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Michael van der Galien

Three Approaches to Defending Liberty

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Posted on January 2 2010 4:19 pm
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.

Ilya Somin • January 2, 2010

A standard argument for government regulation or prohibition of private sector activities runs as follows: Individuals or businesses are dong something harmful and/or immoral. Therefore, the government must step in and ban it, or at least regulate to restrict it. A standard libertarian response (also sometimes used by liberals) is that, in a free society, people often have a “right to do wrong.” Even if it’s wrong to engage in racist speech, the government should not enact hate speech laws because even evil racists have a right to self-expression. My GMU colleague Bryan Caplan points out that this is often not the only or the best strategy for defending liberty:

Libertarians often highlight “the right to do wrong.” We are often morally obliged to tolerate the wicked and foolish behavior of others….

Read the whole thing at the Volokh Conspiracy.

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