This past week, author Charles Murray was shouted off the stage at a Vermont college before his speech could begin. Murray is often portrayed in the press and with some in the public as being a libertarian; however, many Libertarians would disagree. Murray is really a conservative and not necessarily a Libertarian.
It was shortly after joining the Libertarian Party in 1996 and I began exploring Libertarian circles that Charles Murray’s book What It Means to be a Libertarian came out (1997). With many of my new Libertarian friends, the book was met with dismay, as it was thought to confuse the public as to what it meant to be a Libertarian. There are many valid Libertarian points brought forth in Murray’s book; however, there are more which are clearly non-Libertarian. It is also important to point out that this was his own personal interpretation of what it means to be a libertarian.
While Murray is no stranger to controversy and contrary thinking, it is important to note that disrupting his speech is inexcusable. It is the opposite of what should have happened this past Thursday in Vermont. The “protestors” should have let him have his say, then hit him up during the Q & A with tough questions or comments. The students could have been prepared with contrary arguments; instead, they chose a far less productive means of influence. Contrary ideas should be challenged and met with skepticism; this is the best way to find whether those ideas hold water or are full of holes. But to shout down those ideas indiscriminately does a disservice to all.
It is because of people like Murray and yes, those students who protested on Thursday in Vermont, that there is such confusion about Libertarianism. It is why I am sometimes stupidly called a racist for being a Libertarian when racism is the antithesis of Libertarianism. It is because people do not take the time to sit down and have a civil discourse that we have this divide.
This is not to say Murray does not have some valid Libertarian views, most Americans do as well, it is simply to say, that Murray is not a straight up Libertarian.