In a Washington Post article, Nick Gillespie offers up five myths of libertarianism and then refutes them soundly. The five myths are:
- Libertarians are a fringe band of “hippies of the right.
- Libertarians don’t care about minorities or the poor.
- Libertarianism is a boys’ club.
- Libertarians are pro-drug, pro-abortion and anti-religion.
- Libertarians are destroying the Republican Party.
I’ve heard all of these, aside from #3. I wasn’t aware that was a criticism of libertarians. Nevertheless, I find #2 to be the most unfortunate one aimed at libertarians. Generally speaking, I think anyone regardless of political persuasion or those that don’t care for labels, like to help people or want to do that which can help people; they have good intentions. That doesn’t mean it’s right, the course they pursue, but I don’t think anyone seeks to hurt anyone else — again, generally speaking within the political realm.
The reason I think this misconception arises is because libertarians often don’t distinguish between legality and morality and that creates a conflated idea of the two, hence, then a misconception from others. For instance, just to draw on an example that really shows the difference, I legally support a business owner deciding not to sell his/her product to someone because of their race, sexual orientation or whatever other reason he/she wants to use to justify their decision. However, morally, depending on what that justification is, I would take issue with it.
Which is what most of this comes down to for libertarians: we believe most issues should be hashed out within the intellectual realm rather than with the brute force of the law.