February 28, 2011

no surprise here...

My Political Views
I am a left social libertarian
Left: 4.33, Libertarian: 6.47

Political Spectrum Quiz
My Culture War Stance
Score: -8.18


Erika Baker said...

It would be interesting to discover whether comments that make someone a left social liberitarian in the US make them a middle of the road conservative in Europe.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

That is likely! The "cultural" questions were all about current hot issues in the US which are rather more settled in much of Europe. Same for the libertarian part -- though ironically, Europe is less libertarian on free speech (including hate speech), and gun ownership, though more libertarian on drug laws. The US is a hodgepodge lacking principle or coherence -- American conservatives and European liberals think what they like should be allowed and protected, but what they don't like, regulated. A true libertarian holds liberty itself as a higher standard. At least that's my perception...

Erika Baker said...

Interesting examples!
Even a true libertarian has to balance the merits of two conflicting goods. The European laws on hate speech come down on the side of believing that free speech is less important than protecting someone from actual harm, and so inciting violence becomes a criminal offence.

The same is true for gun ownership. Weighing up the respective merits of allowing people free access to guns and reducing gun-related death and injury, European libertarians tend to opt for the liberty of those at risk from being shot.

How does the intellectual American argument work out?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I'm not sure this is an intellectual difference! (Sound familiar?) Europeans have (in my perception) a much higher standard of the common good, a communitarian attitude. There are no doubt many reasons for this, not the least the limitations of space and language. Americans, with a heritage in which they imagined they had a continent to conquer by manifest destiny, and space to keep on moving until we used it up (shades of C S Lewis' Great Divorce) have an ingrained priority of the individual right over the common good.

As a legal question, naturally the US has laws against inciting to violence -- and when one so incites and actual violence occurs they are prosecuted. Same with guns -- people are punished for the lax care of guns leading to injury or death. But Europe takes what appears to a libertarian to be a more prophylactic approach: enacting laws designed to restrict behavior that might possibly lead to a criminal offense.

As I say, the US is inconsistent. The same people who want free guns oppose gay marriage. I attempt to be a bit more consistent, and so, for instance, favor only moderate laws concerning guns (registration, background checks, limits on the types of weapons permitted, etc.) rather than the more stringent European approach. I also find the European regulation of things like head-scarfs and religious symbols to be corrosive to concepts of religious freedom -- though I do understand the emotional push for those regulations.

I also do not think regulating hate speech makes hate go away. It may only force it underground.

Erika Baker said...

I agree with all that you say. In particular with the nonsense of forbidding religious symbols in public.

The question of hate speech is interesting, though. Does forbidding it simply move it underground or does it also signal very strongly that it is not acceptable?
The argument reminds me a little of the one used in the porn industry, that forbidding porn has only ever moved it under the counter.
But what my children's generation now believes to be normal and commonly acceptable is only available to them so freely because there has not been enough pushing underground.