Re: “Kick Me” Sign

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I hate to disagree with Walter on the finer applications of libertarian theory — actually, this is not true; few things are as fun as questioning one of the greats on such matters — but I believe that even if I had a kick me sign on the front of my shirt, even if I put it there, it is not a blank check for anyone to kick me. In our culture, kick me signs are never to be taken literally as permission. Similarly, if I were to say to Walter, “So shoot me, then,” or even, “So sue me [for a victimless tort],” this should not be taken literally.

More than a sign with such social baggage would have to be present to give full permission. However, if someone from an alien culture came upon the sign and kicked someone wearing it, this could mitigate the tort or at least lead us, juries, and the victim to be more understanding.

If someone truly wants to be kicked, in our cultural context, he should probably be more explicit. Similarly, a “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirt should be read with a grain of salt, and if you do kiss someone, thinking they are Irish, and it turns out they’re not, you do not have an actionable case for breach of implicit contract, I believe.

3:10 pm on November 7, 2009