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Letters to the editor: Libertarians hit back


Last week, staff writer Amy Kingsley filed a cheeky dispatch from FreedomFest 2012, a gathering of libertarians. This did not endear us to libertarians.

Over the last half-century, I have worked for candidates from the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties. I am a Democrat now, but I still have strong libertarian political values. One of the key reasons that I worked for the Obama campaign was the promise that he would repeal the abuses to our liberty imposed by W.

Obama let us down, especially when he signed the NDAA 2011, that allows federal agencies to jail Americans without charge or trial. This is just one tidbit that your writer could have learned about while attending Freedom Fest 2012.

I was disgusted with the hatchet job done by Amy Kingsley that you published in the July 19 edition. Events like Freedom Fest attract a broad spectrum of citizens, as do conferences for the Democrats and Republicans. You should see the events held back in D.C. (where I used to work). You see people selling plastic aborted babies right alongside other vendors handing out condoms and offering free abortion consultations. I can see how an uneducated person might interpret such dealings as being simply insane, but upon closer inspection, one sees that the people in these sometimes opposed ventures share the common thread of freedom to express their views, and most often, the civility to let others express their opposing views, without trying to censor their freedom of expression.

Miss Kingsley’s hatchet job appears to have been constructed from a brief 20-minute visit to a narrow section of the event, and populated mostly with her prejudicial view of libertarian values. She completely missed the point of freedom being the right for us to self-govern, instead smearing libertarians as people who want to drive drunk.

I do not expect to see objective reporting. I have long since given up on that, especially here in Vegas, where “fuck you!” is the standard substitute for farewell. However, it seems even beneath a Vegas weekly to smear a political conference that, in spite of any flaws, is still promoting the idea of a return to constitutional government and the restoration of our God-given liberties. These ideas deserve better than a cynical sneer from a writer who seemed to enjoy airing her ignorance of the libertarians and their core principles.

As if the insult and smears were insufficient, your editor decided to add a photo of a bag of nuts spilling across the page. Aren’t you the same people who often lament the loss of civil discourse in the political arena?

I did not write to you in order to ask for a correction, retraction or apology, since I am convinced that any such request would be ignored in the usual Vegas way. No need to reply, and you can skip the “fuck you!” response (if you are so inclined), since that was already implied for every one of our citizens in Amy Kingsley’s hatchet piece. It is reprehensible that your readers were denied any honest information about the libertarian issues of our time that were discussed at Freedom Fest 2012.

J. Tyler Ballance

(by e-mail)

If one knows not to send a Klansman to report on an NAACP meeting, why does CityLife keep sending Amy Kingsley to report on libertarian events that she has no knowledge of or affinity for? In the July 19 issue, she reported on FreedomFest 2012, saying: “Most of it is not exactly the kind of ennobling stuff you’d find in an Ayn Rand potboiler.” Specifically, the idea that you’re more free moving to a Third World dictatorship, where you don’t have as many regulations, at least as long as you’re rich enough to buy people off. She then concludes: “Ayn Rand would be proud.”

Eh? Is that attitude supposed to be Randian or NOT Randian? It’s pretty confusing to anyone who values coherence and consistency in narrative. Apparently Ms. Kingsley doesn’t.

Even more ambiguous is the article on Page 8, in reference to a new proposal to make the Strip handbillers for “escort” services responsible for cleaning up their own fliers, mentioning, “The county has long sought to regulate this, but — thanks a lot, Constitution! — without much success.” Now this jest merely confirms the libertarian suspicion that the county (like the federal government) sees the U.S. Constitution mainly as something that gets in their way, but the fact is, this idea is one of the few anti-handbilling initiatives that doesn’t threaten the First Amendment. We all acknowledge that distributing handbills IS protected speech and ALSO a public nuisance. This idea protects the speech while still making the handbillers responsible for their own trash. Yet CityLife frets, “Even though it’s the people who take the sheets who throw them on the ground. Huh. You don’t have to be pro-handbiller to wonder about the precedent of holding a person responsible for the actions of someone else, just because you don’t like their (protected) activities.” By that standard, CityLife should be against pooper-scooper laws that put responsibility on the guy with the leash when it was his dog that took the dump.

James Gillen

(by e-mail)

Editor’s note: Sigh. Once again, CityLife blows the chance to enlighten citizens about true libertarian principles. If only there was a large metropolitan newspaper — perhaps even the state’s dominant media outlet — that offered Las Vegans a daily dose of libertarian perspective. Well, maybe some day.

As for the objective reporting whose absence Mr. Ballance laments, alt-weeklies generally don’t pretend to objectivity — which isn’t possible anyway — and write instead from a pretty well defined perspective. And (wink), in some instances (wink, wink), with satirical intent. It’s what makes us not the R-J.

Mr. Gillen, if you’ll send us information confirming that libertarians have suffered anything comparable to slavery and Jim Crow, we’ll go ahead an acknowledge your Ku Klux Klan-NAACP analogy.

As for Amy’s grasp of Ayn Rand: What Amy clearly meant was 1.) that some of the ideas expressed at FreedomFest fell short of the nobility with which Rand tried to imbue libertarian philosophy; and 2.) that the amoral use of one’s money in pursuit of one’s own ends is consistent with her ideals. Those statements are not in conflict with each other.

You’re right, making handbillers clean the streets of litter deposited by other people doesn’t menace the First Amendment, although it does threaten common sense, as does your dogshit comparison.

Lastly, about the bag of nuts and civil discourse: Touché, Mr. Ballance, touché.