Threats, Part 2

From: The NAPster

Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2020 9:01 AM

To: Walter Block <>

Cc: Kenn Williamson

Subject: Re: Typhoid Mary


Yes, and I said so at the end of my second paragraph.

For Typhoid Mary, I see three cases.

Case 1: she is on her own property.  In that case, only in the instance that I mentioned above — where she is spewing forth her infection onto another property — could the impacted person or his agent come onto her property and use force against her.  I don’t think that it would be legitimate to just assume that because she has typhoid, she is necessarily going to spew forth the infection onto neighboring properties.  That would be like disarming someone who owns a firearm because he might use the gun violently.  Now, if she stood at the property fence and was about to cough, then I think this could be regarded as an imminent threat (there might be instances where it is not, but let’s not deal with those), worthy of action.  If this is what you mean, then yes, I agree with you.

Case 2: she is on A’s property with A’s consent and is not threatening to impart her infection to anyone not on A’s property.  A could of course revoke that consent and throw her off his property, but he could do so for any reason, not just because she has typhoid or is acting in a threatening manner.  If X is also on A’s property and is worried about Mary, then what X could do depends on the terms on which he is on A’s property.  X’s best, peaceful course of action is simply to leave A’s property.

Case 3: she is on A’s property with A’s consent, and is standing at A’s fence with B, spewing forth her infection onto B’s property.  In that instance, unless A and B have an agreement to the contrary, B could legitimately use force against Mary and, if necessary, A and his property, to prevent this.  And if Mary were standing there about to cough, then similarly.

Are there any areas in which we disagree?

Zack Rofer

Check out my book: Busting Myths About the State and the Libertarian Alternative

Dear Zach:

We agree.

You might find this to be of interest:

Block, Walter E. and Matthew A. Block. 2000. “Toward a Universal Libertarian Theory of Gun (Weapon) Control,” Ethics, Place and Environment, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 289-298;

Best regards,



3:23 am on October 28, 2020