Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Government should have a reason before depriving us of a freedom.

   Should government have a reason for banning something?

   There are many distinctions between laws. Amongst those distinctions is one of laws that ban certain conduct. Laws that ban conduct that is malum per se (for example, murder, robbery, kidnaping) prohibit conduct society has seen as intrinsically wrong. Laws that ban conduct that is malum prohibitum (for example, jaywalking, possession of marijuana) prohibit conduct because we, or our elected officials, say such conduct is bad.

   The presumption should be that, in the realm of malum prohibitum, conduct is legal. Otherwise, people would not be able to act without consulting statute books. Government should have to give a reason before it deprives us of freedom to act. 

   In regard to drugs, what reasons are there for illegality?

   1) Drugs harm the user. That should be the choice of the person of legal age who chooses to ingest a substance. Tobacco can harm, and indeed kills one in three of, its users. Not only is tobacco legal, its growers are subsidized by the government. Alcohol can harm the user. Our society has seen the effectso of Prohibition. Multi-billion-dollar industries back the legality of these two, arguably harmful, substances. So harm to the user is not a valid argument.

   2) Drugs cause crime. This can be broken down into three components. Drugs create a huge illicit market that is at the heart of organized crime. Drugs cause people to commit crime to pay for their use of the drugs. Drugs cause people to behave in a manner that causes crime. As for the first: legalize drugs and one eliminates what is estimated as one-tenth of the world's economy. That's right, drugs are 1/10th of world-wide GDP. And all that money goes to the pockets of less than one percent of the world's population. As for the second: legalize drugs and prices plummet. If cocaine is incredibly cheap, most users would have no need to be burglars or to shoplift or mug. As for the third: if behavior is the basis for outlawing a substance, alcohol releases a lot of inhibitions. We have seen what happened with Prohibition of that substance.

   Those are a couple of reasons to ponder for today. I will blog more tomorrow. And remember, "Civil Discourse Now" shoots on Saturday, December 3, at 11 a.m. at Big Hat Books, 6510 North Cornell, on whether al drugs should be legal.




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