Recently, I posted a link to my facebook page about a rather thin model getting fired for fatness. I criticized the businessmen at Ralph Lauren , and I called their business image “idiotic.” And rightly so: Overly skinny women are unnatural, unattractive freaks. Promoting that image is idiotic. Aside from the morality of it, I doubt that such an image even makes good business sense. Before long, though, one of my friends commented on my facebook post. He wrote that he had trouble understanding my position. He knew that I liked business and money and capitalism. It blew his mind to hear me criticize a company for making a business decision.
My friend obviously demonstrated a flawed (although common) thought process. That is, he imagined that capitalism meant I should never disapprove of business activity. But such is not capitalism. Capitalism does not mean that you approve of everything businesses do. After all, companies periodically go out of business. Thus, some of them are making dumb decisions at various points. Capitalism simply means embracing freedom.
I think many leftists often fail to grasp a basic concept about freedom: Advocating liberty does not mean you approve of every action that will result from that freedom. Take, for example, religion. I can confidently condemn every religion in the world as idiotic except for evangelical, Protestant, free-grace Christianity. Does this mean that I want to imprison people for failing to embrace the correct religion? (Bring out the Inquisition!) No. I may try to persuade people to adopt the right path, but unlike the leftists, I believe in freedom.
Leftists, unfortunately, cannot generally distinguish personal preferences from government action. That is why leftists have a tendency to fear any strongly stated opinions. If you make a moral judgment in front of a leftist, he either strongly supports you (if he agrees) or begins to fear (if he disagrees) that you plan to take over the government and impose your view on everyone. He feels that way because if he had a moral passion, he would act in such a manner.
Overall, my views about freedom to tend to shock people today. They were fairly common around the time when the country was founded. But now, people are more used to hearing “liberals” who support government intervention in every aspect of people’s lives — based on the idea that such intervention will produce utopia according to their moral preferences. People are too used to hearing “libertarians” who oppose government intervention on every issue (e.g., punishing drug use) — not simply because freedom outweighs the immorality, but rather out of a conviction that nothing (e.g., drug use) is actually immoral. That is, most libertarians support legalized drugs, gay marriage, abortion, easy divorce, etc. not simply out of political pragmatism, but rather out of moral apathy. If they believed drugs were evil, they would prohibit them (regardless of the economics or political wisdom). But they do not believe anything is evil, so they prohibit nothing.
Today, freedom derives primarily from personal preferences rather than from ideals about God-given rights. People thus find it unusual when you say something like, “That idea is completely idiotic…but although I will berate you fiercely for your stupidity, I have no intention of destroying your free will to be a fool.” Such a statement simply baffles them.