This Week’s Cartoon: “…Rand Justice For All”

I seem to have a number of libertarian readers, or at least, I used to before I drew this cartoon. As I anticipated, some have complained that Rand Paul doesn’t speak for them. But according to several prominent libertarians quoted in this nicely-researched TPM article, Paul’s take on the Civil Rights Act is well within the mainstream of said political philosophy. Apologies for the lengthy quote, but this stuff is just so great:

Paul’s stance is “very reasonable, and quite close to the Libertarian position,” a spokesman for the Libertarian Party told TPMmuckraker.

“If some private business discriminates we think that’s unfortunate, but we don’t think the government should get involved in banning it,” said the spokesman, Wes Benedict. “That’s just a negative that we have to tolerate in a free society.”

Walter Block, a libertarian professor of economics at Loyola University, and a senior fellow with the libertarian Ludwig Von Mises Institute, went further. “I think anyone who doesn’t believe that isn’t a libertarian,” he said, calling Paul’s comment “a very mainstream libertarianism.”

“I’m delighted that Rand Paul said that,” an enthusiastic Block added. “I think it’s magnificent. I didn’t realize that he was that good.”

“The spirit of non-discrimination,” said Block “ends you right up in compulsory bisexuality.”

DOH! One minute you’re requiring restaurants to serve blacks, the next minute, everyone has to shag everyone! Such a slippery slope!

Am I saying libertarians are racists who hate the disabled and women in the workplace? No. Am I saying their ideology is impractical to the point of silliness? Well, yes. As I was saying over on Facebook, what really gets me is the quaint notion that violations of our freedom only come from “the guv’mint.” In the cases of slavery, the segregated South, and Lilly Ledbetter, the market wasn’t exactly doing a good job of regulating itself. Libertarianism may champion the ordinary individual, but in practice, it lets the bullies win.


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  • Kevin Moore

    Yeah, this pretty much rocks all over the place.

  • rone

    Once again, it’s all about the nanny-statists forcing you to suck cock. Libertarianism: freedom from cock in your mouth!

  • susan

    you forgot the part about the unique Paul version of Libertarianism in which there is no gov’t property-except a woman’s uterus.

  • Michael Welle

    Calling yourself a “libertarian” is just a fancy way of avoiding the increasingly unpopular “Republican” monicker. Now we find out it is another front for dredging up a racism problem settled in the 1960s. If businesses don’t like blacks kick them out! Laissez faire.

  • Jen Sorensen

    Susan, you’re absolutely right. That little inconsistency drives me nuts.

  • Jim

    You do know that the Kentucky Libertarian Party is looking for someone to run against Rand Paul, saying that he doesn’t represent their beliefs. How does that affect your stereotype of libertarians?

  • Jen Sorensen

    I’m not sure it’s a “stereotype” if so many prominent libertarians say his beliefs are within the mainstream of libertarian ideology. Also, judging from comments on this cartoon from libertarians elsewhere on the web, they are defending his stance on the Civil Rights Act. I do get the impression that many libertarians want to distance themselves from his wackier conspiracy theories, such as the “Amero,” but I didn’t address those in this cartoon.

    When’s the last time you heard a libertarian argue that we *should* pass laws to make sure private businesses don’t discriminate? I can’t say I ever have. Libertarians’ flawed definition of “freedom” is what I’m criticizing here.

  • James

    I don’t know why I feel the need to play Charlie Brown to Jen’s Lucy, but I’ll try and kick this football again.

    First, let’s look at your examples Jen:

    Segregation–Actually, it was the Federal government’s _refusal_ to enforce the 13-15th Amendment that got that ballgame started. Plessy v. Ferguson sure wasn’t decided by a bunch of libertarians now, was it? How about U.S. vs. Cruikshank? But you’re right, let’s give the government _more_ power to decide winner’s and losers in this country. Because, you know, every time we’ve done that (Reconstruction, Gilded Age, Wilson’s policies during World War I…oh, wait, have your eyes already glazed over because I’m using historical examples rather than mindless rhetoric?), it’s ended sooooo well. Segregation was a creation of the Federal government because, well, allowing the states to do what they wanted was easier than carrying out its stated responsibilities in the Constitution. There is no Libertarian that I’ve found that has said the government should _not_ do that. However, it’s all the “special sauce” like Net Neutrality, hate crime legislation, the War on Drugs, etc. that they have a problem with.

    Ledbetter–Oh, yes, let’s cite the woman who A. lost the SCOTUS case (whoops, “guess that whole the Supreme Court is right when it agrees with me and not so much when it doesn’t thing” applies to Right and Left) and who also _had a settlement for back pay in hand_ but decided that, no, she really wanted that punitive settlement. But yes, you’re right, the _solution_ to this is to have Congress pass a law that now gives a disgruntled employee the right to say, “I deserve equal payment despite the fact I’ve had 3 kids in the last 5 years where my peers have had to cover for my maternity leave.” Strange, I think that’s something where private business _should_ have the right to say, “Um, what? Life’s about choices, folks…”. Bottom line–Ledbetter could have (and, in the opinion of just about every lawyer _I_ have talked to, to include a couple of female ones and a former judge) gotten her back pay and kept stepping, but apparently went for a home run instead of that single. Not exactly a sympathetic character in my mind unlike, say, the women from the Swiss bank that just won an absurdly small (no, I’m not being sarcastic–I think it should’ve been at least double) $250 million punitive award for no kidding discrimination. Rather than passing a law to make Ledbetter seem like something she isn’t, why hasn’t the “Party of Women,” led by the first female Speaker of the House, reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment? Oh, wait, because then we might have to pull on our big people pants and start acting like we’re adults rather than whining about how we’re an oppressed underclass.

    Businesses- Yes, you’re right, businesses would _immediately_ kick African-Americans out if the government wasn’t standing there preventing them from giving in to their bases impulses. Um, yes, because _I_ really A. want to be someplace that’s only serving me because the gubmint will drop the hammer on them and B. I really think that stops the establishment in BFE, Southern Mississippi from doing damn well what it wants. Funny, as an African-American who has stopped at a few establishments where, yep, we got a table but strange how our food just never seemed to show up, I’m here to tell you that you can have all the pretty regulations you want–it’s not going to change a darn thing, nor do I think the government should make the big, bad owner pay me money / throw him in jail because he’s an ignorant hick.

    Civil Rights Act–That’s because his comments, when taken in their totality rather than parsed by those with an ideological axe to grind, are an attempt ot advance the conversation. While I think that Paul has displayed an ignorance of the history and an almost naive belief that we have conquered the monster of racism (on both white and black sides), the fact remains he was trying to ask an honest question. For which he is, of course, being pilloried by folks like yourself. But hey, it’s only right wing nuts that are at fault for the coarseness of our discourse.

    Finally, the BP thing is a total farce and explains why some people think the government is pretty much broken as it stands. First, as long as BP contributes to both sides, it’s not going to get the appropriate hammer dropped on it. Funny, I don’t notice the President returning all the campaign contributions he received, nor do I see him announcing the _criminal_ investigations into the “too cosy” regulatory system he cited. Gee, why is that? Oh, wait, it’s because “Libertarians are totally tools, man…”.

    But hey, keep drawing cartoons talking about how Libertarians are all retards, and y’all have fun in your echo chamber. Just remember that when folks start dehumanizing one another rather than engaging in honest discussion, it _never_ ends well. Demagoguery and name calling is easy. Actually engaging in an intellectual discussion–difficult. Take the easy way out if you want, but don’t whine and complain when that government you think needs to be in everyone’s Kool-Aid decides your sacred cows make the best burgers. I think it was some crazy libertarian (NOT) who said that “The government big enough to give you everything you need is also big enough to take it all away.”

  • Jen Sorensen

    James, sorry to be the Lucy to your Charlie Brown. I do appreciate your attempts to kick the football, though.

    Two brief points: I believe in smart government, not necessarily big government. Secondly, my cartoon hardly called libertarians retards; it addresses flaws in their definition of “freedom.”

  • Sumit Khanna

    Eh…if we lived in an ideal world, well we wouldn’t need libertarians would we? We have to keep in mind that the laws in this country have never been just. Lawyers, protesters and various other freedom fighting types spend decades, the better part of a century really, fighting civil injustice. The laws didn’t prevent, and in many cases encouraged segregation, denial of the right to vote, et cetera.

    This is what I don’t get. You get these people screaming at the top of their lunges “No big government” and now that an oil disaster is ripping apart our ocean and coastline you have people screaming, “Why isn’t the government doing anything?” Hey, it’s doing what you wanted. It’s making BP do and pay for everything, even if it is pulling teeth. It kinda has to rely on BP and ExxonMobile for help. The Navy really doesn’t keep a bunch of spare oil well capping equipment around. I’m pretty sure they just have stuff to blow up brown people in underdeveloped countries that are a threat for some reason.

    We have such a distrust of government, and rightfully so. I mean, it’s done a lot of evil stuff, to other countries, pushed by big industry, to give us our standard of living. (BP/Iran anyone?) But we don’t need “less government.” We need government that is setup to care specifically for the interests and well-being of its people. So in that sense, maybe our current system does need to be taken apart, but the people who want to do so (Libertarians, Tea Party Members, Militia men) are equally ignorant of just how complicated the problem(s) is/are.

    /end rant.

  • Jen Sorensen

    Sumit: Good point. The problem isn’t big government so much as corrupt government. And one way to address that is major campaign finance reform. Of course, we’ll have to wait until the Supreme Court is sane again… and that may be a while.

  • Blue Wolf Bosh

    The libertarian system works well, for people or corporations that start out with the advantages obtained through other systems of inequality.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.