Madonna to Mandela


Reason's December issue celebrates the L.A.-based magazine's 35th year in existence with a list of, yes, 35 "Heroes of Freedom" who "made the world a freer, better, and more libertarian place by example, invention, or action" during that time.

"The list is by design eclectic, irreverent, and woefully incomplete..." Samples:

John Ashcroft: [He] has managed to create an unprecedented coalition of conservatives, liberals, and libertarians around a single noble cause: the protection of civil liberties.

Jeff Bezos: His Segway enthusiasm notwithstanding, Bezos runs a company that consistently leads the pack in collaborative software, customer service, recommendations, you name it.

Curt Flood: The Moses of free agency in professional sports, the star St. Louis Cardinals outfielder started the process that led to athletes’ getting paid something close to what they’re actually worth.

Brian Lamb: The Great Stone Face of C-SPAN has produced more must-see TV than anyone else in the history of the medium.

Robert Heinlein: If you don’t grok Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Time Enough for Love, you just plain can’t grok anything.

Madonna: As one of the first music video megastars, the Material Girl led MTV’s glorious parade of freaks, gender-benders, and weirdos who helped broaden the palette of acceptable cultural identities and destroy whatever vestiges of repressive mainstream sensibilities still remained.

Martina Navratilova: As the first superstar athlete to admit she was gay and the first woman to play tennis like a man, Martina did more than inspire movies like Personal Best; she smashed stultifying stereotypes like so many poorly hit lobs.

Willie Nelson: One of the great crossover artists in popular music, the Texas legend pulled off a Martin Luther King Jr.-like achievement by uniting hippies and rednecks in a single audience.

Richard Nixon: Between waging secret wars, enacting wage and price controls, and producing Watergate, Tricky Dick did more than any other single individual to encourage cynicism about government and wariness of presidential power.

The Yuppie: This widely reviled Reagan-era social construct opened up to ordinary people countless pleasures and pursuits once reserved for the upper class, from "gourmet" food to good-looking cars to nicely designed furniture to fancy-pants literary devices to an obsession with Tuscany. In striving "upward," Yuppies spurred a massive exfoliation of choice at all levels of American society

Other serious picks include Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Evan Williams, co-founder of Pyra Labs that brought blogging to the masses.

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