Monday, January 26, 2009

So Whose Rights Were Violated?

You know, private property rights are the most valuable right to ensure freedom and prosperity. A government that respects an individual's right to the property he or she has and the right to obtain it without violating another individual's property rights is a government the presides over a prosperous nation.

But here in America, we hold freedom of speech higher than private rights. This can be demonstrated by the following example:

Leesburg residents awoke Thursday to find Ku Klux Klan fliers in their driveways inviting them to join the organization and outlining the group's "fight for OUR rights as WHITE Christians."

Emmert Elsea, 65, said he collected half a dozen rolled-up fliers from his neighbors' driveways and saw others in front of houses on a neighboring street, two days after the inauguration of the first black president.

"I've been here for over 20 years, and I've never seen such a thing as that," he said, adding that he has an Obama decal on his jeep.

"At first I thought, are they singling me out? But then I looked, and the second neighbor's got it, too."

Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, said such fliers appear every few years in the county and added that they are generally not illegal as long as they are not placed in mailboxes and do not target specific recipients.

The fliers list a Virginia contact in Gordonsville.

The highlighted portion is the important part. The problem is not that they are practicing their freedom of speech rights, but that they are violating the private property rights of the citizens of Leesburg, Virginia. Freedom of speech is only applicable on government (or "public") property, not private property.
Unsolicited advertising on private property such as this is a violation of property rights. If they did a mailing campaign, then that would be different.
I admit, I have done this kind of thing myself, though not for the KKK obviously. My recent change of heart has been due to reading Ayn Rand's essay on the student "rebellion" at Berkeley in the 1960s. It was an interesting read and it certainly highlighted the importance of property rights over the right to speak out against the government.
When the federal government set up the do not call list for phone numbers, this was done because folks were tired of unsolicited advertisements on their property. It costs them money and time, both of which are our most precious material assets. In a similar manner, placing fliers on people's cars are a waste of time and could potentially damage the vehicle.
Still, I may be wrong on this. My reasoning is limited to software development by trade and not all my ideas are good ones. I wouldn't hold my breath and wait on the government to come around and pass a law, one that would difficult to enforce, protecting people from such violations. The best that can be done is to respect the private property rights of others and to encourage other people to do the same. I'll try and find a better way to market the things I am promoting other than venturing onto people's property and leaving unsolicited fliers, door hangers, etc.