In light of the recent controversy within the New Hampshire liberty community surrounding drag queens, sexuality, children, violence, tolerance, and parental rights, I feel compelled to weigh in on the issue. By way of background, a liberty-adjacent individual who was planning to speak at the upcoming Porcfest made a violent threat against anyone who reads to children while dressed in drag during the festival.
Drag: Dressing as the opposite gender for some sort of event or performance, especially men dressing as fabulous women. This may include sexual themes and often involves a conspicuously high amount of makeup and feminine attire.
Drag queen story-hour: Often taking place at public libraries, men who dress as women read children’s books to the local kids, who are generally brought by parents.
Porcfest: The Free State Project’s annual summer camping liberty festival, which pushes the limit of Roger’s Campground in northern New Hampshire with 3,000 libertarian attendees and thousands of events throughout the week.
Non-aggression principle (NAP): A fundamental tenet of libertarian ideology; the idea that one should never initiate force against another.
Those who know me may be aware that while I am a voluntaryist, I am very conservative in many areas of my life, especially regarding certain progressive activities, including drag shows, sexual exploitation of children, etc. I am very much not okay with these sorts of events and I think that they are often extremely inappropriate for toddlers and young children.
Unfortunately, a few individuals (who are not from New Hampshire and who seem to have a poor understanding of the state’s liberty movement) have violated the NAP so profoundly that they have forced me to defend drag queen story hour for children, a position that I take no joy in assuming. It is discouraging that so few people (especially outside of New Hampshire) seem to possess the intellectual capacity to both disapprove of something while at the same time not believing in using violence to stop the thing from occurring. I addressed this critical issue in a prior article. For example, I disapprove of smoking cigarettes. I see no value in it and I think it is horrifically unhealthy for the smoker and those around them. However, I am mature, tolerant, and peaceful enough to refrain from using violence against smokers. I also don’t have any desire to murder smokers. If everyone used violence to impose their preferences on others, mass murder would decimate the world population. Violence must always be the very last resort.
Why can’t we live and let live?
When faced with angry opponents of events like a drag queen story hour, many progressives, libertarians, and voluntaryists genuinely ask this question. I understand where they are coming from. In almost every scenario, I believe that people should mind their own business if they encounter something they are not happy about. However, I also empathize with the conservatives who take serious issue with these events. They believe that if an adult is harming a child, it is tantamount to an offense against society or the exploitation of a person who cannot consent, and that this itself essentially violates the NAP. In fact, I believed this exactly just a few short years ago.
So, as is often the case, we are faced with a spectrum. We have bland performances for adults on one side, and we have sexual violations of children on the other end. Each person sees each event uniquely. So…should we all try to kill each other?
On a recent episode of the Free Talk Live radio show, I offered my basic two-prong solution:
First, we must acknowledge that every human sees every event from their own perspective. Their every thought results from a combination of their genetics, brain, upbringing, environment, mood, and who knows how many other factors. We need a major buffer before resorting to violence. I shared the first thing that came to my mind: “We need to agree that we will not even consider entering the realm of actual violence unless the act rises to the level of severe child abuse.” This is not to say that I endorse moderate child abuse, but we need a high standard before people start shooting other peaceful adults reading to children with their and their parents’ consent. I know many people and even my own relatives who would consider every single parent at Porcfest to be engaged in child abuse simply by allowing their children to be at an event where drugs and weapons may be openly viewed (not to mention other adult themes found at Porcfest). Should my manyJewish cousins start shooting up Porcfest because all its attendees are child abusers? I certainly do not think so! By forcing these people to stop and truly consider whether the actions in question rise to the level of severe abuse of a child, I believe that we could avoid a lot of distress.
Some people are so passionate in their beliefs that they indeed believe events like a drag queen story hour is an example of severe child abuse. That is their right. We are all free to think and say whatever we desire. Still, I am not very worried that most people would even entertain the notion of going to that place to engage in violence against a drag queen. How could I be so sure? Millions of pro-life individuals (myself included) believe that abortion is the tragic taking of a life (homicide). Yet, it is extremely rare for anyone to even come close to engaging in violence against those who receive or perform abortions.
Which brings us to our next issue:
For whatever reason, the further away from an occurrence one is, the easier one finds it to be tolerant. I naturally would be more upset by a homicide next door than in Syria. I wish murder didn’t exist, and I hate hearing of any innocent human being killed, but it bothers me more when it’s closer to home. So, those who are extremely worried about encountering a cross-dressing individual may skip Porcfest. Others may simply attend but avoid the nude area and the drag shows (if there actually are any).
But separation has a whole other level. Those who do not want to share a state with cohorts who commit unbearably undesirable deeds should consider moving to a state that fits their values. Federalism is essentially dead, but peaceful separation (secession) is inevitable. With 50 states to choose from, everyone should be able to find a state that is at least tolerable for their own personal preference. I would likely remain in New Hampshire, because it is the most free state, although I am displeased with some of the progressive cultural elements within the state. I don’t like the drag stuff. But I also don’t have to bring my son to those events. The socially liberal libertarians may be very displeased that some libertarians circumcise their baby boys. But because they are mature enough to assess the situation logically, they conclude that such actions are not severe child abuse, so they do not even think about using violence.
During the call with Free Talk Live, the hosts and I had an excellent and productive conversation. They insisted that dressing in drag and dressing to be pretty have zero sexual elements. I find that premise very hard to comprehend and I think I told them as much. Many (if not most) drag queens seem to dress with outfits that I would consider sexually enticing if worn by real women. These same hosts generally argue that nudity has nothing to do with sexuality, as well. Again, I don’t see it that way. After some discussion, we agreed to disagree.
Social liberals often ask conservatives whether they really think their children will turn gay or trans after being exposed to one drag queen for one second. “If a drag queen turns them gay, either you and your conservative religion failed to raise them straight or they were really gay all along, and both scenarios demonstrate that seeing the drag show is not the issue here!” is a statement I hear quite often. That is not really how I see the issue. Raping a child won’t make them gay, but it is a very wrong thing to do. A drag queen reading to a child is obviously a far cry from rape, but it demonstrates that a behavior could be inappropriate on its face despite not necessarily having permanent effects on the victim. Parents have a right to be concerned about other adults interacting with their children inappropriately for reasons other than ‘being afraid that they’ll turn the kids gay’.
What about pageants, Ariana Grande, and TV?
Now this is a question posed by my opponents on the left that I do find valid. As far back as I can remember, I did believe that pageants demonstrating how attractive little girls are, sexual displays on TV, and pop singers putting on porn shows during their ‘songs’ are very problematic and should not be supported by decent people.
On the opposite end, there are many progressives who believe that it is abusive to raise children to be religious fundamentalists, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, etc. Depriving children of technology, the opposite gender, various foods, exercise, information, education, and other important experiences could be viewed by rational people as indicators of abuse. As I mentioned on FTL, there are many parents who consider it abusive to circumcise babies and almost as many who consider it abusive to not circumcise babies. How could these people possibly coexist in one state?
I generally believe that whichever side threatens or actually initiates violence almost always loses the battle, the war, and the moral high ground. Eschewing violence, terrible behavior can be addressed by speaking to people and trying to convince them that they are wrong or, if need be, even ostracizing them.
Make no mistake; I will continue to speak out about all behavior that I find highly inappropriate, including drag queen story hour and child drag shows. But I will do it with my words and not with fists or bullets. I am extremely hesitant to resort to violence. If you are already in New Hampshire, you probably understand our tolerant and mature culture already. If you are not here, come for a visit before you presume to be the all-knowing God-king of morality and perfection. Or don’t visit. Live free or die!
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.