Glee and Libertarianism

Being a libertarian and a huge fan of FOX’s Glee, I have to share this. Writing for Students for Liberty, Clint Townsend highlights the libertarian values of “individualism, tolerance, diversity, and social equity” in the show:

The show centers around the Glee Club, which is home to what most would consider social misfits; specifically the overweight, the disabled, racial minorities, and gay and lesbian teens. Despite facing harassment, the Glee Club refuses to submit to the forces of their majority counterparts.

While I think Clint creates a libertarian connection where the writers didn’t intend to, such as homage to Thomas Jefferson and opposition to intellectual property, he does note a very interesting example of the market incentives that private schools have to foster a better environment:

The bullying that Kurt Hummel receives from a closeted bully, Dave Karofsky, leads Kurt and his father to take action. Once the administration received a death threat on Kurt, they failed to take any serious action to subdue the hostile environment that Kurt was exposed to on a daily basis. As a result, Kurt’s father and step-mother decided to place Kurt in a private school. As one would expect, Kurt’s encounters with bullying decreased dramatically since private schools have a market incentive to provide a suitable learning environment.

Glee, like much of contemporary television, has helped to introduce libertarian social values into cultural norms. The latest generations are far more socially accepting than our predecessors, angering social conservatives and other traditionalist. As Townsend notes, this cultural progression has been fought and won on a societal front and owes no gratitude to government intervention:

The far right, priding themselves on meaningless tirades about “borders, language and culture”, are losing their grip on society. In this particular battle of ideas, the forces of tolerance, acceptance, and social change have proven their appeal in the face of those who have futilely attempted to hold on to traditional culture. The greatest part of this battle is that it is taking place without the force of government; no civil rights act is needed, no anti-discrimination legislation has been proposed. The use of the market, once again, has proven itself as the most effective and most moral means of changing culture. The solutions to hate and social conservatism that Glee offers do not come from an overarching source of authority. There is a recognition that laws and policies have no effect in eradicating prejudice. Instead, Glee’s message is one of rugged individualism, self-reliance and individual empowerment. This method, in contrast to seeking help from administrative figures, proves far more effective in reforming others’ opinions.


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