The following is the latest Fireside chat from Libertarian Party of Florida U.S. Senate candidate Augustus Invictus’ Facebook page: August 7th, 2016 (Invictus has repeatedly challenged his primary opponent Paul Stanton to a one-on-one debate, and Stanton refused every time):
Good Evening, Friends. Tonight I would like to educate you on a longstanding libertarian concept called “the marketplace of ideas.” For it would seem to anyone watching the unfolding of events in Florida that no Libertarian in our State has ever heard the term, as my opponent has refused for three months now to debate me, and his supporters have justified the decision while simultaneously clamoring for the Republicans and Democrats to debate Gary Johnson.
(1) The debate scheduled was an illegal fundraiser;
When I said the event would be free; that we could have scheduled the debate at his convenience had he simply responded to our messages; that the debate was actually scheduled after the conclusion of the business meeting; and that I, too, was a delegate to the Convention; he simply responded that the business meeting was underway and that I was being rude.
It was not until many weeks later that his campaign team brainstormed the idea that debating me was undesirable because it would give me an opportunity to voice my positions. [cf. http://ipatriot.com/florida-liberta…] These people, who consider themselves the guards of true libertarianism, are so blinded by self-righteousness that they cannot see their own hypocrisy. For if there is any position so central to libertarianism as to be inseparable from the movement, it is the allowance of differing opinions.
Second, the suppression of an opinion – whether by the government or by society or by an individual – is antithetical to the very concept of liberty. As John Stuart Mill wrote in his book On Liberty:
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
Those who desire to suppress [an opinion], of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. Its condemnation may be allowed to rest on this common argument, not the worse for being common.
However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.
This fact is evident not only in Stanton’s refusal to debate his primary opponent, but also in his campaign’s reliance on brainless sound bites and meaningless memes.
“[Liberty] is not the strong trampling the weak, but the empowerment of all.” Is this what passes for a strong policy statement these days?
“Liberty is not beating the drums of war. It is resisting authoritarianism.” Have you ever heard such a trite slogan?
Justice William Douglas, writing the concurring opinion in United States v. Rumley in 1953, first coined the term “the market place of ideas.” [See https://supreme.justia.com/cases/fe…] Here was a case about a publisher of political books who, long story short, displeased the federal Congress. Justice Douglas wrote:
Some may like what his group publishes; others may disapprove. These tracts may be the essence of wisdom to some; to others, their point of view and philosophy may be anathema. To some ears, their words may be harsh and repulsive; to others, they may carry the hope of the future. We have here a publisher who, through books and pamphlets, seeks to reach the minds and hearts of the American people. He is different in some respects from other publishers. But the differences are minor. Like the publishers of newspapers, magazines, or books, this publisher bids for the minds of men in the market place of ideas.
For those Libertarians who value free markets above all else, this should ring loudly in your ears. For suppression of the speech of one candidate in favor of another is an egregious affront to the free market in ideas, whether that suppression is carried out by the Federal Government, the State of Florida, the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Florida, a communist group, or a band of hateful Party members.
If you support Libertarianism, then you support, ipso facto, the marketplace of ideas. One cannot stand without the other. And those who defend my opponent’s decision to slander me while simultaneously avoiding a debate are doing a great disservice to both. Your candidate may win the primary with these underhanded tactics; but neither he nor you will have any leg to stand on when you attack the Republicans and the Democrats for doing the same thing to Libertarians at large, whether in the coming general election or in any election that follows.
We have twenty-three days left until the primary election. On August 30th, Libertarian voters will decide upon their nominee for the United States Senate. Who will be the person to run against Marco Rubio? The person freely slandered and denied an opportunity to defend himself – or the person so afraid to debate that slander is the only tactic he can afford?
And if Stanton wins this primary while refusing to debate the man he slanders on a daily basis, the Libertarian Party need never again refer to itself as the “Party of Principle.”