Would A Libertarian Society Protect Free Speech That Incites Crime?

Dave Killion — August 30, 2012

In the last Subsidiarity Podcast, Ashley Johnston and I discussed a blog post by Akosua Matthews over at the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s blog “The Justice Report“. The subject was free speech, and I have since had some fleeting thoughts on the topic. To wit;

I think most libertarians would agree that threatening someone with the initiation of aggression is, in itself, an initiation of aggression and therefore criminal. However, determining when such a threat has been made is not always clear (see this discussion). If someone says to me, “Give me your money, or I will kill you”, then that is clearly coercion and I can retaliate. But if some people are caught discussing a plan to rob me, would libertarian philosophy consider that criminal? Further still, since libertarians recognize that taxes are theft, would anyone advocating coercive redistribution be prosecuted for inciting criminal activity?

On that final question, I think not, but I am confident that any such advocates would find themselves struggling to find and keep jobs, homes, and vendors willing to supply them with products. Instead, they would be shunned by the decent and right-thinking people into which most of society would have evolved. And that is yet another one of the beauties of libertarianism; it discourages conduct that is anti-social, even when it is not criminal.

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