The Best Guardian Is Freedom

Politicians love to talk about our children. They love to drag them into every scheme to increase their power and expand government. It's always "for the children," always about the kids.

But if the government is so concerned about our kids, why do they keep getting in the way of the most basic obligation we have to our youth – their protection.

When I look at cases of children being harmed, I can't help noticing that in most cases, the government entrusted with protecting our kids is working against us, making it more difficult to safeguard our children.

If you turned on the news recently you were treated to another Columbine-style mass murder at a school in Minnesota. Following the state's "gun-free schools" edict, no one was able to halt the slaughter. Here in Iowa, a young girl was abducted from her home and murdered by a previously convicted sex-offender paroled under Iowa's penal code. A girl in Florida was abducted under similar circumstances just one month earlier.

These and other cases highlight how difficult it is for the government to do what it promises, and how state action often ends up doing the opposite of what sensible individuals would do if given a little bit of freedom.

Putting kids in danger

It's especially frustrating when kids get involved. I have a two of my own, and although they are incredibly messy and often quite irritating, I still consider it my primary duty to protect them from harm.

Thus, I was very much chagrined to learn that a registered sex-offender is taking classes at the college where I teach, and where on most afternoons my children roam unsupervised, playing in empty classrooms and climbing trees on campus while I finish up the day's work.

There was a wee bit of hand-wringing at our faculty meeting when this was brought up, but not concerning the safety of my children or the scores of other kids that cross our campus every day on their way to school just a block away.

On the contrary, the main concern was for the child-rapist and our need to conform to his rights as set forth by the state and federal government.

To make matters worse, upon further investigation, I discovered that there were several other sex offenders who were registered in town, including two that live within a block of my home. Now what am I supposed to do? "Don't talk to strangers" only goes so far.

My instincts tell me to form a torch-and-pitchfork mob and chase these people out of town like Frankenstein's monster. Unfortunately, the same government that disarms teachers and leaves schools vulnerable to gun-toting maniacs leaves me with no avenue to remove child-molesters from the vicinity of my own children.

If the good people of my community were not constrained by perverse law, what do you think would happen to the local pedophiles? I'm guessing that at the end of the day, most of them would be run out of town on a rail.

And that's the way it should be. Reason compels me to conclude that if a dangerous creature is loose in town, it's my right to expel the thing. At the very least, I should be able to pack up and move to a place where people think like I do and are free to act on their values.

But that's not the way it is. Not when the state distorts justice to the point where taking logical steps to protect your family is a crime.

Liberty, not license

Such an assault on a person's individual liberty may be surprising coming from a libertarian. This is due mostly to misperceptions about what a philosophy of freedom entails. We are our own worst enemy in some cases. For example, there is a Libertarian Party bumper-sticker that says: "Pro-choice on everything."

We know what that means, but I think it sends the wrong message to non-libertarians. Thus, there persists in many quarters the perception that libertarians don't oppose aberrant behavior; that we are the "anything goes" political ideology.

This is simply not true. Libertarians are not pacifists. We do not condone crime or violence and we are not tolerant of child abuse or child pornography. In a libertarian society, there would be provinces where such things were strictly forbidden. Under democracy, on the other hand, we are forced to tolerate the level of such behavior that the government tells us we must tolerate.

Many American liberals, and a few libertarians, contribute to this problem by holding to the notion that all people are worthy of equal amounts of respect. In truth, there are a number of individuals who are barely worthy of any respect at all. Murderers and child-rapists are at the top of the list. These people forfeited their human rights the moment they engaged in their heinous crimes. I am not obligated to respect their rights to life, liberty, and property any longer.

Perhaps you don't agree – maybe you feel that child-molesters can be rehabilitated and shouldn't have to live the rest of their lives with the stigma of their crimes. Fine. You and like-minded people can welcome them with open arms when you feel they are ready to rejoin society. I hope your community is a success.

To me, however, living in close proximity to a child abuser only invites tragedy and misery. Folks like me ought to be free to kick these individuals out of sight.

Libertarians believe in limited government and the freedom to peacefully live our lives according to our values. Not raping children is a value I hold and I demand that others living nearby also adhere to that standard. Only the government stands in my way, forcing my children to play in the shadow of child molesters.

In a free society I'd be free to treat a pedophile like I would treat a poisonous snake that crawled into my yard. I would dispatch it with haste and celebrate its demise as a worthy and noble action.

April 1, 2005