Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The barrier of ideological labels

If you're the kind of obsessive who actually tracks changes in my profile blurb, to the right of my posts, (and who among us doesn't eagerly await such revisions), you may have noticed that I no longer describe myself as a "writer and editor with a radical-libertarian bent." Instead, I now say I'm a "writer and editor with a strongly pro-freedom bent."

This isn't because my political views have changed -- not in the least. I altered the wording because I've come to realize that labeling myself so specifically -- and my blog, by extension -- acts as a barrier to some readers who automatically tune out arguments from people with "enemy" political affiliations, even if they agree with much of what I have to say.

I'm not here to preach to the choir, and I'm not especially interested in turning a focused discussion on tax policy, education, civil liberties or a property dispute into a free-wheeling debate over the minutiae of my overarching ideology. We can have that conversation sometime, but not every goddamned day.

Instead, I want to use this blog to discuss important political, cultural and legal issues, and to put forward arguments for preserving and expanding individual liberty.

Back when I ran About.com's civil liberties site, the editors once came to me with a proposal to more closely brand the project as a libertarian online publication. I objected that a civil liberties site was inclusive; a libertarian site was exclusive. As it was, I was read by conservatives, liberals, moderates, libertarians and at least one anarcho-syndicalist (are you still out there?). They didn't all agree with everything I wrote, but they came to read the articles and debate in the forums. The moment I identified the site as a libertarian site, each disagreement would turn into a skirmish in a war of clashing worldviews, and the folks who didn't consider themselves libertarians would flee to comfortable ideological havens.

So we kept the sit as a civil liberties site, and I kept my diverse readers.

I want to do that with this blog, too. Disloyal Opposition is a pro-freedom publication. Yeah, I'm a libertarian, but that doesn't mean you have to be one too. If you agree with the property rights pieces but can't stand my advocacy for drug legalization, so be it. If you're down with gay marriage but iffy on gun rights, that's OK.

Forget the labels. It's all about freedom, and we all think that's a good thing, right?



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