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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12973/free-or-compulsory-speech/

Free or Compulsory Speech

June 15, 2010 by

Libertarians have been strangely silent on the many instances of compulsory speech in our society. The most flagrant example of continuing compulsory speech takes place in every courtroom in our land: the compulsory bearing of witness. FULL ARTICLE by Murray N. Rothbard


Noam June 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

This article is an interesting application of the “non-aggression principle,” the core of libertarianism — especially when most people would agree that “it is a fair law to compel people to bear witness in court.”

ABR June 15, 2010 at 10:21 am

The problem here is the fiat monopoly of the State. Remove the State, and panarchy will likely evolve. Each ‘society’ will have its own rules (and side agreements between societies) governing testimony.

Some societies will make testimony mandatory. Murray, were he alive, wouldn’t be joining that society. Other societies will make testimony optional. It’s then a free market to see which approach gathers the most members.

scineram June 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

No right to call witness to prove your alibi? What nonsense!

Richard June 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm

@scineram: It’s not that there isn’t a right to call the witness, the author is arguing that the witness has the right not to speak should he/she choose. You can call witnesses as much as you want, but can’t compel them to do anything against their wishes.

However, that brings up an interesting thought. Could there be a case where the refusal of one’s testimony would inhibit someone’s personal property rights? If the witness KNEW that X party was innocent based on his testimony but chose not to testify, is he not violating that person’s right to liberty?

Guard June 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

This is why in Old Testament law a person could only be judged guilty of a crime upon the testimony of two eye witnesses. There was no trial. If two witnesses testified, the party was guilty, if not the party was innocent. This did not prevent guilty people from going free and innocent people being convicted (and neither does our system). What it does though is completely eliminate the entire trial system with its pretentious judges and lawyers, rules of evidence, blah blah blah….

scineram June 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

That is the scenario I had in mind.

Gil June 15, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Uh huh. It then goes to reason that punishment in Libertopia would be impossible. You might as well point out that PDA officers couldn’t cordone off an area and dust for fingerprints, question people against their wishes, warn people about not leaving town, etc. You could also argue a person wouldn’t be on the stand at all because you shouldn’t able force someone to attend court at all. Not to mention a trial by jury is impossible because you’re forcing twelve people to attend court let alone paying them with stolen money. This all makes a good case for where I believe private abritration would work for business disputes but not for criminal offences in Libertopia.

Peter June 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Why do you think they couldn’t dust for fingerprints or question people (they just couldn’t compel them to answer!)? Why do you think people need to be forced to attend court? Why do you think they couldn’t hire willing jurors? All of your assumptions are off.

Inquisitor June 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm

People like to resort to force as the cure-all for every conceivable problem.

Gil June 16, 2010 at 12:42 am

“Why do you think people need to be forced to attend court?”

The guilty are hardly going to turn themselves in. Two businesses in a contract dispute will both want speedy and unbiased arbitration but crime and violence don’t fit well into a voluntary justice system.

Tom Rapheal June 16, 2010 at 1:57 am

The accused, (not the guilty) has a very good reason to show up in court. Without him there, he will be most likely pronounced guilty. However, there may be situations where a defendant would be forced to attend (Like being captured in the act or in escape).And anyways this is about witnesses and jurors not the defendant.Quick question, couldn’t an unwilling witness simply plead the fifth? Just say it would incriminate you for an unspecified crime.

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