"When dealing with the warlord objection, we need to keep our comparisons fair. It won’t do to compare society A, which is filled with evil, ignorant savages who live under anarchy, with society B, which is populated by enlightened, law-abiding citizens who live under limited government. The anarchist doesn’t deny that life might be better in society B. What the anarchist does claim is that, for any given population, the imposition of a coercive government will make things worse. The absence of a State is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to achieve the free society.
To put the matter differently: It is not enough to demonstrate that a state of private-property anarchy could degenerate into ceaseless war, where no single group is strong enough to subjugate all challengers, and hence no one can establish “order.” After all, communities living under a State degenerate into civil war all the time. We should remember that the frequently cited cases of Colombia and now Iraq are not demonstrations of anarchy-turned-into-chaos, but rather examples of government-turned-into-chaos.
For the warlord objection to work, the statist would need to argue that a given community would remain lawful under a government, but that the same community would break down into continuous warfare if all legal and military services were privatized. The popular case of Somalia, therefore, helps neither side. It is true that Rothbardians should be somewhat disturbed that the respect for non-aggression is apparently too rare in Somalia to foster the spontaneous emergence of a totally free market community. But by the same token, the respect for “the law” was also too weak to allow the original Somali government to maintain order.”~ Bob Murphy
The Mises Seminar will bring together Australians interested in libertarianism and the Austrian school of economics. The event comprises a dinner on Friday, November 25, and an all day seminar on Saturday, November 26. The events can be purchased separately, or together as a package deal at a discount.
The seminar will field a line-up of prominent anti-state, anti-war and pro-market thinkers from around Australia, with special guest Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Our speakers understand that free-markets generate prosperity, and that government intervention is both economically and socially destructive.
The Mises Seminar venue is the Union, Universities and Schools Club (UUSC), located at 25 Bent Street Sydney. This is Sydney’s most prestigious and exclusive venue, and the compulsory dress code reflects that. Ties and blazers for men, and the equivalent for women.
“For some twenty centuries Western man has come to accept the Aristotelian theory that the sensible position is between any two extremes, known politically today as the “middle-of-the-road” position. Now, if libertarians use the terms “left” and “right,” they announce themselves to be extreme right by virtue of being extremely distant in their beliefs from communism. But “right” has been successfully identified with fascism. Therefore, more and more persons are led to believe that the sound position is somewhere between communism and fascism, both spelling authoritarianism.
The golden-mean theory cannot properly be applied indiscriminately. For instance, it is sound enough when deciding between no food at all on the one hand or gluttony on the other hand. But it is patently unsound when deciding between stealing nothing or stealing $1,000. The golden mean would commend stealing $500. Thus, the golden mean has no more soundness when applied to communism and fascism (two names for the same thing) than it does to two amounts in theft.” […]
Libertarians reject this principle and in so doing are not to the right or left of authoritarians. They, as the human spirit they would free, ascend—are above—this degradation. Their position, if directional analogies are to be used, is up—in the sense that vapor from a muckheap rises to a wholesome atmosphere. If the idea of extremity is to be applied to a libertarian, let it be based on how extremely well he has shed himself of authoritarian beliefs.
Establish this concept of emerging, of freeing — which is the meaning of libertarianism—and the golden – mean or “middle-of-the-road” theory becomes inapplicable. For there can be no halfway position between zero and infinity. It is absurd to suggest that there can be. - Neither Left nor Right, Leonard Read
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”—Unknown
conza said: Mises isn’t comparable to Nozick or Rand. Mises was a philosophical anarchist -- if it was technically possible, he said it should happen. He never defended the state.
Do you have a specific source for this? Because in my own reading of Mises, I've always come to the conclusion that he was very close to anarchism, but it was Rothbard who went all the way. See monopoly-politics[dot]com[slash]MisesV Anarchism[dot]htm and stephankinsella[dot]com[slash]2009[slash]08[slash]was[hyphen]mises[hyphen]an[hyphen]anarchist for instance (pardon the [dot]s; tumblr's ridiculous with the whole no links in questions thing).
Hey Bonnie! Great to hear from you :) You cited one of the sources [Stephan Kinsella post]; essentially it’s all contained within here - I have a few responses (one which refutes the first link) and one which is the second link. Hoppe also provides a great clarification.
Money. The most commonly used medium or media of exchange (q.v.) in a market society. A community’s most marketable economic good, which people seek primarily for the purpose of later exchanging units of it for the goods or services they prefer. The circulating media most readily accepted in payment for goods, services and outstanding debts. Money is an indispensable factor in the development of the division of labor and the resulting indirect exchanges on which modem civilization is based. For the different types of money, see "Money in the broader sense,""Money in the narrower sense" and "Money-substitutes."
Daily Bell: You have also written extensively on money and monetary affairs. Is a gold standard necessary for a free society?
Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: in a free society, the market would produce money, as all other goods and services. There would be no such thing as money in a world that was perfectly certain and predictable. But in a world with unpredictable contingencies people come to value goods also on account of their marketability or salability, i.e., as media of exchange. And since a more easily and widely salable good is preferable to a less easily and widely salable good as a medium of exchange, there is an inevitable tendency in the market for a single commodity to finally emerge that differs from all others in being the most easily and widely salable commodity of all.This commodity is called money. As the most easily salable good of all it provides its owner with the best humanly possible protection against uncertainty in that it can be employed for the instant satisfaction of the widest range of possible needs. Economic theory has nothing to say as to what commodity will acquire the status of money. Historically, it happened to be gold. But if the physical make-up of our world would have been different or is to become different from what it is now, some other commodity would have become or might become money. The market will decide. In any case, there is no need for government to get involved in any of this. The market has provided and will provide some money-commodity, and the production of that commodity, whatever it is, is subject to the same forces of supply and demand as the production of everything else.
I find myself fundamentally in disagreement with Rothbard, here, however I might admire the elegance of collapsing other rights into a single propertarian theory. While I may agree - do agree - that the vagueness of the concept of “harm” has caused problems, nonetheless, I cannot accede to the notion that the only actions for which one should be answerable at law are direct uses of force, or violations of contact.
Well I’m glad you agree that "the vagueness of the concept of “harm” has caused problems", but it is more than that. As was explicitly pointed out in my response to BonnieK, 'harm' is not the issue but aggression is. Also, your conception of the ‘notion’ raised is inaccurate and a strawman.
Considering the threat of force was mentioned in the previous post, readers were directed towards Stephan Kinsella and the point that the use of words in a given context can be a means to the end of employing aggression (physical invasion).
(While the latter addresses the issue of some types of commercial fraud - fraud in its legal definition has a wider definition than Rothbard uses in the part of your post I left unquoted - there are many other means to defraud people in commerce, carry through the short and long cons, etc., without contract-violation, some by the simple means of introducing intermediary agents not party to the original contract, and leaves untouched intangible harms (of the kind, for example, which I mention in my immediate previous post replying to hipsterlibertarian) .) In short, it seems to me that a theoretical rights-structure which permits so many kinds of volitional - rather than incidental - malice to be carried through does not fulfill the purpose of maximizing individual liberty.
What legal definition of fraud? The non-libertarian “legal” definition? That supported by legal positivism? Why is that releveant to a discussion regarding a free society? It’d be helpful if you actually defined your terms, as I have done. Fraud in terms of broken promises? That doesn’t constitute fraud. Fraud is implicit theft, and for that you need a theory of property, which leads to a theory of contracts. Beyond those which you have left unmentioned, you do not own the value of anything and intangible harms have nothing to do with legitimate property. Intellectual property is absurd and very dangerous.
Thus, it is not the business of law - properly the rules and instrumentalities by which person and property are violently defended - to make people moral by use of legal violence. It is not the proper business of law to make people be truthful or to keep their promises. It is the business of legal violence to defend persons and their property from violent attack, from molestation or appropriation of their property without their consent. To say more - to say, for example, that mere promises are properly enforceable - is to make an unwarranted fetish of “contracts” while forgetting why some of them are enforceable: in defense of the just rights of property. ~ Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty.
Maximizing individual liberty? You are lessening it by sanctioning / supporting aggression against others - illegitimate violence and the use of force.
So much for what I conceive to be the flaws in the pure-propertarian schema of rights.
Naturally, I have an alternative to propose, which I call the choice-theft schema[…]. In this schema, rather than deriving life and liberty from property, as in the pure-propertarian schema, we derive fundamentally from liberty. The Good, in essence, is in refraining from volitionally depriving one’s fellow persons of the ability to make their own choices.
Deriving life and liberty from property? I don’t think you understand the fundamental principles of what libertarianism is. The ‘pure-propertarian’ starts from the concept of self ownership (natural law or argumentation ethics). The principles of self-ownership and original appropriation make agreement and contract - including that of not agreeing and contracting - possible. Self-ownership -> homesteading principle & non aggression principle.
You derive fundamentally from liberty? And what is that? How do you define liberty? What are the principles involved? How do you derive? There is an assertion but nothing close to resembling a proof, besides what looks like circular reasoning. In essence, it results in your supporting violating the rights of others because you are confusing ethics with decorum.
(It is trivial to note that the possession of property empowers one to make choices which one lacking said property cannot make; and, indeed, that the choices the owner of any given piece of property is able to make are a strict superset of the choices that the non-owner of said piece of property can make; therefore, essentially the entirety of the propertarian schema, as applied to tangible property, is implied by the choice-theft schema, and produces the same results in those cases.)
It doesn’t increase the scope of choices. The individual can still choose to take an action, however - that action may be considered to have “bad consequences”, so you choose in your schema to ‘write it off the list’ and claim that it no longer exists.
It is also trivially demonstrable that truth (or, to be pedantic, true information) increases the scope of individual choice; an informed person is able to make decisions, and indeed to see the possibility of making decisions, that an uninformed person cannot.
Increases the scope of making a ‘correct’ choice. So what? In no way does it follow that one owns one’s reputation and that there is a right to not have ones feelings hurt. Essentially it comes down to you trying to make people nice qua decorum.
[…]But let us examine the two similar examples which Rothbard did not examine there. Let us consider the marriage example in which Bob, rather than simply winning Susan’s hand honestly, instead sabotaged her relationship with Jim by providing faked but convincing evidence of Jim’s infidelities. In this scenario, Bob has primarily reduced the scope of choice available to Susan, by depriving her of the basis to make certain decisions, and secondarily has reduced that available to Jim, by depriving him of the ability to choose to attempt to win Susan’s hand.
Bob hasn’t reduced her scope of choice available at all. She has the ability to reason. She can either choose to believe A or B, or maybe the truth is actually an un-presented C. But regardless, it’s completely pointless - you do not have a right to choices. That is absurd and it has nothing to do with the proper scope of libertarianism, where you have crossed those bounds.
Or let us consider the razor-blade example in which B has not produced a better blade, but instead has created a campaign of rumor and insinuation with which to claim that A’s blades are unsafe. The value of A’s property is indeed only the reflection of what people choose to pay for it; but the public (as a class) have been primarily deprived of the ability to make that choice by B’s disinformation, and A secondarily has been deprived of the ability to sell his razor blades at market value thereby.
In these cases, under the choice-theft schema, therefore, both Susan and Jim, and the public and A, have a cause of action against our bad actors, Bob and B, for choice-theft by deception.
… But they haven’t, that’s absurd. Your assumption seems to be that people are unable to reason things through, and accept everything at face value. Or that people are stupid.
In the light of the above schema, I would stipulate that while, indeed, everyone does have an absolute right to their own opinions, whatever (and specifically, however irrational and deranged) they may be, they have an absolute right to their own opinions. They do not, however, have an absolute right to their own facts, which are objective and external. And since any misrepresentation of fact potentially deprives another person of the ability to make informed choices based on those facts, and therefore infringes on their inalienable right to liberty, i.e., to make said choices, and to make such misrepresentations is a volitional act, to do so cannot also be a right. Freedom of speech  cannot be, and is not, freedom to deceive.
And so, this schema cheerfully handles non-commercial and intangible frauds, other acts of deliberate deception, privacy issues (which Rothbard skips briefly over in his essay; but in this schema, simply enough, to reveal information the owner doesn’t wish revealed is obviously choice-theft of the choice not to reveal it), and other such matters; and is therefore, to my mind, much to be preferred.
Essentially, you are saying we have no liberty to lie. But we do have the freedom and liberty to do so. There is no such thing as the right to be told the truth. If there was, you’d have to tell a robber where your valuables are. Obviously you realise that de-criminalizing drugs is not the same as supporting their use.
More to the point, criminalizing defamation and libel has the unintended consequence of hurting the poor and increasing the peoples belief in lies/misinformation (or what you would want to call fraud).
"For, in the current situation, when false libels are outlawed, the average person tends to believe that all derogatory reports spread about people are true, “otherwise they’d sue for libel.” This situation discriminates against the poor, since poorer people are less likely to file suits against libelers. Hence, the reputations of poorer or less wealthy persons are liable to suffer more now, when libel is outlawed, then they would if libel were legitimate. For in that libertarian society since everyone would know that false stories are legal, there would be far more skepticism on the part of the reading or listening public, who would insist on far more proof and believe fewer derogatory stories than they do now." ~ Rothbard
“To maintain that no such thing as a rational ethic exists does not imply “tolerance” and “pluralism,” as champions of positivism such as Milton Friedman falsely claim, and moral absolutism does not imply “intolerance” and “dictatorship.” To the contrary, without absolute values “tolerance” and “pluralism” are just other arbitrary ideologies, and there is no reason to accept them rather than any others such as cannibalism and slavery. Only if absolute values, such as a human right of self-ownership exist, that is, only if “pluralism” or “tolerance” are not merely among a multitude of tolerable values, can pluralism and tolerance in fact be safeguarded.”—Hans-Hermann Hoppe, 1997. “The Western State as a Paradigm: Learning from History.” in Paul Gottfried, ed., Politics and Regimes: Religion & Public Life, Vol. 30, Edison, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a music post. 15min 2seconds+ and the song that follows is the important part here ;). But definitely check out the rest of the great Fear of Tigers pod-casts. Nu-Disco, House, Electro.
“It is worth mentioning that the ownership right stemming from production finds its natural limitation only when, as in the case of children, the thing produced is itself another actor-producer. According to the natural theory of property, a child, once born, is just as much the owner of his own body as anyone else. Hence, not only can a child expect not to be physically aggressed against but as the owner of his body a child has the right, in particular, to abandon his parents once he is physically able to run away from them and say “no” to their possible attempts to recapture him. Parents only have special rights regarding their child - stemming from their unique status as the child’s producers - insofar as they (and no one else) can rightfully claim to be the child’s trustee as long as the child is physically unable to run away and say “no”.”—Hoppe, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism
“If Smith and a group of his henchmen aggress against Jones and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause. But Jones has no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of his “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance his pursuit, to conscript others into his posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of his struggle to capture the Smith forces. If Jones should do any of these things, he becomes a criminal as fully as Smith, and he too becomes subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality.”—Murray N. Rothbard, War, Peace, and the State
“The idea of a strictly limited constitutional State was a noble experiment that failed, even under the most favorable and propitious circumstances. If it failed then, why should a similar experiment fare any better now? No, it is the conservative laissez-fairist, the man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then says, “Limit yourself”; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian.”—The Case of Radical Idealism, Murray N. Rothbard
“For only liberty, only a free market, can organize and maintain an industrial system, and the more that population expands and explodes, the more necessary is the unfettered working of such an industrial economy. Laissez-faire and the free market become more and more evidently necessary as an industrial system develops; radical deviations cause breakdowns and economic crises. This crisis of statism becomes particularly dramatic and acute in a fully socialist society; and hence the inevitable breakdown of statism has first become strikingly apparent in the countries of the socialist (that is, communist) camp. For socialism confronts its inner contradiction most starkly. Desperately, it tries to fulfill its proclaimed goals of industrial growth, higher standards of living for the masses, and eventual withering away of the State and is increasingly unable to do so with its collectivist means. Hence the inevitable breakdown of socialism.”—Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard
Let us consider, in fact, the implications of believing in a property right in one’s “reputation.” Suppose that Brown has produced his mousetrap, and then Robinson comes out with a better one. The “reputation.” of Brown for excellence in mousetraps now declines sharply as consumers shift their attitudes and their purchases, and buy Robinson’s mousetrap instead. Can we not then say, on the principle of the “reputation” theory, that Robinson has injured the reputation of Brown, and can we not then outlaw Robinson from competing with Brown? If not, why not? Or should it be illegal for Robinson to advertise, and to tell the world that his mousetrap is better? In fact, of course, people’s subjective attitudes and ideas about someone or his product will fluctuate continually, and hence it is impossible for Brown to stabilize his reputation by coercion; certainly it would be immoral and aggressive against other people’s property right to try. Aggressive and criminal, then, either to outlaw one’s competition or to outlaw false libels spread about one or one’s product.
We can, of course, readily concede the gross immorality of spreading false libels about another person. But we must, nevertheless, maintain the legal right of anyone to do so. Pragmatically, again, this situation may well redound to the benefit of the people being libelled. For, in the current situation, when false libels are outlawed, the average person tends to believe that all derogatory reports spread about people are true, “otherwise they’d sue for libel.” This situation discriminates against the poor, since poorer people are less likely to file suits against libelers. Hence, the reputations of poorer or less wealthy persons are liable to suffer more now, when libel is outlawed, then they would if libel were legitimate. For in that libertarian society since everyone would know that false stories are legal, there would be far more skepticism on the part of the reading or listening public, who would insist on far more proof and believe fewer derogatory stories than they do now. Furthermore, the current system discriminates against poorer people in another way; for their own speech is restricted, since they are less likely to disseminate true but derogatory knowledge about the wealthy for fear of having costly libel suits filed against them. Hence, the outlawing of libel harms people of limited means in two ways: by making them easier prey for libels and by hampering their own dissemination of accurate knowledge about the wealthy.
Finally, if anyone has the right knowingly to spread false libels about someone else, then, a fortiori, he of course has the right to disseminate those large numbers of statements about others which are in the fuzzy zone of not being clear or certain whether or not the statements are true or false.
I came across an exchange between Mr. Halliday, Walter Block and an editors note by Murray Rothbard. The Libertarian Forum 1973/06. I agree with Blocks rebuttal, and Murray’s note:
"How about Professor Block’s second premise, that evil is only the initiation of violence? Here I think it is possible to partially reconcile the Block and Halliday positions. It is a question of what context we are dealing with. I would agree with Block that within the context of libertarian theory, evil must be confined to the initiation of violence. On the other hand, when we proceed from libertarianism to the question of wider social and personal ethics, then I would agree with Halliday that there are many other actions which should be considered as evil: lying, for example or deliberately failing to fulfill one’s best potential. But these are not matters about which liberty - the problem of the proper scope of violence - has anything to say. In short, qua libertarian there is nothing wrong or evil about breaking dates, being gratuitously nasty to one’s associates, or generally behaving like a cad: here not only do I join Professor Block, but I would expect Mr. Halliday and all other libertarians to do the same. On the other hand, qua general ethicist, I would join Mr. Halliday in denouncing such behavior, while Professor Block would not.”
Recently via personal correspondence; “Block: I’m shocked that I ever wrote it. I don’t think I meant it. I agree, fully, with Murray.”
[…]And I note that given those parameters on what constitutes a defamatory act, there is an isomorphism here with something that, as good agorists, definitely is (must be, for any economic arrangements to function) illegal in libertarian praxis: fraud. It is obviously fraudulent and illegal to deceive people as to the value of our goods with false statements - our jelly cures cancer - or those of other people - our competitor’s is tainted with dioxin. Defamation is a similar act; we’re deceiving the public with false statements as to the value of Mr. X, whether the monetary value of his future services, or his non-monetary subjective value as a colleague, friend, associate, spouse, etc.
Ergo, defamation is a species of fraud and should be prosecuted as such.
Legal and political theory have committed much mischief by failing to pinpoint physical invasion as the only human action that should be illegal and that justifies the use of physical violence to combat it. The vague concept of “harm” is substituted for the precise one of physical violence. Consider the following two examples. Jim is courting Susan and is just about to win her hand in marriage, when suddenly Bob appears on the scene and wins her away. Surely Bob has done great “harm” to Jim. Once a nonphysical-invasion sense of harm is adopted, almost any outlaw act might be justified. Should Jim be able to “enjoin” Bob’s very existence?
Similarly, A is a successful seller of razor blades. But then B comes along and sells a better blade, teflon-coated to prevent shaving cuts. The value of A’s property is greatly affected. Should he be able to collect damages from B, or, better yet, to enjoin B’s sale of a better blade? The correct answer is not that consumers would be hurt if they were forced to buy the inferior blade, although that is surely the case. Rather, no one has the right to legally prevent or retaliate against “harms” to his property unless it is an act of physical invasion. Everyone has the right to have the physical integrity of his property inviolate; no one has the right to protect the value of his property, for that value is purely the reflection of what people are willing to pay for it. That willingness solely depends on how they decide to use their money. No one can have a right to someone else’s money, unless that other person had previously contracted to transfer it to him.
In the law of torts, “harm” is generally treated as physical invasion of person or property. The outlawing of defamation (libel and slander) has always been a glaring anomaly in tort law. Words and opinions are not physical invasions. Analogous to the loss of property value from a better product or a shift in consumer demand, no one has a property right in his “reputation.” Reputation is strictly a function of the subjective opinions of other minds, and they have the absolute right to their own opinions whatever they may be. Hence, outlawing defamation is itself a gross invasion of the defamer’s right of freedom of speech, which is a subset of his property right in his own person.
"Under our proposed theory would fraud be actionable at law? Yes, because fraud is failure to fulfill a voluntarily agreed upon transfer of property, and is therefore implicit theft. If, for example, A sells to B a package which A says contains a radio, and it contains only a pile of scrap metal, then A has taken B’s money and not fulfilled the agreed upon conditions for such a transfer-the delivery of a radio. A has therefore stolen B’s property. The same applies to a failure to fulfill any product warranty. If, for example, the seller asserts that the contents of a certain package include 5 ounces of product X, and they do not do so, then the seller has taken money without fulfilling the terms of the contract; he has in effect stolen the buyer’s money. Once again, warranties of products would be legally enforceable, not because they are “promises,” but because they describe one of the entities of the agreed-upon contract. If the entity is not as the seller describes, then fraud and hence implicit theft have taken place.”
Thus, defamation is not a species of fraud - since there was no contracting, or valid transfer of property (property transfer-title theory). This issue really comes down to speech, causation and aggression. I agree with Block & Rothbard on defamation, slander, libel etc. in that you do not own your reputation, but when it comes to threats (the eg. of inciting a riot is used), there is a more accurate analysis put forward by Stephan Kinsella that which I agree with.
If an anarcho-capitalist society based on property rights is eventually achieved, how does one handle all the property that was wrongly acquired by corporations and the government? Surely these individuals should not keep their ill-gotten “property,” and I guess the solution for anarcho-capitalists would be for private courts or something to be established in which those wronged can sue for their property, but the former government-sponsored corporations have the ill-gotten property to use at their disposal.
I’m in the process of editing a book called “The Strategy for Liberty”. Part 4 deals with - “What Now?” Put briefly:
Since socialism cannot arise without the expropriation of assets originally “created” and owned by individual homesteaders, producers, and/or contractors, all socialist property, ill-begotten from the very start, should be forfeited. No government, even if freely elected, can be considered the owner of any socialist property, for a criminal heir, even if himself innocent, does not become the legitimate owner of illegitimately acquired assets. Because of his personal innocence he remains exempt from persecution, but all of his “inherited” gains must immediately revert to the original victims, and their repossession of socialist property must take place without their being required to pay anything. In fact, to charge a victimized population a price for the reacquisition of what was originally its own would itself be a crime and would forever take away any innocence that a government previously might have had.”
More specifically, all original property titles should be recognized immediately, regardless of who presently owns them. In so far as the claims of original private owners or their heirs clash with those of the current assets’ users, the former should override the latter. Only if a current user can prove that an original owner-heir’s claim is illegitimate - that the title to the property in question had initially been acquired by coercion or fraudulent means - should a user’s claim prevail and should he be recognized as the legitimate owner.
”—Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God that Failed, p125.
The issue is not “harm”, but aggression though your description of the argument is correct. However to answer the question posed to you [“What are your thoughts on laws that make it illegal to protest at funerals? Obviously it is pretty low to protest a funeral, but should it be illegal?”]
There is no such thing as freedom of speech, which in my opinion leads you astray in your analysis - to that of what the Constitution says [first amendment], as opposed to absolute property rights.
"In short, a person does not have a “right to freedom of speech”; what he does have is the right to hire a hall and address the people who enter the premises. He does not have a “right to freedom of the press”; what he does have is the right to write or publish a pamphlet, and to sell that pamphlet to those who are willing to buy it (or to give it away to those who are willing to accept it). Thus, what he has in each of these cases is property rights, including the right of free contract and transfer which form a part of such rights of ownership. There is no extra “right of free speech” or free press beyond the property rights that a person may have in any given case." - Rothbard, TEOL.
We thus reach an entirely different conclusion. Instead of allowing the Westboro Church (used in your example) to say what they want, the focus is properly moved to that of property rights. Whose land are they on? What are the rules set down by the owner? Were they invited? If they protest at the private funeral, uninvited = trespassing. The problem is of the ‘commons’ and there will always be conflicts that arise because of it. Does the state let a protest happen and allow traffic jams etc.? Or do they use force to remove the protesters? Both scenarios have a winner and loser, such is the nature of the state.
"What about the defense that speech cannot be aggression since it does not actually invade others’ property borders? It is true that a speech act per se is not an act of aggression: it does not intentionally cause the person or property of another to be physically and nonconsensually infringed upon. But some speech acts can be classified as acts of aggression in the context in which they occur because they constitute the speaker’s use of means calculated to inflict intentional harm. One clear example of this is threats of force. The threat to stab someone does not actually pierce the victim’s skin; it is a “mere” speech-act, but it is still regarded as aggression.
In other cases, the act of speaking-communicating-and the other people with whom the speaker communicates serve as one’s means to achieve a certain end. The firing squad commander who yells “Fire!” is as responsible for the ensuing execution as the riflemen themselves. This is not because his spoken word was physically the cause of the victim’s death. His voice did not propel the bullets forward-and it did not have to. Instead, the firing squad commander is responsible for the execution because of what the command “Fire!” signifies in the context it was uttered; it signifies that the commander intends for the victim to die and is choosing to employ means-his firing squad-calculated to achieve that goal. The firing squad commander isn’t “merely” speaking; he is intentionally colluding with the shooters for the purpose of killing the victim.
Likewise the president who orders a bomb be dropped is causing the bombing; he is employing the pilot and other underlings as his means. By being part of a certain organization and having certain relationships with other people, as a practical matter he is in a position to use other people to achieve his ends.”