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    Change of heart

    Today, you can’t read any blog anywhere, it seems, without running into a discussion of LGF’s Charles Johnson and his recent climactic statement that he was finally forced to break with the Right. I wasn’t going to post about it—I heard enough conversion stories during my religious upbringing to last me a lifetime, and this one isn’t particularly revealing—but the Unreligious Right has a very well done point-by-point response. His introduction, in part, goes like this:

    Lest any LGF defenders think this is a typical knee-jerk right-wing response, let’s quickly run down some of my positions. I probably agree with Johnson on many issues. For anyone new here, aside from being an atheist, I’m pro-choice, pro-gay marriage & strongly pro-gay rights in general, pro-immigration and in favor of some sort of amnesty for illegals, and pro-legalization of drugs & prostitution. With that out of the way, let’s consider Johnson’s points, and why I laugh at them.

    And then he does. What I most agree with is what I take to be the UNRR’s central point: that even Johnson’s complaints that are legitimate involve nothing whatsoever that’s substantively a new development, so it’s absurd for him to declare now that he feels morally obliged to ditch the right without explaining what’s changed about his own thinking. Seriously, I realize it’s easy for me to say this, being a libertarian who’s alienated from both major parties and ideological poles and all, but in blogosphere terms, the right has been very good to Charles Johnson. If his change of heart is really the product of genuine soul-searching, he’d be doing a service to readers by explaining exactly what he now believes and why it’s different from before. As it stands, he just sounds like an attention-whore.

    5 Responses to “Change of heart”

    1. Rondi says:

      And I think a number of people on the “right” (using blogosphere terms here), such as myself, yourself (and many others) have expressed how uncomfortable they are with much of what Johnson lists. But do you have to make a formal announcement about it? I assume if someone reads my columns or my blog regularly, they know that already. It seems an odd thing to do.

    2. Sean says:

      I think I could understand it if the angle had been, “Look, I keep getting links and comments that accuse me of this or that specific belief just because I’m seen in general as being ‘on the right.’ Let me set you all straight about where it is that ‘the right’ and I part ways.” Johnson presumably does get a lot of feedback from people who don’t really know what he believes about this or that but are willing to make boneheaded assumptions.

      His actual post, though, sounds a lot like that spate of dramatic de-linking people went through six or seven years ago. The whole I simply cahn’t beah to be associated with such people routine sounds (as you imply and others have said outright) like self-aggrandizement.

    3. Connie says:

      Charles who?

    4. Eric Scheie says:

      I have spent years explaining in detail what I don’t like about social conservatism, and I have explained why I disagree with certain conservatives, and consider some to be so beyond the pale that they don’t even qualify as conservatives. But it would be the height of arrogance to generalize about all conservatives because I can’t stand (to name one example) Michael Savage. That would constitute unfair stereotyping — precisely the sort of thing I call bigotry.

      It takes a lot more time to spell out specific disagreements than to just create a big category and lump unrelated people together as “the right” but that’s the way a lot of people think.

      I’m against socialism, the war on drugs, the war on guns, the war on sex, the war on CO2, so I don’t fit neatly into right or left, but as a libertarian I’m more right than left, although I am acutely aware that I don’t meet the conservative litmus test. When it comes to voting, I hold my nose and vote for the conservatives. It gets a little tedious being considered a RINO, though. Or being told that you lack principles because you don’t agree with other people’s!

      I can tell you what I think about any issue, but that does not solve the problem of what to call myself. To call myself a conservative would not be honest. Libertarian as a default position is about as accurate and honest as I can get.

      I have said what I think and will continue, but I am too old for public tantrums. “Breaking” with “the Right” sounds melodramatic and histrionic.

    5. Sean says:

      Well, Eric, I think people on our side paint “the left” with a broad brush quite frequently, too, and often (like “the right”) it deserves it. But yes, it’s necessary to be very careful when doing so not to get sloppy. Johnson himself has been called Islamophobic and the like for years, after all, so you would think that he’d have enough perspective not to spazz the way he seems to have done. Since I don’t read LGF often, it’s possible that he’s been methodically explaining his dissatisfaction with the right for some time now, but taken on its own terms, that post certainly sounds like what he thinks are his best shots.

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