Me, I'm as confused as Rob Long is about SOPA. That's why, earlier today, I thought I'd find out more in the modern way. I Tweeted:
Should I be for or against this SOPA thing? I'm agnostic, in the way I once briefly was about Julian Assange...
Here were some of the replies:
depends whether you're 'agnostic' about corruption
Well, if you're for it, you're going to have to stop calling yourself a libertarian. If that helps.
AGAINST! Jesus, James - get a grip!
So I conceded that I was probably against SOPA but wondered what might be done to protect intellectual property rights.
Here were some of the replies:
If enforcing property rights on the Internet troubles you, why not use Obama's 'Kill-Switch' and shut the whole thing down.
Read this: http://ip.cream.org/ and never take question begging nonsense like "intellectual property" at face value again
We don't? Intellectual property rights, are not a natural but a state created right (and thus not one at all).
Can you see what troubled me about these responses? I felt like a nature rambler, out for a nice country walk who'd curiously - and without malice - prodded something with his stick only to realize it was full of irritable hornets.
OK - maybe Twitter was the wrong place to go asking; yes, I accept the limitations of the 140-word medium; sure Twitter lends itself to snarkiness.
Nevertheless, there was something in the shrillness, the impatience, the dogmatism, the God-you're-so-stupid-if-you-can't-see... of those responses which was disturbingly familiar. I've encountered the same thing whenever I've written a blog post mildly criticizing - or failing to give sufficient mention to - Ron Paul; and also when I first expressed my doubts (quite justified, as it turned out) about the appalling Julian Assange. And what I blame here is the surprising prickliness and intolerance of libertarians.
Being of a libertarian persuasion myself I find this rather depressing. I yield to no man in my loathing of the overweening state and I have taken a great deal of flak from liberal-leftists for expressing this loathing in my usual sensitive, subtle way. I believe in liberty. Darn it - I believe in the legalization of drugs. Yet still, I find myself being lectured by self-styled libertarians that I'm not a proper libertarian because I don't share, say, Ron Paul's foreign policy views or because I believe that creatives should somehow be paid for their ideas rather than having them ripped off willy-nilly for the greater good of "freedom of information". This tendency is not just tedious and annoying but also self-destructive. If libertarians are going to bring skeptics round to their position, surely a bit less shrillness, finger-wagging and irritability is in order, and a bit more charm and patient explanation. I know this can be difficult in a world where cultural Marxism holds sway. But you know what: not all of us have the time to spend our every waking hour reading Reason or boning up on obscure essays like this one on The Libertarian Case On Intellectual Property Rights.
Maybe it's time libertarians lightened up a bit, chilled out, smoked a bit more weed. After all, isn't that kind of the point?