On November 8, Libertarian presidential candidate Carl Person posted a comment on the blog of his campaign manager, Dr. Tom Stevens. (The comment is under Stevens’ blog handle, but both Person and Stevens have confirmed to me that Person wrote the comment.) The comment was a response to a question about which “victimless crimes” Person would legalize. Person responded, in part:
The victimless crimes are prostitution, bestiality, sodomy, drugs, abortion, and the principles are that we shouldn’t be regulating what people do to themselves, and the cost of the regulation should be saved and returned to taxpayers, to reduce taxes, and enable the economy to grow with commerce instead of with prisoners, private jails and private jail guards.
Stevens asked Person for a clarification regarding his listing of bestiality as a victimless crime. Person responded, and Stevens posted the exchange on his website. Here are Person’s further comments on the matter, as reflected in that post:
When I mentioned “bestiality” I was referring to animals, not humans (Note: some statutes prohibiting bestiality include children within the definition.) Bestiality as a victimless crime would center on two elements: 1. “property rights” – limiting the practice to one’s own animals or with wild animals (not owned by anyone) and 2. “consent” and/or “non-injury” – if the animal is willing and is not injured in the process. If the animal is already dead, the victimless crime would become a variant of necromancy, and have to be analyzed in a similar fashion. I’m not a practitioner or advocate of bestiality and am only trying to apply Libertarian principles to a seldom discussed victimless crime.
The post also includes a lengthy quote by Queens County Libertarian Party Secretary Dallwyn Merck in support of Person’s position on bestiality.
Some IPR commenters questioned whether Stevens really spoke for Person in his decision to promote bestiality legalization as the centerpiece of his campaign. Accordingly, I contacted Person directly to confirm that the statements were his. In a candid e-mail exchange (part of which has been posted here by Stevens), Person confirmed that he had indeed made the comments. “Tom Stevens did not change any of my words,” he wrote. He also praised Stevens for his work as campaign manager: “Tom Stevens is my campaign manager, and has put in a substantial amount of unpaid work in the process. He continues to be my campaign manager and I have confidence in him. He recommends and suggests, but I as the candidate decide.” Person also disagreed with suggestions by IPR commenters that Stevens’ post was designed to discredit the candidate. “I don’t believe he [Stevens] is trying to sabotage my campaign,” wrote Person. In IPR comments, Stevens confirmed Person’s version of events: “Carl decides what issues he wishes to raise. I simply advise but he makes all final decisions.”
In the e-mail exchange, Person further explained his motivations for promoting bestiality legalization as part of his campaign. In his original comment about bestiality, wrote Person, he
threw in bestiality for the sake of controversy, believing that it probably is not in the Libertarian mind when it comes to victimless crimes, but perhaps upon my analysis could be added to the group of victimless crimes. I do not practice or advocate bestiality, and do not include under-age human beings (as the commonlaw crime of bestiality includes in some states), and am not advocating that bestiality be added to the regular list of victimless crimes, but from a Libertarian analysis it does appear that a limited amount of non-injurious, consensual bestiality would be considered a victimless crime. If Libertarian principles are enhanced by religious principles, then my analysis would be changed according to the religious principles involved.
…I’m the one who put in “bestiality” as a concept I learned in Harvard Law School more than together with property rights (involving captive as well as wild animals), and perhaps I opened up an unnecessary can of worms in my efforts to apply Libertarian principles in an entire theoretical way. There probably hasn’t been any enforcement of laws prohibiting bestiality in decades, but I am just guessing.
Finally, Person added that legalizing bestiality is simply a small part of his platform, as he intends to focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs.” He wrote, “You might want to look into candidates from any party to see if any candidate has a better, more practical program than mine for job creation. You will find none, I assure you. So, bestiality is of little or no consequence as a campaign issue, and you might want to look into the issue that is going to carry the election – jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Many thanks to Person and Stevens for responding to my questions.