The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines libel as: the act of publishing a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone and, similarly, slander is: to make a false spoken statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone as defined by the same dictionary. These two words are obviously synonyms with slightly different definitions and they are used to describe an act that is vicious and iniquitous but, nevertheless, it does not violate the non aggression principle (NAP) and must be tolerated in a society that practices and lives under the ideas enshrined in private property anarchism. What type of property can a person own? We of course own our own bodies, any unclaimed or unused property that is homesteaded becomes private property, and property that is exchanged voluntarily or through contractual agreements is another way to obtain ownership of property. People do not own other people’s bodies and so they can not own other people’s thoughts or ideas. In fact, ideas and thoughts are not scarce so in essence no one actually owns anyone’s ideas or thoughts, not even the ones you formulate. The same goes for a person’s reputation. While it may be valuable to the person whose reputation is out there amongst a variety of different people, it is not something this person actually owns. There is no way to own what someone thinks about you whether it is good or bad, true or false. The one action that does violate private property rights is the unfortunate circumstance when someone is sued for printing something or saying something that is claimed to be false by the plaintiff which results in damages being paid for by the defendant. This is a major violation of free speech and is theft of private property since the party who has brought forth this lawsuit is looking to “regain” property that is intangible and not able to be owned in the first place.
If someone prints or gives a speech about a particular person and what the writer or speaker says is true, how can this be punishable by draconian laws? We would never hear the truth again if it meant that “priceless” reputations were at stake. The crux of the debate centers around what should happen if lies are told about a innocent person which tarnishes their reputation and causes them irreversible harm. The problem with this is that people have a right to their opinions, they have a right to tell vicious lies, they have a right to virulently condemn people and their actions. As long as free speech is done on private property where it is permitted and it does not violate private property, like yelling “FIRE” in a crowded venue, then there is absolutely no legal recourse that can be taken in a just libertarian order. People who believe lies have been told about them can fight back by responding to false allegations with non violence. They can respond in videos, articles, ask admirable members of society to speak on their behalf, and if you have a good character you should have nothing to worry about in the long run. The person spreading lies should be asked to prove his statements or otherwise lose his credibility. If someone hires a reporter to ask a few hundred people who know you in your neighborhood, along with family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, what they think of you, most answers will hopefully be favorable. Most likely you will get satisfactory feedback if you are a decent person. However, there is a good chance that a percentage of the people interviewed will give negative responses about the kind of person you are and they may even lie for their own twisted reasons, among other underlying motives. This must be brushed off and disregarded as just immoral behavior in a world that cherishes free speech. Allegations that accuse or blame someone for committing a wrongful act that violates NAP like rape, robbery, murder etc., must be substantiated with incontrovertible evidence and then brought before a private court where a decision is rendered based on the testimonies and the facts of the case. The person who is the accuser will be monetarily penalized if what he is saying is false. This is to limit the number of cases where the accuser is making up false charges that may result in property theft of the accused in the form of lost wages and lawyer fees. It also mitigates the loss of resources allocated by private courts when arbitrating bogus cases.
The truth should always be searched out by using reliable resources. For instance, when the person that is claiming to be “slandered” by a “slanderer”, sometimes it turns out that the “slandered” is the liar and the “slanderer” is telling the truth. The truth must be foraged for in a world plagued by dishonesty. Even if this is not the case, and the truth is clear, it still holds that all thoughts, ideas, lies, defamatory remarks, and offensive comments must be protected and preserved so that discourse and discussion do not come under the threat of slime bag lawyers and so that legal theft is not a normal occurrence committed by the arbitrary justice system.