MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Free Expression and Property Rights – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 18, 2020

But it’s not just the wearing of a “Hail Satan” shirt that I can regulate in my home. I find almost as offensive the wearing of a “Bernie 2020” shirt. If one of my invited guests shows up wearing such a shirt, I have the same options. Why, because it is my property. And because it is my property, if I demand that all of my guests wear or not wear red shirts, Trump hats, or LeBron jerseys, then that is my right.

The case of the woman on the airplane with the “Hail Satan” shirt has nothing to do with free expression and everything to do with property rights.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/laurence-m-vance/free-expression-and-property-rights/

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“Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.” ~ U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut (1937)

Is freedom of expression absolute?

In the case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky (2018), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a Minnesota statute prohibiting individuals from wearing political apparel at a polling place violated the First Amendment.

An airplane is not a polling place.

Near the end of last year, American Airlines issued an apology to a woman after flight attendants objected to her “Hail Satan” shirt that she wore on the plane.

Back in October, Swati Runi Goyal of Key West was on board an American Airlines flight from Florida to Nevada when a crew member told her to change her shirt or leave the plane because the flight crew found her shirt to be “offensive.” According to a page on the American Airlines website titled “conditions of carriage,” under “passenger responsibilities,” passengers are required to, among other things:

  • Behave appropriately and respectfully with other passengers on board
  • Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed

Passengers who fail to comply by being “uncooperative or show the potential to be uncooperative on board” may not be allowed to fly.

Goyal maintains that “she’s worn the T-shirt many times in the past without incident, including on airplanes.”

Although Goyal claims to be an atheist, she is a member of the Satanic Temple—an organization that’s “become well-known for its activism on issues such as separation of church and state, free speech, and religious freedom.” “It’s an ironic shirt,” she said. “People usually laugh at it, or they give me a thumbs-up because they understand the meaning behind it.”

The flight went on to Nevada as scheduled after the woman put on one of her husband’s shirts over her “Hail Satan” shirt. Goyal said that she was “humiliated” by the situation and contacted American Airlines after her flight to file a complaint. Only after she voiced her displeasure on Twitter did American Airlines apologize.

As a Christian, I find the “Hail Satan” shirt offensive. But since I recognize that I have no right to not be offended, what are my options?

If I see someone wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt out in public and don’t want to confront him, I can ignore him and just keep walking or I can go home and pray for him. If I see someone wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt out in public and want to confront him, I can stop and tell him that his shirt offends me and ask him not to wear it or I can tell him why I think we should hail Jesus instead of Satan. Those are my options. Forcing him to remove the shirt or seeking the government to force him to remove the shirt are not options.

If I see someone wearing a “Hail Satan” shirt that I have invited into my home, then I have other options. Why? Because it is my property. Now I can tell him to change his shirt or leave. Now I can preach to him, yell at him, insult him, or seek to embarrass him in front of my other guests for as long as he is willing to listen. He is, after all, free to leave on his own.

But it’s not just the wearing of a “Hail Satan” shirt that I can regulate in my home. I find almost as offensive the wearing of a “Bernie 2020” shirt. If one of my invited guests shows up wearing such a shirt, I have the same options. Why, because it is my property. And because it is my property, if I demand that all of my guests wear or not wear red shirts, Trump hats, or LeBron jerseys, then that is my right.

It is no different when it comes to American Airlines. Although it may be a dumb thing to do from a business perspective, if American Airlines wants to require all passengers to wear formal attire or prohibit all passengers from wearing Delta shirts, then the company should have the right to do so.

The case of the woman on the airplane with the “Hail Satan” shirt has nothing to do with free expression and everything to do with property rights.

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One Response to “Free Expression and Property Rights – LewRockwell”

  1. I remember when we used to dress up to go on the plane. I agree with this, and yet, is in really private property, the airlines? It’s like saying Twitter is private property, when in fact they are all in bed with the government, so how is this private? Airlines now are public-private partnerships, no? Just like all our institutions in neo-fascism.

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