Focus on Your Own Damn Family: Thoughts on Social Conservatism

I think of all the political tendencies, prevalent in today’s America, social conservatism has got to be the one of the ones, I most dislike.  To be clear by social conservatism I mean the view that government should be actively promoting, endorsing, or imposing “traditional values” or “family values” on society.  That is to say people who want the government to have a role in pushing: compulsory monogamy, opposition to homosexuality, rigid gender roles, abstinence only education, opposition to premarital sex, government promotion of the nuclear family, the endorsement over any given religion over, other religions or irreligion.

I think getting the government involved in these things is complete authoritarian bullshit.  These are all areas of our lives where government should be completely neutral.  What kind of family I live, who I have sex with, what moral outlook I develop, are my own business and not the government.  Furthermore I do not want my tax money going to promote values that I do not hold or agree with and I think this goes for everyone.  I am willing to grant that it may be necessary for the government to impose it’s values by protecting the liberty and justly acquired property of each individual, but legislating morality and engaging in social engineering beyond this is problematic, especially when it is as blatantly petty, intrusive and fascistic as that which is all to often advocated by social conservatives (I do of course acknowledge that other ideologies have similar problems too).

It strikes me as hypocritical that these types on one hand declare they are “not statist” or favor keeping government small, but have no problem with the government intruding into our personal lives, and personal systems of values.  That said, I do recognize the fact that there are some people who hold culturally conservative values, that do not wish to use the state to impose them on the rest of us.  While, I often find their beliefs objectionable, I am happy that they are willing to compete in the market place of ideas.  I may even recognize that they have a point or two.  For example I do find indiscriminate unprotected sex, with complete disregard for the consequences harmful, but I disagree with the notion that this means everyone should remain virgins until the day they are married and only then have sex with their spouse.  This is clearly an unrealistic and potentially harmful expectation.  That said, if you want to live that way yourself, and encourage others to, then you should be free to, so long as you are not using the state to keep the rest of in line with your prohibitions.

So while I am dedicated to combating harmful tendencies with in social conservatism, in the free market of ideas, I do not favor using the state to combat it, and I would am happy to dialogue with and work toward shared goals with social conservatives willing to do the same.

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