I confess that I'm not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the liberties that Michael J. Totten supports, but as a religious conservative (with libertarian inclinations) I'll answer his call and provide a brief overview of my perspective (for whatever it's worth).

First off, it's important to recognize that almost everyone claims to be in favor of freedom and liberty, and yet there are still plenty of disagreements. For instance, the pro-choice crowd supports the freedom of a mother to kill her unborn child on a whim, whereas the pro-life crowd supports the freedom of an unborn child to not be killed without good reason. Which side is really more pro-liberty? It depends on how you define the term, and if you're shaking your fist at me and yelling no it doesn't you idiot! then I doubt you'll care about anything else I have to say here.

Since "it depends" doesn't get us very far, let me give you an abridged list of what liberty means to me as a conservative right-wing Republican Christian (as I generally consider myself, tongue-in-cheek).

Book burning: People should be free to burn their own books, and this doesn't appear to be an area in which the federal government should get involved. I wouldn't really care if towns or even states decided to ban/burn certain books, but I think it would be pretty bad policy and I wouldn't want to live in such places. Nevertheless, I'm pleased with our current First Amendment protections that restrict the actions of states and cities as well as the federal government.

Drugs: I've written a lot about propospals to legalize drugs. I think that the War on Drugs is poorly implemented and wastes a lot of money, but I'm not at all convinced that broad legalization would be better. I suspect that the right answer is somewhere in between.

Sex: I don't think the government should be involved in what consenting adults do in private. I do think the majority has a right to shape the public sphere according to their tastes, and those with minority view points should either try to convince the majority to change their minds or content themselves with exercising their freedom in private.

Abortion: I think the right of an unborn child to live trumps a mother's desire for comfort and convenience. I would tolerate legal abortion to save the mother's life and in cases of incest and rape.

Guns: Love 'em. Every mentally stable abult should have the right to carry a concealed weapon at all times until they do something to forfeit that right.

Government: Unlike many conservatives, I don't want to cut taxes to maximize government revenue -- I want to keep cutting taxes even lower and minimize government revenue down to the bare bones. I expect we could cut 70% of the federal budget and all benefit from it. I'm not keen on President Bush's proliferate spending, but I vote for him because he's pro-life and pursues an aggressive foreign policy that spreads my version of freedom around the world.

As a general principle, I refer you to Eugene Volokh's treatise on burning witches:

Witch hunts are wrong for a simple reason: We know that there are no witches. If there were witches, who could blight your crops, make you sterile, and turn you into a newt just by an incantation or two, then of course we should hunt them. And humane as I like to be, if witches really had these awesome powers (which quite likely wouldn't stop at the bars of their prison cell), of course we'd have to take some radical steps to protect ourselves. I'm just as much against burning as the next man, but in a case like this . . . . Wait a sec, I don't need to be in favor of burning them, because we know that there are no witches!

He goes on to defend the concept of racial profiling because there are in fact Arab terrorists. Likewise, there are drugs that should not be legal, there are weapons that should not be privately owned, there are natural monopolies that benefit from government regulation, there are sexual practices that should be prohibited, and so forth.



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