I saw a beef on twitter this morning. What else is new right? Pretty common occurrence, we have all been a part of it, we have all seen it happen. What made this one special to me and what really made me think was the subject matter of it though. A self-described libertarian made a joke in poor taste and was attacked by an assistant editor for Reason. It was the same classic anti-feminist make a sandwich joke. The response to it was also the classic social justice response of using a platform to shame the joker about it. It escalated to the point where the editor was trying to draw potential employers attention to this.
This then attracted the attention of a popular right wing social media type that goes by “communism kills.” This was the beef proper. I have not checked it for updates since I began writing but many interesting points had been made. This all started by own wheels turning about what exactly the role of liberty types in the culture wars. Should they be pushing social justice? It would make some sense on the surface because equal rights and the right to free expression are corner stone issues. On the other hand the right to hold unpopular opinions, the innocence of “wrong think”, and what culture should look like are all also very important questions that must be addressed and defended.
So first let me give you my take, and then we can chew on this for awhile from other perspectives. This is where I am at. I tend to believe in traditional family units. I grew up in one and my protestant background leaves me with an inherent bias towards organizing in this manner. At the same time, the right to order themselves as they see fit is the most important mark of a free people. These views are compatible completely in my mind. I personally tend to take this to its logical conclusion. We have constitutional amendments that ensure equal protection before the law. This is all we need. Beyond this, any laws that create benefits or disincentives to order yourself in some manner are wrong. They are wrong because even if they would seem to lead to a societal benefit, by ceding the right to shape culture to the state we begin eroding our own right to organize and order ourselves as we see fit. The nature of the culture war itself isn’t compatible with this view however as both sides want to use the authority of the state to shape culture as they see fit. This leaves me on the outside with people who seem to be mostly anarchists yelling at everyone participating in the culture war.
“Communism kills” and the anti-SocJus crowd have a very good point in defense of this individual however. People warring online in the name of equality and social justice have lost all sense of proportional response. It is one matter for people to mock each other and tell jokes in bad taste. It is a far more serious matter when the response is to try and pressure organizations into passing over people for private opinions and values. This sort of behavior seems to me to be objectively wrong and an affront to the concepts of liberty. This is the sort of of behavior that directly inhibits people from their “pursuit of happiness.”
There is inherent value in what the feminists and intersectionalists are fighting for though. Personal identity is the most valuable thing that a person possesses. The ability to structure yourself as you please is the pinnacle of freedom as long as you are also prepared to accept the consequences of it.
Where does this leave us? Thinking about the arguments in favor of each side I have to believe that in terms of the values that unite the liberty movement, it would make the most sense to support social justice goals, while condemning the tactics that they so frequently use. This sort of nuance is important and I would like to see more people pursue it. What are your thoughts?