Monday, September 09, 2013
GLIL meets in Washington, liveliest gathering in my experience since the "good old days" of the 1990's
Late Sunday afternoon, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL) had its liveliest gathering (to my knowledge) since the late 1990’s, before I moved to Minneapolis (in 1997, to return in 2003). The group gathered at the D.I.K. bar and then migrated down 17th Street a block to Annie’s steakhouse, where I had not eaten for years. We got a table upstairs.
The gathering had been intended to celebrate the Supreme Court victory in DOMA, and the 2011 repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”.
Early in the gathering, Tom Palmer, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, came by and distributed free copies of his new little book “Why Liberty: Your Life, Your Choices, Your Future”. The book includes essays by John Stossel, James Padilioni, Alexander McCobin, and Sloane Frost, as well as Palmer himself (the editor). The essay by McCobin mentions the concept of "fraternalism", the idea that people should be held responsible for the lives of others even when they did nothing (like having a baby) by personal choice that created an obligation to do so. Of course, there is also a difference between saying government should influence or legislate such an obligation (like filial responsibility laws) and the practical reality that people need to take care of one another when free. We did get into some discussion of lower birthrates and the retirement criis.
During the dinner, however, some of the additional discussion took on counter-libertarian themes, partly at my instigation. We got into the question as to whether government could regulate some behaviors to protect public health, when there are legitimate concepts like “herd immunity”. Back in the 1980’s, some very dangerous “public health” arguments had been circulated against gay men because of the AIDS crisis. We also got into the danger of terrorism, and there was a general feeling that strikes in Syria could make a catastrophic attack back within the homeland United States more likely. We got into areas like how the power grid is not prepared well for solar storms or possible enemy EMP attack, and we seem to be sitting ducks for bioterror. There was even the opinion expressed that Buce Ivins was not the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks in 2001 and that he had committed suicide in 2008 in a way that innocent people sometimes do if they believe that they have been hopelessly targeted and bullied. There was the view that the attack on American Media in Florida really had been the work of Al Qaeda, attracted by the name of the company as iconic like “World Trade Center”.
So all this was interesting. Surprisingly, there was no discussion of the NSA-Snowden-Wikileaks scandal or of the anti-gay law in Russia.
Here’s a little aside: I couldn’t find any copies of the Metro Weekly anywhere this weekend, in bars (I stopped at JR’s, too), or around Metro stops. The website still works and has articles dated as late as Sept. 6, 2013. Does anyone know why?