Sunday, March 22, 2009

Freedom Fighters

Top 10 Libertarian Celebrities

Everybody knows that Hollywood loves the Democrats and that the Country/Western music scene is full of Republicans, but who are the leading celebrities who are considered libertarian? There are more than you might think. I made this top ten list from a much longer list of well-known libertarians to be found at the Advocastes for Self-Government website:


Over the years, Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood has uttered many memorable lines in many memorable movies. "Go ahead, make my day," in Sudden Impact. "You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" in Dirty Harry.

But the most revealing line Eastwood ever uttered may have been to USA Today (January 25, 2004), when he said, "I like the libertarian view, which is to leave everyone alone." The quote confirmed that Eastwood is not just one of Hollywood's most honored and longest-lasting stars, but perhaps America's highest-profile libertarian.


If Denis Leary's only claim to fame was "The Speech," he'd still be a hero to many libertarians. Leary delivered "The Speech" in the 1993 science-fiction movie, Demolition Man.

"I'm the enemy because I like to think. I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I'm the kind of guy that could sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecue ribs or the side order of gravy fries? I want high cholesterol. I would eat bacon and butter and buckets of cheese. Okay? I want to smoke Cuban cigars the size of Cincinnati in the nonsmoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green Jell-O all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I might suddenly feel the need to. Okay, pal?"

While perhaps as much libertine as libertarian, Leary's speech perfectly encapsulated the persona of the Massachusetts-born actor and comedian; he's a rebel outsider who relishes the opportunity to defy authority.


James D. Watson, the Nobel Prize-winning co-discoverer of the DNA molecule and one of history's most important scientists, says he is "very libertarian."

In the January 2007 issue of Esquire magazine, Watson declared: "I'm basically a libertarian. I don't want to restrict anyone from doing anything unless it's going to harm me. I don't want to pass a law stopping someone from smoking. It's just too dangerous. You lose the concept of a free society."


Add Mark Cuban -- billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team -- to the list of people who credit novelist Ayn Rand with inspiring them to become American success stories.

Cuban read Rand's The Fountainhead "three complete times and untold number of little snippets and segments," he said in an interview on C-SPAN (March 26, 2006). He first read the book in high school, and it taught him that "it doesn't matter what everybody else thinks -- it's how you see yourself and what your own dreams are."

Rand's freedom-loving philosophy apparently also encouraged Cuban to become a libertarian. In the Austin American-Statesman (May 19, 2006), Cuban said his politics are "independent, leaning to libertarian. I vote for the candidate who I think will do the least."


Call Billie Joe Armstrong a punk, a neo-punk, or a post-punk popster -- but however you describe him, there's no denying that his band Green Day has had an enormous influence on popular music. However, what fans may not know about Green Day's frontman, the funny and charismatic Armstrong, is that he is a registered Libertarian voter in California.


Imagine a libertarian utopia. Now imagine that utopia a million years in the future. That's what science fiction writer John C. Wright does in his Golden Age trilogy -- and his daring feat of imagination has earned him respect as perhaps "this fledgling century's most important new SF talent" (according to Publisher's Weekly), and acclaim as one of the genre's most exciting libertarian authors.

In an interview on the blog, Wright said the books are a rebuttal to socialist science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950), who also wrote epic, galaxy-spanning novels that took place in the distant future. "My ideas of law and economics are the opposite of Mr. Stapledon's, and so my utopia has in it everything he would leave out of his," Wright said. "He proposes a communist utopia, blissfully without private property. I propose a libertarian utopia, blissfully without public property."


On February 4, 1998, Roy Innis, nationally known civil rights figure and head of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) joined the Libertarian Party. CORE is the third-largest civil rights organization in America, and differs from more traditional, left-leaning civil rights organizations in its emphasis on individual liberty -- CORE's mission statement says in part that "the most fundamental freedom for all people is the right to govern themselves."


Las Vegas headliners Penn & Teller are often described as the "bad boys of magic." You could also call them the "bad boys of liberty" -- since both the bigger, louder half (Penn Jillette) and the smaller, silent half (Raymond Joseph Teller) of the award-winning magic team are self-proclaimed libertarians.

As befitting his "loud" status, Jillette talks about his political beliefs at the drop of a rabbit-filled hat. In an interview with the Boston Phoenix (July 2-8, 2004), he said, "Well, I'm a real total-freedom nut, a libertarian, and I'm one of those crazy optimists. Let people do what they want and everything will be okay."

On the Web site, Jillette said, "I'm a hardcore libertarian. I want everything legal." (October 13, 2003.) And in the Cato Institute's Regulation magazine, he described himself as "a Libertarian, pro-freedom, governs-least-governs-best, free market advocate."


It's easy to see a libertarian streak in many of the characters movie star Kurt Russell has portrayed over the years. That libertarian streak is no coincidence; Russell himself is one of Hollywood highest-profile libertarians -- one who has talked about his pro-liberty beliefs on numerous occasions.

Russell wasn't always a libertarian. He told the Toronto Sun (August 4, 1996), "I was brought up as a Republican. But when I realized that at the end of the day there wasn't much difference between a Democrat and Republican, I became a libertarian."


Stern has more than once -- both on the air and in print -- explicitly called himself a libertarian or made statements that were strongly libertarian in nature.

For example in 1984, Stern said, "I'm for personal freedom. I'm for freedom of the marketplace." In 1991, when a caller suggested that Stern pay more attention to the Libertarian Party, Stern answered, "I guess I really am a libertarian..." In the early 1990s, Stern called for privatizing many government functions and quipped, "If Donald Trump delivered the mail, you could send letters for 12 cents -- and also gamble with the stamps."

Smart Move

Finally, the Obama Administration is making a policy change we can applaud. According to the L.A. Times:

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department has no plans to prosecute pot dispensaries that are operating legally under state laws in California and a dozen other states -- a development that medical marijuana advocates and civil libertarians hailed as a sweeping change in federal drug policy.

In recent months, Obama administration officials have indicated that they planned to take a hands-off approach to such clinics, but Holder's comments -- made at a wide-ranging briefing with reporters -- offered the most detailed explanation to date of the changing priorities toward the controversial prosecutions.

The Bush administration targeted medical marijuana distributors even in states that had passed laws allowing use of the drug for medical purposes by cancer patients, those dealing with chronic pain or other serious ailments.

While this is an improvement, it is still ridiculous that drugs that are almost totally harmful, like booze and cigarettes, are legal while marijuana, which has medicinal value, remains under government attack.

Gypsy Heart

This afternoon I stopped in at the Gypsy Dog Gallery in downtown Amherst.

It has this weird contraption in front that doesn't appear to do anything except look cool.

The gallery is named after a dog called Gypsy, shown here with her human named Chip.

The gallery has lots of weird and wonderful art.

Stop by and check it out.

Two Irishmen were sitting in a pub having a beer and watching the brothel across the street. They saw a Baptist minister walk into the brothel and one of them said, “Aye, ‘tis a shame to see a man of the cloth goin’ bad.”

Then they saw a Rabbi enter the brothel and the other Irishman said, “Aye, ‘tis a shame to see that the Jews are fallin’ victim to temptation.”

Then they saw a Catholic priest enter the brothel and one of the Irishmen said, “What a terrible pity - one of the girl’s must be quite ill.”


Anonymous said...

Dennis Miller, PJ O'Rourke, Drew Carey, Tom Selleck, John Stossel... There are a lot more than people even realize.

Joey B said...

Your photo of John C. Wright is, in fact, of my friend Scott Fischer, a children's book illustrator.

Joey B said...

Ahh... that explains it. Scott did the cover to Titans of Chaos. You know he lives in the valley, right?

Anonymous said...

Billie Joe Armstrong is NOT a Libertarian, at least not as how it's understood by the US Libertarian party, which is a right-leaning ideology. Armstrong is strongly left-leaning in his politics.

Tommy said...

Joe, your friend is better looking than the author and local to boot, so I'll leave that picture up.

B.J. Armstrong is registered on the Califorinia voting rolls as Libertarian. Why he chose to legally declare himself a libertarian instead of a Democrat, Independent or Republican is something he would have to explain. Armstrong was definitely anti-Bush, but so was most libertarians, at least until now, when it is starting to appear that Obama is much worse.

However, libertarians are neither left nor right leaning. They favor free markets, as Republicans often do, but are extremely liberal on nearly all other issues. That is one reason why they are not more successful politically - conservatives regard libertarians as too liberal and liberals consider them too conservative.

Which is a pretty good indications that the libertarians have probably got it down politically pretty much just exactly perfect.

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