I recently drove through the streets of Salt Lake City with Reading Lolita in Tehran. As I listened to the account of life in Iran, which I had previously read, I confronted my own vision of Zion and its concurrent political realities. In balancing my Mormon values to discern an appropriate perspective, I realized that the ultimate question does not consider the rectitude of Libertarianism, per se, but the magnitude of its ideal realization.
Iran is not a backwards country whose system should be valued for its diversity’s sake. It is a totalitarian moral wasteland. A government among many in the history of the world that brakes humanity in a totalitarian vice. Azar Nafisi, adeptly shows the satanic designs and the reader, or listener, desires to rebel against them, even while sitting in a Honda Accord on I-15.
In Iran, the values of the most extreme are conflated with the legal requirements of all. Women are required to wear the chador. Licking ice cream is illegal. Virginity testing of girls is common. Alcohol is illegal. A large body of literature and journalism is illicit. Heterodox belief and practice is banned. And the Morality Police enforce the law and imprison the offender.
My thinking then turns to what the ideal society should be. Free, I imagine. Yet, some Mormon conservatives advocate strong laws that penalize behaviors considered immoral or uncivil and the arguments are sometimes attractive. In Zion, will bars and pornography be outlawed? What about tank tops? Or premarital sex? Or Nabokov?
The struggle I have is the perspicuity of Iran’s legal depravity, while concurrently not seeing a definitive means to judge where the line should be drawn. I am not convinced that a pure libertarian society is healthy, nor do I think there is precedent for it in our evanescent Zions. What, then, is Mormonism’s Libertarianism?