An interesting debate about anonymous speech on the internet, CDA 230, and the related issues of privacy, information flow and libelous harm. My position on the issue is expressed in my two comments on the thread.
Posts Tagged ‘privacy’
Conversations, news and movies inform me that it is pretty common for a person to say bad things about his or her ex. I have always found that practice mystifyingly alien. It is not that I necessarily have any moral objection to saying such things; just that I cannot ever imagine myself doing it.
A part of this attitude has probably to do with my general distate to voicing private matters in public, even to close friends. But a lot of it also has to do with pride and self-respect; it seems to me that it is impossible to say really bad things about someone you were close to for an extended period of time in the past without disrespecting yourself. How can you today badmouth someone you loved and respected in the past without implying that your judgment, taste — in a sense your entire existence then — was in some fundamental way flawed or false? I mean I see that people can feel pretty strong negative emotions after a bad break-up but still… I simply don’t get it. I don’t think I can ever publicly put down or even strongly criticize anyone I had been together with for a reasonable period of time; however acrimonious the break-up, however hurt I were in the process. Maybe I am just weird in this way.
Celebrity couple Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together again, three weeks after Brown hit her during an altercation that left her with visible injuries. However, the case against Brown may not be dropped, despite Rihanna’s decision to forgive her man. In a criminal case like this, the police has the power to press charges against someone even if the alleged victim refuses to testify.
Now Rihanna is probably dumb to get back with someone who hit her. However she certainly has the right to make that decision and I strongly believe that if she does not want to press charges against him, the law should leave them alone.
It all boils down to consent. Theft is a crime only because it is involves takings without permission. If I take my friend’s car keys and go for a spin without asking him and he later finds out about it and gets mad, he has every right to demand legal redress. However if he is perfectly ok with my disappearing act, it would be laughable to suggest that the law should override his wishes and punish me.
Rape is prosecuted not because it involves force or sex but because one of the parties has not consented to the act. Many birthday parties in India involve birthday bumps, where the special person is hoisted in the air and roundly smacked around. It is a violent act, but all good-natured and fun. However if you give bumps to a person despite his protests and he later goes and complains to the police, you will surely be charged with at least a misdemeanour assault.
For there to be a crime, there has to be a victim. The fundamental premise of libertarian jurisprudence is that there are no victimless crimes. And it is consent alone that determines if there is a victim. Undoubtedly, in cases like murder where the victim can no longer testify, or cases involving abuse of children or the mentally disabled, the law is perfectly justified in presuming their victim-hood. However, when two adults are involved, their is no need for the law to make such value judgements.
What people consent to is their business. When society imposes its fiat on such a matter, it infantilizes the parties involved.
For most couples, occasional verbal fights are a perfectly normal part of the relationship. However, if a couple happens to think that it is also ok sometimes to slap each other, what right does society have to use the force of law to stop them?
One of the arguments advanced for treating assaults and other violent crimes not as torts but as crimes against society is that if the victim is allowed to drop the case, many will be intimidated to do so. Even if that were true, surely the obvious solution is to protect the victim from intimidation or reprisal! Laws that provide strong deterrence and efficient justice in the case of a violation, a system where it is easy to file cases, obtain no-contact orders and get police protection, where the victims know that the police is fighting for them, not against their wishes — will provide far more security from intimidation than one where the victim’s wishes are not respected.
In the end, it is a simple affair: if Rihanna is ok with Brown hitting her and does not want any charges filed against him, it her private matter. If the police still go ahead and prosecute him, it means that they are prosecuting a victimless crime. Not uncommon and not unsurprising but an affront to liberty nevertheless.
She was 82. He was 95. They had dementia. They fell in love. And then they started having sex.
What happened next? Read this to find out.
Speaking strictly for myself, I will do everything — and I really mean everything — in my power to ensure that my freedom can never be curtailed by a loved one or anyone else. I’d sooner end my life than give in to a situation where someone else has the power to vet my actions.
Posted in libertarianism, politics, tagged civil liberties, election 2008, executive power, fourth amendment, freedom of speech, government, mccain, privacy, security, telecom, terrorism, war, wiretapping on June 4, 2008 | Leave a Comment »
I have always feared that if elected, John McCain would be an even more authoritarian chief executive than George W. Bush. Particularly worrying is his disregard for privacy and free speech, especially when it conflicts (in his world-view) with national security.
The latest statement issued by McCain’s campaign proves that these fears are justified. Here’s an excerpt:
N]either the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001. [...]
We do not know what lies ahead in our nation’s fight against radical Islamic extremists, but John McCain will do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution.
(Link via Boing Boing)
The Indian government wants to be able to read all emails and messages sent by citizens. (Privacy, you say? Don’t be silly. We live in an age of terrorism. Hehe, those naive libertarian notions.)
However it discovers it is unable to decrypt the ones sent by Blackberry devices.
Pissed, it asks the parent company, RIM, to help it snoop. Hard luck, says RIM, even we don’t have a master key to decrypt the messages.
(Just curious, does the government realise that one can always send encrypted messages over the internet? How will it stop that?)
Posted in libertarianism, tagged big brother, blood test, diabetes, freedom, health, intervention, liberty, mandatory reporting, nanny-state, new york city, privacy, public health, public health regulation, reporting on March 27, 2008 | Leave a Comment »
This is rather old news but I got to know if it only today. Elizabeth Whelan writes in National Review -
Earlier this year in New York City, a public-heath regulation went into effect that set a new and very troublesome precedent, one that insinuates government agencies into personal medical matters.
In mid-January, the city began legally requiring laboratories that do medical testing to report to the Health Department the results of blood-sugar tests for city residents with diabetes — along with the names, ages, and contact information on those patients.
City officials are not only analyzing these data to assess patterns and changes in diabetes prevalence in the city, but are planning “interventions.” Simply put, diabetics will soon receive letters and phone calls from city officials offering advice and counsel on how to effectively deal with their medical condition. If you wish to keep your medical data confidential, you cannot.
And this may just be the beginning. As the writer notes, the next stage of intervention “may be a harshly punitive one, with fines and other restrictions on those who fail to heed the health warnings. The message will be: Live a healthy life or the government will punish you.”
This is one of those occasions when my words can simply not convey the outrage I presently feel, so I will not say anything more.