Let me tell you about my first exposure to Libertarians and my bewildered response to the hate he received:
We had an all candidates debate at my school when I was 18, it was my first opportunity to vote and I was EAGER to get in on that. I loved politics and was an avowed liberal (not a hippy)
So each of the candidates came up and said their piece and debated some of the issues of the day; the Libertarian candidate was a nebbish, bookish fellow who extolled the value of simply being in charge of your own life and the role of the government as a means to enforce contracts and keep society safe and thats about it.
I was wowed; I think I identified with him (being bookish myself) but when it came time for questions people sort of forgot who else was there and took the opportunity to tear this man a new hole to crap from. He left bruised and I left confused. Why had so many people just attacked him?
This predates the Internet and it might shock some; but in some schools they didn’t push Ayn Rand on you. So my exposure to his ideas was well, non-existent up until that point. I was a devoted liberal and pretty much a hard core socialist; but the idea of “owning myself” was interesting.
So I had decided to vote Libertarian if only because I felt bad for that guy who I identified with more than anything else.
It wasn’t until later when I read more of his written stances that I came to understand him better. First and foremost he believed that Abortion should be illegal (which I suspect is why he got in the door of my school in the first place, but I digress) and that women were as much a part of a mans property as his farm equipment and so on.
Now. I understood why he was disliked; he was some kind of kook. Fair enough.
In the 21 years since I haven’t actually come across a Libertarian who wasn’t also the same kind of kook; mostly they were “rugged individuals” who had some sort of hobby horse grudge against society (be it taxes, drug laws, tort law, regulation, abortion, race, fees, the cost of tickets online, what have you) and so they decide that the best way to approach this complaint is to secede from society in some way. To realize their own vision of freedom, away from “the thing that makes society terrible”
It’s dressed up as “freedom from coercion” sure. In ways it is. There is a belief that the tyranny of the greater group will trample those of the individual or the minority; this of course excepts that in the Western world at least, minority protections exist. If someone is a genuine minority through no fault of their own, they are protected. What is misunderstood is that Minority Opinions are protected; but not necessarily supported or applied. And for some people. this is unacceptable. So they become a “Libertarian” but since (by definition) to be a Libertarian is to be a Dilettante and an “Individual” there is no one single definition of a Libertarian that fits.
There are Libertarian Hippies
Libertarian Gun Nut Survivalists
and it all boils down to one thing
“I can do it on my own, leave me alone”