First, let’s get clear on what kind of censorship we oppose. We oppose any censorship by government, because only the government has the “authority” to legally use force against you for expressing your ideas. Your neighbor might kick you off his property if you say something he dislikes, or a privately owned newspaper can refuse to publish your letter to the editor, but neither should legally use force against you to shut you up.
Norman’s Note: I have been blessed to get to know Doug Stuart over the last year, and what a pleasure it is to welcome him as the next addition to LCC’s arsenal of writers on liberty! It really is amazing to see how the philosophy of liberty affects each of us differently, and Doug has a great perspective on how true liberty is a means of lifting people up. Welcome, Doug!
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with parents who raised me and my siblings to work hard, care about those in need, and never feel entitled to that which isn’t yours. My parents provided a stable and secure home life where we were taught family values and sound theology, but it was always in my nature to question everything. Perhaps I never grew past the “Why?” phase of my toddler years, but I always had an incredulous attitude toward those in authority. Because of this I have always appeared to be a natural contrarian. If there is a status quo, I will question it. (As you can already see, I was well-suited to be a libertarian!)Throughout my life I’ve constantly sought ways to teach others through speaking or writing. I attended Bible college and graduated with a degree in Communications Ministries. In 2008 I received my Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Seminary, and I currently work at a well-known technology company. I’ve always looked forward to having a family so we could demonstrate Christ’s love to the world. Shiree, my best friend and wife, is a wonderfully gracious and loving companion. We spend lots of time talking about life, the universe, and everything. Our young children have a zest for life and their laughter often fills our house with joy.
After college I began reading more about how the gospel affects societies. I began to ponder how the “good news” to the world was to be carried out by Jesus’ followers. I discovered that the gospel was bigger than my personal salvation experience, and that if Christians were to be a blessing to the world, we must revolutionize it with the love of Jesus. So to learn more I read books and listened to sermons by people like N.T. Wright (my favorite theologian), Tim Keller (my favorite preacher), Brian McLaren (my favorite contrarian), and others who were committed to a gospel that produced the fruit of social change.
But while I was on board with the social justice movement and its theology, I was very unsettled by the practical solutions being proposed by its advocates. Something seemed amiss. It seemed as though their solutions were neither viable nor ethical; sometimes they seemed unchristian. So with questions about social justice swirling in my head, a still small voice said, “If you’re going to understand how to change the world, you have to learn how the world works. And to do that, you need to learn some basic economics.”
My first book about economics was Bob Murphy’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. Then I read Thomas Sowell and Ron Paul, who—like thousands of young libertarians—marched me straight into the Mises Institute (virtually, of course) and other organizations like it. If it were not for the free podcasts and reading materials available from places like mises.org and fee.org, I’d probably have given up the “dismal science.” Though I had been naturally predisposed toward liberty, the Austrian school captured my passion for liberty in all areas of life. I also discovered that economics was the missing component to proposing truly just social solutions.
I am not passionate about liberty because I believe every politician is an evil bandit or because I simply want to be left alone. It’s not me I’m worried about. I’m not poor, I have no debt, and I have talents in many areas capable of providing income for my family. And even after the State takes 20% of my income, I can still make ends meet. Just about every reason why I’m passionate about liberty has to do with everyone else. In order to advocate for social justice in the world, being a libertarian is the only way for me to not violate the rights of one group while fighting for the rights of another.
If there were a specific passion I have right now, it is to help convince those interested in social justice to embrace liberty and to see the benefits to society that come by embracing and promoting freedom to all. Libertarians, I believe, have the truly progressive ideas.
I also have been blogging my thoughts for over six years at LiveLoud.net.