Julien Blanc is a self-described pick-up artist, making his living giving seminars to men on how to manipulate women into having sex with them. Let me be absolutely clear: I roundly condemn Julien Blanc’s behavior and chosen career. However…
I am uncomfortable with the British government’s decision to bar his entry into the country on the basis of a petition decrying his work as borderline rape promotion. Again, I am not defending Blanc himself nor am I defending is work. But denying someone freedom of movement on the basis of public condemnation alone strikes me as a dangerous precedent to set.
It is, undeniably, within the lawful power of the British government to do this. Perhaps what really bothers me about this case is the underlying assumption that the right of a nation to secure its borders in whatever ways it sees fit is a matter of national sovereignty, and thus sacrosanct.
The decision to block Blanc’s visit to Britain was justified on the grounds that his presence is not conducive to the public good. Assuming that the state derives its power from its role as protector of the citizens of the nation, this would seem like a perfectly acceptable reason to exercise that power. But consider a scenario in which a social gadfly with a well-known passion for locks and lock-picking is denied entrance to a country on ostensibly the same grounds. After all, his presence might promote safe-cracking and burglary. Surely this would be overreach. Or imagine a group of activist musicians being denied entrance to a country with a strong religious community on the grounds that their anti-religious behavior poses a threat to the public good.
We must be careful to not applaud decisions just because they agree with our (completely justified, in this case) moral indignation without considering the underlying assumptions and implications of that decision.