Property Rights are Orwellian?

I'm having trouble working up outrage in defense of the civil right to noisy sex:

Yes, in modern-day Britain even the decibels of our sexual moaning can become the subject of a police investigation.

At the end of April, Caroline Cartwright, a 48-year-old housewife from Wearside in the north east of England, was remanded in custody for having "excessively noisy sex." The cops took her in after neighbors complained of hearing her "shouting and groaning" and her "bed banging against the wall of her home."

Now, if you were to say this is an inefficient use of resources because the cost of litigating are excessively high, that I understand. If you claim the ASBO procedures don't respect people's rights and circumvent good legal procedure, I'll agree with that too (not that I know all that much about it.)

But from a purely (non-anarchist) libertarian perspective, I'm not seeing much of a problem here. Most classically liberal people I know have great respect for the common law, and for handling matters through courts rather than through legislation. But isn't nuisance one of the oldest torts in existence, and hasn't the common law long held that excessive noise is a nuisance and abrogation of private property rights?

This is precisely the sort of issue which should be handled through local norms and practice (and, ideally of course, private property.) But it isn't 'Orwellian' for different communities to settle on different standards. Some may choose a free-for-all of blaring music and shouting sex. Others may choose to respect people's rights to quietly enjoy their own property. Neither is more libertarian than the other, though one may be more libertine.

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Whoa, blast from the past

My blog reading has dwindled to almost nothing recently so I'm shocked to see "Brendan O'Neill" on the Reason wesbite. Is he the same guy woh was a popular leftist blogger back in the halcyon days of 2002?

(BTW, I agree with your post.)

Here's what I believe is the

Here's what I believe is the Rothbardian (and I believe correct) perspective on the matter.

Use of the ambient atmosphere to dump noise homesteads the right to make noise. If I buy a patch of land, and set up a factory - or a noisy whorehouse, if neighbors start settling next to me, they have no right to prevent me from invading their property with my decibels. However, a calm neighborhood implicitly claims some right over the ambient noise, therefore a noisy (orgasm) factory has no right to set up next to a tranquil neighborhood.

Now one key word is implicit, what exactly is claimed or not depend on people's expectation and customs. This is why local norms and practices matter. Of course, such norms can be overridden by explicitly making claims to different unowned rights.

best if it were a civil matter

I'm not seeing that much of a problem with a negative outcome for the woman, though in a perfect world it would have been a civil matter instead of criminal. She would have been sued and the judge would have awarded ever-increasing amounts until the woman finally got the hint. The neighbors would have been reimbursed for their troubles, as it is now they're suffering and they get nothing for it, meanwhile taxes are being burnt up over a trial by jury - like you were saying on the "cost of litigating being excessively high".