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What is the Objectivist view on indecent-exposure laws? Would they exist in an Objectivist society?

asked Dec 01 '12 at 04:17

user890's gravatar image


edited Dec 01 '12 at 15:31

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Given the comments in Juan's answer I think there's a lot more to this question than meets the eye. Bumping it up in the hopes that someone else will take a stab at it.

(Dec 02 '12 at 23:23) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

"Only one aspect of sex is a legitimate field for legislation: the protection of minors and of unconsenting adults. Apart from criminal actions (such as rape), this aspect includes the need to protect people from being confronted with sights they regard as loathsome. (A corollary of the freedom to see and hear, is the freedom not to look or listen.) Legal restraints on certain types of public displays, such as posters or window displays, are proper—but this is an issue of procedure, of etiquette, not of morality . . .

The rights of those who seek pornography would not be infringed by rules protecting the rights of those who find pornography offensive—e.g., sexually explicit posters may properly be forbidden in public places; warning signs, such as “For Adults Only,” may properly be required of private places which are open to the public. This protects the unconsenting, and has nothing to do with censorship, i.e., with prohibiting thought or speech."

-Ayn Rand

So, based on this text, we could say that public nudity is not an exercise of free speech. It could be legitimately restricted, since this could interfere with peace and order in public spaces, so preventing it constitutes a protection of rights.

answered Dec 01 '12 at 20:35

Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Juan Diego dAnconia

Since this came from Rand herself, it certainly qualifies as the "Objectivist's position".

Does this means that the Objectivist's position is that anything that the majority finds visually offensive can be legally restricted from public viewing because perception is automatic?

Does this means images of Mohammed should be banned from public places because Muslim find it loathsome?

(Dec 02 '12 at 13:54) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Probably. The problem comes from the idea of who determines what is and what is not "loathsome". My guess, since I can't find any record of an explanation on this subject, is that those restrictions would come from the community (or the majority, as you pointed out). Meaning that in a Muslim community they would certainly want to ban image parodies of Mahoma. Or, in any other community, banning the things they, in general, consider loathsome. But remember that it's only publicly, which means that I could have pornographic images in my house as long as not anyone passing by can see them.

(Dec 02 '12 at 14:48) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

So how is it handle if there is a city where the majority is Muslim but they're in a county where the minority is Muslim? The images of Mohammed would be banned within city limits but not banned in other cities of the same county?

What if I were to reverse this and say that the city is majority Christians but it's in a country where the majority is Muslim? Could Muslims find crosses offensive and ban those and have the ban cover the city too?

(Dec 02 '12 at 15:18) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be an interim rule or a permanent one. What would be an example of a "public place" in "an Objectivist society"?

(Dec 02 '12 at 16:22) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Well that would be a matter of how the country is ruled and constituted. And, remember that we're assuming here, it would all depend on the community or society.

By "public places" we mean, at least in this case, a space in which anyone can access publicly. Examples: streets, bars, video stores, restaurants, malls, etc. All of this places, regardless of who owns them (state or private owners) are open to anyone, so, in case the video store sells adult content, warning signs, "Adults only", would be required.

(Dec 02 '12 at 16:31) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Streets, bars, video stores, restraurants, malls, etc. would be "private places which are open to the public", which Rand specifically contrasted with "public places".

My question is where would the "public places" be?

Maybe I'm wrong about streets. Did Rand herself ever specifically say that streets should be privately owned?

(Dec 02 '12 at 16:47) anthony anthony's gravatar image

[quote]Since “public property” is a collectivist fiction, since the public as a whole can neither use nor dispose of its “property,” that “property” will always be taken over by some political “elite,” by a small clique which will then rule the public—a public of literal, dispossessed proletarians.[/quote]

(Dec 02 '12 at 16:56) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Ah, I think I get it. "Legal restraints on certain types of public displays, such as posters or window displays..." By "public places" it seems that Rand means places which can be viewed from the outside.

(Dec 02 '12 at 17:02) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Exactly. She never meant it to be understood like the word "public" in "public places" as the same word in "public good". She just simply meant places accessible to the public.

(Dec 02 '12 at 17:05) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

That still is rather surprising. It seems like this would easily lead to situations where people are told what colors they're allowed to paint their house, because the other people on the street find other colors loathsome.

(Dec 02 '12 at 17:13) anthony anthony's gravatar image

May be. It's really a strange subject. Maybe Leonard Peikoff has said something about it? I'll do some research later.

(Dec 03 '12 at 07:46) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image
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Asked: Dec 01 '12 at 04:17

Seen: 1,861 times

Last updated: Dec 03 '12 at 07:46