It’s a good thing that the Corner retains its resident libertarian gadfly, Andew Stuttaford. Where else would we get enormously insightful commentary such as this:
The fiftieth anniversary of the contraceptive pill seems to have provoked some grumbling around this fine Corner. I appreciate that some folk have religious objections to contraception. Those objections are what they are. As a practical matter, however, it seems to me that the development of the pill has been an enormous boon. Like many of the greatest scientific advances, it facilitated an enormous extension of freedom. Did some people abuse that freedom? Sure — and no surprise there — but the fault for that lies with people, not pill.
I recognize that not every blog post, especially on a site like the Corner, can be a several hundred word exposition on a topic, but you would think that Stuttaford can offer something more substantive than that the pill “seems” to have been an enormous boon. There is no discussion of the medical side-effects, nor is there any rebuttal offered to the meaningful concerns expressed about the cultural concerns. Instead, we get an airy dismissal that any criticisms of the pill must be religion-based, and a typical libertarian exaltation of freedom.
It must be great to be a libertarian and live in a world where the only thing that matters is theory and ideal. Who cares about the real world practical applications of how people apply that freedom? That’s just a hard topic to get into, and frankly dude I got some great freaking weed man.
One need not be a devoted Roman Catholic to understand that the birth control pill has possibly not been all its cracked up to be. Unfortunately, the libertarian worldview is dominated by the ideal of freedom at all costs, and as usual the long-term cultural implications of such exalted “freedom” is of seemingly no concern. Frankly this is just bizarre. Of all people, libertarians are the ones who should be anxious about how people use their freedoms, because if people misuse freedom to the detriment of societal order, that just breeds an environment that invites greater governmental control later. Do libertarians ever consider this? After all, when Benjamin Franklin answered that the government created by the Constitution is a republic if we can keep it, he was implying that we have been granted the right to live in a free and democratic society, but people have the obligation to so order their lives so as to maintain said republic.
I’ve discussed this before, but we’re obsessed with rights in this country yet don’t ever give a second thought as to duties and responsibilities. It’s all well and good to believe in freedom – I’m not exactly unsympathetic to the libertarian position in the abstract. I think even the most orthodox Roman Catholic is willing to concede that birth control should be legal. Government should very rarely interfere with people’s rights and freedoms because a government with the power to crack down in some morally correct way (as we would deem it) has the power to interfere in a morally incorrect way. Therefore government power ought to be limited in most facets of life. But that doesn’t mean the discussion ends there. Citizens also have the right to let it be known that perhaps it isn’t such a hot idea to artificially contracept, and doing so might lead to x, y, and z. We’re not talking about rights here, but rather the cultural implications of a certain action. It’s a legitimate argument, and yet it is something that libertarians aren’t very interested in engaging.