Free Speech Is A Statist Concept

There is no right to free speech. If you believe in the right to non-aggression, you can not consistently also believe in any other right, because at some point that right is going to conflict with someone’s right to non-aggression. And if you believe in “rights” that can conflict with the right to non-aggression, then you don’t really believe in the NAP. The only way to coherently uphold the “right” to free speech is to advocate that the NAP be violated. The only way to enforce free speech is to violate the NAP. Violating the NAP in the name of positive “rights” or some greater good is basically just a high level description of what a government is.

If you have a right to free speech then that means that no one can morally restrict your speech at any time for any reason. Because that’s what a right is. If I walk into the MSNBC studio and start talking into a live mic about the merits of killing police officers on sight, and MSNBC has me physically removed by their private security, then MSNBC has violated my right to free speech if I have such a right. I was speaking and MSNBC forcibly stopped me. They are going to claim that I was violating their property rights by trespassing, but that can’t be because I have a right to free speech and so anything that they claim in contradiction to that is not their right, but a violation of my rights.
Most proponents of free speech don’t actually believe in taking it this far, but most proponents of free speech are either statists or confused minarchists. Statists don’t believe in rights anyway, because what they refer to as “rights” they typically subject to a noncommittal balancing of interests where no one walks away with any rights that are absolute, which means that no one walks away with any rights. Statists are being consistent when they don’t take their belief to free speech to its logical conclusion, because they don’t take their belief in any rights to their logical conclusions. They don’t really believe in any rights as they make exceptions to them all. But that’s not a right; that’s a collection of interests with varying values in varying situations. Statists don’t really believe in rights. They think they do, but most of them do not even believe in the right to life/right to not be killed as most of them are not opposed to the draft in some form.
Free speech is a statist concept. Its really only coherent as a statist concept. When a statist says that someone has a “right” to free speech what they mean is that they value people’s ability to speak more than some other things and less than some other things. This is reasonable, but there are plenty of things that I value that are not rights. As an anarchist, I don’t feel the need to classify everything I value highly as a “right,” because I know I have the right to non-aggression and that enables me to pursue anything that I might find valuable (other than aggressing against other people). Referring to all valuable things as “rights” is a statist way of looking at things because under a statist paradigm there is no premise- everything is up for grabs at all times. People who believe in the NAP do not have to refer to everything that they value as a “right” because they know that they have the right to non-aggression. They can justly acquire whatever they seek and no one has the right to aggress against them to take it away, or for any other reason. The right to non-aggression covers it- your words, your car, your food, your medical choices, etc do not need an extra level of protection because if you acquire them without aggressing against anyone else, and use them without aggressing against anyone else, if someone attempts to take them from you then they are violating your rights because they are initiating force against you. Anarchists do not need to appeal to every use of their property (including their body used for speaking) individually because the right to non-aggression is absolute.
Statists have no such comfort. They believe at least implicitly that some people have the right to aggress against them in some circumstances. So they have to classify anything that they highly value as a “right” so that its value will be considered, not necessarily respected, but considered, when the State or someone that it has granted its powers to decides to aggress against them. Of course, everyone will be aggressed against by the State regardless of whether they are a statist, anarchist, indifferent, or undecided. But to a statist whether or not this violence is justified in their own minds depends partially on whether they could fit their particular use of their particular property right under an umbrella of “rights” that their aggressor has to weigh against how badly it wants to aggress against them. A statist is not only victimized like everyone else, but they have to go through the anguish of believing that it is morally justified. People don’t have the right to free speech or to anything else under this view, except the right to make their aggressor take the value of their property into consideration. And if the State has a good enough reason for violating their right to free speech, their right to their property, or their right to life, then it can take it none the less.
Free speech is a positive right. All positive rights make demands either on other humans or on nature. If you are claiming a right to some natural process like “I have a right for it to not rain today” then you are making a claim against nature. I’m not aware of any practical effect of this other than that you are wrong. If you are claiming a right to goods or services then you are making a claim against other people. If someone says “I have a right to shelter from rain.” then they are necessarily saying that someone else has an obligation to provide them that shelter. It is in essence claiming at least partial ownership of/the right to aggress against other people. Positive rights can not be true because they are internally inconsistent. They are not true because they are inconsistent with the right to non-aggression- you can not simultaneously own yourself and have an un-assumed obligation to provide someone else shelter from the rain. Under positive rights people might not be able to use violence against you for anything they want, but they can use violence against you in order to acquire anything that is highly valued.
This is a philosophical argument, not a legal argument. If the State is aggressing against you and you can claim that you have the right to free speech, freedom of the press, or magic pixie dust in order to make them stop further oppressing you then that is what you should do. Its not like the State is going to listen to your claim that it was your property or ownerless property.

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