by Ari Armstrong
The following article originally appeared at Boulder Weekly on April 21, 2005.
I'm an atheist who supports open immigration, gay rights, the legalization of all drugs, legal abortion, legal prostitution, politically unfettered free speech, and strict limits on police powers of search and seizure.
Therefore, I'm a left-winger, right? Only to some leftists who can't think beyond their stereotypes. Of course, because I take the notion of rights seriously, I also support economic liberty and the fundamental human right of self-defense, which entails the right of gun ownership.
Unfortunately, many on the left and the right pay lip service to freedom and rights but do everything they can to limit freedom and violate rights. On the right, Governor Bill Owens campaigned on low taxes and Second Amendment rights, then he backed higher state spending and more restrictions on gun owners.
On April 3, Boulder activist Ralph Shnelvar attended a speech by Rudy Giuliani. Shnelvar reported that Giuliani said freedom makes people stronger and it is better than authoritarianism. But of course people must be forcibly stopped from consuming marijuana, and President Bush was right to interfere in the legal case concerning Terri Schiavo, Giuliani continued.
Shnelvar concluded, "How a person can one moment celebrate freedom and in the next breath deny it to a vast portion of the population can only be based on the principle of doublethink: the ability to keep two contradictory beliefs in mind at the same time without experiencing a sense of contradiction."
Yet doublethink is common among the left, too. A particularly irritating manifestation of this is when self-pious leftists preach tolerance and diversity and then display bigotry against select segments of the populace. For example, some leftists relentlessly stereotype gun owners. One aspect of this stereotyping is the conflation of gun ownership with the right wing. For example, Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon complained to the Rocky Mountain News about the alleged "right-wing agenda of gays, guns and God." Of course, Gordon also puts guns on his agenda, though he wants to further limit their use.
Another example of such bigotry appeared in the title of a forum sponsored by the Conference on World Affairs earlier this month: "Creeping McCarthyism: Be Careful if You're Godless, Gunless, Green or Gay." This title, too, stereotypes gun owners as right-wing, ignoring such groups as the gay-led Pink Pistols and feminists who support the right to own a gun. And what about us godless gun owners? Many hunters are green gun owners who work hard to protect wild lands. And Gun Owners of America denounced the overreaching PATRIOT Act and the proposed Patriot II. Such groups don't fit into leftist stereotypes, so they are often ignored. Moreover, if "McCarthyism" means the unjust persecution of some group, then that's precisely what gun owners often suffer at the hands of hypocritical leftists. (Thankfully, some members of the left support the right of self-defense or at least treat gun owners respectfully.)
The Daily Camera focused on one of the more famous panel members who addressed the Conference on World Affairs, Molly Ivins. That paper quoted Ivins: "I think that what happens over and over again in the United States is that we do terrible things when we get scared... We get so frightened of something terrible happening that we think we can make ourselves safer by being less free."
Ivins's sentiment is so compelling that I am left to wonder why she doesn't take it seriously. Ivins is a well-known opponent of the right of self-defense, and she has often invoked the politics of fear to target gun owners. Ivins has argued, vehemently and loudly, that "we can make ourselves safer by being less free."
The Camera also notes that Ivins listed articles of "the U.S. Bill of Rights [while] noting recent instances where they have been forfeited." I don't believe in Hell, but Ivins is a damned hypocrite. Like too many leftists (not to be confused with true liberals), Ivins selectively quotes the Bill of Rights, while pretending the Second Amendment doesn't exist or doesn't mean what it says. She also supports national controls of political speech, in violation of the clear language of the First Amendment.
I hold equal disdain for some members of the right. But at least rightists tend to be more honest. Some rightists openly argue that the First Amendment should be restricted when it comes to pornography. They argue Constitutional protections against searches and seizures should be limited when it comes to drug enforcement. Unlike Ivins, they don't pretend to worship the Bill of Rights and then trash it.
Most leftists still call themselves "liberals," even though they are often the greatest enemies of policies that are actually liberal. The true liberals of the left are too often overshadowed by the leftist worshippers of centralized political power. The anti-liberal leftists do whatever they can to violate rights of economic self-determination, self-defense and free speech. To such leftists, bigotry and doublethink are the means used to achieve authoritarianism.