Libertarian Candidate Endorses Nanny-State Legislation
by Ari Armstrong, July 12, 2004
Mark Brophy, the Libertarian candidate for state senate who has expressed support for oppressive gun laws, now wants to outlaw spanking and smoking in cars with children.
On July 8, Brophy sent a message to Libertarian chat lists stating, "A Democrat in the Assembly will introduce a bill next session to outlaw corporal punishment. I hope the LPCO will publicly support the bill because children deserve to be protected from the initiation of force, regardless of whether the force is applied by government or a private source."
He also wrote, "I agree with the legislation to criminalize smoking in a car with children because it is a form of child abuse. I disagree that cops should be empowered to stop someone because I don't want to give them any more reasons to pull over motorists. If someone is stopped for another reason and the cop sees an adult smoking in a car with children, then the adult should be informed that he is breaking the law. The law should be enforced like any other form of child abuse. If a child arrives at school or a hospital with welts on his body or is coughing violently, the school or hospital workers should be suspicious that the adult who dropped off the child is a criminal."
Now, I agree with Brophy that spanking and smoking around children are inappropriate and generally harmful to children. Nobody would argue that smoking around children is good for them, though many will argue it's not terribly bad, especially if, say, the window is open. Many people do believe that spanking children is good for them. Obviously, there is a difference between a swat on the rump and a beating with a club: the latter is clearly child abuse and should be treated as such.
The threshold for outlawing a parental behavior surely must be higher than any level of harm to children. Lots of things harm children that no free society would outlaw: letting them watch too much television, feeding them too much sugar, indoctrinating them with false beliefs, etc. Spanking and smoking around children must be decisions left up to parents. The proper way to combat such practices, for those of us who disapprove of them, is to use voluntary persuasion in the free market of ideas.
Of course, we can argue about where to draw the line. When does punishment become abuse? There is a point at which intervention is warranted. Similarly, we can imagine cases in which a parent might force a child to remain in a non-ventilated environment for a long period of time with large quantities of smoke, or smoke around children with special health problems, and that may constitute abuse. If so, then the proper remedy is to employ the existing child-abuse laws that are already on the books, not pass more laws.
Brophy obviously has no idea what it means to be a libertarian. He advocates worse policies than many sitting state legislators from other parties. He advocates laws that would invade our privacy and grant state officials far too much power. Interestingly, while previously I was lambasted by state LP officials for criticizing Brophy, now even Campaigns Director Michael McKinzie has criticized the candidate. (McKinzie also unsubscribed from the Colorado Freedom Report during the previous debate surrounding Brophy.) I again call on Brophy's resignation. He should step down and surrender the pretense of his alleged Libertarian campaign. The state LP board should take whatever steps are in its power to remove Brophy as a candidate.