It was with some amusement that I saw the "International Students for Liberty Conference"—a confab of young and naive libertarian types—had invited Oliver Stone to speak at their conference. As in, the filmmaker. As in, the filmmaker who openly supported Hugo Chavez and filmed a hagiographic tribute to Fidel Castro.
Venezuela, you may have heard, is in a spot of trouble at the moment as the successor to Hugo Chavez is brutally cracking down on the opposition and murdering those who get in the way. Here's one harrowing tale out of the bastion of freedom defended by Oliver Stone:
Carrasco was separated from León and the other prisoners, which the latter thought indicated he would for sure be executed. Instead, Carrasco says, he was raped. In the graphic account Carrasco gave to the judge, he says, "They dropped my pants and stuck the barrel of a rifle in my anus." Carrasco says he lost consciousness three times during the episode, but each time was slapped in the face so hard he came back to his senses.
Hooray liberty! Nothing says "libertarian hero" like defending Chavista thugs. I'm sure Justin Amash and the rest of the assembled freedom lovers were extremely proud of their fellow ISFLC speaker. (Fortunately, some attendees who have actually experienced the wonders of Chavez managed to keep their wits about them.)
Todd Seavey recently noted that there is a certain strain of libertarian who doesn't particularly care about liberty abroad. Wrote Seavey:
To suggest, by contrast, that libertarian rights apply inside the (presumably arbitrary) geographic boundary of the U.S. but do not apply to the (equally human) Albanians or Cubans or Iraqis overseas would be a bizarre relapse into leftist, geographically-arbitrary relativism, a way of thinking unbecoming a serious, committed libertarian. It still is.
Now, there is a fair amount I disagree with in Seavey's post, but I think this point is both fair and true. A certain segment of "liberty lovers" aren't actually all that interested in liberty, broadly speaking. Rather, they're interested in using "liberty" as a cudgel with which to attack those they disagree with domestically.
And thus we see the welcoming of Stone and his sort at events nominally dedicated to the idea of liberty. They think Stone's speaking out about the NSA—even as he supports a regime that attacks journalists and murders internal opposition—makes him some sort of civil rights hero. This is how you wind up with a cohort of self-described libertarian kids anxious to shake hands with a guy who favors the government seizing the means of production and shutting down media outlets.
It's a joke. But not a particularly funny one.