Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Tucker Carlson and Fox Are Wrong, on Both Immigration and Free Speech

by

Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson got himself into some hot water with Fox News advertisers last month after he made a derogatory comment about immigrants on his show. According to Hollywood Reporter, at least 24 advertisers decided to boycott Carlson’s show in response to his comment, including Toyota, Lexus, Farmers Insurance, ancestry.com, IHOP, Pacific Life Insurance, Bowflex, and Samsung. 

What did Carlson say that caused this large exodus of advertisers from his show? He suggested that immigrants make America “dirtier.” Carlson’s advertisers clearly did not agree with his assessment and registered their discontent by pulling their ads from his show.

interestingly, in response to the boycott both Carlson and Fox News went off on a rant that leftists often make whenever this type of thing happens to leftist commentators. They said that they were not going to permit themselves to be“censored” by the advertisers.

But both Carlson and Fox are misguided, both on principles of free speech and immigration.

No one is censoring Carlson and Fox News. The only time that the concept of censorship enters the picture is when government is prohibiting people from saying what they want or punishing them for what they’re saying. Since no government was doing that to Carlson and Fox, they are way off base in crying, “Censorship!” in response to the boycott.

In a free society, people have the right to say whatever they want. If Carlson and Fox want to claim that immigrants make America dirtier, they have every right to do so. 

By the same token, in a free society people have the right to do whatever they want with their own money. It’s their money. They have the right to stop spending their advertising money on Carlson’s show or on Fox News generally. When they engage in such a boycott, they are not engaging in “censorship,” especially since Carlson and Fox are free to continue claiming that immigrants make America dirtier. The boycotters are simply exercising their fundamental, God-given right to do what they want with their own money.

In fact, boycotts are oftentimes a good way for people to nudge or encourage others to change their behavior. But it’s all voluntary. If Carlson and Fox want to continue insisting that immigrants make America dirtier, they have every right to continue doing so … and pay the price for their utterances in the form of reduced revenues.

Carlson and Fox also have it wrong with respect to immigrants and immigration. It’s isn’t immigrants or immigration that makes America dirtier, it’s the system of immigration controls that Carlson, Fox, conservatives, and liberals support that makes America dirtier. 

Doubling down on his anti-immigration remark, on a subsequent show Carlson featured pictures of immigrants seeking refugee status within the United States who are being held in a refugee camp in Mexico because U.S. officials won’t let them into the United States to seek refugee status. He also showed trash on property in the Southwest that had been left by immigrants illegally entering the United States.

But what Carlson fails to realize is that all that trash is a direct consequence of the system of immigration controls that he himself favors. If borders were open to the free movements of people, as we libertarians support, that trash wouldn’t be there because those immigrants wouldn’t be forced into that refugee camp. 

When poor people are forced into a refugee encampment area and thereby denied the opportunity to work and make money, there is inevitably going to be chaos in that operation, one that involves the problem of collecting and disposing of trash that any group of people who are forced into a concentrated area is going to generate.

Consider the title of this article from USA Today: “Garbage, Feces, and Other Bad Behavior Take Toll on National Parks During Shutdown.” Given that U.S. park officials have decided not to work for free during Trump’s government shutdown, there is no one to control the behavior of American tourists on America’s socialist-owned parks. The result is feces, trash, and other bad behavior.

Has Carlson bad-mouthed American tourists, claiming that they make America “dirtier”? If he has, I haven’t heard about it. But if he has, he’s as misguided as when he claims that immigrants make America dirtier. It’s not immigrants or American tourists who make America dirtier, it’s socialism, whether in the form of government-owned land or government immigration central planning.

Consider the trash that immigrants leave on lands in the Southwest. Sure, it’s possible for people traveling by foot to carry their trash with them. But human beings whose lives are at risk are oftentimes not as environmentally sensitive as well-heeled American hikers. They’re thinking of saving their lives from things like dehydration and exposure and, therefore, reducing their load as they travel.

But here’s the bigger question: Why are they crossing those lands in the first place? It’s because a system of immigration controls prevents them from entering the United States in a normal way.

In other words, under a libertarian system of open borders — the system on which the United States was founded — people would be legally free to enter the United States by walking across an international bridge, flying into the country on a plane, riding a bus into the country, or any other regular way. There would be no need to be trespassing on private ranches or lonely deserts and leaving trash there.

Ludwig von Moses, reputed to be the greatest economist ever, called government intervention into economic activity “planned chaos.” There is no better term to describe the consequences of America’s decades-old socialist system of immigration controls. If only Carlson and Fox understood that principle instead of going off on their silly and misguided rants about censorship and how immigrants supposedly make America dirtier.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.