Analysis: Libertarian Free Association and Portable Rights

Libertarians must remember that both freedom of association and  wardship–children, those committed for bad acts–enables, but does not trump (as extreme conservatives or progressives sometimes believe) core portable rights. While observance of such rights may be held in abeyance or guardianship for specific purposes directly necessary to e.g. the association or –typically–employment–they’re always there. Such rights include:

  1. Speech and culture (including personal demeanor such as one’s sexuality and privacy)
  2. Fair dealing (and any purported right to clearly bad management of principal assets)
  3. Self and community defense and right of safety

As one can see core personal and civic rights as expressed in the US Constitution are here comprehended. To put it in brief, one may not e.g. contract away the right of safety even in inherently unsafe situations such as being a trapeze performer…one has a right to make the unsafe as safe as possible, and not be exposed to unsafe conditions not relevant to the job. Even when exception is to some degree made with small associations as being inherently personal or temporary where other correctives are at play-ease of leaving, tender and friendly mutual feeling, mutual privilege, etc– this is not a doorway to abuses as in domestic cases: at one time people simply walked away, but in today’s financially complex partnerships and still ridiculously complex divorces this is difficult, and so domestic abuse once treated as de minimis has come to the fore (as, it turns out, was at the bottom of the incident).

An association may not prohibit watchdogs, speech, or punish one for the normal incidents of life such as pregnancy or what one does at home. This has been integral to natural and originary common law, was restricted by theocrats  for several centuries, and is now being put back in many instances by otiose and revocable regulations (such as ‘legalizing’ gay marriage or pregnancy/illness leave which should never have been restricted to begin with) instead of courts re-asserting this is what law means. Standards evolve over time through normal local common law and stare decisis, but one must be aware that these factors exist-and as libertarians see there is a fair hearing and recognition of the issue. Sadly, when wards such as children, correctional inmates, or men-under-orders such as soldiers or civil servants speak the truth they’re sometimes terribly punished, a perversion of guardianship still accepted.


In recent years employers and governments–often egged on by extremist conservatives masking religious bigotry with cries of less or more efficient government–have attempted to use freedom of contract or association, or wardship issues, to e.g. justify privacy intrusions, firing for sharing compensation information or complaining of bad standards, giving up mediation or jury rights in bizarre arbitration agreements, excuse peonage or abusive behavior of employees or contractors, arrest citizens or soldiers for documenting official abuses, or in wardships justify gruesome correctional practices, child abuse, the process that torture is OK with accused combatanbts not recognized by a state, or claims in the US Supreme Court that it is perfectly OK to execute an obviously innocent person for the convenience of orderly government. People simply cannot enslave themselves as a matter of right. What is interesting is that in many of the cases one never even gets to the rights listed: punitive action is taken for “hue and cry”–trying to bring up that there is a problem or take common sense action.

This remnant of coercive theocracy has no place in republics. The story below is an example of what is wrong: At the foundation of all legal process is the concept of  “hue & cry”–the right to raise the alrm and take prudent action on a wrong and summon where they exist appropriate public agents. The Roman Twelve Tables begins with explaining people must first bring the litigants to the mediator and state the problem.  Contrary to the stupid formulation uttered even by jurists and phiolosophers who should know better, one has a right to cry fire in a theater and no speech limitation obtains–if one reasonably believes there is a fire.

In this story an employee was fired for raising the alarm and helping a distressed woman. Please notice 3 things:

  1. The employer may rightly disassociate from such actions for e.g. insurance reasons: e.g. the employee was thus acting as a private person
  2. People acted through hue and cry–ironically enough–in the market and he was reinstated thanks to letter-writing, a boycott and so on
  3. He should never have had to go through this: he cannot contract his right of group or self-defense away

Portable core rights–and general privileges and immunities– are fundamental to all civilized, and certainly libertarian, procedure and most basic is not just speech but of speech hue and cry: raising the alarm and reasonably attenuating the situation until help arrives. Should the employee have stood silently by in ‘zero violence’ and not restrain a disturbed child trying to set fire to the  store and threatened to destroy it and customers therein?   Apparently his boss and many defenders think so.  A jury might well decide such officious policies created the problem predictably –and accident waiting to happen–and levy substantial punitive damages.I recognize  that some of the strange behavior of the employer was perhaps back-pressure from high taxes and trying to contain domino-effect costs.

Below is the article. In sum, Legalists must consider these issues–and so must open managers developing sensible policy guides. Core Rights may not be contracted away–especvially including hue and cry.–MG


Safeway clerk who defended woman reinstated

The Associated PressAssociated Press

Posted: 05/24/2012 03:14:19 AM PDT

May 24, 2012 10:15 AM GMTUpdated: 05/24/2012 03:14:19 AM PDT

DEL REY OAKS, Calif.—Safeway meat clerk Ryan Young has his job back and has become a bit of a celebrity after being suspended for trying to help a pregnant woman who was being kicked by her boyfriend.When Young jumped from behind his counter to help the woman on April 21 he didn’t know that he’d be suddenly jobless and be the focus of national attention at the same time.

Young was working a shift at the Del Rey Oaks, Calif., Safeway, when he saw the woman and her boyfriend arguing. When the man got physical with the woman, Young came to her defense, according to the statement he gave police.

After the brouhaha ended, Young’s employer saw the incident on surveillance video and suspended Young without pay. Safeway cited its zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence.

Then a sea of support rose for Young, starting with his union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5. They immediately challenged Young’s suspension, but the company refused to budge for weeks—until Wednesday, when he was reinstated.

Young will return to work at a different Safeway store just as close to his home in Marina, said Ron Lind, a spokesman for the union.

“He’ll be back to work as soon as possible,” Lind said.

Meanwhile, word spread rapidly of Young’s heroic actions after he appeared on national television. In response to his suspension, people began boycotting and picketing outside the northern California store in support of the cler…The Del Ray Oaks’ police chief even jumped into the mix, commending Young’s actions publicly.

Then Young’s cause went viral. More than 180,000 people signed an online petition expressing outrage at Safeway’s actions on, a website that allows people to engage in social advocacy.

“Knowing that I had all these people standing behind me and that I wasn’t alone really helped me through this difficult time,” he said in a statement through the website. “I’ll be returning to work soon, and I’m ready to move forward.”

Safeway reinstated Young with back pay. The decision came a day after union representatives and the company spoke.

“As we have said from the outset, Mr. Young’s decision to intervene on behalf of one of our customers was commendable,” Safeway said in a statement Wednesday.

“Whatever the circumstances, a physical confrontation between an employee and a customer is something we must take very seriously and examine very carefully. We appreciate the customers who took time to share their opinions about this incident, and we appreciate their patience as we completed the process.”

The man charged in the woman’s assault, Quyen Van Tran, was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to attend a 52-week domestic violence class after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery on Friday, according to the Monterey Herald.

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