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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Fisking Fitch’s “Just Say No” Post

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fisking Fitch’s “Just Say No” Post

Scanning over a variety of posts in the latest Carnival of Vanities (where I submitted my previous post supporting John Shadegg for Majority Leader), I ran across a variety of posts of a variety of interests and political/philosophical viewpoints. One post in-particular titled Just Say No from a blog called Fitch is Always Right caught my attention. The author who identifies himself as FIAR attempts to argue that if drugs were legalized, all hell would break loose. Toward the end of the post, the FIAR gives his readers this challenge: “You may now attempt to persuade me that I'm not always right.” Well FIAR, I’ll give it my best shot. May the fisking begin!

I first should deal with the Libertarian perspective on [drug] legalization. They say that it is not the role of the government to intrude on our lives in that way. We have the freedom to be stupid and harm ourselves, and that is our own responsibility for being stupid, to deal with the consequences.
As someone who believes much of the Libertarian philosophy, I’ll do my best to illuminate my views on the war on drugs. FIAR, I agree with your portrayal of the ‘Libertarian’ view for the most part. The government should only ‘intrude’ when an individual or group threatens the life, liberty, or property of another individual or group. Outside of that, the government has no authority.

I disagree. We don't have the freedom to be as stupid as we want to be, under the guise that we are only harming ourselves, or that the consequences are our own. If that were the case, the Constitution would say, "just do whatever you want, so long as it doesn't harm others. The consequences of your actions are your own responsibility."
FIAR, this is an unfortunate misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution that you as well as many others have. The Constitution does not give anyone rights, it recognizes them. If the Constitution spelled out every right the individual should have, it would be thousands of pages long. The Constitution puts its limits on the government. Whatever powers are not spelled out in Article II Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution or its amendments are reserved for the states and the people. Without explicitly saying "just do whatever you want, so long as it doesn't harm others. The consequences of your actions are your own responsibility" the Constitution, in my view, implicitly says just that.

I know that some Libertarians THINK that's what the Constitution does say, but it doesn't provide for a fend for yourself anarchy. It sets up a system of government, under the realization that there need to be some rules sometimes.
Libertarianism and anarchism are not the same thing. Libertarians recognize that government does have a role- a limited role. Of course a minimum set of rules are required for a society to prosper. I think the Constitution has done an adequate job of setting the rules. I’m glad that you have noticed the ‘personal responsibility’ part of the Libertarian philosophy. That is a part of the message that many critics do not get. If government left the citizen to ‘fend for yourself’ as you put it, perhaps more citizens would make more responsible choices. If and when an individual does happen to make a poor choice (such as abusing drugs), rather than asking the taxpayers to bail him or her out, he or she would have to seek help from elsewhere. How is this a bad thing?

There is the argument that marijuana is not a dangerous drug. I personally beg to differ, but if we accept that premise, then it would certainly rule out other drugs, which are decidedly more harmful…

… legalizing heroin and cocaine is on the agenda. It just needs to wait until people are desensitized to the idea.

For my part, I have expressed nothing less than an end to the war on all illegal drugs. The reasons I am opposed to the war on drugs is because prohibition is ineffective, puts an unnecessary strain on the criminal justice system, is dangerous, and breeds crime. I wrote an essay awhile back which explains these points in greater detail. Maybe an incremental approach is the best way to reach that goal and perhaps your assessment of the strategy is a correct one.

Hey, let's just legalize everything. Marx called religion "the opiate of the masses." Who needs religion as an opiate, when you can have actual opiates. Nothing like a mindless, strung out, drugged up electorate to follow orders from the government. It's called dope for a reason, stupid.
I say let’s legalize all activities which do not threaten the life, liberty, and property of non-consenting others (i.e. drugs, prostitution, gambling etc.). Marx replaced the opiate of religion with the opiate of communism. These religions of mysticism and religions of statism are institutionalized into the culture; people are compelled to take these opiates through force or fraud. Actual opiates, if legalized, would be taken by choice (unless the government forced citizens to take the drugs of course). I wouldn’t take opiates or any other illicit drugs if they were legalized tomorrow. I’m certain that you and most other Americans would choose not to take the drugs either. Like you said “It’s called dope for a reason.” I can’t argue with that.

Some would argue that by legalizing drugs, it takes the black market, and crime elements out of the drug trade. Then why don't we legalize child pornography? It will take the criminal element out it, and government regulations could ensure that the exploited children are exploited and abused in a safe manner and in full compliance with government regulations.

How can one compare the drug trade and the child pornography trade? With the drug trade we are talking about a market of people who harm others mostly because of its illegal status. If child pornography became legal, an innocent third party (the children) would still be harmed. An adult does not have the right to harm a child no matter what the laws happen to be. How can a child be “exploited and abused in a safe manner,” that’s a contradiction of terms. Child pornography certainly violates the liberty (what if the child says no?), the property (the child’s body) and potentially endangers the life of a child (STDs); a perfect trifecta of an individual’s rights being violated. It is very interesting that you chose child pornography as a comparison. Ironically, thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, non-violent drug offenders often do more time in prison than child molesters! Where are our priorities?

How long, if legalized, will it be before the same anti-capitalist losers are suing "Big Marijuana" for it's adverse effects on people? You just know these litigious cretins will be out there, "Scooby Doobie Doggy" is targeting young children. "Heroin Horse" is designed to market heroin to underprivileged minorities. Those eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevillll Marijuana corporations, how dare they. That's tantamount to genocide, or at least slave ownership.

I agree with your point on how litigious our society is and its ill effects. People who choose to use drugs (legal or otherwise) should do so at their own risk. As long as “Scooby Doobie Doggy” and “Heroin Horse” are not lying about the harmful effects of their products, those who use these products should have no legal standing to bring a suit. It is true that the tobacco companies once lied to the public that tobacco was a perfectly safe product but no body under 40 years old can say that they ‘didn’t know’ that tobacco is harmful. In fact smoking tobacco kills more people every year than all illicit drugs combined! Having said that, you are probably right that there would be such people trying to make those claims. There will always be people who want to put the blame on anyone but themselves.

Legalize it. Go ahead. But all this WILL happen. Every penny raised from taxing it will be eaten up by the next generation of slobbering, brain damaged, illiterate, unskilled drug addicts. It won't pay for social programs. It will be the reason they are needed. And that is the reason behind the agenda. To create a dependency class, and further entrench the victimization of the nation.
You have a valid point here. If personal responsibility is not stressed should drugs be legalized, all these problems will still be present. I say these problems will still be present because we already have a dependency class that is rewarded by the government despite the illegality of drugs. Also, consider that the taxpayer is already paying to house and feed drug offenders who fill our prisons. Once a person is released from a 15 year prison term, what kind of marketable skills does he or she have when trying to re-enter the workforce? Turning otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals contributes to this very dependency class you speak of.

As to the ‘agenda’ you are referring to: my agenda is to restore the character of this country to one self responsibility and individual liberty. Maybe there are others who have an agenda as you describe it; I am not one of them and it certainly is not the agenda of the Libertarian Party or those who truly believe the Libertarian/Classical Liberal philosophy.

On balance, you make some great points. Your challenge was to prove that you are not ‘always right’ but I’ll be charitable and say your post wasn’t entirely wrong.

Related Posts:
Anyone Who Believes America is Winning the Drug War Must Be High
Priorities
Choices
Personal Responsibility
More Mandatory Minimums Madness


3 Comments:

Blogger T. F. Stern said...

Stephen, Well thought out and written, something I've come to expect from your articles. I wish the logic you offer could be sold in a bottle.

6:32 AM  
Blogger James R Ament said...

An excellent piece - Someday, I'd like to read someone's objective expectations of the consequences, both positive and negative, of drug legalization. I'm clearly inclined to stop this stupid drug war but I'm unclear on how that might play out... not exactly, of course, (who could do that?) but a reasonable prognosis. Any suggestions?

10:38 PM  
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1:46 AM  

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