Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2017 9:28 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Libertarian solutions to libel
Walter, I’m surprised I didn’t ask you about this sooner. About three months ago, someone made a video about me that definitely qualifies as libel. Some elements are provably false. I can also show that it has cost me donations, interviews, and possibly a TV show with RT. He’s definitely not a part of government in any way, so your reasoning with the NYT doesn’t seem to apply here. What do you think I should do? Thanks! A.
Dear A: In my humble opinion, suing for libel is ordinarily incompatible with libertarianism.
But, there are two exceptions;
Block, Walter E. 2014. “May I sue the New York Times? A Libertarian Analysis of Suing for Libel.” September 5; https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/09/walter-e-block/may-i-sue-the-ny-times/; https://walterblock.liberty.me/a-libertarian-analysis-of-suing-for-libel/
2. Suppose I punch you in the nose, gratuitously; I’m a clear criminal, you’re an innocent victim. You can’t sue me for that assault and battery of mine against you, nor claim I’m a criminal, because you have no evidence that I did this to you. It is just your word against mine. However, I also libeled you, in a separate incident. Then, I think, you could properly sue me for libel. Did this person ever violate your (libertarian) rights? I doubt he punched you in the nose, but, maybe, he committed some sort of fraud against you, for which you have no evidence? Then, I think, all bets are off and it would be compatible with libertarianism to sue him for libel, if that is the only way you can get back at him for this (presumed) fraud or some other such rights violation, assuming he also libeled you.
Actually, now that I come to think about this, there is only one exception above: if the person you “attack” with a libel suit is a member of the ruling class from the libertarian perspective (violates the non aggression principle), then I opine, you may sue for libel without violating libertarian principle. The government and its minions are of course the paradigm case of such membership. But, so are petty criminals, people who commit fraud, those who punch others in the nose, etc. Best regards, Walter