Wednesday, November 21, 2012

California Libertarians and the question of image

One common trope in California Libertarian politics is that we put forth flawed candidates and leaders. Whether it be single issue ferret farmers or spitting druids, we attract and endorse people who make the members of the majority parties laugh in their collective sleeves.  We do ourselves no favors when our candidate for governor campaigns with single-minded determination for marijuana legalization while the real issues of the day are discussed at the adult table. We are irrelevant. The general populous thinks of us as wackos, nutjobs and buffoons.

I polled 73 people over the last two months and asked one question regarding our party. What one word best describes libertarians in California politics. The number one response was either wacko, crazy or nutjobs (64%). The number two was “out of touch” (22%).

Two respondents mentioned our officially sanctioned support of a convicted pedophile. I’d seen a few posts on Faceboodk mentioning a convicted sex offender in our leadership, but I did not know the name of the person or the specifics of the case. I looked it up this morning. It was not hard to find. The person in question is one Matthew Barnes. He was convicted in 1993 of three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14-years of age.

A 2009 article indicates Barnes became the San Bernardino county Libertarian Party’s group vice-chairman for 2010. Barnes is a registered sex-offender.

Matt BarnesWhen members of the San Bernardino County Libertarian Party elected Matthew Barnes as the group's vice chairman for 2010, they knew he was a registered sex offender.

"The members of the party that voted for him, they voted for him knowing he had completed his time and his punishment and didn't want to hold that against him," said Paul Darr, the county party chairman, who says he's planning a run for the State Assembly. "He completed his punishment by the state and has been reformed."

Barnes, 41, pleased guilty in 1993 to three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old, according to court records. The crimes were committed in the summer of 1987, when Barnes was 19.

Of course, people responded:

people4money of the Democratic Underground wrote:

This guy, Matthew Barnes, had sex with a 13 year old in the 90's, and this local chapter of the Libertarian party sees no reason why he shouldn't be their vice chairmen since he already served his time. I can't help but wonder if they secretly see him as some sort of victim of the big bad government for not recognizing his right to fuck 13 year olds. Maybe if he did something truly horrible, like lobby to end exploitation of third world, sweat labour, they wouldn't have been so forgiving. ...fucking kids though, now that's forgiveable to them apparently.

I really hate libertarians. I really do. They think the 12th century practices pederastry, polygamy, prostitution, etc, are some how progressive…

Sebastian Knowlton writes:

This is a sickening story everyone, and I’m tired of sidestepping it. A convicted, multiple-offense, child molester has been working with the San Bernardino County LP here in California for some time now, and the county brass continues to shamefully justify his presence there, simply because they had a friendly relationship with him prior to learning of his crimes. Granted, I could overlook alot ...

I could keep posting blog comments, but I’ve made my point. Californians, when they hear of Barnes’ appointment, issues a collective WTF. So do I. Given my focus on clergy sex abuse, I am stunned that any political organization would put forth a convicted pedophile as its face to the public. What I know to be true through countless hours of research is that a pedophile can never serve in a position of trust, and they will never be trusted by the larger population. Pedophiles are also at high risk to abuse again. The downstream potential for damage to the Libertarian Party is enormous. It does not matter if the person is “rehabilitated” by serving a prison term. Pedophiles are a different class of criminal. One that requires an increased need for vigilance and little if any trust.

Politically speaking, pedophiles are toxic. They alienate people who might otherwise be attracted to our ideas and shift the dialog away from our ideas to our practices. Allowing Matthew Barnes a leadership role was a bad idea. It hurt the party and feeds the trope that we are a party of nutballs. We need people to talk about our ideas and not nutballs.

Matthew Barnes is no longer in a leadership role at the Libertarian Party of San Bernardino, but he is active. His name pops up all over the web associated with state and local libertarian events. In other words, the Libertarian Party of California will forever be tainted by the perception that it somehow supports pedophiles and that Barnes is our poster boy.

I have nothing against Matthew Barnes. I don’t know his ideas or the quality of his thinking. This is not about Barnes, this is about Libertarian leadership. Barnes should never have been allowed in a leadership position. If our leadership cannot see this simple fact, they do not deserve the privilege of leadership.


Anonymous said...

Steve Kubby is another great example of CA Libertarian wackery. Lives on SSI while caretaking his rich libertarian friends' properties in Tahoe, Laguna, etc;

Anonymous said...

When the state party found this info they moved to change their bylaws and added the following:

Bylaw 8: Leadership Standards
Notwithstanding any other provision of these Bylaws, no member who has been convicted of a
felony against person or property shall be an endorsed candidate, officer, or hold any other
position of leadership in either the Party or a County Central Committee without the consent of
two-thirds of the eligible Executive Committee members.