No Involuntary Quarantine in a Libertarian Society

I am actually very surprised by some libertarians supporting the idea of forced quarantining of people with Ebola, or perhaps even people merely “suspected” of having the disease. Some people have suggested that someone with a contagious disease is a “threat” to others. However, with Ebola specifically there needs to be direct physical contact involving bodily fluids such as saliva, etc., to possibly infect others and therefore it can be controlled. In a libertarian, free-market, voluntary society, an example of actual threatening behavior would be: “I have Ebola and I’m going to spit on you or intentionally bleed on you, etc.” That’s a “threat.” But someone’s merely having Ebola is not a “threat” to others. Other issues to consider include: what about someone who is merely suspected of having Ebola? Should he be included on the list of people to forcibly quarantine or involuntarily vaccinate (if there were an Ebola vaccine)?

So, someone’s merely having Ebola might spread it to others. We can’t violate the rights of the individual because of something that might happen. We shouldn’t use aggression against someone including involuntarily detaining or imprisoning someone because of a higher risk of something that might happen. Another example (and a lot of people including some libertarians don’t like this, I know) is drunk driving. Just because someone has had some alcohol, and that there might be an increased risk that he might cause an accident, that is no reason to stop him and arrest and imprison him. The act of driving while impaired is in and of itself not harmful to others, but it may raise the risk of such harm. In a libertarian society it is a violation of the non-aggression principle and liberty to detain or imprison someone who has not harmed anyone, merely based on risk. As Lew Rockwell wrote: “Now, the immediate response goes this way: drunk driving has to be illegal because the probability of causing an accident rises dramatically when you drink. The answer is just as simple: government in a free society should not deal in probabilities. The law should deal in actions and actions alone, and only insofar as they damage person or property. Probabilities are something for insurance companies to assess on a competitive and voluntary basis.”

Am I way off on this? I don’t think so.

My conclusion here is that I am much more afraid of being the victim of being forcibly medicated (and thus my immune system compromised) or involuntarily detained or hauled off to some “quarantine facility” especially based on the mere suspicion of ignorant sheeple neighbors others, than I am afraid of getting Ebola (in which case, my good immune system would get rid of it quickly, in my view).

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7:48 am on October 6, 2014