Why is blackmail illegal?

So, you’ve probably seen the story about David Letterman being blackmailled over his affairs. This forms the basis of a thought provoking piece in the New Yorker asking why blackmail is illegal:

    A final call went out to Walter Block, the libertarian economist. Block believes that blackmail, like smoking, is “yucky” but should be legal. “He only threatened to be a gossip—maybe a screenwriter,” he said of Halderman. “Screenwriting and gossiping are legal. If it’s legal to do it, it should be legal to threaten to do it.”
  • RepublicanStones

    ‘it should be legal to threaten to do it’

    Indeed, but not with the extortion of money tied in.

  • Kensei

    What if you want to sell your screenplay and offer first refusal?

  • Only Asking

    I think the basic premise is flawed, economic marxism, capitalism etc don’t usually go hand in hand with moral issues. In theory one can moralise how to spend ones money, but that is a subjective thing, not something intrinsic to financial matters. I can give money to the poor or starving of Africa and think myself a moral person, on the other hand I could go through life and not give a penny to a worthy cause and still be a moral person. It’s the same with blackmail, if I blackmail you Ken, I could be trying to get your money for some noble cause rather than pure greed, so morals are subjective things, as opposed to ethics, in a big corporation.

    So Block, imv is mixing the component parts of the debate in order to actually say something of value and fails miserably, don’t you think? A bit like theorising morally on a politics blog, the two, morals and politics aren’t getting along so well these days in regards to finance, if you don’t believe me ask David Wiltshire.

  • RepublicanStones

    If the screenplay purports to be about the life or actions of a real person, and even goes so far as to use their actual name, without the consent of that person, is that in and of itself legal?

  • Ramzi Nohra

    kensei – the plot of The Player, eh? Good call.

  • Ramzi Nohra

    sorry – should have actually read the link.. still, maybe that was where the guy got the idea from?

  • latcheeco

    I always thought threatening people for money was perfectly legal…..but only if you were from Taughmonagh.

  • igor

    “from Taughmonagh”

    …….. or Prime Minister