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A Queer Kind of Liberty

Raymond LePage is a libertarian, "small 'l,'" he always emphasizes, and he is an Objectivist, but, "not a Randite," he always insists. He believes he is a fighter for individual freedom and belongs to several freedom-oriented organizations and supports various freedom movements, though the organizations and movements seem to change fairly often.

Ray often accuses me of what seems like a contradiction to me. On the one hand, he accuses me of having no interest in freedom, but on the other, he accuses me of being so self-centered and narcissistic I have no interest in others or what happens to them.

He accused me of the latter just yesterday morning after the breakfast he had invited himself to in my kitchen. That's where we were sitting after the maid had cleaned up the dishes and brought us coffee.

"You didn't see that David Graebar article in the Naked Capitalist about the New York police sexually assaulting peaceful demonstrators, did you?" he began.

"That's right," I said.

"That's right what?" he said a bit annoyed.

"That's right I did not see the article you mentioned."

"I can show it to you," he offered.

"Thank you, but I'm not really interested.

"Don't you even care? Did you hear what I said? Police are sexually molesting girls, grabbing their boobs, beating them, breaking their wrists, tying them up and holding them for hours without charges. They're thugs oppressing innocent people," he practically shouted at me.

Those, "peaceful demonstrators," you mentioned. You're saying the police went into those demonstrator's own back yards and did those things?" I patiently inquired.

Of course not. It was at Zuccotti Park," he spat out at me.

"Oh," I said.

"Well?" he asked.

"Well, what?" I replied.

"What do you think about the horrible things the demonstrators are suffering at the hands of the rotten police?"

"I think if they expected anything else from the police they are terribly naive," I said. "What did they expect to happen?"

"They expected to be able to exercise their constitutional right to peaceably demonstrate."

"Ray, old boy, you already know my view on that. There is no such thing as a constitutional right. No piece of paper has ever yet given anybody any kind of right. But if I were going to invoke such a piece of paper and what it says, I'd at least get what is says right. It's a right to, "peaceably assemble," not, "demonstrate," and not on someone else's property."

"You just don't care what happens to those who are doing something about oppression in this country."

"If you mean your, 'peaceful demonstrators,' you are absolutely right. The only thing they are demonstrating is that they have nothing productive to do, else they'd be busy doing it, and they have no respect for other's property, have no sense of personal integrity or dignity, and are so myopic, they are constantly shocked when their very bad choices result in very bad consequences. Why would I care about them?"

"So you think what the police are doing to them is alright!" It was a statement not a question.

"Of course not, but that's what the police are, especially big city police. I expect nothing less of them; only a fool would.


Ray was not satisfied, of course, but I reminded him he had to get to work, as did I. He made some snide remark I did not quite catch, probably about my work, which he does not think very highly of. He did thank me for breakfast, but looked a little peeved when he left.


But he was back. I think it may have been the next day—but I'm sure it was at lunch time.

"Just about to have lunch, Ray. Have you eaten?" I asked. "If not, your welcome to share mine. It's not much, just some fresh oysters and crackers and salad. Do you like oysters?"

"How are they done?" he asked.

"They're not 'done,' Ray. They're raw, on the half shell."

"Ah, I think I'll pass," he said. Do you have any cheese--for the crackers?"

"I'm sure we have something." I instructed the maid to bring Raymond some cheese and to make another salad for him.

"I know you think homosexuals are some kind of perverts, Ray began, but you believe everyone ought to be free, don't you? Even perverts, if that's what they are?"

"No, not Really, " I said. "I don't thank anyone may morally interfere in anyone else's life, and if everyone lived morally, everyone would be free. But most people do not live morally and have no compunction about interfering in other's lives or at least supporting government policies that do, and where government is interfering in peoples lives, very few people are free.

"But most people do not want to be free, Ray, and those that think they do, really want someone else, like a government, to supply their freedom. They talk about a, 'free society,' as though that were a real thing, and believe their own freedom depends on the existence of their imaginary free society. Their desire for freedom is exactly like those who desire an education, or health care, or a financially secure future—all supplied by someone else.

"So I really do not care that those who do not make the effort to make themselves free are not free anymore than I care that those who do not make the effort to educate themselves are ignorant, or those who do not make the effort to support themselves are impoverished, or those who do not make an effort to finance their own health care do not have any, or those who do not make the effort to prepare for their own retirement and old age suffer and die."

"So you think it's perfectly alright for some people to use force to tell other people what they can do with their lives," Ray said.

"How do you conclude that? People do use force to tell others what they can do with their lives—that's a fact. To deny it is to ignore reality; but pointing out a fact of reality does not mean one approves or agrees with it, or, as you put it, thinks it's 'perfectly alright.' Far from being alright, it is evil, it is oppression, and I could not despise it more. I do not know how you cannot understand that oppression would be impossible if most people did not allow it, but most actually embrace it, because they do not see it as oppression, they see it as 'order' and 'security' and 'the rule of law.' As much as I despise oppression I just cannot be concerned with the oppression of those who love their chains.

I did not know it yet, but all this discussion about oppression was leading up to something, at least it was something in Ray's mind. It was a big nothing to me.

"Do you know what just happened in North Carolina?" he finally blurted out."

"No," I said.

He looked at me like I had two heads.

"You mean you really do not know that North Carolina passed the first amendment to its constitution and that amendment bans same-sex marriage?"

"Really!" I said. What does that mean to, 'ban same-sex marriage?'"

The look implied I had two heads again. "It means homosexuals can't get married."

"I don't see why not," I said. "If a nice queer fellow finds a woman willing to marry him, or a lezzie gal finds a fellow willing to marry her, how does this law prevent them from getting married?"

"You know perfectly well what it means. It means two men cannot marry each other or that two women cannot marry each other."

"My goodness, why would they want to?" I asked.

"Regi, you know that's beside the point. The government has no right telling anyone who they can or cannot marry, does it?"

"It's 'whom' they can or cannot marry, and of course it doesn't. And that is the point which no one on either side of the so-called same-sex marriage issue points out. Marriage, or any other relationship between individuals is no business of any government, but no one on either side of the issue makes that point, because they want the government to interfere in their relationships. They want the government to sanction and enforce their views and enforce them on everyone else.

"People who understand the nature of love and marriage do not care if any government approves or recognizes the reality of their marriage, and those who are worried about what government approves or recognizes do not really understand what marriage is. And anyone who thinks government approval of their marriage is some kind of benefit, and seeks that benefit, is not interested in freedom."

"I take it you do not approve of same-sex marriage," Ray stated with some disdain.

"I do not regard it my place to approve or disapprove of what anyone else does with their life, or with others. I find that what most people do with their lives and with others is mostly absurd, ignorant, and disgusting, but they do not need my approval to be those kinds of people. What other people do with their lives, so long as they do not interfere in mine, is none of my business and is of no interest to me, except, possibly, as a matter of curiosity, occasionally."

I have no idea why that should have annoyed Ray, but it apparently did.

"Do you know what you are, Regi. You're a misanthrope," he said with obvious disgust.

"Well, there you go. All this time I thought I was a human being. I shall try, in the future, to act my part. In the meantime, would you like to try the lemon meringue pie?"

"Oh, yes thank you. It's my favorite. Just a small piece, though," Ray said.

—(05/13/12)