Love us or hate us, you can’t say we aren’t trying
By: Mary Hunton

There has been a bit of an uproar concerning our latest shenanigan. If I thought the Abolish ASUN festival was getting us enough attention as it was, making our Abolish ASUN petition public to the wonderful world of the internet was the icing on top of the cake. By announcing the festival we got a lot of oohs and ahhs. By announcing the petition I’ve noticed a different trend. People seem to either really support us or really oppose us. For those who support us-thank you! I’m glad you see where we’re coming from. For those who don’t-thank you, too! By being so avidly against our cause you are inadvertently raising more awareness about it.

Regardless, this blog post isn’t meant to defend our position. There really isn’t much I need to say that hasn’t been said already. We know where we stand and why we do. Mostly this blog post is to point out that, no matter how much people may disagree with what we are doing, at least we are doing something. Believing in a cause one thing-acting on it is quite another.

From the comments on a variety of different venues (Facebook, The Nevada Sagebrush, email, our own site), I’ve come to the conclusion that most people don’t understand what we’re trying to do. After all, we are just a bunch of “self-glorifying dumbasses” (damn, you pinned us spot on, you anonymous Sagebrush commenter, you). Clearly we haven’t thought any of this through…

But we have. If we hadn’t, this festival and this petition wouldn’t even be happening. If we didn’t think about these things, we’d be sitting back and doing nothing. We’d be the students who bitched and moaned and expected problems to fix themselves. Well guess what? Problems don’t fix themselves. We’ve done everything from suggest changes to the club commission to try to get into office. Neither of these tactics was effective. So what’s left?

When something is broken and you can’t fix it, maybe you’d be best served to just throw it away and start fresh.

On that note, The Nevada Sagebrush has been kind enough to feature us again, this time not for the festival, but for the petition. You can read it here.


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Owning your image
By: Mary Hunton

Let’s consider a scenario. You are a photographer. You own your camera, all of your camera equipment, as well as the studio you take pictures in, the computer you utilize to edit and refine said pictures, and the printer and paper that play the role of producing those pictures for your portfolio, projects, and pleasure.

One cheerful Sunday afternoon, you get a brilliant idea for a new shoot you want to do, and you hire a beautiful model to come and pose for them. She arrives, and you pay her, by her own set fees (by the hour or by a preset, static charge, it doesn’t matter. She makes the rules.) for her services.

Once the shoot is done, the money paid, you thank your model for her valuable time and she, with a smile, walks out of your studio and back into that brilliant Sunday afternoon. You retreat to your little artist corner, process and print the photographs, and begin arranging your project in the way most aesthetically pleasing to your personal preference.

Later that week you present your series at a gallery. Art enthusiasts from around the country show up to the gallery, and one particular enthusiast likes your work. He offers you a handsome amount for the series-more than enough to pay the bills for the month-and you graciously accept. He walks away with your prints in hand, and all parties are content. He got a beautiful set of images for his living room decor, and you get to buy groceries.

However, a little kink in the system manages to break your good mood. The model (whom you have already paid for her services) discovers that the generous enthusiast paid good money for the pictures, and she’s unhappy. It is her image presented in those pictures, she argues, and she deserves a cut of the profits. She takes you to court, and despite your most desperate pleas, her case stands above yours. Now you not only wasted all of the money (and then some) hiring a lawyer to defend yourself, but you didn’t even win. You must resort to selling off your photography equipment, renting out your studio, and in the end you manage to snag a job at Wal-Mart working in the electronics department. You lose credibility not only as an artist, but as a photographer in general.

This is how things work today. Though maybe a little melodramatic (hopefully you, as the hypothetical photographer, would have been able to get a better job than one at Wal-Mart), the question I wish to pose stands the same.

Does a person have a right to his or her image?

Consider the scenario again. The model came into the photographer’s studio. The photographer used his own camera to take pictures of her. He used his own equipment to process and print the pictures. The very series was his idea (though this becomes a skewed line when we look at intellectual property rights-which will be discussed at tonight’s meeting!). Overall, all the model had to do was pose, and he paid her, on her terms, for every second of her time that he consumed with his project.

However, simply because it was her face in the pictures, the model claimed a right to any profit made from them. Because she stood in front of a camera for a couple of hours and let that photographer snap his shutter down to capture her likeness into a data file in his SD memory card, she believed that they belonged, at least in part, to her.

In photography the situation is tricky. For anything media related there needn’t be any model consent as to where the pictures are used. For example, the paparazzi can snap pictures of any celebrity they so choose and use those images in any “newsworthy” way possible without reaping any repercussion. The reasoning behind this is first amendment infringement. However, if a photographer wishes to use his images for any commercial use, whether it be in advertising, stock photography, or any creative outlet that could result in a sale, he must get a signed contract with the model, getting her permission to use her image for monetary gain. Usually these contracts (called “model releases”) will deem exactly where the pictures are being used and for what purpose. Sometimes they will outline how much (if any) of the profits made from any sale of the picture will be granted to the model. Though the legal elements may make sense, I want to know, is it justified?

The model owns her face, true. It is part of her body, her personal property. So the photographer (and anyone, at that matter) doesn’t have the right to take her physical face and sell it for his own gain. However, after the picture has been taken, and the likeness of her face is processed and printed (with the photographer’s own equipment), does she hold any claim to it? Does she have the right to tell the photographer where he is and is not allowed to use the work he slaved over (trust me-processing pictures is no simple task. Color photography is kicking my ass), while the only thing she contributed was her time (which he paid her for, on her terms, I remind you), and the likeness of her face?

It is similar to asking if a person can own his or her reputation. I don’t believe one can. With the photography scenario it poses a similar concept. Once the shutter has been released, the light going through the lens and onto the sensor and collecting as data on that memory card, which will then be read on a computer to display an image of the likeness of the model, she holds no claim over it. She was not paying the photographer for the pictures-he was paying her. She has about as much claim on those pictures as a carpenter does on a house he has been paid to build. Whatever he chooses to do with those images is out of her control. Whether he sells them as wonderful pieces of art, draws mustaches on them in permanent marker, or decides to run down the street and throw them, by the hundreds, around him like confetti, she can do absolutely nothing.

Sadly, that isn’t how it works.

As it stands, a model has nearly more of a right to a photographer’s work than the photographer himself has. Her possession of her “image” is greater than his possession of his physical work and labor to make that work.

I’m not sure about you, but something there doesn’t quite click with me.

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Say “Hello nomination!”
By: Mary Hunton

That’s right. We’re awesome.

In the past year, UNR Students for Liberty has done a lot. From the START campaign to the gun shooting social, How to Survive a Police Encounter to a Civil War reenactment, no one can say that we haven’t. I mean, even ASUN had to admit how amazing we were (though I’m sure it killed them to do so), and gave us the Outstanding ASUN Club of the Year award for 2008-2009.

It’s only natural, then, that we’d receive a bit more impressive recognition.

We have been nominated for the National Students for Liberty’s Group of the Year award. Because of our great events, dedicated members, and just general awesomeness, our club is in the running. The winner of the award will be announced on the opening night of the third annual National Students for Liberty conference on February 12th. The conference is being held in Washington DC, and four of us will be going down to represent our club and all we’ve done.

There you have it-add one more thing to UNR Students for Liberty’s list of things to be proud of. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back-you deserve it.

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Short and sweet-a thank you.
By: Mary Hunton

After a year and a half of being involved in the UNR Students for Liberty, taking part in some of its greatest events, meetings, and activities, I can’t honestly say that I ever expected to end up president. I am both thrilled and honored. Rumor has it (though I’ll never admit to whether or not this is true) I danced around my apartment in a slight bout of euphoria upon receiving the good news.

I could easily turn this entry into a speech of sorts that explains who I am and what I intend to do with the club now that I have been named president, but I’m not going to do that. Not only would that be boring for me to write, but it would be boring for you to read, and I feel that the preceding entry says about all you really need to know (the cute girl in pink and green? Got it.).

What’s a more important message is one of gratitude. I didn’t step on toes, little people, or puppies to get here. I got here because I have made good friends in this club who believe that I have every skill necessary to make me a good president. Hopefully they’re right. Barry’s shoes will definitely be hard to fill, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

So, here it is, Students for Liberty! Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I won’t let you down!

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On the Sixth Day Before Christmas…
By: Mary Hunton

…the commission said to me six little words…

And what were those six little words, you may ask? “Sure, you can have ASUN money!” Though I understand what the commission aims to do (after all, clubs do need funding to function properly, do they not?) the inherent flaw in the system is making it far too easy to get this funding legitimized. If the four days prior to this haven’t been enough to convince you of that, let me share a little bit of my knowledge.

As an incoming officer to the club, I’m being learned in the ways of ASUN exploitation. Typically this “top secret” information would be limited to us and our own, but I thought, what the hell, it’s the giving season after all, and I can’t bear the thought of being selfish at this time of the year. We figured it would be appropriate to show you our way of requesting for other people’s money.

It’s simple, really. You start with a club. Of course, we all know that, in order to be an ASUN recognized club, you must have at least ten people registered through the ASUN club and organization website. If you don’t have ten people interested in joining your club, don’t panic! Even if you don’t have ten people interested in your club, you have to have at least ten friends, right? Just send them here, where they need only sign in with their netID and pick your club off the list. It’s as easy as that, and in no time-BAM!-ten registered members.

(Don’t forget, clubs also need advisors, but if you don’t have one don’t sweat it. Just pick a name off of the faculty list. A rather reputable source tells me that they don’t really check to make sure your advisor is actually in on the whole thing. Nifty, isn’t it?)

Members and advisors down, you also need a constitution, but that’s as effortless as copying the ASUN supplied sample club constitution and changing the title to something more “your-club-esque.” My same reputable source has let it slip that they read these about as well as they check on advisors.

Now comes the fun part: your budget. Typically, I’m the kind of struggling college kid that preaches the “conserve your money! That oatmeal won’t buy itself, you know!” route, but this is different. Note, I say “conserve your money,” and the bills that ASUN dolls out aren’t exactly yours, are they? When Mommy and Daddy give you a twenty and tell you to come home with change, do you? Of course not! We here at Students for Liberty take the same approach. If ASUN is willing to give us a ton of money without any real concern, who are we to let them down by spending less of it that we are wholly capable? That’s just ludicrous.

So, like I said: your budget. Get it figured out. Plan exciting meetings, entertainment, events. Then double it. That’s right. Clubs can be allotted ten thousand dollars annually. Milk that sucker for all it’s worth. They wouldn’t offer you that much cash if they weren’t absolutely prepared and totally happy to give it to you, right? Right. So… like I said. Double it. You know you want to.

You will need to represent your budget plan to the commission, and this can be a bit tricky. Here is where they may be able to thwart some of your hard work, but don’t be too alarmed. Just give yourself justification to every activity and item in your budget. Make sure everything has some connection to better the club itself (leadership retreat!), the University as a whole (campus discussion!), or the community (all proceeds to go the ASPCA! Who doesn’t love puppies?). They eat that stuff up.

And… there! The commission is impressed with your load of bullshit-erm, well thought out budget plan-for your extremely qualified and recognized ASUN club, and they accept your proposal and hand out the money. Now that you have it, what do you do? Spend it. Spend it all.

What can you do with ten thousand ASUN dollars, you may ask? Quite a bit-catered meetings, shooting socials, charity dinners, and official conferences are just the beginning. Just like our system’s flaws, your options are limitless-all you need is to know how to exploit it.

However, take this all with a grain of salt. Despite our seemingly ill intents, UNR Students For Liberty truly does embody what a club should be. We are a friendly community of students who share common goals and interests. We have done many influential and helpful events around campus and, contrary to what it may seem, not all of the money we get from ASUN is used for something as superfluous as catered meetings-we’re going to the national Students for Liberty conference this February!

No, the real ridiculous part here isn’t what we do, but it’s that we do exactly what they expect us to do. It isn’t that it’s too easy for clubs to get funding-no matter how much “harder” the process was made, people would still learn how to work the system. The problem is that, no matter how hard ASUN may try, there is no way to spend other people’s money correctly. They are simply too willing to don out vast sums of money for little-to-no good reason.

No amount of amendments to the funding policies will ever solve that.

Merry Christmas!

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Morality and Liberty
By: Mary Hunton

Religion is a very predominant part of many people’s lives, and organized faiths, as we know, have their own set of moral code and conduct. What is and is not okay according to them-in other words, morals. Being born and raised Roman Catholic (and still going by that title even today), I was raised with a very firm set of moral beliefs. Things that were acceptable and things that were not. Many of these I still hold true to: murder is still bad, no matter what way you look at it, and I definitely can’t steal your stuff. However, growing up I realized something. Many of the “moral” codes set down by my denomination were a far cry from what my political outlook was. This is what I call the “moral dilemma.” What do I hold onto? Faith or freedom?

There are many different questions that can pose this problem, though not all on a political level. Premarital sex, divorce, polygamy, abortion, and gay marriage, to name a few. In the mind of a devout Catholic, completely and utterly dedicated to their faith, the answer to the question, “is any of this okay?” would be a simple, concise, “No.” However, I, and many others, find ourselves thinking, “Wait. What’s the BFD?”

Morality and liberty are two very different mindsets and codes, and they should be taken as such. For example, on a moral level I am against abortion, and yet I am pro-choice. Why? Just because I would never get an abortion does not mean that you shouldn’t have the right to if you so choose. The same goes for many political controversies that I find myself on the more “liberal” side of. Gay marriage? I am not gay, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they should have the same rights straight couples do. I do not smoke pot, but that doesn’t mean I think it should be illegal. I wouldn’t really walk around naked (sorry, guys!), but if I DID want to, I think I should be able to. It is the same on a moral level: my morals are personal. You have no right to push your morals on me, and I have no right to push mine upon you.

For me the solution to this “moral dilemma” was simple. My faith and my morals are on a completely different level than my political outlook, and holding them in complete disregard to one another did nothing to discredit the merit to either of them. Religion, as with most things, is a choice, and the moral code that goes along with that is not something that can be forced upon any individual. If something does not infringe upon the rights of others, even if morally it is considered “evil” by your faith, what right do we have? Is the fact that we consider something “sinister” enough for us to condemn it without taking into consideration that it may not actually be violating another’s rights?

I don’t think so. You have your morals and I have mine: let’s keep it that way.

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Giving “the right to ‘bare’ arms” a whole new meaning.
By: Mary Hunton

There has been a lot of talk on prostitution going around the Students For Liberty site as of late, enticed by my own article (sorry, guys!) and it got me thinking about another right that deals first and foremost with what people are allowed to do with their own bodies. The topic is tricky, and we have actually debated it in one of our meetings if I remember correctly, and the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became of my conclusion.

The human body is a wonderful thing, and it’s something that all of us happen to have (go figure, eh?). However, concealing the human form, hiding it from sight, has been in practice ever since the beginning of the written human history back with the Egyptians, and far before that. Whether you believe we hide the human form due to the modesty and shame that Adam and Eve acquired upon being cast from Eden or due to some other, evolutionary mechanism, my question here is this: why is it such a big deal?

Public indecency laws exist in every state with different penalties and severities, but the fact still remains that, for some reason, we seem to feel that the government needs to step in to indicate when, where, and under what circumstances it is okay for someone to choose not to wear clothing. Wearing clothes is a personal choice. We all have different tastes, but those tastes can’t legitimatize wearing nothing at all. I don’t understand this. The human figure is natural and normal, why is there such a big fuss about it?

Most of our problems with public nudity are cultural. Within the American culture, the naked human body is seen as something obscene and strictly sexual. The only time many of us are exposed to seeing a completely nude body other than our own is within the confines of a rated R movie or trashy magazine, and this only further identifies it into that negative stereotype. Due to this, the naked figure is torn to pieces and further demonized, strengthening the social taboo.

However, half-clad women are all right on the cover of Cosmopolitan and Allure as long as they are sexy celebrities, and the un-sexy ones are allowed for the sake of gossip on People. From what I can see, our views on nudity and sexuality are skewed. Risqué and sensual, half-naked men and women are completely acceptable, whereas being naked in a totally normal, everyday, non-lewd fashion is still prohibited by law.

Simply walking around nude is perfectly acceptable. As far as I’m concerned it infringes upon no one’s rights, and if someone so chooses not to wear clothes I see absolutely no problem with that. The mere act of being naked is entirely normal and natural, and it is not something the government should tell us we can or cannot do. I chose to put clothing on this morning, but if I hadn’t who am I really hurting? The people who are lucky enough to see my beautiful, naked form? I think not.

I know what you’re thinking. “Not everyone is as stunningly good-looking as you are, Mary! This logic is ridiculous!” But I have to disagree. It isn’t about whether or not people look good naked, it’s about whether or not they have the right to choose to be, and I believe they do.

But it still stands: is the fact (and yes, sadly, it is a fact) that it could offend people enough to condemn it? I think not. No matter what anyone does, we cannot remove every ounce of offensive material from the world. Have you ever driven down the highway and seen a billboard hanging high that says, “Jesus saves?” That right there could be considered offensive material, because I certainly have never seen anything preaching about Buddha, Muhammad, or Satan up on those boards. What about the Montana Meth Project? Not everyone appreciates being exposed to everything they see every day, and yet we let it slip through. Why should the naked body be any different?

Of course, there are things that really would not be okay publically. Sexual conduct, for example, but merely walking around without clothes on is far from that. There is a very big difference between being inappropriate and being, well, naked.

Yet there are less “moral” reasons that speak against public nudity, but none of these are completely justified either. Sanitation is the biggest issue I’ve run across. Sexually Transmitted Infections are the major worry, but it works much the same way as any other sickness. If you are infected, it is your responsibility to take care of yourself. What do you do when you have the flu? You certainly don’t go about and infect the whole world, do you? You get yourself to a doctor and make yourself healthy again. There are ways to prevent spreading illness, with or without clothing.

But then there are the STIs you can’t ever get rid of, such as HIV, HPV, and herpes. What do we do about those? Viruses actually don’t live long outside of the human body, so HIV, HPV, and herpes wouldn’t be a problem. The only way to contract many of these diseases is through intercourse, needle sharing, or any other situation where bodily fluid is directly exchanged or skin-to-skin contact is made, and if left stagnant on non-human surfaces they will die and become harmless.

There’s more than that, though. Safety could very well be an issue, as well, but not a big enough issue to demand its illegalization. Walking around naked could, theoretically, increase the chance of one getting attacked, whether verbally or physically, and potentially raped (as my sister and roommate pointed out), but again this is not necessarily true. The way we dress already dictates how certain people treat us sometimes. Being naked is as much as a lifestyle as dressing in any stereotypical fashion. If I were to wear the hijab I would be instantly classified and, potentially, judged based on that.

As for rape, I’m sorry, but I doubt that someone would randomly pick a woman up in broad daylight if she’s not strolling down some questionable neighborhood. Unless she is waltzing around town alone at midnight in her birthday suit, which isn’t a smart decision whether or not she is wearing clothing, this chance is minimal. I do not believe that the rape rate would rise simply because some women would make the conscious decision not to wear clothes.

Sexual promiscuity is also questionable. Would the fact that there are people walking around without clothing on make the society a more sexually rich environment? I don’t believe so. Think of it this way: just because being naked would be legal, we must take into consideration the human condition. How many people, in reality, would make that choice? I highly doubt that there would be enough nude people walking around to promote such a thing. Just legalizing it would not mean that everyone would choose it. I would be willing to bet that less than ten percent of the population would actually do so. However, even if that number was as high as fifty percent, would it really be a problem?

There are many situations where the vast majority of the population is naked. Nude beaches, clubs, and resorts are common in some places. Within these societies, there is no increase in sexual promiscuity, diseases, or anything of the sort. Nothing that we worry about with public nudity in our society actually comes to life within these institutions. If places where everyone is naked aren’t any worse than places where no one is, why is there such a fear of mixing the two?

The point still stands that my body is mine to do with what I will. There is nothing wrong with nakedness, and the government doesn’t need to step in and tell me what I can and cannot do. If I get to choose the kind of clothing I wear, why can I not simply choose not to wear any at all?

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Oh, Nevada.
By: Mary Hunton

Of all the states I’ve been to, I’ve got to say that I am completely and utterly in love with my own. Nevada is simply the single coolest state in the country, hands down. We’ve got sagebrush, crazy weather patterns, some of the world’s worst drivers, and, you guessed it, more sagebrush. There’s no denying it, the Silver State leaves much to be desired when it comes to predictable summers (why the hell is it still so cold!?) and green shrubbery, but what it lacks in pleasant aesthetics it makes up for in badass laws.

Nevada gets a lot of crap for being the only state with legalized prostitution and gambling, and our gun and alcohol laws appall the more “sophisticated” states, but clearly everyone else is looking at things in the complete wrong way. Prostitution is nothing more than a profession and gambling doesn’t hurt anyone but the poor sucker throwing all of his money into the slots. Making guns harder to buy won’t stop people from being shot and keeping alcohol confined strictly to liquor stores is doing nothing but making alcoholics drive a little bit further for their fill.

I’ve been through a good few states, and being from Nevada always gives me a little bit of an edge. I can’t even accurately describe the horrified looks I’ve gotten when, upon being asked if I’ve seen a prostitute, I not only say yes, but proceed to explain where the actual brothels in Elko are. It gets even worse when I then tell them how if one were to go to the clinic on Friday, more than half of the people in the waiting room are, in fact, prostitutes waiting for their mandatory weekly check up.

“That’s disgusting!” they tell me.

“No,” I say. “That’s a way of life.”

Of course prostitution isn’t the most ideal way to live life, and no little girl in Nevada grows up and actually aspires to be a hooker when she grows up. It’s more the fact that she can if she needs to that makes it acceptable. It’s her body. If she wants to sell it she has absolutely every right to.

The same goes for gambling. The casinos basically keep Nevada’s economy alive, and if people want to put their money in on it there is no reason they shouldn’t. It’s not like it hurts anyone other than themselves in the long run (and sometimes it pays off. I won’t lie, I love it when my parents hit it big-they get really generous and slip some into my bank account without telling me). Not to mention, let’s face it, if gambling was really such a horrible thing, would over thirty million people visit Las Vegas every year for it? I didn’t think so.

But just because Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution and gambling doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen elsewhere. The lottery, for example, is still a form of gambling, and Indian reservations around the country have hopped onto the casino bandwagon. Prostitution is also country wide. Just because it’s not legal doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Girls sell themselves off on the streets all the time under the nose of the law. And people think it’s a bad idea to keep prostitutes under a safe roof with regulations as to who can and cannot see them?

Let’s face it: Nevada certainly isn’t the most ideal place by any means, but where is? For all intents and purposes, Nevada’s got its head in the game. Not many other states think it’s okay for you to do what you want with your body or your money. At least we’ve got that one right!

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Just what the heck am I?
By: Mary Hunton

Growing up, politics and political parties were never things that I really considered or thought much about. The government was nothing more than a faceless, abstract figure above me that made laws and ran the country. I didn’t know (or care) much about it at all. My stance on politics was mostly influenced by my father, who would frequently go off on one tangent or another bitching about those “damn Democrats” and their “socialist” ideals. Overall, I would just blindly nod and agree. I didn’t really hear what he was saying, I just knew that if I dared say anything to the contrary I would be subjected to an even longer lecture. For all intents and purposes, I considered myself a Republican for my sanity’s sake.

Around the middle of high school, however, things changed. I begrudgingly began to believe that I was, in fact, what my father detested. Democrat. It wasn’t something I talked about, because I didn’t want to be disowned and kicked out of my family, but I started having some pretty liberal views. Gay marriage? Marijuana? Abortion? All were subjects that I found I had a very Democratic view on. In my mind they should be legal, because what the hell gave the government the right to tell these people what to do? I mean, I’m not gay, I don’t smoke weed, and I would never get an abortion, but I didn’t think that no one else in the world had the right to.

Thankfully that all started to change when I realized that my dad was completely right: liberals are crazy. If socialized medicine wasn’t proof enough, the BS with minimum wage and gun control certainly helped me see the light. In that way, Republicans had it right, but I was caught with another dilemma. What the hell was I in the political world? Was I some mutant hybrid cross between Democrat and Republican or was I something completely new? Well, I wasn’t vain enough to think that I was quite so unique, so to solve the problem I simply registered as “Independent,” and assumed that, in time, I’d figure something out.

It wasn’t until September 25, 2008 that I did. After being dragged to a meeting for a club to keep a friend company, I sat back and listened to a long and complicated lecture on a theory I’d never even heard of before: Anarcho-captialism. My first initial thought (upon hearing the word “anarchy,” which has always had a negative connotation in my book) was, “What the hell kind of club IS this!?” But the more I listened, the more I learned, and at the end of the meeting I pulled my friend aside and asked her what exactly Libertarianism was.

In a nutshell, this is what I’ve figured out. Libertarians value the right of the individual. Every person, regardless of sex, age, race, or any other quantifying factor you can think to label another human being as, has three essential rights: to life, liberty, and property. Basically, I have the right to live my life the way that I want to as long as it does not interfere with the rights of the people around me. I can do what I want to myself and my property, but I can’t touch a thing you have without your consent.

And this isn’t only on the personal level. It goes for governments as well. The government has no right to say that gays can’t marry, that I can’t own a gun, that the kid down the street can’t smoke pot, or that we all have to buy into a socialized healthcare plan. In essence, the government should keep its nose out of my business, and as long as I’m not doing anything that interferes with another person’s rights, I’ve done nothing wrong.

The more I learned about Libertarianism the more I began to realize that the political stance that I stood under did have a name. I was no longer some random, nonidentity. I was a Libertarian.

I won’t even pretend that I know absolutely everything there is to know about Libertarianism. I’m still a freshling to the fold. But the more I learn the more I agree, and the wider my scope of comprehension becomes. Libertarians are just as varied as every other political party. They range from hardcore Constitutionalists to dedicated Anarcho-Capitalists. As I spend time with the people in Students for Liberty I continue to figure out what exactly it means to be a Libertarian. We don’t always agree, but we can usually agree to disagree, and overall we all stand by the same, basic Libertarian values.

It’s a system that works for me. In fact, it’s the only system that I’ve been completely satisfied by, and I’m still finding out about it. Regardless, I can say this:

I am proud to call myself a Libertarian.

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