Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Libertarians should support riot sentences

The right to personal freedom doesn't include the right to set fire to your neighbour's house, or to encourage others to do so. Nor does it give you the right to steal his goods, slap his wife or destroy his garden. Libertarians are first in the ranks of those who claim the right to defend themselves from such incursions - often violently - and not just a few claim the right to inflict retribution beyond the degree of harm faced, such as those who would shoot unarmed burglars. So I'm at a loss to pick up dissent in Libertarian circles against the confirmation by the appeal court of the four-year sentences imposed on two thugs who used the internet to incite riot and violence. So it's fine to shoot a burglar dead, but not OK to jail one who encourages his mates to burgle you?

What's behind this of course is those who want to apply double standards, those who imagine it's fine for them to incite violence, revolution, anarchy and criminal activity on the interweb, but not OK for those who disagree politically to do so. I've made my own position on this very clear in the past, that I'm unequivocally opposed to the use of violence in any form to achieve political ends, and those who do so on the internet must face the same penalties as though they were rousing the howling mob on the street. Libertarians should support these riot sentences.


tomsmith said...

Posting on facebook does not equal an act of violence.

Anonymous said...

I thought a Libertarian's first duty was to protect and safeguard - through strict adherence to the rule of the law.

The problem for Libertarians, is presently in England, that there are many bad laws protecting corrupt men and institutions and malpractice is rampant.
Secondly, do we recognise laws and diktat 'sent down' from Brussels?

Blue Eyes said...

Yes, but context is everything.

If I put on my Twitter something like "come on guys let's go and smash up the nearest branch of Barclays" the chances are that my "followers", knowing my mild temperament and support for global free trade would assume I was not serious and therefore would not be incited to do anything.

If I shouted the same thing in the middle of Occupy Democracy Village (or whatever it's called) people might not be so sure I was joking.

TrT said...

I support then sentance, because thats what the law says.

I dont support the law, and believe it should be changed.

In this event
Lets face it, if he'd posted "lets go kill some ethnic minorities" and no one showed up, the Guardians outrage would be that 4 years isnt enough.

However, in future
The Law must recognise that incitement is only relevent IF a crime occurs.
If there was a riot, and there were many, the police should have swept through FB/Twitter/BBM and jailed everyone who encouraged it.

Since there was not a riot, there simply cannot be blame for starting it.

But what do I know?

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"do we recognise laws and diktat 'sent down' from Brussels?"

We do not, because they are not legitimate under our constitution.

Legitimacy comes from the consent of the governed, and Brussels has no consent from us - has never asked for it, in fact.

Our laws are made by the Queen in Parliament, and those authorities may not surrender their powers to a foreign body without the agreement of the people, since the power belongs to the people and is delegated to Parliament temporarily, until the next general election. Again, consent to surrender the people's power permanently has not been sought or granted, so cannot be constitutional.

"No foreign prince, power, or potentate hath, or ought to have... etc etc" is still the law of our land.

Anonymous said...

It is an affront to liberty that you can be prosecuted for trying to persuade someone (without using force or threat of violence) to do anything.

The crime should only be in succumbing to such persuasion.

By making 'incitement to...' illegal, you infantilise the population by inferring that they are not mentally equipped to make decisions (on whether to succumb to incitement) for themselves.

I therefore disagree with your first assertion. You should have every right to try to "encourage others to set fire to your neighbour's house". However, the 'others', absolutely do *not* have the right to do so.

People should take responsibility for their actions. The implication of the "incitement to..." laws is that the presence of any incitement (e.g. via a Facebook post) mitigates the culpability of anyone who engages in said incited act.

Anonymous said...

Weekend Yachtsman @19 October 2011 09:42

Indeed and duly digested.

tomsmith said...

First anonymous above is correct. Incitement to riot does not cause people to riot unless you deny that they have free will. No libertarian would wish to ban free speech, which is what you are suggesting here.

TrT said...

The incitement laws were created to allow the "mob bosses" who ordered killings to be tried for the murder.

Not exactly a poor concept.

If your "others" ignore you, no crime was commited, because no house was burnt down, if they listen, and burn the house down, hell yeah I believe you should be tried for inciting it.

Blue Eyes said...

Why are people waffling about Brussels?

tomsmith said...

Rothbard on this point:

What, for example, of "incitement to riot", in which the speaker is held guilty of a crime for whipping up a mob, which then riots and commits various actions and crimes against person and property? In our view, "incitement" can only be considered a crime if we deny every man's freedom of will and of choice, and assume that if A tells B and C: "You and him go ahead and riot!" that somehow B and C are then helplessly determined to proceed and commit the wrongful act. But the libertarian, who believes in freedom of will, must insist that while it might be immoral or unfortunate for A to advocate a riot, that this is strictly in the realm of advocay and should not be subject to legal penalty Of course, if A also participates in the riot, then he himself becomes a rioter and is equally subject to punishment. Furthermore, if A is a boss in a criminal enterprise, and, as part of the crime, orders his henchmen: "You and him go and rob such and such a bank," then of course A, according to the law of accessories, becomes a participant or even a leader in the criminal enterprise itself.

cuffleyburgers said...

I am a libertarian and I believe in free speech and I am a realist - I recognise that in any crowd harrangued by for example a one armed muslim rabble rouser there will be a cross section of people most of whom will go home just slightly more embittered against their host population, but there will also be a small number of simple minded or weak willed youths who believe all the crap spewed out and become convinced that the right thing to do is to plant a bomb in a disco.

To hold only those imbeciles guilty and to apportion no blame to the hate preacher is not right.

However these idiotic tweets were unlkely to have the same effect and therefore the punishment does seem grossly disproportionate considering that the people who actually did the damage would probably have got off with a slap on the wrist.

Dave_G said...

So by these same standards the Quran should be illegal for the violence IT encourages?

I don't believe that ANY form of PUBLISHED encouragement-to-violence can be considered 'illegal'.

This is the first step to book burning.

Just because the 'guilty' parties used the web, their work is still a 'publication' no matter what it said/contained.

Anonymous said...

Holding hate preachers responsible for the actions of people who listened to them talk and then made up their own minds to act is very very dangerous ground. Either people have free will or they do not. Being "weak minded" does not change this. At the end of the day the violence is not committed by the preacher.

If you let this pass then all manner of totalitarianism can come next. The state is far more dangerous than any hate preacher or riot encourager because it does use actual force every day against people who refuse to obey.

outsider said...

The above stream of comment has certainly put me off "libertarianism" for life.

Some commentators seem to think we live under the American Constitution. We don't, and the rights to free speech under the European Convention/ Human Rights Act are, as memory serves, pretty circumscribed.

Rather we live, or used to live, or still think we live under a Common Law system that assumes we are free to do whatever we like unless it is specifically prohibited or would deliberately harm or can reasonably be expected to harm others (eg manslaughter by gross negligence).

If that is also Mr (W)uffinga's idea of freedom, I am on his side.

TrT said...

Hate speech is entirely different.
Saying, "we must plant a bomb in this disco on this date" is very different from saying "we must resist the evil culture of the subhumans who's lands we have taken".

One calls for a specific action, which if then occurs, the caller bears responsibility for.

This man called for a specific action, at a specific time, and a specific place. He should be as culpable as those who got involved at his behest.

tomsmith said...

Since he isn't contracting with anyone to carry out the action he is just speaking words in a public place and is not responsible for the subsequent actions of free willed people. No libertarian would seek to punish this. This is an interesting thread for highlighting one of the key differences between liberalism and that variety of statism known as conservatism

TrT said...

Is it not a verbal contract?
Some may even say a command?

This Libertarian would.

tomsmith said...

No, a contract requires at least two parties, that each is aware of the other's identity, and that they reach an agreement that all parties are aware of. Shouting at a crowd does not entail a contract by any stretch of the imagination. Organising a criminal gang to commit crime does.