"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/)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Hardest Drug

I read an Andrew Sullivan blog the other day, "A Conservative Approach." (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/week40/index.html) You have to scroll about half-way down the page. He was talking about drug legalization and said: "I'd legalize pot and soft drugs, and focus on meth, heroin and those drugs that can be shown to have unusually serious social consequences."

I've heard this type of comment from many of my friends too. I think Mr. Sullivan and my friends are wrong and they really don't understand the full and true meaning of personal liberty. As Lysander Spooner and John Stuart Mill, among others, have said, the only legitimate reason for society, that is, the government to interfere in the actions of a citizen is to protect the rights of others. Vices are not crimes and drug use is a vice.

Besides, the hardest drug is already legal to adults in spite of the terrible statistics associated with its use. I'm talking about alcohol. Anyone who drinks any alcoholic beverages, whether it be one or two glasses of wine with dinner, a six pack while watching the "game", or a fifth of whiskey a day, and then says that they might legalize "soft" drugs but not "hard" drugs are rather ignorant and more than a little hypocritical.

Here are some U.S. Department of Justice statistics, taken from the Bureau of Justice Statistics site recently. (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/ac.htm). I went both to "Press Releases" and the "Acrobat File."

--In 2000 50% of the U.S. population considered themselves "regular" drinkers, about 140 million people.

--In 1995 we had 5.3 million convicted offenders and nearly 2 million, or about 36% of them admitted to having been drinking just prior to committing their offenses.

--3 million crimes are committed each year in which the victim was sure that the perpetrator had been drinking. That's about one-fourth of all reported violent crimes.

--Two-thirds of all victims of violence were assaulted by a spouse or significant other who had been drinking. (What would wife-beating be without alcohol, not to mention rape and child molestation?)

--In 1995 800,000 people were known to be receiving treatment for alcohol abuse. "Almost certainly . . . a substantial underestimate . . . ."

If that isn't enough, then consider this: "Alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) is the leading known preventable cause of mental and physical birth defects in the United States." (http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/fas.html)

Or, that alcohol-related deaths number at 85,000 (JAMA, 3/10/2004, Vol.291, No. 10, pp. 1238-1241. But in a report in Scientific American for December of 1996, the number of alcohol-related deaths was put at "over 100,000."

And then there are the inconvenient facts that when drugs were legal 100 years ago, there was no criminal justice problem associated with their use, (http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/DEBATE/mcn/mcn1.htm ) and that the highest death rate from the use of the presently illegal drugs is around 16,000, a figure that I find to be suspicious. I wonder if they considered the fact that alcohol, taken in conjunction with other drugs, can be a deadly combination? Two-thirds of heroin overdose deaths are really alcohol and heroin overdose deaths. That is, take the alcohol away and the heroin user would not have died. (http://www.peele.net/lib/heroinoverdose.html)
By all the facts available it has been shown that the hardest drug is alcohol and it is legal to adults. And, according to other reports that I have read, it is easier for minors to get illegal drugs than it is for them to get alcohol. But more to my specific point and that is that adults (not minors) have a right to destroy themselves by racing fast cars, climbing mountains, jumping out of perfectly good airplane, deep sea diving, or any other the various ways that people risk their lives for the thrill of it . . . including using any recreational drug they want. To allow less, to say that the government has the legitimate constitutional power to stop us from using the present illegal drugs, means that we do not fully own the property of our bodies and our minds; that the government owns us and we are slaves. And that we do not have inalienable rights; that, instead, we have privileges granted to us by the government. The right to use drugs also means the right to not use drugs. But we each must find our own road to morality, if we ever do. We cannot be forced into a specific moral code by government edict.

Sadly, that is what Americans, once a hardy and independent people, have allowed their politicians to do to them. As Albert J. Nock said many years ago, the American people now look to the government as the people of Europe in 1500 looked to the Catholic Church. And that's a sad, but true, commentary on today's Americans.

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