LNC Vice Chair Arvin Vohra: Is He Representing Himself or Us?
by Contributing Author Alyce Auman
Here we go again:
It was almost a year ago that us Libertarian Party members had to deal with the after effects of Arvin Vohra posting things on his Facebook page, in public comments, that were disgraceful…..and here we are again. Last year it was a verbal lashing and judgment of our military members followed by our teachers. Now we are faced with addressing his public comments about the age of consent regarding teenagers having sexual relations between themselves and other teenagers and teenagers having sexual relations with adults. Were he not the Vice Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, representing the Libertarian Party members, we may be able to chalk this up to “free speech” from “that guy.” However, he isn’t just “that guy”. He is one of the leaders in the 3rd largest national political party.
What did he do now?
Arvin started addressing this topic about age of consent by posting a statement “Pick one: “It’s totally natural for two men to have sex.” “It’s an abomination for a 25-year-old man to have sex with a 15-year-old woman.” Then, he finishes off the statement that we should do whatever we want as long as we aren’t using force on others.
The rebuttals to this viewpoint came fast and furiously. Let’s break this down a bit. Some teenagers do indeed “sext” with each other. Some teenagers have romantic relationships with other teenagers and one of them is just above and the other just below the age of 18, the age Americans consider a youth being “of legal age.” If Arvin TRULY wanted to address this issue of an age being set in stone by the state, many people would have realized that to be his intent by him stating so. He did NOT state this.
If Arvin TRULY wanted to discuss how some teenagers are of mature mindset to participate in relationships with people older than they are, or if he wanted to express the Libertarian viewpoint that families know their teens best, so it is best to leave each case up for a case by case scenario, maybe he wouldn’t have received the back lash that he received.
Arvin showed his intent when he started the conversation with “Pick one: “It’s totally natural for two men to have sex.” “It’s an abomination for a 25-year-old man to have sex with a 15-year-old woman.” He was indicating, loud and clear, that if the Libertarian party is going to advocate for LGBTQ rights, then we should also acknowledge that we should be advocating for a 25-year-old man to have sex with a 15-year-old woman, or be ashamed of ourselves that we are somehow hypocrites. The bigoted statement is something quite expected from anti-LGBTQ rights activists, bigots, political leaders that have stated things of this nature previously that “if we allow LGTBQ marriage and equality rights, then we might as well legalize pedophilia and bestiality.” The Libertarian party is NOT anti-LGBTQ because we recognize the relationship is between two consenting adults, which is even addressed on our platform.
Realizing that he had made a statement in which his bigotry was evident, Arvin’s next statement is “If a 14-year-old has a kid, I would prefer the other person to be an adult, with a job. #End Welfare”. Arvin is attempting to keep his stance as close to an anarchist mindset as he can by trying to attribute his support for no age of consent to be equal to his desire of there being no more welfare. Not only is this false to assume that all welfare recipients are young parents/mothers, but it paints one whole segment of people with an assumptive brush that young people are the reason that welfare is an issue. In a rebuttal to him, I would state that with the high divorce rate in America, combined with a young girl being married to an older man, would possibly result in a young girl who has limited education and financial resources, being divorced from a husband who no longer wants her, being left to struggle and lead her to welfare. If welfare did not exist, then what would that young girl do? This is a common reason that women that are victims of domestic violence stay because they have no way out.
As in the case of the veteran bashing that Arvin participated in last year, he again attempted to attack other Americans rather than the government, of whom he is supposedly against, in their continuance of welfare programs. Let it be noted there are many things that attribute to people being welfare, but I digress; that is a conversation for another time.
Arvin goes on attention-seeking tirades that appear to be almost bi-polar to people that have watched him since he started his ranting online on his social media accounts. Last year, he lashed out at the military members stating that they were moralless murderers. He didn’t attack the cult of the omnipotent state, aka our government. He attacked individuals because he said that their willingness to participate in the military is what allows the government to have the military involved in things that it should not be. Evidently Arvin forgot that there is a draft system in the United States and it has been used in our history, so people withholding their voluntary involvement would likely be immediately followed with the compulsory service, which now, let’s not forget, includes drafting women as of recent. To my point about Arvin’s military rant last year, after he spewed his smack- you- in- the- face ignorant statements, Arvin can be found taking the time to reflect on himself and writing “Arvin Vohra: ‘An Open Letter to Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military (Please forward to any who may be interested) Grab your popcorn, this is where it gets good.
In this quasi-apology, Arvin reflected on his views of military members and describes how he had been speaking to many veteran soldiers and has become enlightened by those conversations. First Arvin attempts to humble himself and somewhat explain:
“I’ve lived with almost every form of privilege possible, every advantage that any person could reasonably, or unreasonably, expect to have. And yet, I’ve done many things that have gone against my own moral codes at the time, for very minor personal gains. I’ve gotten myself into situations in which I’ve compromised my own ethics, been dishonorable in my own eyes.”
He then acknowledges “I’ve heard of government schools letting recruiters come in and give puffed up, practiced, manipulative sales pitches to 14-year-old kids without their parents present.” You don’t say, Arvin?! 14-year-old kids can be manipulated by adults? Why would a 14-year-old kid need their parents to be present when considering signing up for the military, Arvin? Would that be because 14-year-old youth cannot, with limited worldly experience beyond their parent’s home and the school that they attend, decide to enlist with the military that is DANGEROUS? They can’t predict what may happen to them? NO SHIT, you don’t say. What if the parents were pro-military, wanted their children to be in the service, and the child did not want to? What would you say then? The next statement he says, “I’ve come to understand that people join for honor, tradition, or the chance to seek opportunity. They sign unbreakable contracts before they are legally able to drink or rent a car.” This again indicates that he’s acknowledging youth can be manipulated.
Arvin likes to spew ridiculousness to feed his ego as well as prove how right he is in his line of thinking that is a hardline anarchist way of thinking. If you ask me, Arvin is self-serving in his immediate gratification that he gets when he does these things. Ego can be a real bitch to keep under wraps in some people. Arvin also has a lot of trouble with making sound, logical reasoning when he tries to explain that his views are the only way of thinking. He previously stated, when speaking about Trump,
“I will not support a political ideology that suggests a whiff of sexism or racism is worse than the blatant abuses of government power over the last years. Because when you march against the former, but excuse the latter, that’s exactly what you are saying.” Is it not possible to be both against sexism and racism as well as be against government abuse of power? When you attempt to disregard people’s feelings about something by replacing their topic with a different topic with the intent to guilt them into changing their stance on something, that’s something that abusive manipulators do.
AGE OF CONSENT ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT MAKING LAWS
Now that we are on the topic of manipulation, let’s revert momentarily to the age of consent argument that Arvin has started between Libertarians and others outside of the party that have witnessed his foolery. Even without laws regarding age of consent, a family or a partner can manipulate a youth into a relationship. Not everyone has a family that cares about them properly. That being said I think that facing a life sentence for a disgusting transgression against our children is better than walking your daughter down the isle at 14 years old to a man who is 25, 30, 40 years old. I also recognize that laws don’t prevent ALL crimes, but there are people, like myself, who have thought twice about things we wish we could do, but didn’t want to go to jail.
I am basing my opinion of this topic on my personal experiences, situations that I have seen others around me experience, previous work experience working with the public and with people involved in domestic violence relationships, and research and studies that I have done. Not every situation is the same, however this is just to show my views on why this is an important issue to not make light of.
Not only have I been a part of being manipulated and abused as a young woman, I have also witnessed this happen to others. With the age of consent topic, if we are being realistic, we know what we really are talking about is the age of consent of a girl to be with an older guy. Yes, it does happen the other way around, but typically the girl is the younger of the counterpart.
I have witnessed people attempting to defend Arvin’s ideas that the age of consent is a viable topic to discuss because:
- Other countries exist that have no age of consent laws
- Age of consent interferes with the parents of the children being able to raise their kids the way that they want.
- If a youth indicates their consent, then they realize what they are doing.
The Libertarians that are in support of the age of consent remaining or being changed but not eliminated entirely, typically exchange the same ideas. They state the known, documented, scientific studies that have been done regarding young women being in a relationship with an older man. There are physical, psychological, emotional, educational, and other reasons that relate to why a woman should NOT be in a relationship at a young age.
POINTS OF RESEARCH TO CONSIDER
A few results of studies that have been done indicate that individuals who marry earlier are more likely to be from disadvantaged families, from Protestant or Mormon families, to value their religious faith more highly, have a high-school diploma or less. Research has shown that an individual’s demographic and family background have a lot to do with young people getting married. With respect to demographic variations, women typically marry younger than men. Race-ethnic differences in marrying young are also found. Hispanics are the most likely to marry young, followed by Whites and then by Asians and Blacks. The geographic location has also been associated with early marriage. Individuals who live in the southern United States are more likely to marry at young ages, as are people living in country areas. These young people, especially women, may be less likely to receive economic support from their parents, and find no viable options outside of marriage.
People whose parents have a higher level of education and finances are less likely to marry young because their families have more economic resources and can provide living situations for their older children, especially daughters. Individuals are in less of a hurry to leave these types of homes because they are comfortable. These young people are more likely to attend college also.
Many supporters of Arvin stating that other countries don’t have age of consent laws tend to forget, or not be aware that other countries have significant issues when it comes to women’s rights. Many women in other countries are forced into marriage, with a partner that is not of their choosing, sometimes at a very young age as well.
Child marriages MAY violate many human rights; including right to self- ownership, right to education, freedom from violence, reproductive rights, access to reproductive and sexual health care, employment, freedom of movement, and the right to consensual marriage. There have been testimonies of children and women that shows the detrimental impact on their physical and mental well-being, and their ability to live free of violence.
Consequences of child marriage have lasting effects beyond adolescence as they struggle with the health effects of getting pregnant too young and too often, their lack of education and economic independence, domestic violence, and marital rape.
Child marriage directly threatens the health and well-being of girls: complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the main cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19 in many countries. Girls aged 15 to 20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their 20s, and girls under the age of 15 are five times as likely to die.
These physical consequences are due largely to girls’ physical immaturity where the pelvis and birth canal are not fully developed.
Pregnancy for young girls poses a serious risk of developing obstetric fistula, since their smaller pelvises make them prone to obstructed labor. Fistula leaves its victims with urine or fecal incontinence that causes infection, pain, and a bad smell.
A child born to a girl under 18 has a 60 percent greater chance of dying in the first year of life than one born to a woman 19 and older.
Child marriage frequently ends a girl’s education. Girls who marry young are often expected to take on responsibilities at home that are prioritized over attending school.
A lack of education limits girls’ choices and opportunities throughout their lives, not just when they are children. This can lead to poverty.
Young women between the ages of 15 and 19 with low levels of education are at a much greater risk of domestic and sexual violence from their spouses than older and more educated women. Research cites spousal age difference, typical of child marriage, as a significant risk factor associated with violence and sexual abuse against girls.
Girls who have been forced into marriages by their families or refuse to accept or stay in forced marriages, or who elope because they want to marry someone not chosen or approved of by their families, are often at risk of violence, imprisonment, and in extreme cases, may be killed by their families or husbands.
The society in other countries is generally tolerant of the girls being punished because the girl has gone against her family’s wishes and societal norms. As a result, the perpetrators are rarely held to account, perpetuating a culture of violence against women in the country.
I have had the pleasure of speaking, in depth to a young lady just the other day who is here living in Buffalo, N.Y. Her husband is living in New York City where his job is located for the moment. They are originally from Bangladesh. She was forced into marriage with her husband. Long story short, she suffers greatly and presents a fierce amount of depression, self-loathing, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, guilt at having feelings of defying her parents for not just “pretending to be happy in the marriage that they arranged for her.”
In another recent case where I had the pleasure of working with and getting to know another young lady, who is a Libertarian, there was a story that came out about her great struggle that she overcame. This young lady was moved with her parents to a Christian commune here in the United States when she was 9 years old. From the age of 9 until 18, when she finally could leave, she suffered immensely with depression, anxiety, sexual assault, witnessing sexual assault upon others and herself. Her parents brought her there and believed very strongly in the man who was the “prophet” of their group.
Worldwide issues with young women being sold off as sex slaves in the sex trafficking industry, mistreatment of women in several cultures as less than men are evident and documented. My own experience coming from a family that ignored or participated in mental, physical and sexual abuse of children, combined with my years of reading up and following this topic, combined again with the ladies that I have described above, is why this minarchist believes that sometimes parents don’t always have your best interest in mind. Do I think that the government is the answer to all things? No. In the words of Larry Sharpe, in presenting topics of interest to people when we are doing outreach and speaking to the public on behalf of the Libertarian party, it is wise to not just address the PROBLEM that government creates but offer a SOLUTION.
(With this topic at hand, the PROBLEM we Libertarians could be identifying would be teenagers receiving jail time for sexting each other or for engaging in a relationship between teens those that are close in age, with one below 18 years old, and the other above. To make the point that there is a PROBLEM, we should offer a SOLUTION. A viable solution to this issue would be that if two teenagers were to fall into these categories, there would be an analysis completed of that situation. Completely eradicating all interactions with these situations and acting as if parents are all well-meaning, educated, caring parents is simply naïve. Arvin himself pointed out that he was brought up in a privileged manner, indicating that he had fantastic parents that cared about him. Not all of us had this.
THE CALL TO REMOVE
In relation to the Libertarian Party members calling for Arvin’s removal from his position of the Libertarian National Committee Vice Chair position, there has been a heated argument between the radicals and the minarchists in interpreting their own views of, quite frankly, a semi vague platform that we have. In the eyes of a minarchist the platform does indeed include our viewpoint that personal relationships should not be under government authority for “consenting adults.”:
ADDRESSING THE PLATFORM
1.4 Personal Relationships
Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.
As a Libertarian, we also include our view point on the platform that parents have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs, however “this statement shall not be construed to condone child abuse or neglect.”
This statement being included would represent a belief that if a child were neglected or forced into a relationship with an older partner, we would have the right to be protective of the child. This point is not indicative of a belief that the government should be in full control, but is does point out that people having this concern IS A LEGITIMATE concern that should not be mocked or dismissed. Also, “consenting adults” is used because children do not have the logic, reasoning, forethinking abilities, or worldly experience to examine the importance and consequences of such a topic that they are not familiar with since they are just growing into these things.
1.6 Parental Rights
Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs. This statement shall not be construed to condone child abuse or neglect.
Anarchists are forever yelling “no victim, no crime.” As a minarchist, I even agree with this statement. However, if you believe that a youth has indeed been a victim by being forced into a relationship with an older person, by being manipulated by that person, or controlled by that person mentally, or by the family mentally lashing you if you don’t comply, this would certainly apply here.
“The prescribed role of government is to protect the rights of every individual including the right to life, liberty, and property.” Someone who has been manipulated or forced by parents is not enjoying the “right to life or liberty”. The next section “Criminal laws should be limited in their application to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm.” Does NOT say that Libertarians believe in zero laws ever. This section indicates that it is open for discussion on the view that there should/could be “criminal laws” being applied in some way. For anyone to say that every Libertarian is only a “pure” Libertarian if they believe in zero laws is not correct. This section of the platform even goes further to explain how a due process is important. A due process here is referring to LAWS.
1.7 Crime and Justice
The prescribed role of government is to protect the rights of every individual including the right to life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited in their application to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Therefore, we favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes. We support restitution to the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. The constitutional rights of the criminally accused, including due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must be preserved. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.
Having laws won’t stop crime completely. As Libertarians, we are often explaining this when people are calling for gun rights to be controlled or completely taken away. For some crimes like murder, rape, child pedophilia, having your life taken away from you and spending it behind bars CAN (not all, but some) deter people. A lifelong sentence is a very long time to spend locked up. Exploring private prison solutions is a common idea that is acceptable from both anarchists and minarchists, but again, even private prisons have some force. A person does not want to be behind bars. If they are made to go behind bars, even in “violation of a written contract” that they had with society, they are still being forced to comply with their written contract.
People calling on the removal of Arvin Vohra are upset that:
- He isn’t representing ALL of us
- He isn’t trying to address PROBLEM/SOLUTION in a rational way; instead using a shock factor and almost an abusive manner
- Those of us doing Outreach that give people Libertarian Facebook pages to follow and our website address to read up on the party are now having to deal with answering questions about something that our Vice Chair said that appeared to be representative of “all us crazy Libertarians”. It’s hard enough to grow the party. It’s hard enough to pound the pavement and petition for candidates. Our outreach and marketing have been and evidently continue to be a huge issue within the party.
In conclusion, I would like to also point out that it is hypocritical of the chair of the LNC to hear member complaints, not want to address them, blow them off, and mock them on social media. This form of retribution on dues paying member because she is addressing concerns of not only herself, but many of us, is completely unacceptable. If I didn’t know better, I would say that the Vice Chair and Chair are in on this together in order to push the more moderate Libertarians out of the party. Just last year the anarchists were upset at feeling like they were being pushed out of the party; now we have the minarchists feeling that way as well. I thought the enemy was the government? I shouldn’t be surprised since there was some talk by some members of the Libertarian Party last year in a plan to cause a disruption of the National Convention in a way that violates the NAP. These people wanted to do this purposely to drive moderates from the party. If anyone reading this was going to leave, I tell you, stay. I know that I’m not going anywhere. I love all my anarchist and minarchist friends and we all want the same things, just in different ways. We need to continue to work together, less we work to fight the enemy and end up destroying ourselves in the process.
Also published on Medium.