What Libertarians Don’t Get About Gay Rights

A few weeks ago, I gathered that a friend is a homosexual. There were premonitory signs. He was eager to meet. He’d message me incessantly on Facebook. This doesn’t prove anything. I know another guy who does all this. He’s just weird. Maybe some people are neurotic. Perhaps their communication needs are much stronger. People are not straight forward, and perhaps these guys want to just feel safe.

This fellow is very good at his job. But, he’s still bothered by what happened in high school half a lifetime ago. When a guy tells me he’s depressed without giving me any good reason, my first guess would be that he’s gay. He doesn’t believe in marriage. When I probed further, no good reason seemed to be forthcoming. At some point, I felt he was hitting on me. There was nothing really sexual in what he said, but my intuitions don’t go wrong. I asked him whether he’s straight, and he said, “I don’t even know what I am”. I asked him whether he can give me a plain “Yes” or “No”, he said “You can’t put people in a box.” This is exactly the kind of thing leftist people say when they try to get away with something. I said, “Bye-Bye”. This is not my thing. 

I’m sure some of my readers think I did something wrong. Even I think I possibly did something very wrong. Unlike left-liberals and fake libertarians, I am truly liberal. I am genuinely cosmopolitan in my attitudes. He’s a decent guy. It’s possible that he’d no desire to hit on me if I’m not interested. It is not clear whether a sexual advance is unwelcome until you make it. He’s proven his right to occupy this world by making money and being successful. Why should I deny him my friendship and goodwill? If somebody like me behaves like this, what would the average Joe do? Technically, this seems wrong. If a girl stops talking to me just because I find her hot, I’d be sad. Because I’ve no intention to molest her, rape her or even pursue her. But things are not as simple as it seems. 

This happened a few years ago. I told somebody that just because I talk to them, girls think I want to sleep with them—or marry them. She said, “But now you know this is how she thinks. So if you’re still talking to her, that’s manipulation.” Well. I didn’t know this, but this is exactly how these types think. They’re setting a bait, and they think I am into that too. This is an under-reported phenomenon. This is why women hate nerds. Nerds believe in free love and true love. Women think all that’s just a bunch of bologna. So when nerds do not make the first move, they feel like asses. They think, “Now, do I have to do that?”. This is also why some of these girls hate feminists. But unlike feminists, nerds ACTUALLY believe different norms SHOULDN’T apply to men and women.”

In a lot of ways, a nerd is a feminist’s dream come true. Nerds believe in true equality. Nerds do not make “unwelcome advances”. Nerds are totally for sharing restaurant bills. Nerds know that “No means No”. Nerds do not see them as sex objects. But when feminists are up against nerds, they go mad. They feel horrible. So, they refuse to admire nerds and call them hypocrites. 

Let’s suppose I am still friends with him.  He’d probably think that I am interested in him. Otherwise, why would I do that?  That’s manipulation, according to the logic of women, homosexuals and normal people. But if I shun him, that’d be manipulation too. After all, an enlightened fellow like me is not supposed to do that. Heads, manipulation. Tails, manipulation. My point is just that the situation is a lot more complex than people think. We live in a world where there are incomparably more implicit contracts than formal, explicit contracts. People take such implicit contracts very seriously and punish people who break such contracts—especially when they do it unintentionally.

The biggest disagreement I have with libertarians is that they take formal law too seriously. I’m not saying that formal law doesn’t matter. Formal law matters a lot, but informal norms matter more. For example, theft is rare and rudeness is common. So, people are more bothered by rudeness than theft. And almost everybody is more bothered by rudeness in people around them than by theft. So, we really should honestly look at unwritten norms of social communication to be fair to people. 

Karan Johar is an Indian filmmaker. In his biography, he says:

“Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don’t need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won’t only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this. Which is why I Karan Johar will not say the three words that possibly everybody knows about me.”

Many gay rights activists had a problem with this “cowardly” stance. I don’t think Karan Johar did anything wrong by hiding this from the larger public. It’s true that people should tell the truth. But people are not obliged to, especially when people respond to truth in predictably unfair ways. Even if the law is in favor of homosexuality.

To begin with, I don’t think the government is the only source of social control. That’s a stupid way of looking at things. The government is just one of the many ways in which social groups control people. Even if the law is against homosexuality, social norms against homosexuality are likely to be enforced more through private action. This’s something which libertarians and objectivists don’t really understand.

Let’s suppose the law is completely in favor of protecting the rights of homosexuals. And let’s suppose almost everybody hates the idea of homosexuality. Life’s going to be pretty hard for homosexuals. Hardly anyone would give them jobs, rent out their apartments or socialize with them if the news gets out. Remember. This is exactly the sort of punishment libertarians want to mete out to criminals who do not adequately compensate their victims, in their ideal world. What could be worse? Also remember that solitary confinement is seen as the worst sort of punishment in prisons. Even with the prospect of being raped in prison, people seem to fear solitary confinement more. But according to libertarians, nobody would have violated the rights of gays so long as the law is in their favor. I think this is just the shallow outlook of libertarians who think that everything bad comes from the government. It is lame to think the “form of punishment” matter more than the “intensity of punishment”. It is lame to think the form of evil matter more than the extent of evil.

Now, obviously things would have been much worse if the law was against homosexuality.  But, to me, the difference is just a matter of degree. And in matters where hardly anyone invokes the law, social norms matter a lot more than law. I’ll give you an example. Let’s suppose you are the editor of a magazine. You’ve worked all the time to build its reputation, to get great writers. One day, the public, the board and your subordinates are bent on getting you fired for writing a great article on race. And then you find it hard to find a comparable job. This happens a lot. James Watson had a hard time after saying that Africans have low IQs. He even sold his Nobel Prize medal. Peter Thiel was scared that his conservative investors in Middle East will pull out when Gawker said that he’s totally gay. According to the law and libertarian logic, people are within their rights to do all this.

Okay, by libertarian logic, you claim ownership over land by mixing labor with land. But it’s obvious that how much you get for your labor has a lot to do with people’s perception. And we can change our own perceptions. Unfairly so. We can influence others’ perceptions. Unfairly so. We can change our perception of an issue when it suits us. We can bring it back where it was when it suits us. All these have consequences which are usually very unfair. This is also a way of shifting resources in your favor from people who have really worked for it. Just by maliciously tweaking the information inside your own head, and that of others. How come your labor is worth nothing if it is true that you can own unowned land by just mixing labor with it? And how come maliciously tweaking the information inside minds of people to shift resources from producers to parasites is right so long as it is done without the help of police and courts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *