Monday, February 12, 2007

Will conservatives ever understand property rights?

Michelle Malkin says:
YouTube is a private company, and it can do whatever its wants. But it has an obligation to their users to be transparent about their standards, to be responsive to their millions and millions of users, and to be consistent about it.
Not only is that wrong, but it's a common fallacy of both conservatives and liberals. Conservatives, however, should know better than the proto-commies.

The basic principle of property rights is that you have no right to use someone's property beyond the extent that the owner agrees to permit. Thus newspapers have no suchs "obligation" as Michelle maintains. Readers of the New York Times have no rights, natural or contractual, to expect the least bit of truth, "responsiveness" or "consistency." The Times conversely (and wisely, some of us would add) makes no such promises, implied or implicit. If you don't like those conditions, then don't read it -- nobody's pointing a gun to your head.

YouTube is also private property, and Google's owners can do what they want until they commit force or fraud. (Here it's important to note that a company may be publicly traded, or it may be owned by a publicy traded parent company, but the company is still private property.) If you or I host a server, it's perfectly within our rights to delete someone's account merely because we don't like what they say. The "offensive" person, meanwhile, is perfectly within his rights to post elsewhere that will permit him, or set up his own server. That's the nature (and beauty) of private property.

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