#IAmUnitedLiberty: Tom Knighton’s passion for fiction ignites his passion for liberty

Tom Knighton

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

Every story must have a beginning. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when my path began. After all, when you’re raised by a liberal mother who at one time supported Barry Goldwater and a Reagan-era Republican, it’s safe to say that libertarianism was bound to be the result.  Unfortunately, that’s not quite what happened.

You see, somehow along the way, I leaned far, far to the left. While I didn’t like some aspects of socialism, it seemed like a far better alternative to what we currently had.  The idea of everyone being able to work, everyone’s needs being met regardless? It had an allure to it that I fully embraced.

As I grew older, however, I realized that such a system was unworkable. So what should I do?

I guess my path toward being a libertarian began, ironically enough, with the left-leaning television show The West Wing.  The token Republican character, Ainsley Hayes, said, “This White House that loves the Bill of Rights, all of them - except the second one.”

Frankly, that line struck me like a ton of bricks.  You see, I always loved the Bill of Rights, but I actually thought maybe we should look into gun control. (I’m sure anyone who has followed my work here at United Liberty might be a bit shocked by that, but it’s true.)  This lead me to question the consistency of my beliefs.

That questioning, and the desperate desire to find something to read, lead me to read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  The work itself needs little description. Most are at least passingly familiar with it, but I wasn’t really. I read the entire book in about a week, devouring each and every word. It was a slap upside the head for the part of me that actually thought government intervention in the business world could work for the better. It showed how horribly the Law of Unintended Consequences could crush any noble effort.

Still, it just warned me about the dark side.  I needed something hopeful, something else to push me that next step.

That’s when someone recommended I read Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold.  The science fiction story revolves around a young woman who flees her native Earth after corrupt officials seek to arrest her for a crime she didn’t commit.  Her running lands her on the planet Grainne, a libertarian world.

Now, I’m not about to say that the world of Grainne is what a libertarian world would actually look like.  However, it showed me another way. It showed me the possibility of a libertarian society where people are free to do as they please, so long as they don’t interfere with the liberty of another.

Fiction is…well…fictional.  No matter what, it’s not reality. However, that doesn’t mean fiction can’t be powerful.  The work of Charles Dickens did much to improve the conditions people endured during the early days of the Industrial Revolution. No one can argue the impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on slavery in the United States.

It was a passion for fiction, both written and television, that ultimately transformed me from a liberal with socialist symapthies to a libertarian who would sooner die than sit by and let socialism even begin to take hold in this great country.

So, since 2009, I’ve fought the good fight. I’ve done what I could to fight back the hordes. Here in Georgia, I’ve battled to expand gun rights until we are now one of the most permissive states in the nation. I’m making the world better for both of my children. I hope we can bring back the freedom our forefathers envisioned when they founded this great land. I’m a small cog in that, but every cog is important.

It’s almost cliche to say that a book changed your life, so I try to avoid those words despite them being true. Looking at the good fight so many of us have taken on, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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