"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/)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Self-Mutilation Versus the War on Drugs

I came across an old newspaper clipping the other day from 1996. The article was about two different men who self-mutilated themselves. One cut his penis off, the other one shot himself in the groin with a shotgun. The mutilations happened in Phoenix.

Why I saved the article was the lie that the Phoenix police spokesman told when asked about the incidents. He said, “It’s no crime. You can do whatever you want to your own body.”

Why is that a lie? Had those two men been smoking a marijuana cigarette and had the police spokesman, Sgt. Mike Torres, observed them, he would have arrested them for possession of a controlled substance. They would only have been doing what they wanted to with their “own bodies,” and they would not have been violating the rights of others.

A person can horribly mutilate himself and its not a crime. Okay, fine. I can understand that. But merely using a recreational drug—one that every government commission that has ever studied it has concluded is less harmful than alcohol—is a crime? It might be a sin by some moral standards, but how can it be a crime? A real crime should involve harming some other person.

The only conclusion that I can draw is that we really don’t own our bodies. The government does and the government decides what behavior, to your own body, you can and cannot do even if that behavior does not harm other people.

So what is the so-called war on drugs all about? If the government actually has the legitimate constitutional power to stop people from using recreational drugs then shouldn’t the government make the most harmful of those drugs a priority?

The substance, tobacco, is the most harmful recreational “drug” in America, racking up more than 400,000 deaths per year. Then there is the disease and suffering and lost production leading up to those deaths that tobacco causes. That would seem a really good drug for the government to fight a so-called war over . . . if the government had the legitimate power to do so, and if the government’s purpose was to protect us from ourselves.

Then there is alcohol, not nearly as bad as tobacco in sheer numbers of deaths. I’ve seen estimated as low as 85,000 deaths per year from the use of alcohol to as high as 200,000. But what is really interesting about alcohol, according to the federal government’s own statistics, is that it is the number one violence-causing drug in America.

The use and abuse of alcohol leads to more than fifty percent of all violent crime, including murders, rapes, and robberies. It’s abuse by pregnant women is also the number one cause of retardation in newborns. So, again, if the government has the legitimate power to fight a war on drugs and the legitimate power to protect us from our own bad choices, then alcohol should the number two enemy in the war on drugs.

But of course the government doesn’t have the legitimate constitutional power to tell people what they can and cannot do with their bodies as long as those people are not violating the right of others. The government took the power and the U.S. Supreme Court legitimized it. The so-called war on drugs is a war on the inalienable rights of otherwise honest, peaceful citizens and it is based on a religious principle that those drugs are immoral therefore they should be illegal.

In a truly free and liberty-loving society, one in which the government upheld the principle of inalienable rights and protected those rights, then an adult (no minors allowed) would not only have the right to mutilate his or her body, but to use any drug they wanted, just as long as their behavior did not violate the rights of others.

I do not advocate drug use by anyone, even tobacco and alcohol. And I strongly suspect that those people who would seriously mutilate their bodies, as well as drug abusers, need counseling and the active support of their family and friends to help them overcome their problems..

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

But Alcohol is Legal

Two men, both in similar lines of work, died at the same time and found themselves standing before Saint Peter, in front of the “Pearly Gates.”

St. Peter explained that since they had both died at the exact same moment they were both before him at the same time. He also said they would have to take a “burden of guilt” test to get into heaven.

The two men looked at each other. One of them, wearing a suit and tie, asked, “What is a ‘burden of guilt’ test?”

St. Peter smiled a saintly smile and explained the test was designed to indicate the burden of guilt we carried from what we did in life and any negative consequences to society that we had caused.

St. Peter then turned to the other man, who was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and informed him that Mr. Suit and Tie was the CEO of a major liquor company. Then he told Mr. Suit and Tie that Mr. Jeans and T-Shirt was a cocaine dealer.

The CEO relaxed and smiled. He took the coke dealer’s hand and shook it and told him he was sorry that he had failed the test, better luck next time, and so forth.

St. Peter coughed discreetly and informed the CEO that the test wasn’t a contest between the two of them, with the winner getting into heaven. Then he asked the CEO why he thought, had it been a contest, that he would have won.

The CEO looked nonplussed and explained that the other man was a dealer in an illegal drug, and everyone knew how bad cocaine was, how the government was waging a huge, multi-billion dollar per year fight against the evils of cocaine and other illegal drugs. On the other hand, he explained, he was a pillar of the community, ran a legal business, supported politicians who were tough on drugs, and so forth.

“So, what’s your point?” St. Peter asked. “You were both in the drug dealing business.”

But before the CEO could respond, St. Peter started the test. He asked the cocaine dealer the first question.

“Approximately, how many deaths per year are caused by the mere use of cocaine?”

“I don’t know,” the coke dealer replied.

“About 2,000,” St. Peter said.

He then asked the CEO the same question regarding alcohol.

“But that’s not fair,” Mr. CEO said. “Alcohol is legal. It’s not a crime to make or sell, with the proper licenses, of course. Besides, we always put warnings in our advertisements about using alcohol responsibly.”

St. Peter sighed. “The answer is between 80 and 100 thousand deaths per year.”

The questions came fast and furious then, with the CEO getting buried under the facts showing that alcohol is, overall, much more harmful to society than cocaine.

The number one cause of retardation in newborns is alcohol abuse by pregnant women; over 50 percent of all violent crimes are caused by people drinking alcohol, including 64 percent of all murders in large metropolitan areas, 54 percent of all rapes, 40 percent of all traffic fatalities, with drunk driving being the number one cause of teen-age deaths.

And on it went. Of course the coke dealer’s burden of guilt wasn’t negligible. It was just a whole lot less than that of the CEO of the liquor company.

The cocaine dealer was feeling pretty good by this time but the CEO had gone quite pale. He was sweating and tugging at his tie. He kept saying, “Yes, but alcohol is legal.”

At one point, when the CEO made that statement, St. Peter told him that slavery had been legal at one time too. Didn’t make it right, but it was legal.

Finally, the test was over. St. Peter tallied up our “burden of guilt” scores. He shook his head and frowned, then gave a big sigh.

“Obviously, neither one of you is an angel,” he told us. “Neither one of you can get into heaven. At least, not just yet anyway, for one of you.”

He turned to the cocaine dealer and said, “Your burden of guilt is not nearly as large as the CEO’s. You will have to go to purgatory for a while. Maybe, just maybe, after a time, you can atone for your sins.

“But you,” St. Peter said, as he turned to glare at the liquor company CEO, “are going straight to hell, where you will burn for eternity!”

As the trap door opened beneath us, and during our long fall from grace, the CEO kept screaming, “But alcohol is legal!”

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

First Amendment Violations of the Drug War

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .” First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The word “respecting” can be replaced with “regarding” or “on the subject of”. Therefore we can say that “Congress shall make no law [regarding] an establishment of religion” – or “no law [on the subject of the] establishment of religion.

So what is a religion? I am a strongly agnostic Libertarian and to me, the term religion in its broadest form means the totality of one’s belief system about Life, the Universe, and Everything and what is right and wrong behavior.

I believe that right behavior, under a secular government that protects inalienable rights, means you can do whatever you wish just so long as you do not violate the rights of others. Your personal moral values should not be an issue. A truly secular government should only care that your behavior does not harm others or their property without good cause.

In my article, “The Myth of Inalienable Rights,” I define those rights as follows: 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.

Please note that I am only talking about adults. Minors do not have full adult rights.

So just what does the “establishment” clause mean? One point of view is that there is a “wall of separation” between the government and religion. Another point of view is that the federal government is prohibited from creating a state church.

The anti-drug laws, starting with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, came about because religious groups lobbied Congress to pass a law to control drugs because their non-medical use was considered to be immoral. That is, the use of certain drugs are immoral therefore they should be illegal. The fact that there was no criminal justice problem associated with their use at that time (when they were legal) was not considered. Certain religious groups got their version of religion enacted into law to enforce their personal moral/religious views as to right and wrong behavior. The wall of separation between Church and State was breached.

And even though the federal government has not established a church that we must all attend, by passing the Harrison Narcotics Act, and subsequent drug prohibition laws, the federal government has promoted the religious and personal moral views of some of the people at the expense of others. That is the same as forcing us all to adhere to a specific religious belief upon pain of punishment if we do not.

But of course, millions of people don’t go to that church and don’t believe in that religion, yet they are forced by a supposedly secular government to obey the religious beliefs of some people or risk arrest, fines, loss of property, and imprisonment. Should a person resist strongly enough, they risk being murdered by government agents for their peaceful, honest, consenting adult behavior. (In fact, many innocent people have been murdered in botched drug raids by the police.)

I am in no way promoting any drug use by anyone. To use a mind-altering, possibly addictive, possibly dangerous drug, however stupid that is, should be the right of all adults under a truly rights-protecting, secular government. That would include the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco which are several times more harmful to individuals and society than all the illegal drugs combined, with alcohol being the drug most likely to cause violent crimes.

The so-called war on drugs, while good for the Prison-Industrial Complex and campaigning politicians, does more harm overall than any good it was supposed to do. The drug laws are clear violations of the principle of inalienable rights and are actually religious laws masquerading as secular laws. I would like to see some major civil liberties organization attack those laws as violations of the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment.