties that buttress their political agenda and the right tends to support those that support its priorities. I know that sounds obvious and dull, but that’s the reality as I see it, around the world.

    Meanwhile, I spend a little more time finding still more examples of civil liberties, excluding sex-related ones, that the left has supported.

  29. Two caveats to the “sex and drugs” premise.

    First, as long as cigarettes can be considered “drugs”, leftists are much more prone than rightists to stand-up for their restriction. The idea that sloppiness in health self-management by individuals has a negative impact on the cost of state-supported health systems and therefore should be enforced by law is inherently leftist. The same goes for over-eating.

    Second, although it is still to become public policy, some hardcore feminists (which fall in the “leftist” specter) seem to believe that every heterosexual sex act is a form of rape and therefore coercion. Hence their position against marriage as an institution, and from there who knows what they think the State should do to control heterosexual relations?

  30. A certain amount of the leftist interest in sex is not really about sex per se, but rather about shocking the bourgeoisie. For example, I doubt if the leftists who take their clothes off at protests are doing so with any serious expectation of actual sex.

  31. David Foster – Your observations are bang on. And Ginny is correct, as well. A great deal more energy all over the Anglosphere goes into condemning McCarthy and – in Britain they are still spewing out toxic tirades about Margaret Thatcher – than goes into the real atrocities of the left. The left never condemns the Soviet Union, for example. Neither Josef Stalin nor Mai Tse-Tung is not a hate figure, but Margaret Thatcher, who left office 17 years ago, is attacked with as much vitriol as though she’d left office last month.

    (As a side issue,it’s interesting that the left on either side of the Atlantic don’t seem to dare take on Ronald Reagan.)

    Odd that.

  32. An interesting challenge and discussion, Shannon. Maybe I’m older than most of the commenters here, but the 60’s mantra was “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” We have now concluded that the new-old left still unconditionally support the first two. Unfortunately, when one has to listen to The Who in the elevator, it is clear they have won the battle for 24/7 rock and roll as well.

  33. Still on the topic of leftists and drugs: I never ran into a leftist supporting the legalization of drugs based on arguments related to the autonomy of the individual. On the other hand, it seems clear that the left would have much to profit from a legal market for drugs, in the literal sense. The Colombian FARC has almost a monopoly on cocaine production in South America, and its survival is due to: 1)The Clinton administration, which hindered US and Colombian efforts to squash the FARC when considering it a political organization instead of a drug cartel and hence prohibiting their inclusion as target in the War Against Drugs; 2) Hugo Chavez, who is buying Russian helicopters and guns for a reason, and who is known to have issued passports and given protection to FARC leaders; 3) President Lula, who along with Chavez and Castro established the Foro de Sao Paulo, an organization which vowed to unify the South American left, and through which the FARC seems to have supported financially Lula’s campaign in Brazil, while receiving safe haven in Brazil.

    Would these people finance the next GOP campaign? I pretty much doubt it.

    So much for “Core Countries”, Lex.

  34. Shannon, I was serious when I suggested you approach the editor of The Spectator and see if they’ll buy a piece on this theme. Matthew D’Ancona’s basically a figurehead and it’s the Deputy Editor you want. I don’t know either one of them and they don’t know me, but I think they’ll see merit in running a piece on this thought. It’s a very tasty observation and one I haven’t seen before.

  35. Verity,

    Shannon, I was serious when I suggested you approach the editor of The Spectator…

    I will look into it. Do you know the Deputy Editor’s name by chance?

  36. Declan McManus,

    Shannon appears to have conceded.

    I have not. You simply do not understand how true ideological commitment to freedom and liberty translates into real-world political policy.

    An individual is free in any particular circumstance only if the legal environment grants the individual the authority to make decisions regarding that circumstance. Thomas Sowell called this “the locus of discretion” or, more simple, which real-world human being actually has the authority to make any particular decision. If that real-world human being is an ordinary citizen, then the individual is free. If that real-world human being is a government official, then they are not.

    A political ideology supports freedom in any particular facet of life only if they believe that the locus of discretion sets squarely on the individual citizen. The counter-examples I gave you demonstrated that the Left did not believe that locus of discretion rested on the individual but rather that the Left only supported an individual’s right to choose in any particular circumstance if the individual made the “correct” choice. Otherwise, they support placing the locus of discretion with the state.

    For example, in case of free speech I showed that the Left did not trust to the individual the authority to publish or read content they judge racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. In the case of the Red Scare, the Left did not ideologically object to the to granting to government officials the authority to decide whether or not to issue subpoenas, to compel testimony, or to imprison those who did not comply. They merely objected to the state directing such powers towards Leftist. They certainly did not object to the use of the same powers when the government went after rightwing groups in the early 60’s of mid-90’s.

    Don’t confuse laws which compel state decision-makers to make benevolent decisions with laws that enhance or protect freedom. A well cared for and fairly treated slave is still a slave.

    Now, can you think of any area of public policy beside sexual matters (and perhaps drugs) in which the Left ideological asserts that the locus of discretion rest on the individual?

  37. how dreary this name calling has become. The left is against drug control because it is a failed policy…making up silly arguemnents to badmouth those not believing as some do above is silly.Read any liberals on drugs and they always refer to harm reduction and the rights of the indiviudal to do with his body as he or she sees fit.

  38. This is a very interesting thread. Well, argued, Shannon.

    Re The Speccie,no not offhand, but I’m sure it’s listed on their website. I don’t know anyone there, so I’m not speaking from any inside knowledge.

  39. “Free speech on war Well, again Leftist do attack those who speak out with positions on which they disagree. Academicians, reporters, and actors who support the Liberation and Democratization of Iraq have reported professional negative consequences for their speech.”

    The fairness doctrine introduced by the democrats proves Shannon’s point. They try to censor an opposing opinion including legitimate forms of media.

  40. Whenever the left gets criticized they dig up Tail-gunner Joe.

    The drug comment is correct. The left supports sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Big Whoop.

  41. Decian — the Left has a “blacklist” of known and suspected Conservatives in Hollywood. Even Bruce Willis and Tom Selleck have said their careers have suffered because of their politics. Others with less clout who are “suspected” of being conservative are punished overtly. PBS told a producer when they learned he had a conservative partner “Don’t you inquire into the politics of those you work with?”

    Consider that NO NONE NADA film will be produced by Hollywood celebrating the courage of our troops in either Afghanistan or Iraq, instead various anti-war movies portraying them as brutal baby killers or dehumanized victims and robotic killers. Meanwhile NO NONE NADA film is produced showing the brutality and evil of Al Qaeda.

    THAT would a thoughtcrime against the Hollywood modern blacklist.

    What the Left is all about really is to create a Kingship (see their love for Castro, Chavez, Kim Jong-Il, and any other dictator for life). A kingship where they can as the King’s men hog all the resources and women. The women of course want to be the mistresses of powerful men: see Mirthala Salinas, Katie Couric, etc.

    This is all about POWER. The Left hates hates hates ordinary people, democracy, and freedom. They want a king. With license to debauch themselves as much as possible. This is why sex alone is left untouched. I doubt you’d find a Leftist who’d argue against polygamy. Since they all want to practice it themselves.

    The Left of course has SUPPRESSED Art or free expression when it violates PC: see the refusal to printthe Mohammed Cartoons but put on Dung Madonna or Piss Christ. The Left has “hate crime” hysterics about a Koran in a toilet but celebrates a crucifix in a urinal. The Left believes tramping on the Hezbollah flag is a crime, but burning Old Glory is a positive good.

    Free Expression? The Left mau-maued Don Imus for saying what they pay money to hear rappers rap about. The Left got Imus fired, while paying KRS-One millions for the same thing.

    Again this is all about naked, unadulterated power. The Left wants a society approaching Fidel’s Island Gulag or Kim Jong-Il’s prison nation. Because they see themselves as the jailers. [In 1940, with the Hitler-Stalin pact intact, the DAR gave Pete Seeger an Award for his record urging Americans to stay out of “Churchill and the Jews” war. The Left was enthusiastically pro-Hitler as long he was Stalin’s buddy. In that they were allied with the anti-Semitic Isolationist Right, their traditional allies.]

  42. I can’t think of anyone who’s ever been fired from their job in entertainment, journalism or other media for being too right-wing or pro-war. It just doesn’t happen.

  43. “The Left got Imus fired,….”

    I haven’t seen anybody put this forward, but it seems like connecting the dots is pretty obvious in the Imus firing:

    (I believe) It was a White House dinner after the Wolenski scandal. Don Imus did a scathing (really, it was down and dirty) stand-up routine critical of Bill and Hillary in front of them and their guests. I am not a Clinton fan, to say the least, but I felt embarrassed for the couple.

    Now, Imus is an influential commentator as well as funnyman (for those of you not familiar with his work, aside from the comedy he would occasionally review books and interview powerful and interesting people and is/was popular especially with middle aged white guys). Sharpton is an a very close ally of the Clintons. This being the case, the timing of Sharpton’s politically correct attack on Imus as Hillary began serious presidential campaigning makes sense. Revenge, and the dismissal of a powerful political satirist whose barbs hit home and hurt were what motivated the Imus dismissal. (It’s not clear to me about the thinking and motivation of network executives….political, currying future favor, just the same cocktail parties, fuzzy PC thinking vs a successful employee?)

  44. Guess, why don’t you give examples of people in those industries — besides opinion commentators — who are so pro-war or right-wing, you’re surprised they haven’t been fired?

  45. “The left is against drug control because it is a failed policy…”

    If this is so (and it might as well be), how come the left still supports (any) State intervention in the economy from profit redistribution to direct public investment and so on? Are there policies whose failures have been more abundantly shown than that?

    “Read any liberals on drugs and they always refer to harm reduction and the rights of the indiviudal to do with his body as he or she sees fit.”

    If this is so, and if Shannon’s argument on sex and drugs is correct, isn’t it revealing that one of the two policies where the left recognizes the autonomy of the individual is condemned by conservatives exactly because it restricts the autonomy of the individual (by making him/her chemically addicted to it)?

    My point being, the justification for the left’s arguments may be found more easily in strategic gains than in logic reasoning, if one considers its paradoxes and inconsistencies.

  46. The Left and the Right both mostly oppose legalizing drugs. A few members of each support legalization (e.g. William F. Buckley Jr.)

    The Left doesn’t support freedom of Art, except Art that supports the Left. It prefers to censor Art that it finds objectionable (supports the “wrong” politics, is sexist, racist, etc.)

    The Left doesn’t support Freedom of Speech for people it disagrees with. (Go to a school with Leftist administration, and try to book an auditorium for a left-wing discussion. Then have someone try to book one for a right-wing discussion. Compare the treatment.)

    Assembly? You mean like in “Free Speech Zones” supported by both major political parties to avoid protest near their conventions?

    Religion? Like,for instance, the Left lets people choose whether or not to believe in environmentalism, and freely act on their beliefs?

    Both the Left and the Right are about getting power for themselves. The only difference is a slight one in the ways they choose to exercise that power.

Comments are closed.