Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Property Rights Trump Freedom of Speech

I have seen the idea of Freedom of Speech argued so often that I think it is becoming a danger to our liberty.  I know, I just said something that was contradictory, but I have good reasons for making that statement.  Let me start out by stating that the First Amendment was targeting Congress by restricting laws they could pass and later on the Fourteenth Amendment made it part of the states, somehow.

This amendment basically stated that people are allowed to speak out against the government without fear of reprisal.  By “speech”, the founders clearly meant written words and spoken words.  By and large, they did not mean actions against the government, however that meaning has been stretched these days.

The reason that “Freedom of Speech” is more dangerous these days is because it has a broad meaning with no real limitation.  For example, making a political donation is considered “speech”.  This is utterly ridiculous as that is an action which does not involve words.  While I believe that people are free to donate however much they want to candidates, regardless of current Federal law, it is a property right and not a free speech right.  I am free to spend my money however I see fit, which is a property right and more akin to free market principles. (Full disclosure: none of my money has ever been sent to any political candidate to date.)

Basically, because we have been arguing freedom of speech in order to gain more freedom while forgetting about property rights, we have negated the crucial right in favor of what amounts to a sexier one.  If you are believer in property rights and that what you own is yours, then you should argue that way and not the other.

What about murder?  Murder is a violation of property rights (intentionally destroying a human life that you do not own) but it is not a violation of freedom of speech, at least how modern and post-modern civil libertarians define it.  You could easily argue that murder is a form of free speech after all.

So when people argue for things like pornography (Full Disclosure: I do not believe in making pornography a crime despite being a Christian) should be allowed because of freedom of speech, I respond by asking, “What are pornographers speaking out against in government?”

The High-Church Statists know all of this and recognize that property rights trump freedom of speech.  For example, the FCC is an agency that essentially manages the airwaves, which are currently the private property of the Federal government.  Yes, I know that they are referred to as “Public” airwaves, but there is no such thing as public property, only property.  The FCC currently imposes fines for indecency, which for now includes nudity and foul language.  If the private entertainment companies, such as Viacom or Clear Channel, owned those airwaves, they would be free to put whatever content they wanted in their airwaves.  But instead they are owned by the State and so we have this faux debate on foul language on the public airwaves between social conservatives and social liberals.

As far as I am concerned, your freedom of speech ends when it reaches my ears, which are my property.  It is a shame that even libertarians fall into this trap and forget about the most fundamental right is not freedom of speech, but the right to their property.