The Fantastic Four Fight for Freedom

April 21, 2010  

By Katherine Bruce
kbruce@smu.edu

SMU’s Libertarians hosted a panel discussion in front of a small crowd Monday night in the Hughes-Trigg Forum at 8 p.m. The panel discussed the four personal freedoms Americans face today: marijuana, firearms, health care and gay marriage.

Larry Talley, of University at North Texas, spoke about drug legalization on behalf of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). Talley said the most deadly and addictive substance in the world is a cigarette, because it gives you nothing and takes away everything.

Talley wants to end the prohibition on drugs and marijuana. He says it’s all about rights, liberties and freedoms. It’s about supporting harm reduction. He also believes we should take people with drug problems and turn them into patients.

“When you can treat the patient, you can treat the person,” Talley said.

Brandon Luter, a 2003 college graduate, was second to take the podium in a discussion of firearms legislation. Luter said the founding fathers of this country viewed firearms as tools: a way to defend oneself. In the turn of the 20th century, the United States saw a re-interest in the growth of big government systems. The first initiative many presidents have taken after election into office is the ban on firearms ownership.

Luter believes defense against tyrannical government is of upmost importance and that government shouldn’t be able to tell citizens what to do.

“Firearms have become tools that are individual threats,” Luter said. “In actuality, they’re defensive tools.”

Professor Frost, an entrepreneur and economics professor at SMU, took a stab at health care. Frost explained that an exciting thing libertarians ought to feel is that for one of the first times in political history, left-wing democrats and right-wing republicans are finding issues they agree upon. This has created an opportunity to have some peaceful change by forming coalitions.

Frost emphasized that if you have a right to something, somebody else has a duty to provision that right for you. He said he doesn’t have a moral obligation to sacrifice his life to take care of others. For a government to force people to do that is oppressive.

“When the government gets oppressive, people have a choice. Do they become sheep, or do they fight back?” Frost asked.

To close the discussion, Beau Haten discussed the importance of marriage equality on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. There are countless LGBT couples living together without legally being married. Haten said that with marriage comes a discrepancy in terms of their own protection.

He also stressed the issue of well-qualified, experienced individuals being fired from jobs because of their sexual preference.

“We’re fighting ten hundred battles at one time,” Haten said.

He also feels the battle of the LGBT community is of a larger scale, and marriage is among the first battles to come up.

The discussion ended with a question and answer portion between the panel and the audience.

Stephen Ceccon, an SMU student and audience member, stressed the importance of getting the libertarians’ message out to students.

“A lot of college kids feel the same way we do,” Ceccon said. “They want the government out of their pocket and out of their personal life.”

Frost believes what helps more people is more important than minority needs.

“Whatever is good for the majority, the hell with minority,” Frost said. “I would like to say that I see hope.”

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