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January 22, 2014 12:11 PM Conspiracy Theories

By Ed Kilgore

So in an odd move, the Washington Post has decided to take over publishing The Volokh Conspiracy, a self-consciously conservative (or at least right-of-center) legal site. There’s been, so far as I know, no explanation of this move, and what little is out there seems to go out of its way to avoid recognizing that the site represents an ideological community, however loose. Perhaps WaPo is going to set itself up as step-parent to all sorts of worthy and/or needy blogs (it reached a similar arrangement recently with the very worthy, and generally non-ideological, Monkey Cage site), perhaps as a enhanced feature for those paying to get behind the paywall. But if so it would be nice to get a glimpse of how that might look over time.

Though most of the gabbing about this development related it to the possibly coincidental departure of Ezra Klein from the WaPo stable, there’s been at least one contretemps about how to describe the site, touched off by a hostile account posted by Roy Edroso. Here’s how he describes the exchange:

Ann Althouse thinks your humble interlocutor is a “hack” because I lack “the grace to say you know, these guys pretty much are libertarians.” Who said they weren’t? My disrespect extends to them and to libertarianism, which is just a niche brand of conservatism for people with social anxieties anyway. There’s no conflict between their beliefs and those of any other advocate of Maximum Freedom for the Rich.

I’ve observed before that libertarians often benefit in the eyes of liberals from a shared cultural/religious context that doesn’t extend to social conservatives. Althouse appears to be accusing Edroso of eliding the crucial distinction that makes some right-wing folk beyond the pale while others are fun to have around because they won’t embarrass you with all that supernatural claptrap. As it happens, I’m with Edroso, and view disciples of Ayn Rand as quite possibly more incorrigible than those who follow the latest Christian Right huckster. At least some Christian Right types have a legitimate interest in poor people, disdained by many libertarians as losers and looters. You can’t be treated completely like biological garbage if you have a God-endowed immortal soul. But in any event, Being Libertarian shouldn’t make the Volokh Conspiracy folk any more palatable or appropriate as part of the WaPo team.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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