Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What IS it with liberals?

According to an article in the LA Times, the government requires publishers to seek permission before publishing works by certain dissident authors in certain nations--North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Cuba...

Amnesty is ranting about the "violation" of rights.

Now, as a Libertarian, I do disagree with this. I don't trust the government to decide whether sugar is sweeter than lemon, much less anything subjective.

However.

I'm writing it up as a contradiction for liberals.

FIRST they claim corporations have no rights. THEN they shout "First Amendment!" when the government requires a corp to get permission before publishing something by someone not living in the US and not subject to our Constitution.

Which is it?

And I've almost reached the point of taking an automatic diametric to anything Amnesty says. They've become a flock of squawking chickens.

I mean, does anyone think a lawsuit of "My client in Iran claims his rights are being violated. He is neither a US resident nor US citizen, but claims standing," would survive ten seconds?

As to corporations, I thought liberals hated the idea of them screwing someone over for a few bucks? And possibly endangering the writer's safety in his home nation? How hard would it be to find a crooked "agent" who'd represent the writer, and just shuffle off any lawsuit that happened to come along for a few thou, while selling hundreds of thousands of copies of something by marketing it as "Banned" elsewhere? While sales skyrocket after the poor bastard is tortured and killed in jail?

Or am I being far too paranoid about the saintly people running the entertainment industry in this world?

3 Comments:

Blogger Cadeyrn said...

I always wondered where Freeholders would come down on the issue of whether corporations should operate as liability shields to insulate individuals from the consequences of their actions or whether the name would simply indicate a collective effort more like Lloyds of London. In the Lloyds model, all members are individually responsible for profits or losses of the operation regardless of the degree of their involvement. I kind of suspect the latter. But the concept of rights you bring up here is interesting. We've taken a kind of odd position on personal rights and freedoms in the U.S. We posit that certain rights are inalienable, endowed by the creator in all people, but as soon as a foreigner asserts they have rights, they're told "not unless you're a U.S. citizen!" It's a question of the origin of rights; the place from whence the rights spring. If the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights spring from natural rights theory, then all persons have these rights, like the right to have a fair and speedy trial and the right to be free from torture or self-incrimination through torture. I don't think this is a particularly liberal viewpoint. In fact, I think it rather conservative. Comments?

January 12, 2005 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Michael Z. Williamson said...

I agree on the universality of rights as a philosophy. However, the reality is that you must prove standing and damage in court to win a case. Nor is there any precedent I'm aware of that allows you to DEMAND business take place. And the restriction of int'l trade is CERTAINLY within both legislative and executive power.

For the Freehold universe, I have posited that you may sue the corporation, and if not satisfied, demand a duel with the appropriate officer, who would have to step up, point to the appropriate officer to take his place, or try to find someone quick enough and stupid enough to risk standing in for him. Then there's the PR nightmare that comes from a healthy young exec shooting somebody's saintly grandmother.

"Ken Lay, there are 12,000 former employees outside who don't like the bankruptcy settlement. Will you meet them one at a time, or all at once?"

January 13, 2005 at 5:37 AM  
Blogger Cadeyrn said...

Hmm... good imagery! Conceded, that our existing government has the right to legislate, tax and inhibit international trade essentially as it sees fit, for good or ill. Question: does our government have the right to try to preserve political capital (and avoid "incidents") with nations which do not recognize rights and freedoms through Constitutionally dubious means, i.e. the restriction of certain publications necessary and proper for our government to maintain dialogues with North Korea? I think our government does not have that power over its citizens and, even if a case could be made in favor of the proposition, I think it's a Very Bad Idea to formalize, adopt and use that power because (drumroll and deep breath) once you start using that kind of power in some isolated incidents, then other governments can protest that they don't like publications which critique their death squads, their economic policies or lack thereof, their corruption, programs of genocide or whatever. Pretty soon, even though the First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" you will have a de facto abridgement of any press which foreign nations don't like. Here's my proposition. Our government, as the bastion of freedom and independence, and the single largest superpower in the world, should tell them "No. Not going to happen. We don't control publications here and if you don't like it, you can publish your own work to prove it wrong."
Having said that, I also need to say that the Berne Convention does provide all authors rights to their works and to prevent their works from being altered, and to have international reciprocity of copyright. So, since the U.S. halfheartedly endorsed the convention in 1988, effective March 1, 1989, if the author protests, they have a legitimate complaint under accepted international law and the U.S. implementation of the law. The contrary position hinted at in the reply above suggests that if my car is stolen here and shows up in Mexico or Canada, I have no right to go to the Mexican or Canadian courts to try to get it back. Well, it's mine, I have a right to it and I'll try to enforce that right. Perhaps my rights will be respected and perhaps not, but to refuse to address my complaint altogether does nothing other than to encourage cross-border theft, copyright violations and mayhem.

January 13, 2005 at 1:19 PM  

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