Reading books, journal articles and newspapers can sometimes get a bit tedious if you’re looking for a dose of rational libertarian thought. Political television shows such as Question Time and Newsnight possess an overwhelmingly serious tone that occasionally makes watching them uninspiring. Websites like Lew Rockwell and Freedomain Radio offer a selection of engaging podcasts, but still leave some listeners decidedly out of the loop. The views of those uninterested in formal politics are instead formed in less explicit ways.
One of the main reasons why The Sun and The Daily Mail are the most-read newspapers in Britain is because they sensationalise and ridicule. Although the high-minded may criticise this as shameful, the fact is that hyperbole, humour and blatant bias sells newspapers. More importantly, sensationalism sells the ideas behind that bias. Enter Penn & Teller.
Both are atheists. Both are unapologetically libertarian. Both support legalising drugs, allowing gay marriage, repealing gun control laws, legalising prostitution, drastically reducing taxes and just about every other ideological stance that screams ‘don’t tread on me’. Best of all, they ran a hugely popular TV show for seven years that broadcast these stances in their own uniquely brash fashion: Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
The show holds broad appeal to anyone who enjoys witnessing the application of reason to pseudoscience, religion and political correctness. There are episodes attacking everything from Mother Teresa to P.E.T.A, and the viewer finds themselves accidentally absorbing a lot of useful information whilst enjoying Penn’s unusual but effective brand of in-your-face comedy. There are also distinctly libertarian episodes that deride taxation, the war on drugs and traditional family values.
The show’s previous episodes can be found with a simple YouTube search, and I would implore everyone from the casual cynic to the professional sceptic to give this pair of eccentric magicians a chance. Penn and Teller provide a healthy dose of level-headedness, and manage to entertain whilst doing so. Give Bullshit a chance.