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Ayn Rand on Forbidding Sexual Displays in Public Places

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For the Objectivist view on the subject of rightful owners of property stolen by government, and repossession of that property, you may want to familiarize yourself with the character Ragnar Danneskjold in the novel Atlas Shrugged.

You may want to take your own advice. In this case, there is no argument to be made that any specific person has previously rightfully owned this land. And for the Objectivist view, familiarizing yourself with the character of John Galt would be more instructive.

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The shortcoming of Ayn Rand's defense of procedural restrictions on property use is that she did not identify explicitly the legal principle involved. Ayn Rand was not a lawyer so this is no surprise

The problem is that once you allow people's "offensiveness" to be the standard by which others' rights to use their own property is limited, then you have no argument against those who claim to be "of

Ooh, we used to have a thirty-some page topic on this very subject back in the day, I think. Always fun to revisit these discussions :)

I think the most relevant part of this discussion pertains to privately owned property that is publicly visible. Public property as such is an anti-concept, and is inherently going to result in contradicting principles when we try to apply it consistently.

When we're talking about someone's property it becomes a lot easier: if a certain property owner allows nudity and you have a problem with this, then simply do not go to that part of town. You have no inherent right to visit that person's property anyway, and if you choose to go there then you need to accept whatever rules they have set down. If it's your neighbor who is doing these things on his land, then just put up a fence or hedge that's high enough that you don't have to see it.

If it truly bothers you so much to see these things, then move to a community where every land title includes basic rules of conduct that you find acceptable.

I don't think there is any good argument that can be made why seeing someone naked or having sex is a violation of your right. It in no way prevents you from acting, nor does it defraud you of any value. Whether or not you experience an emotion when you see something isn't anyone's business, and the mere fact you experience an emotion you don't want to doesn't violate your rights. The only way you could argue that being disgusted violates your rights is if it compelled you to act in a certain way, and I don't think any Objectivist could believe that emotions have such a power. In the absence of that coercion, how could seeing something violate your rights?

As an aside, I also am not particularly convinced by the argument that children need to be protected from things that are bad for them. Yes, it may lead you to have an uncomfortable conversation with your child before you wanted to, but the same thing could happen if they spend an afternoon browsing the internet and you forget to child proof your connection. Yet, no one would think to sue, say, a porn website because it violated their child's rights (who happened to browse there by accident). I don't think any sights are inherently scarring (not of the type we're discussing, anyway) because the conclusions someone draws from what they see is under their volitional control. If the child is too young to understand properly what those people having sex are doing, then how could it be harming them? (And coincidentally, we could be making that same argument to ban parents from having sex in their own house because it might scar their children. That's not that different from a child seeing some other adults having sex.)

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