Wednesday, 21 December 2005

The "snow penis"

There was some controversy on Free Talk Live (see links) yesterday regarding the creation of a "snow penis" in an American neighbourhood.

The story was that someone had erected (no pun intended) a phallic-shaped snow figure in their garden. The debate surrounded whether people had a right to destroy "offensive" objects on other people's property.

Clearly this is an issue of property rights. In a libertarian society, people should be able to do what they please with their property and own anything, provided they don't initiate force or fraud on the person or property of another. Now, in this sense, a snow penis is not initiating force against someone. No one will suffer physical harm or damage as a result of its existence. The physical integrity of one's property will not be undermined by its existence. Granted, property values may deprieciate due to its presence. So what? One can always move to another neighbourhood if the presence of a snow penis is too offensive for ones tastes.

Besides, who is to state what constitutes an "offensive" piece of property? Offence is a rather subjective thing in itself. Does someone have the right to destroy anything they find offensive, no matter how innocuous or mundane?

As a libertarian, I feel a person possesses the right to protect his property from damage. This right should supercede any "right" not to be offended.

However, the level of force must meet the initial force enacted. If someone trespasses on your property, I don't believe you have a right to kill them. Trespassing in itself doesn't have to lead to an attack against the person. In this instance, I believe a warning should suffice. If successive warnings aren't noted, then physical force should be used. If someone is entering property with the intent to rob, steal or cause physical harm, then yes physical force should be used against that person.

In the case of this "snow penis", I feel that force could be used to protect one's property. A person seeking to destroy this object should accept any consequence of their actions. This means potentially being physically attacked, if needs be.