徐家健

克林信大學經濟系副教授及科技大學經濟系客座副教授。

師父教落, 粗口說得流利的人多少有點文采。爬格子寫專欄,你卻只有緣見識我的文采(一笑),但這與言論自由無關。不是深奧的大學問,我的女朋友亦較少機會領教我的豪情髒語,皆因10萬個激嬲女友的理由當中,據說9萬幾個是開口夾着脷,不想激嬲女友於是小心說話,亦與言論自由無關。言論自由最近再引起港人關注,什麼「言論自由有界限」、「言論自由要符合道德標準凖」云云,又是哪門子的言論自由呢?

今天與大家分享兩篇關於言論自由界限的經濟文章,作者都是不少行家心目中的自由主義者。

 

艾智仁的《私產與自由》

 

六十年代中的美國,「言論自由運動」(Free Speech Movement)在大學鬧得熱哄哄。名校柏克萊見證了首次校園大規模的「公民抗命」,導火線是大學禁止學生使用學校設施進行一些政治活動。離柏克萊加大不遠的洛杉磯加大,張五常的老師艾智仁(Armen Alchian)寫了一篇叫《私產與自由》On Private Property and Freedom的短文批評運動參與者對言論自由的誤解。言論自由的界限是要符合道德標準嗎?艾智仁說得清清楚楚:

 

Had the foul speech been conducted in private among only those desirous of engaging in such discussion, with no others involved even as inadvertent listeners, there would not have been any violation of free speech. Unpleasant, immoral or improper words are irrelevant to the concept of free speech.

 

然而,這並不等於學生可以隨意佔用大學設施作他們的政治表態。產權經濟學之父這樣解釋什麼不是言論自由:

 

The difference between free speech and free resources has long been recognized in economics, political science and law. Freedom of speech is the right to use one's resources to communicate whatever he wishes with whoever is willing to hear him. It does not include a right to appropriate the use of other people's property to communicate with them. Nor does it include a right to communicate or express ideas to people against their desires.

 

把言論與資源兩者的「自由」混為一談,害了言論自由。資源有限,在所謂資本主義社會的界限往往是私有產權。問題是,公立大學的設施產權並非私有,更說不上屬於學生。另一方面,大學高層說什麼「言論自由有界限」亦只會愈說愈亂,反而自稱大學沒有畢業的好友周顯問得好:民主牆的作用是用來宣傳政治立場,還是用來分析時事,討論政見?

 

民主牆既非學生私產,民主牆上發表的意見亦非幾個大學生私下吹水可比。周顯的問題,校方與學生不可不答。

 

高斯的《貨品市場與思想市場》

 

西方社會討論言論自由時,背景不是幾個學生私下吹水道德底線何在,更不是男女朋友間不應說什麼激嬲對方。香港各界KOL討論言論自由時,卻往往停留在牛頭角順叔探索順嫂底線何在的水平。

 

以美國為例,他們討論的主要是憲法第一修正案限制國會不得制定法律禁止宗教及言論自由,並禁止立法剝奪人民和平集會及向政府請願的權利。另一產權經濟學大師高斯(Ronald Coase),在《貨品市場與思想市場》The Market for Goods and the Market for Ideas一文中卻質疑:

 

In the market for goods, the government is commonly regarded as competent to regulate and properly motivated. Consumers lack the ability to make the appropriate choices. Producers often exercise monopolistic power and, in any case, without some form of government intervention, would not act in a way which promotes the public interest. In the market for ideas, the position is very different. The government, if it attempted to regulate, would be inefficient and its motives would, in general, be bad, so that, even if it were successful in achieving what it wanted to accomplish, the results would be undesirable. Consumers, on the other hand, if left free, exercise a fine discrimination in choosing between the alternative views placed before them, while producers, whether economically powerful or weak, who are found to be so unscrupulous in their behavior in other markets, can be trusted to act in the public interest, whether they publish or work for the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune or the Columbia Broadcasting System...Why should this be so?

 

現代西方社會對自由市場與言論自由的看法如此南轅北轍,高斯認為邊際上政府對貨品市場干預太多,並質疑憲法第一修正案之下邊際上政府對思想市場干預太少。

 

政府應否為言論自由設限?原則上,我認為並非不可以討論的問題;實際上,普通法之下美國法院其實已不時就憲法第一修正案作出解讀。法律上,香港居民享有言論、新聞、出版的自由,結社、集會、遊行、示威的自由,組織和參加工會、罷工的權利和自由(《基本法》第三章第二十七條);實際上,《基本法》對港府權力的限制大家卻有目共睹。有見及此,煩請各界KOL在討論香港的言論自由時,先把主場從牛頭角轉到金鐘,然後問一問:邊際上政府對思想市場干預是否已經太多?

 

香港亞太研究所經濟研究中心成員、美國克林信大學經濟系副教授及資訊經濟計劃附屬學者

 

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