"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Religious-Based Laws Rule Secular Society

"Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

"Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

"In vices, the very essence of crime—that is, the design to injure the person or property of another—is wanting.

"It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

"Unless this clear distinction between vices and crime be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such thing as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

"For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth." Lysander Spooner (1808-1887).

Not many people know of Lysander Spooner. He was what we might call an individual anarchist, always challenging the legitimate power of the government. Today we might call him a Libertarian.

According to Mr. Spooner (with whom I agree absolutely) there are vices and there are crimes. Crimes are behaviors that violate the rights of others. Vices are behaviors that pertain strictly to the person who is doing the behavior and do not violate the rights of others.

Vices should be our inalienable right . . . if we own the property of our bodies and our minds. Laws against vices are directly based on religious beliefs. But if you do not believe certain religious teaching or belong to certain churches (or any church) the government, by its own Constitution, should not be able to enforce secular laws prohibiting your participation in any or all of the various vices, just so long as you are not violating the rights of others. That would be the same as the government actively and directly supporting the religious or personal moral beliefs of some over the religious or personal moral beliefs of others.

But that's just my opinion, and who am I? You don't know me, and most of you have never heard of Lysander Spooner. But anyone who has a reasonable education, especially in history and politics should know who John Stuart Mill was. Here's what that British philosopher had to say about this issue.

"The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign." John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).

In a truly free and liberty-loving society, the government has no legitimate power to violate the rights of adults whose actions and behaviors do not violate the rights of others. This is the basis of the principle of inalienable rights, which no government in the world, including the United States, respects and upholds. That is what Lysander Spooner and John Stuart Mill were talking about. That is what those of us who really wants true freedom and liberty need to fight for daily.

I have written more extensively on this issue in my paper entitled The Myth of Inalienable Rights as Applied to the War on Drugs: The Tyranny of Legislating Morality. See the side bar.

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