Children Present Difficulties For ALL Political Philosophies, Not Only For Libertarianism

From: A
Sent: Sun 7/3/2016 3:44 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Pornography for children

Dear Walter,

A question just occurred to me, which, I understand, you may not prefer to answer directly now that I am going to be a graduate student. But any advice that could stimulate my reasoning on this topic would be most appreciated:

Should people be allowed to sell pornographic material to children? More broadly, should there be any legal measure to prevent children from being exposed to pornographic material? For example, should a private road owner be allowed to put up a huge pornographic sign on his road that everybody in the vicinity can see?

Thanks a lot!


Dear A:

Children are a difficult issue not only for libertarianism, but for all political philosophies.

In my view, pornography is sort of like drugs, cigarettes, booze, gambling, etc.: victimless crimes. For adults, that is. For kiddies, the matter is very different. I think porn for kids should be handled in the same way proper law would handle drugs, cigarettes, booze, gambling, etc. Anyone who sells these things to kids should be considered a criminal.

You ask, should private road owners be allowed to display porn to kids? I would ask, should stores be allowed to advertise, display, drugs, cigarettes, booze, gambling, etc., in contexts in which children can see them? I think displaying is different than selling; it is a far lesser invasion of kids. I think this should be up to the parents, as far as the law is concerned. From an economics point of view, any road owner who displayed porn would soon go out of business but that, I appreciate, is a different issue.

When I think of kids in this context, I’m thinking of ages 3-12. On the issue of the cut off between children and adults, see this:

Block, Walter and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166, June;


12:50 am on January 23, 2019