Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mary Ruwart, Child Porn, and the Libertarian Presidential nomination

When Dr. Mary Ruwart announced her candidacy for the Libertarian Presidential nomination I was pleased. Granted, Mary's personal views have always been in the radical/anarchist segment of the LP (while mine are decidedly in the pragmatic branch), I thought she would make a good candidate because--

She is articulate enough to explain Libertarian ideas clearly.

She had no discernible negatives like Bob Barr's authorship of the Patriot Act and support of the Defense of Marriage Act or Mike Gravel's plans for universal health care.

The fact that she had no experience in governing or leading a large organization is not really of that much consequence, since this year a win for the LP candidate will be 1-2% in the National election and influencing the Demopublican outcome in key states: she was never going to be President.

So regular readers will know that I have consistently listed her--along with George Phillies and Christine Smith--as two of the more interesting Libertarian candidates.

I'm reluctantly going to have to drop her from my consideration.

The reason? In Dr. Ruwart's Short Answers to Tough Questions this appears:

"Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it's distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will."


I don't believe that this statement was intended as an endorsement of very young children having sex with adults, and other writings by Dr. Ruwart would support that interpretation. I think, as a philosopher and scholar, that she's rejecting one-size-fits-all age-of-consent laws, and thinking about a wide variety of paradoxes in our current society (i.e., two thirteen year olds having sex or a sixteen year old having sex with a five year old--in both cases both participants would be considered children--as opposed to a 17 year old having sex with an 18 year old who might only be a few months or days older). Just as I think there are 14 year olds out there I would trust to vote (and 25 year olds I'd like to have spayed or neutered), Dr. Ruwart takes a stand against that dysfunctional ambiguity in our laws which assign the right to have sex to all eighteen year olds, even though they don't have the right to take a drink for three more years.

And none of that matters, because this is the type of position that, while it may have academic or philosophic merit, reveals that the individual holding it as completely lacking the intellectual and political judgment necessary to hold executive elected office as a five year old lacks the intellectual and moral capacity to consent to sexual intercourse.

I have posted here--in one of my most controversial efforts (that even saw Brian disagreeing with me)--that the possession of child pornography should be decriminalized, because I do not believe that such criminalization either (a) materially protects or reduces the exposure of children at risk of being sexually exploited, and (b) that people's fantasy lives should not be the gist for prosecution, only their actual acts that harm other people. But there's are important distinctions between me making that argument and Dr Ruwart's opinion: (1) I believe in the concept of age of consent (however poorly I think it is being done in our society today); (2) I believe there do exist legitimate, limited societal interests expressed through government, and that among those are reasonable protections of children below the age of consent; (3) I'm not running for President, an office which requires you to take an oath to execute the existing laws of the land even when you're trying to change them.

The fact that Dr Ruwart--should she achieve the nomination--would be thrust (along with any LP chance at actually scoring increases to personal and economic freedom) into a position where Reverend Jeremiah Wright would be able to point over his shoulder and say, "There's somebody even I am to the right of," doesn't actually concern me that much.

What does concern me is the idea that the Libertarian Party, instead of making profound statements on a far less bloody, less costly, non-interventionist foreign policy, or for the right of all consenting adult citizens in America to get married regardless of their gender, will become the poster child for NAMBLA and the aluminum hat brigade.

This is getting tough.

I wrote off John McCain for good on his refusal to renounce preemptive war.

I've rejected Barack Obama as a candidate (even though I still admire many of his stands on issues like gay rights and science education) because (a) Iraq aside, he's just as much of a military interventionist/imperialist as the rest of them, and (b) funding all his attractive plans will require tax increases so massive that they will sink our economy.

Hillary is, well . . . she's Hillary--and I just can't take another Clinton White House.

I've turned my back on Bob Barr and Mike Gravel (Mike's latest oh-so-humble comment about his candidacy: "I don’t know if the Libertarian Party has had, since its foundation—and I say this most modestly—a bigger fish.")

I've also said no to Wayne Allyn Root, who seems more interested in using the Libertarian nomination to promote his reality shows than actually running and espousing thoughtful ideas.

Now Mary Ruwart's gone.

So far (ruling out Alan Keyes and Cynthia McKinney on general good taste), that leaves Ralph Nader (way too much a Statist for me), Christine Smith, and George Phillies.

You've read Christine's interview here today; you'll get a chance to see what George has to say tomorrow.

Maybe there's something there for me to hang my hat on.

Or maybe I'm going to end up sitting this one out.

PS If you want to see Libertarians self-destruct on this issue in an orgy of philosophical tail-chasing and the ability to rationalize virtually anything, go here and here. Or don't, if you've already eaten.

8 comments:

Jeff Wartman said...

This is perhaps one of the most reasonable, well thought out responses to the current controversy. Kudos.

Steve Newton said...

Thanks, Jeff.

Ironically, I find myself drawn more and more to the idea of a George Phillies-Christine Smith ticket if we are to remain a party of principle that is nonetheless capable of winning votes.

I say ironically because it appears that the rush to Gravel, Barr, Root, and Ruwart seems to have overshadowed everybody else.

Jim Fryar said...

I swiped a quote from this for my latest post, excellent article here. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh authored the patriot act

XyZ said...

cheap puritanism and hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Sadly Ruwart has more skeletons in the closet than just her support for adult/child sex. Some of it is criminal even my libertarian standards, certainly if you think fraud is wrong, it is.

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