The following comment was posted regarding “A Leftist Wolf in a Libertarian Sheep’s Clothing,” my thoughts on Sheldon Richman’s defense of the supreme court’s decision on gay marriage. I feel the comment and my response deserves its own space.
The Question July 17, 2015 at 8:36 AM
I linked to this post on my site in my own critique of Richman and have been in an exchange with Thomas Knapp of C4SS over what Richman meant when he wrote it. Strangely, Knapp brought up something you said here that I did not quote in my post and seemed determined to make it the center of the argument. I refused to debate the merits of it there, and even stranger is that while he was willing to discuss what you said there he has yet to comment about it here.
You wrote that "Yet nowhere have I read that Richman advocates for the property rights of bakers who refuse service to gay couples, or of bartenders who refuse service to (insert your favorite protected class here). In fact, he often writes what could easily be interpreted as the opposite – and even calls it libertarian."
On my site Knapp posted this link to one of Richman's articles, where he acknowledges the property rights of such people while advocating for ways to deal with them without using state violence, and I'm curious how you view it within the context of what you said above.
bionic mosquito July 17, 2015 at 1:39 PM
How I would view it is that Richman is either confused, or purposefully confusing. From the link you provided:
While such behavior is repugnant, the refusal to serve someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other people’s rights. If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation.
From another Richman post:
I continue to have trouble believing that the libertarian philosophy is concerned only with the proper and improper uses of force. According to this view, the philosophy sets out a prohibition on the initiation of force and otherwise has nothing to say about anything else.
Let’s get specific. Are there distinctly libertarian grounds for disapproving of racist conduct that does not involve the use of force?
So I’m puzzled by the pushback whenever someone explicitly associates the libertarian philosophy with values like tolerance and inclusion. We don’t care only about force and its improper uses.
So, how are these two reconciled? How can libertarianism include the freedom of non-association and at the same time be associated with tolerance and inclusion. A philosophy cannot so directly contradict itself without being considered bankrupt.
If you want to advocate tolerance and inclusion, feel free; just don’t include it as a desire to expand the meaning of libertarian philosophy – as Richman does.
I suspect that I write as much as any libertarian about cultural and ethical topics. I try to never make these a part of my statements about libertarian theory, property, and the NAP. Richman does. He is wrong to do so, and he is helping to corrupt the message.
End of comments. I will add: I am sorry I did not see (or recall) this other Richman post – I could have done much more with it that I have done in this brief reply to “The Question.” For now, and absent further information, I will just leave it be.
Does Richman reconcile these contradictory positions elsewhere? Perhaps Thomas Knapp of C4SS can post a comment at “The Question’s” blog and then “The Question” can let me know.