Thursday, December 04, 2008

Legalising drugs and absurd arguments

Lucyna Maria has posted this argument by Theodore Dalrymple at her site as the final and definitive word against legalising drugs. Ordinarily a fan of Dalrymple's work, I find this argument incredibly weak and disappointing;

In claiming that prohibition, not the drugs themselves, is the problem, Nadelmann and many others—even policemen—have said that “the war on drugs is lost.” But to demand a yes or no answer to the question “Is the war against drugs being won?” is like demanding a yes or no answer to the question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Never can an unimaginative and fundamentally stupid metaphor have exerted a more baleful effect upon proper thought.

Let us ask whether medicine is winning the war against death. The answer is obviously no, it isn’t winning: the one fundamental rule of human existence remains, unfortunately, one man one death. And this is despite the fact that 14 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States (to say nothing of the efforts of other countries) goes into the fight against death. Was ever a war more expensively lost? Let us then abolish medical schools, hospitals, and departments of public health. If every man has to die, it doesn’t matter very much when he does so.

If the war against drugs is lost, then so are the wars against theft, speeding, incest, fraud, rape, murder, arson, and illegal parking. Few, if any, such wars are winnable. So let us all do anything we choose.

Taking drugs is not comparable to fraud, rape, murder, arson and theft because there is no force or violence visited on another individual or their property. I accept that harm may be visited upon others indirectly but that may also be the case with adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and viewing pornography, none of which is illegal.

The war on death is an absurd line. Death is inevitable. Medicine is a war against premature death. And guess what? We are winning it.

If Dalrymple wants to use medicine in his argument he might recall the idea expressed in the hippocratic oath; First, do no harm...

The war on drugs is creating more harm than it is preventing.


Anonymous said...

"Taking drugs is not comparable to fraud, rape, murder, arson and theft because there is no force or violence visited on another individual or their property."

Hell, you ask me to be nice, and after Mr. Dalrymple provides such a cogent argument for drug laws, your "answer" is the above?? You have completely missed the point. You offer as a counter to his considered explanation a silly one dimensional Liberqueerian mantra.

He is arguing against the POV that the drug "war" as some choose to call it, is unwinnable and therefore it should be abandoned. If you want to provide a real counter to his argument, you simply have to provide information that shows attempts by law enforcement authorities to control drugs are doomed to failure.

You say on NZ Conservative that you have posted a reply, and that's true, but that is all it is- a reply. It is not any kind of counter argument because you are completely off the point.

Many people who argue that drug law enforcement should cease do so on the grounds that measures to date have been unproductive and ineffective. Mr. Dalrymple is countering this argument. Its not about force or comparing the effect or type or manner of the selected offences. That is a completely different argument.

Liberqueerians pose as advocates of personal liberty and freedom at the same time as they advocate for social policies that in strategic terms allow our enemies to surround us with more walls guards and watchtowers. If you put half as much energy into opposing socialism as you did into wittering about drugs and homosexual marriage you might gain some support from real freedom advocates. At the moment, you continue to be ineffective naval gazing narcissists. You just don't get it, and your wittering response to Dalrymples argument is another demonstration of why you'll continue to be just a marginalized group of dopey distracted queer loving pseudo liberals with about 1000 votes or less every election.

I make no apologies for annoying you, because you in your misguided and blind subjugation to an idiotic ideology intefere with my ambition to return NZ to a country where individual liberty and personal freedom is the paramount political value.

As for the war on drugs, I agree with much of the criticism but it is a side issue. Changes have to be made, but they have to occur in an orderly fashion. The biggest threat to liberty is the disease of collectivism, or socialism. This is what must be defeated first. Concerning yourself so often and so much with drug use and homosexual issues is like wallpapering a house before you've built the roof.

Lucia Maria said...

Lindsay, the bit you posted is only a small part of Dalrymple's argument against legalising drugs. Here's his whole article.

Anonymous said...

The transcendent issue is that the state has no right to tell me what I can and cannot put into my own body, because I am not violating other people's personal or property rights when I do so (not that I've ever taken drugs).

The state is violating my personal rights when it controls what I can and cannot put into my body.

Anonymous said...

because you in your misguided and blind subjugation to an idiotic ideology intefere with my ambition to return NZ to a country where individual liberty and personal freedom is the paramount political value

Anyone else see the irony?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Fatboy, Redbaiter's idea of "individual liberty and personal freedom" is a bit like the ex Alliance MP Liz Gordon's who famously said, there is only so much freedom to go around.

In practice, individual liberty and personal freedom would rely heavily on a great deal of tolerance for other people's behaviours and beliefs. And that's not me being a liberal anything-goes apologist. It's me asking other people, especially conservatives, to butt out of my life so I can return the favour.

Anonymous said...

Dalyrmple answers a statement not made by anyone that I know. He starts with the premise that those who support relegalization are saying that "prohibition, not the drugs themselves, is the problem." Actually everyone I know says that drugs are a problem but they are a problem made worse by prohibition.

Nor is the "winnability" the issue. One may not abolish crime ever but one fights crime. Based on the excerpts here Dalrymple mainly sets up, then knocks down, straw men. Rather disappointing for someone who I respect in general.

As for the ranting insults of Redbaiter I'll give them all the consideration they are worth.... none.

Oswald Bastable said...

Visit Oswald Bastable for my latest on drug using scumbags

Anonymous said...

It is important to read Dalrymple's entire article. Like him, what scares me about legalizing drugs is that drug use becomes normalized and more widespread.

His comment about prohibition is also notable, prohibition attempted to stop a practice that had already been customary for centuries, practiced by most of the adult population. Drug use is not customary, but do we want to risk it ever becoming so ?

Anonymous said...

Lindsay you are forever commenting on welfare issues, and 99% of the time I agree with you. However, nothing contributes to parasitism more than drug addiction. Drugs and gainful employment are in nearly all cases mutually exclusive.

Will de Cleene said...

Dalrymple's latest missive pines for the return of the British stiff upper lip.

Now, where's my bong..?

Anonymous said...

The full article is interesting. On one hand he makes a very good case, on the other a very poor one.

His arguments that stopping the war on drugs will not lead to a much improved situation are impressive and compelling.

His arguments against personal freedom are weak, and his dismissal of Mill trite.

I would like us to proceed by legalising one drug at a time and honestly appraising the consequences. If we humans are truly as useless as conservatives believe, then this strategy would be an effective method of proving so to those of us with a more optimistic view.

Dave Christian

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Murray, Did you intend drug ABUSE and employment are mutually exclusive?

An estimated 500,000 regular users of cannabis are not all benefit-dependent.

Benefits allow drug use to develop into drug abuse and addiction. Do something about the benefits.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Murray, Sorry. I see you did specify 'addiction'.

Anonymous said...

Was stoned for thirty years and ran a business which made me rich.
Ten years ago i meet a lady who didnt smoke, and wantin g to impress her i gave up the weed. Ten years on and happily married, i have no desire to return to my old ways. Though to be honest, I still crave tobacco.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, i am drinking to excess and still making money and have no need to drive drunk.