Discussing drug legalization with libertarians, as I did recently, can be a frustrating experience. This is in part because they rarely say exactly what they mean by “legalization.” Do they mean a controlled market that would barely represent a retreat from state regulation and interference, or an uncontrolled one, in which we would all be able to buy methamphetamine or crack at our local store? There is a much deeper problem, though: their conception of what it is to live in a civilized society. They seem to think of people as egoistic particles that occasionally bump into one another rather than as necessarily and essentially social beings. No doubt there are some egoistic particles among us, but they represent only a tiny proportion of the total. On the matter of drugs, libertarians argue that it is no business of the state to tell citizens what to take or not to take, and that doing so is therefore an oppressive curtailment of freedom. The drug laws, they insist, don’t work in practice, because so many people break them—with impunity or not, as the case may be. Living in a civilized society means accepting laws that one did not make oneself, and that in any given situation may seem unnecessary; one has no right to complain if punished for breaking them... all freedoms are not created equal; a hierarchy exists among them; and a restriction on the freedom to intoxicate yourself or drive down Fifth Avenue at 100 miles an hour is not to be compared with a restriction on the freedom to say what you think. Speech codes are therefore a much more serious assault on liberty than are drug laws.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Dweeby liberal nanny-stater frustrated by talking with libertarians about drug legalization
Darn libertarians are too obsessed with personal freedom Excerpted, THEODORE DALRYMPLE city-journal.com, "On the Legalization of Drugs":