Conservative contradictions

Why do you suppose that in general…

  1. the same people who are in favour of free enterprise are against the drug trade and prostitution?

  2. the same people who are ‘pro-life’ are in favour of the military, handgun ownership, and the death penalty?

  1. the same people who claim to support “states’ rights” also support a federal law overriding the Supreme Court’s ruling that states can decide themselves whether and how to legislate third trimester abortions, and believe that federal anti-drug laws trump the medical marijuana laws approved in several states?

steeling myself for the “Liberal Contradictions” thread soon to follow :slight_smile:

OK, both the Liberal and Conservative theories want thing both ways. Liberals want to protect such freedoms as freedom of religion and freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion, but want to restrict such freedoms as the freedom to hire without regard for quotas.

Both want to use government as a tool for shaping society. I’m generally more of a conservative because I consider a free market economy and property rights as a far more important thing to protect than keeping prayer out of public schools.

In short, neither of the two primary ideologies in this country are even remotely close to being free of contradiction. By dividing everyone into two basic schools of thought, you are going to have a lot of inconsistent ideals, regardless of how you draw the line. I would venture that the Libertarian Party is far more consistent, and look at the incredible success they have had.

Matt_mcl said:

I’ve got to disagree with you on this one, Matt. I’ve heard it before (mostly the pro-life/death penalty one), but it’s just not nearly as contradictory as it sounds.

First, the most obvious, the dealth penalty. We’re talking about taking the life of somebody who is a convicted criminal (usually murderer, though some conservatives push for other crimes as well). This really is not comparable to (in their eyes) the death of an innocent baby before it even has a chance to live. While I don’t agree with them on either end of this argument, I don’t see hypocrisy in it, either.

As for the military and handgun ownership, you’re making even more of a stretch. The military exists to protect this country and its interests. Supporting it has nothing to do with a pro-life position. They support the freedom to own handguns (as opposed to necessarily supporting handgun ownership), many for the same reason – self-defense. Again, nothing to do with the pro-life position.

Now, if you want hypocrisy, there’s plenty of it on both sides of the fence (as waterj2 already noted). You can find some extreme hypocrisy in the Religious Right. For a few examples, check out this book review I wrote a few weeks ago:

 The Republicans and Democrates in this country both favor harsh drug laws and I don't hear many on either side speaking out in favor of prostitution. You'll find a few folks from both sides of the fence who want the war on drugs to end but they're in the minority right now. Especially in the Federal government but thankfully some of the states are changing their views.

 And being in favor of the death penalty, handgun ownership, and the military is not in contradiction with being against abortion. They just feel it is wrong to kill something innocent that they consider to be as every bit alive as someone born. I can be against murder but be in favor of hand guns and the death penalty. It is not a contradiction.


Okay, both liberal and conservative political doctrines are fraught with contradictions. Conservatives claim to advocate a more hands-off govt., yet they often contribute to the most restrictive legislation in relation to civil liberties and personal choice (free speech, drugs, flag-burning, prostitution, etc.) Likewise, liberals defend abortion — considered by many a form of murder — yet they don’t support the death penalty on the grounds that state sponsored killing is wrong. You can find many more examples.

Waterj2 mentioned that libertarianism is more internally consistent than either liberalism or conservatism . I agree. By internally consistent I mean that the tenets of libertarianism conform to a very general, simple set of guiding principles with little or no deviation. The golden rule of libertarianism is “laissez-faire”. In other words, the govt. keeps its paws off personal and commercial affairs in all situations, leaving society to find its own natural equilibrium, which supposedly is optimal for the well being of mankind. I must admit, all of the policy advocated by Libertarians jibes pretty nicely with this rule.

But is consistency always a measure of viability??

Let me give an example. One of the most famous “golden rules” of Judeo-Christian morality is the First Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”. It’s an elegant and simple rule which makes perfect sense upon first glance. Almost all decent human beings agree that killing is a bad thing. But after some consideration, several extenuating circumstances become apparent. What about defending the lives of yourself and your family? Is is still wrong to kill somebody if killing that person will save the lives of many? What about defending your property from invasion? Or fighting for your country during a war?

Clearly there are exceptions to “thou shalt not kill.” As a general principle it sounds great, but in the real world, it doesn’t hold up. You can think of many other examples in which certain commandments, laws, etc. don’t prescribe optimal behavior in all situations.

My argument is that good laws, philosophies, governments, etc. allow for exceptions to the rules — sometimes contradictions are good things. Maybe it’s good for government to help or hinder the private sector under certain circumstances. Maybe some personal freedoms, such as gun ownership, should be limited despite the high value we place on civil liberties. It’s all about weighing the pros and cons on a case by case basis. In my experience, guiding principals are good up to a certain point, but attempting to simplify an ideology by removing contradictions can be dangerous.

Basically, use what works, throw out the rest. Forget about consistency.


So the choice is either to allow everything including selling humans as commodities or to eliminate free trade?

Argumentum ad absurdium.

As for the second question, you are drawing tenuous…no, not even tenuous…non-existent connections. One might ask, why are people in favor of abortion against murder? (Note: I am in favor of legalized abortion. )


All the time?

On libertarianism and consistency, whilst it is relatively easy to be consistent in principle, libertarians still have to make judgements about policy in practice. This is not always an easy call to make.


While the prostitution bit is inconsistent moralizing, opposition to the drug trade is not. Most (if not all) drugs that are illegal are dangerous and addictive, making slaves of their users and bringing them to an early grave. Hardly something inherently inconsistent with, say, supporting the rights of entrepenuers to keep the money they make.

The military and handgun ownership: They are for the purposes of defnese, not indiscriminate killing.

The death penalty: One’s right to life is only to be taken away as punishment for committing a henious crime. What crime did unborn babies commit?


Sure are. There’s a whole Bible out there, the Ten Commandments being only a small portion thereof.

And I won’t even get into what a royally bad mistranslation “thou shalt not kill” is of the original Hebrew verse.

Big deal–so are the overwhelming proportion of legal drugs if misused. So much for the right of people to make free choices about their lives.

>>>matt_mcl wrote: “Why do you suppose that in general…2) the same people who are ‘pro-life’ are in favour of […] handgun ownership{…}?”<<<

Which brings up the question…why do you suppose in general that the same people who call themselves “pro-choice” are in favor of taking my choice to have a handgun away?

(MY position? I’m against those who wish to ban things, be it abortions, guns, or anything else.)

It’s already been said, but it bears repeating. Both the Left and Right are full of people who claim to be in favor of freedom…but only those freedoms they personally approve of, which is to say those they will ALLOW. If that’s freedom, I’m Leo DiCaprio.

The Libertarians are intellectually honest, but they have no power. If you’re like me, you have to hold your nose and choose the candidates you decide are the lesser evil overall.

Junebeetle said:

As I said above for the conservatives (in the opposite) there is nothing at all contradictory about this. Just because “many” consider abortion to be a form of murder doesn’t mean those who are pro-choice do! So if they don’t consider it to be murder, and they are also against the death penalty, it’s going to be tough to find a contradiction in there anywhere.

Conservatives claim to support the right of people to live free from government interference, yet they support the right of government–any government–to take away the right to medical marijuana, assisted suicide, abortion, gay marriage, flag burning, and plenty of other things. Conservatives also support states’ rights against the federal government, but when states want to grant people some of the above rights, they want the federal government to overrule the states. This is doubly hypocritical.

If you were to say, “protect individual rights up to a point, beyond which it’s appropriate for the gummint to step in lay down the law”, that would be rational. The point of causing sigificant harm. But the above list amounts to a load of superstition compared to the harm caused by freedom to do whatever you want to the environment, which the C’s support.

Other conservative contradictions:

As we just witnessed, it was all family, family, family until little Elian came along.

As stated in the Contract with America, the C’s were for cracking down on frivilous lawsuits, until little Paula Jones came along.

Here’s an obscure one, but a goodie: Remember when Clinton’s lawyers briefly considered arguing that, as C-in-C and therefore a member of the armed forces, isn’t the president immune from being sued while on active duty? A chorus of hoots erupted. But later on they insisted he get the same punishment for adultery as any other member of the armed forces.

Hmm, let’s see… Oh, here’s one. The C’s lambaste the sex and violence in popular entertainment (but that’s the free market, innit?) but reserve their longest knives for art. Like kids who hang out in art museums are a bigger problem than kids who hang out in movie theaters and video arcades.

I don’t see any contradiction in the C’s position on guns, except to point out that it’s very liberal and permissive. When it comes to guns, everyone should, like, do their own thing, man.

Evolution: Science is conservative. Science is about doing your homework, following rules, telling the truth. That’s values for ya.

It’s obvious that conservativism is just a grab-bag of knee-jerk issues, not a consistent philosophy or paradigm as it purports to be. There are inconsistencies among liberals, naturally, but liberalism is diverse and does not purport to have a nailed-down paradigm, so a critic of conservatives need not be held responsible for any given position associated with liberals.

This one hot off the presses: A guy is on Bill Maher touting a conservative program to educate and counsel young couples before they marry to fight divorce. But it’s a taxpayer funded government program interfering in people’s private lives.


The Supreme Court unanimously decided that her lawsuit against the president should proceed. Doesn’t sound like a frivolous lawsuit to me.

Sex and violence in movies is not sponsored by government money, so the government can’t do anything about it. Stuff sponsored by the NEA is.

Not quite. There are plenty of gun laws that have been on the books for years that no conservative has attempted to eliminate. However, they do balk at laws that will further restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens which will do nothing to prevent criminals from getting their hands on guns.

Chaim Mattis Keller

Is that the best you can do?

Sounded reasonable enough to me when I wrote it, and sounds reasonable enough to me as I re-read it. What do you want that will be more to your liking?

Chaim Mattis Keller

A poor job of refutation is to my liking cuz that means I win. But seriously, the bits about the art and the guns were throwaways compared to my other points, yet you revealed another contradiction:

Registration, closing the gun-show loophole, monthly limits on purchases, these would make it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on gun and do nothing to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens (but we’re not here to argue about guns).

As for the Paula Jones lawsuit, damn straight it was frivolous and damn straight it was a conservative contradiction. The SC’s ruling was purely on whether the president is immune from private lawsuits while in office, not on the merits of that particular case. A one-time incident of sexual impropriety does not fit the legal definition of sexual harrassment. It would have been forgotten had Clinton not been elected and his enemies not started digging for dirt. The case was thrown out by Judge Susan Wright. the tort-reform clause of the C with A was in response to the problem of frivolous lawsuits being allowed to move too far forward, causing excessive burdens on defendants. After the Paula Jones filed her suit, you didn’t hear another peep from the Republicans on that issue.

Speaking of the Contract with America, that thing didn’t strike me as being very conservative at all.

Actually, it seemed kind of . . . radical. :rolleyes:


Oh, criminals register their guns? They buy them in broad daylight at gun shows? They buy them at legal gun shops that will respect monthly limits?

The problem guns out there are a result of an underground gun market which does not obey any of the existing rules, and won’t obey new ones either.

She was trying to prove that there were favors doled out to Clinton employees who submitted to his advances. That’s where Monica Lewinsky came in in her case.

On top of that, it’s interesting to hear the above statement from liberals who claimed that a statement such as “public hair on my coke” and references to the movie “The Exorcist,” without any indication of sexual requests at all, is sexual harassment.

His enemies? Hardly. Paula Jones brought her lawsuit because the book “Primary Colors,” which was obviously based on the 1992 Clinton campaign, contained references to a woman named Paula who fit her description (roughly) and did submit to the governor’s advances, leading her acquaintaces to think that she had. She felt a lawsuit, with the truth coming out, would be the only way to restore her good name. (Little did she know!)

Because she couldn’t prove significant damage to her career. And that, at least in part, was because of Clinton’s false testimony about Monica. The case might very well have been reinstated on appeal had Clinton not settled before the appeal was heard.

Not true. For one example, tort reform is one of the major issues that George W. Bush championed as governor of Texas…and look who all the C of A crowd is backing for president.

More conspicuous is the silence by liberals over the matter of sexual harassment once one of their own was accused of it. Clarence Thomas? Vote against him (although they didn’t prevail). Bob Packwood? Throw the pig out! Bill Clinton? Well, it’s his private life, we shouldn’t be judging him for it…

But this thread isn’t “Liberal contradictions.”

Chaim Mattis Keller