Monday , August 19 2019
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It’s Celebrity Criticism All the Way Down

Summary:
As all right-thinking people recognize, it should be illegal to harshly criticize a celebrity. Now some libertarian theorists try to say, “Well, there’s no rights violation involved, so shouldn’t it be legal to harshly criticize a celebrity?” But that’s not a good argument. I’ll demonstrate with a humorous thought experiment to show the inner contradictions of such a view. Suppose it were legal to harshly criticize a celebrity, even though most people agree that it’s still wrong to do so. For example, Kathy Griffin poses in a photo with a fake severed head of Trump, and says really nasty things about Melania Trump. Now that sort of thing is legal, in this thought experiment. But then along comes James Woods, and says, “Wow! That’s really disrespectful and

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As all right-thinking people recognize, it should be illegal to harshly criticize a celebrity. Now some libertarian theorists try to say, “Well, there’s no rights violation involved, so shouldn’t it be legal to harshly criticize a celebrity?” But that’s not a good argument. I’ll demonstrate with a humorous thought experiment to show the inner contradictions of such a view.

Suppose it were legal to harshly criticize a celebrity, even though most people agree that it’s still wrong to do so. For example, Kathy Griffin poses in a photo with a fake severed head of Trump, and says really nasty things about Melania Trump.

Now that sort of thing is legal, in this thought experiment. But then along comes James Woods, and says, “Wow! That’s really disrespectful and disgusting! She should be fired.”

Do you see the irony? James Woods is himself attacking a celebrity. And we can take it even further, with (say) Stephen Colbert telling James Woods to shut up.

So you can see how internally contradictory this all is, with celebrities viciously attacking each other, for the sin (which should be a crime) of attacking other celebrities!

And so, in addition to the obvious social damage from allowing people to hurl insults at celebrities, you’ve also got this logical problem. This is why it is right for the government to punish people for criticizing celebrities.

P.S. If you like this post, you will also appreciate Scott Sumner’s latest thoughts on blackmail.

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

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