It was very shocking to get on Facebook and see that two of this website’s finest writers, editor Shane Trejo and guest contributor Mitchell Steffen, had their personal information posted by a blogspot website identifying themselves as “Antifa Libertarians”. This is a tactic known as “doxxing”, a public shaming method popularized by the left and amplified greatly by the rise of social media. This was done in retaliation for the coverage provided to the Hoppe Caucus’s event with Richard Spencer by The Liberty Conservative at the International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC), and indeed a retaliation towards the people who attended the event for daring to have a conversation. I will not give these morally depraved individuals more traffic by linking to their work, but needless to say this has been passed around the libertarian community in recent days. In addition to Shane and Mitchell, several members of the Hoppe Caucus had their personal information published and even some folks who were totally unaffiliated found themselves in the crossfire of this. Overall, this devolved into a complete witch hunt that literally culminated in the posting of physical addresses, the names of parents, contact information and as much as they could dig up on each individual. This cowardly, anonymous act represents a new low in the history of liberty movement infighting.
We as libertarians have many disagreements, but one thing which should unite us is a commitment to a culture of free expression and a lack of desire to impose consequences on those who express radical ideas. Losing the right to advocate for radical ideas without major social consequences will ultimately be a gun turned on those who believe in liberty, and we must be very careful to avoid making cultural statements against free expression as a movement. To be more explicit, if the ability to safely advocate for radical ideas is lost we will face a far worse uphill climb to advancing liberty in politics than we currently do.
Culture has been weaponized by the left in the Obama era, and the silencing effect this has had on our society has been staggering. From campuses to corporations people have heard the message loud and clear; if you are a conservative it’s time to shut up. Take this past election for example. Even in the aftermath of his victory, many supporters of Donald Trump remain closeted in their support of him, for fear of being publicly identified and ridiculed. We see violent incidences on campuses that are more numerous and severe than they ever were before the election. I have written about this in the past as well in my defense of Milo Yiannopolous, pointing out that the left wishes to impose this cultural tyranny on literally everybody who disagrees with leftism, creating a society where conservative opinions can no longer be openly expressed. This is the sort of culture we have seen infect the liberty movement with this reprehensible and ugly act of attempting to incite negative social consequences on somebody simply for having a conversation with a man who has views which most people find appalling.
The question now is how will we as a movement respond? Obviously, this is a small act which will go by without much fanfare, but if libertarians who do come across this respond supportively it will simply lead to more of this sort of behavior in the future. Now, we as libertarians are a group that engages in quite a bit of infighting and there are often intra movement divisions. As a member of the liberty movement you need to ask yourself if you want to risk creating a climate where those intra movement divisions lead to people within our movement attempting to personally destroy each other. Once you let that cat out of the bag there is no going back. If we allow this cancer to infect the cause of liberty we will rue the day, because that day will mark the end of the substantive exchange of ideas that has traditionally been one of our movements strengths.
Let’s be very clear, ladies and gentlemen, what we have seen here is morally appalling and deserves swift, decisive condemnation from figures across the liberty movement. Those who support these acts should consider the cultural consequences of trying to force conformity out of a movement which is based almost entirely in the independent, individualist worldview that is libertarianism. As much as I disagree with members of the left libertarian community, much less neoconservatives or true leftists, I would never presume that my opinion is so unquestionably correct that I am justified in imposing consequences on anyone who dare disagree with it.
That whole style of thinking is the basic driver of these “doxxing” tactics, the knowledge that not only is your opponent wrong, but that the incorrect nature of their opinion is so beyond the pale that they deserve to suffer for it. Is that the premise we want to set for how we interact with each other as a movement? I hope you will join me in condemning those who act with the intent of causing us to fear speaking out. We at The Liberty Conservative will continue to cover controversial events and will continue to push for a liberty movement that is more open to debate and more open to hearing radical ideas, not less.