The problems with the gay rights movement and how they can be fixed

The recent Chick-fil-a kerfuffle has been somewhat amusing to me.  Pretty much everyone has known for years that Chick-fil-a owner Dan Cathy is a devout Christian who supports “traditional” marriage which means he supports banning gay marriage.  Cathy confirms this opinion in an interview and suddenly he’s the next closest thing to Hitler according to the news media, left leaning politicians, and many gay rights groups.

Now, I don’t happen to support Cathy’s views.  As a libertarian, I believe that government shouldn’t be in the marriage business at all and that consenting adults should have the right to form whatever kind of relation ship they want whether it be straight, gay, or multi-partner.  I don’t really care what people do in the privacy of their own homes and neither should government.

What amazes and somewhat amuses me is that while there are many people like me who would be willing to support gay marriage and other gay rights issues on grounds of liberty or other principles, the gay rights community seems to go out of it’s way to alienate as many of those people as possible with Chick-fil-a being just the most recent example.

The list below is nowhere near comprehensive but it gives some of the biggest examples of what gay rights groups do wrong and recommendations for changes they could make. These are written as if speaking directly to a gay rights supporter:

  1. Fighting hate with hate – Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who hate gays and some of them are even willing to assault and kill those who are gay or suspected to be gay.  Most evidence points to those people being in a small minority.  Most people who oppose gay marriage don’t actually “hate” gays.  Sure they might believe that homosexuality is a sin or a mental disease or hold some other unflattering and possibly offensive view but for the most part are accepting of gays in every other situation except marriage.  Given enough time and exposure to gay people, most of these folks can be converted or at least have their opposition to gay marriage softened. Unfortunately, many gay rights supporters react hatefully towards all those who disagree with them often referring to “traditional” marriage supporters as right wing neanderthals, backwoods hicks, hate mongers, Nazis, and more.  Sorry guys but you cannot bully people into supporting your cause.  All attacking the other side will do is fortify their opposition.   Sure, you may get a few companies throwing support behind you that otherwise wouldn’t because they fear boycotts but even then you wont really gain much. It is much better to realize that most people who oppose you are decent human beings who have some sympathy for you and could be converted if shown how kind and loving gay people can be.  Show them the compassion you want them to show you and you will get much farther much faster.  No, it wont work instantly and it wont work on everyone but given time and patience, it can win the battle. Keep in mind that most people disagree with you or at least people who are against gay marriage feel more strongly about it than those who strongly support gay marriage.  I believe 32 states have held popular votes on gay marriage and every single time gay marriage lost.  It’s one thing to treat a small minority as evil tyrants but when you are treat most people that way, it’s going to work against you
  2. Fighting discrimination with discrimination – It’s natural to want to do unto others what you feel they are doing on to you but like above, this ends up working against you.  I don’t agree with Dan Cathy’s views but I likely would have gone to Chick-fil-a on the “appreciation day” earlier this week if there was a Chick-fil-a in my town.  Why? Because of all the government officials who talked about banning Chick-fil-a from their towns.  If you are angry that someone supports government action to discriminate against gays, you cannot support government actions that would discriminate against people for their religious and political opinions.  As far as I know, Chick-fil-a has done nothing illegal and does not deny employment to gays or service to gays.  Sure, the boss might be a prick but if we can ban his business for his beliefs about marriage, cant cities and towns also legally ban businesses that support gay marriage?  Again, remember that more people are against you than with you so allowing this kind of precident will likely do more harm to the gay rights movement than good.  Protests, if done peacefully, can be effective and are perfectly acceptable.  Tell people why Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a are wrong, say it often, and say it loudly. Reacting to discrimination with more discrimination leads to the kind of turnouts Chick-fil-a saw on “appreciation day”.
  3. Don’t reinforce stereotypes – A lot of the most vocal opponents of gay rights issues often portray gays as sexual deviants.  The gay movement then goes on to hold gay pride parades and street fares where we get to see gay people dressed in leather fetish outfits, as glitter fairies, and other sexually provocative outfits which often included exposure of breasts and buttocks.  In some of these gay pride events, there have been  sexual acts performed in public with children present.  So, what are straight people suppose to take away from these parades?  Are gays not really sexual deviants despite the public displays of deviance?  Or are gays sexual deviants but we are suppose to accept deviant behavior?  I’m confused.  The thing is, most of the gay people I have known in my life are pretty normal when compared to straights.  Sure, most of the gay men I have know where very effeminate and a good portion of the lesbians I have know have been a bit on the “butch” side but otherwise they were no weirder or deviant than most straight people.  If you want to have parades that show your pride in your sexual orientation, fine.  Just don’t be surprised when people seeing the gimp outfits come away thinking gays are deviants
  4. Be consistent – President Obama recently came out in support of gay marriage which was greeted with cheers from many a gay activist.  What troubles me is many of those same activists supported Obama anyway when his official position was to oppose gay marriage.  Even his most recent evolution on the issue is to leave the issue to the states which pretty much embraces the status quo. I’m not saying that gay people shouldn’t support Obama.  What troubles me is that there was little if any opposition to Obama from gay rights groups when he officially opposed them but when a conservative business owner states the exact same position the president once held, we have boycotts, protests, and all kinds of opinion articles and news stories trashing the man.  On the other side, where was the celebration when Dick Cheney came out in support of gay marriage?  After all, he came out in support months before Obama did.  Why is it that Democrats who oppose gay marriage often get a pass while Republicans who oppose gay marriage are regularly slammed?  The answer of course is that most outspoken gays seem to be on the political left so are automatically more forgiving of others on the left and more hostile to those on the right.  Once again though, you are in the minority politically speaking.  Poll after poll after poll has shown that this country is center-right with self identified conservatives typically doubling the number of self identified liberals.  Just as above, making enemies out of more people than you make friends with will not help you.  On a more principled level however, shouldn’t all people holding the same views on gay marriage be treated the same by gay marriage supporters?  I’m not saying gay marriage supporters should not have voted for Obama in 2008 as gay marriage was obviously not the only issue but why treat him with kid gloves on this issue?  Why not throw more support behind conservative or libertarian politicians who hare your same views on marriage?  If you are willing to overlook your principles for some but not for others, that is what we call a double standard.  Double standards are easy to spot and do harm.  There are likely many right leaning politicians who would be willing to break from social conservatives on gay marriage but know that thanks to the double standard, they will likely not see much support from gay rights groups and activists no matter what their official position on marriage is.  Why then should they switch sides when they know that gay marriage opponents wont be as inconsistent?

As you can see, all of these points follow a similar theme: don’t make enemies of potential allies.  While supporters of gay marriage may be in the minority, the trend is in their favor with recent polls showing a more even split and some even showing majority support for gay marriage.  Opponents of gay marriage can’t do much to slow this trend in public opinion but ironically those who support gay marriage can and likely have slowed the momentum by alienating people.

If you want to stop hate, stop being hateful.  If you want to promote love, try loving everyone even if they disagree with you.

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Steam

I have a couple of video game reviews in the works but I figured I should first make a quick post about my favorite place to buy video games, Steam.

Steam is a digital download service created by the American software company Valve. You may know Valve from their extremely popular video games Half Life, Portal, and Team Fortress.  Steam offers an enormous selection of PC video games both old and new which can be purchased and downloaded direct from the internet.  There are a lot of great things about Steam which I will list here for any who might be interested in checking it out:

1. Huge Selection

As I mentioned already, there are a lot of games available from the late 1990s to today that are available for purchase.  Many of the old games have been configured to work on modern computers although they often require a few tweaks in order to make 100% playable.  The games are not just restricted to Valve titles either as virtually every major publisher makes their games available on Steam.  During the last year or so, independent developers have been given access to the service allowing some real gems to find an audience.  The only big exception is games by EA.  While most of their games are available through Steam, EA recently launched their own digital download service Origin and there has been some fierce competition between the two (although Origin hasn’t made much of a dent in Steams dominant position).  Because of the rivalry between the two services, EA has pulled a few titles from Steam or made them exclusive to Origin including Dragon Age 2 and Battlefield 3.

2. Easy DRM for multiple computers

Every gamer knows that one of the biggest inconveniences associated with PC gaming is Digital Rights Management or DRM.  DRM is supposed to prevent digital piracy but more often than not it just makes life difficult for those who actually purchased the game by hogging computer resources, adding layers of authenticity checks that take time and don’t always work properly, add spy software to computers without owners knowledge, and make it impossible or difficult to have a game installed on more than one computer at a time.  The irony is while it creates all of these problems, DRM seems to do little to actually prevent piracy.  Steam on the other hand makes DRM easy.  When a game is first purchased, it is authorized to the Steam account that made the purchase (or attached to the account when first installed for Steam enabled discs).  After that, the game is only authorized for the one account and can only be installed on computers that have also been authorized for that same account.  The only catch is that no two computers can be logged into Steam at the same time with the same account.  That’s it.  No need for obnoxious software programs or layers of protection.

3. Steam Sales

Other than the convenience of the service, the thing that makes me a big fan of Steam are the sales.  Every day a game goes on sale with anywhere from a 10% to 80% discount.  There are also weekday sales (one or two games on sale from Tuesday to Thursday) and weekend sales (one or two games on sale from Friday to Monday).  Steam also has bigger week-long sales a few times a year where half a dozen or more games will go on special discount for a day, with new games going on sale the next.  I’ve picked up some games that normally sell for $30 or more for as little as $5.  This makes gaming a lot easier for those of us on a tight budget

Steam boasts a host of other features and perks like community channels, forums, news items, friends lists, mobile app, etc. that make the service more than just a place to buy stuff.  I don’t use many of those features so I wont go into them here.  Steam is also not just for PC as it can be installed on Macs and Playstation 3 consoles although most publishers don’t make Mac compatible games and I have no idea what is available for PS3.

If you own a PC and are a fan of video games, I highly recommend Steam.  It is not only a convenient service but can save you a lot of money if you are willing to wait for sales.

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Once again, Obama’s understanding of reality is backwards

Via one of my favorite news blogs hotair.com, some comments our President made about how businesses owe society for their existence.  To be fair, Mr. Obama is not the first person to put forth this theory and he will surely not be the last.  The idea wont get any less stupid or false no matter how many times people say it.

The money quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look,if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen

This statement has been commented on to death by many a conservative blog, radio show, and newspaper column so rather than a full on analysis of all that’s wrong with this statement, I’ll only list a few short points:

1. Government needs businesses and business owners more than businesses and business owners need government

No one can doubt that businesses do benefit from government to a certain degree through a variety of protections and other benefits (ie. roads, police, regulations, etc).  Even so, business can exist without government and often has throughout history.   There are some businesses that have existed for hundreds of years and survived different forms of government, revolution, and anarchy. Governments on the other hand cannot exist without businesses created by risk taking individuals.  If every business owner in the U.S decided to go on strike, the federal government would collapse in a matter of days. That leads us to…

2. Society and government owe more to the creators of business than the creators of business owe society or government.

Who do you think paid for all those roads and internet research that Obama is talking about in the above statement?  It wasn’t politicians and bureaucrats.  No, it was the creators of business who created wealth and wages that were taxed, resources that were utilized, and innovations that government research was based on.  Once again, the internet is something private business could have and likely would have eventually created on its own.  The government would have never had the knowledge, funding, or technology to develop the parts of the internet it was involved in without business.  In fact, the internet never would have become a widespread and revolutionary service if not for businesses and business leaders. Likewise, those roads Obama talks about were built by private construction companies, with tools vehicles and supplies created by private businesses, funded by taxpaying business owners.  Government played a role in getting all the resources together, but the resources would not have existed without private business.

3. Business owners actually did create businesses on their own.

Sure, if you want to get technical, nobody does anything on their own.  The mere existence of any man or woman is due to actions of their parents. No one is entirely self sufficient these days as we buy clothes from clothing shops, food from grocery stores, appliances from appliance shops, etc..  Even so, hard work and smarts are not enough to create a business.  You first have to develop a good idea, then you have to be willing to take some serious risks and make serious sacrifices to start a business.  Most first time business owners go into big time debt and/or put their entire life savings at risk in order to acquire the funds they need.  They then often have to work virtually every waking hour of the day, every day, for at least a few years just to get the business off the ground.  With all that, they odds are still against them as only about 1 in 3 new businesses become successful.  Even most smart and hard-working folks aren’t willing to work that hard or take those kinds of risks to start a business.  Those that do and who succeed create all kinds of benefits for society.  Their products and services fill a need in the market, they employ people who can eat and pay taxes, and a big chunk of their profits goes to local, state, and federal governments which (in theory if not in reality) goes to projects that benefits those who didn’t have the balls to start a business of their own.

I’m sick of people who believe that anyone who is successful must have somehow cheated and therefore are undeserving of the benefits of that success.  Newsflash for Obama and others who share the same beliefs: No one owes you anything. If you think business owners didn’t do it on their own, try creating a business yourself and see how it goes.  You’ll quickly find out that not only does government not help, but it actually gets in the way more often than not

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Taxes are a violent act

To kick things off on this here blog, I thought I would start with something that on the surface would seem to be an “extreme” view but I think with some analysis will prove to be reasonable.  In many ways, this is the bedrock of libertarianism.

Taxes are a fact of life.  While libertarians like myself believe in small government, we aren’t anarchists.  There has to be some government in order for society to function and taxes are a requirement for government to function.  Even though they are a necessary reality, taxes are a violent act.  Don’t believe me?  Try not paying your taxes and see what happens.  That’s right, if you don’t pay your taxes, men with guns will come find you and either force the taxes out of you, lock you in a cage for a few years, or both.  So, it would seem to me, we have a moral responsibility to tax at a minimum and to be extra careful about what we spend those tax dollars on.

The reality of course is that we do not tax at a minimum and government at all levels spends violently collected taxes on all kinds of wasteful and corrupt programs.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the money taken from citizens under threat of violence is often used to restrict the freedoms on citizens.  For example, the people of San Francisco have to pay a lot of money to fund the Sand Francisco city government.  That city government then turns around and bans the sale of Happy Meals in the city.  Citizens of New York city are about to face a similar ban on large sodas.  This happens at the federal level too with bans on light bulbs and drinks that contain both alcohol and caffeine.  Don’t think that this is just limited to food and drink either.  Virtually every economic decision we make is limited in some way by government decree, funded by the very dollars forcibly taken from us.

Now, I understand a lot of you will say that we as a society chose to live by a certain set of standards and each of us gets a vote in how those standards are created.  This is a valid point but we also must consider that not everyone votes the same way and there are many issues where public opinion is pretty evenly split.  You could say that majority rules but I would point to the ways blacks, Hispanics, women, and other minority groups have been treated in this country’s history for an indication of the virtues of majority rule. This isn’t to say that soda bans are as bad as slavery but both represent restrictions to freedom imposed on one group by another group, just to a different (and in this case drastic) degree.

So, where am I going with all of this since I acknowledge the need for taxes and government then go on to talk about how horrible both of those things are?  Again, we need a government and we need rules but we must remember that taxes and government regulations are a form of violence, perhaps necessary violence, but violence none the less.  What this means is that for every tax, regulation, and law that we support we must consider the associated violence or threat of violence that accompanies them.  Would you go to your neighbor’s house, hold a gun to their head, and threaten death or imprisonment if they don’t support a law you like?  Perhaps that action could be justified if we are talking about national defense, funding a police force, or creating government stockpiles of vaccines for deadly diseases.  Would you threaten your neighbor with violence over funding NPR?  How bout locking your brother or sister in a cage if he or she doesn’t want to fund Social Security?  Would you be willing to throw your kids in jail if they refused to fund the bailout of GM or subsidies for people to purchase a Chevy Volt? I hope most people would answer these questions with a loud and defiant “NO” but many of those same people vote for politicians or support policies that essentially do the same thing.

Think about that the next time a politician talks about raising taxes as an act of compassion, patriotism, or duty

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Welcome to Libergeek

I was looking at the internet today and thought to myself, “Hey, the internet doesn’t seem to have any websites where random people can spout of their opinions”.  I should probably do something about that.

Truth is, I love a good debate.  That’s a fortunate fact because as a libertarian I tend to be at odds with both conservatives and liberals on  a variety of issues.  Even though I am very secure in my convictions, I am not arrogant enough to believe I am right about everything so I particularly enjoy talking to people who disagree with me and/or possess knowledge and experiences which I do not.  My mind doesn’t change easily or often but I do appreciate when people try.

So, if you enjoy debate and can effectively back up your points of view, please stop by regularly to read my posts and tell me why I am right or why I am wrong.  I’ll be sure to read all responses and return the favor.

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