Libertarianism and Child Pornography
One of the issues I sometimes have with Libertarianism is when it is taken to an extreme. They take the either/or view when it comes to many intelligent animals. Consider this post by Skip Olivia over at the Misses blog. In that post and many of the comments we get variations on the “animals have no rights, they are simply property.” In short treating an intelligent animal like a dog just like a table is just peachy with them, or if it isn’t then they have a serious consistency problem. Most people would not flinch if I dragged my dinner table into my drive way and chain sawed it in half. If I dragged one of my dogs into the drive way and did the same thing, all of my neighbors would likely view me as somebody who is profoundly disturbed.
What about children? Children can’t vote, and it isn’t at all clear that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness even apply to children at least to the same level as with adults. I sure know that my son would argue that making him do his homework constitutes and infringement on both his liberty and pursuit of happiness. If he were really precocious he might also argue that my sending to his room for some infraction violates due process and constitutes some sort of illegal confinement. So, are children the property of the adults? If so, how come I can’t treat my son like a table or a car? If a child is not the property of the adult, then how does one reconcile the lack of full rights for children?
One could argue that a child’s mentally faculties are still forming and as such the parents should act as custodians and do things that often have a short term cost but long term benefit (education, teaching responsibility, etc.). Fine, but why not something similar to animals like the dog or other intelligent animals? I admit that there isn’t some clear cut line here and that some could argue that this is possibly a slipper slope, but it seems clear that wantonly killing an animal for enjoyment and profit and doing so in a grisly manner (dog fighting) is different that killing an animal for profit an to feed others and doing so in as pain free a manner as possible (killing a cow for food).
Who cares what happened to this dog, it was just a piece of property…like a table
Clearly there is some sort of spectrum here, and is it unreasonable to consider that animals “lower” than humans, but that still possesses some level of intelligence be given some moral consideration such as not being tortured to death, forced into fighting, and summarily executed for failing to fight/fight well? Radley Balko, whose comments on the Michael Vick case sparked the post by Skip Olivia writes,
My approach to animal cruelty laws would be about the same as my approach to the abortion issue. Most people would agree that many animals deserve more moral consideration than, say, a table. Exactly what animals have what rights, and how those rights should be protected, are matters of line-drawing–police powers. And police powers are best left up to as local a jurisdiction as possible, so they can write laws that best reflect each state or community’s values.
Skip Oliva also writes,
This is really a case where a majority is trying to punish the minority–which includes the people who watch and wager on dog racing–for holding an unpopular economic preference.
I find this just ridiculous. Suppose we have an individual who decides that there is a lucrative market in trafficking in child pornography? He doesn’t make, he doesn’t like it, but he likes the money he earns from selling it. Are we to turn a blind eye to this fellow and argue, “Hey, this is just a case where the majority is trying to punish the minority for holding an unpopular economic preference. He isn’t actually making the pornography. He isn’t even victimizing the children.”? Seems like a stretch. Further, this might actually be a case where even having federal laws might be a good idea. Granted, there might not be language in the Constitution to currently cover such laws, but the Constitution can be changed.
Note: I don’t intend to hide the picture of Gypsy below the fold. I want everyone to see the results of dog fighting.