Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Libertarians and Drug Legalization

My good friend Mary Grabar has a great piece at Pajamas Media today, "Libertarians Need to Rethink Support for Drug Legalization":

A truly sad story about a 23-year-old Panama City man dying while being subdued by Bay County sheriff’s deputies has reawakened the debate about the legalization of marijuana. On December 11, 2009, Andrew Grande choked on a plastic bag full of marijuana as police attempted to arrest him on a violence charge. A video shows police valiantly trying to save his life once it became apparent that he was having difficulty breathing.

Two talk show hosts in Panama City have been discussing the case in the early morning hours — and revealing a divide on the right. Burnie Thompson of WYOO, the libertarian, has called Grande “a casualty of the war on drugs” and contended that because marijuana is illegal, Grande felt “compelled” to swallow a bag of it to avoid punishment.

Nonsense, says Doc Washburn on station WFLF. He invited former Congressman Ernest Istook from the Heritage Foundation and Tina Trent, who blogs on crime, to speak about the dangers of marijuana to the user and to society. Trent indicated that Grande had faced probably only a misdemeanor charge; she pointed to studies showing that the illegal drug trade flourishes despite the legality of marijuana in certain states and other countries. And legalizing marijuana will remove the freedom employers now have to test for the judgment-impairing drug.

The position on the legalization of marijuana provides the point of departure from the traditional libertarianism of Barry Goldwater. In abandoning the duty to enforce social order, today’s libertarians have made a devil’s pact with the pro-drug forces of George Soros and company.

My libertarian friends like to say, “I’m a libertarian, not a libertine.” But though many of the advocates of libertarianism lead socially conservative lives, their agendas promote libertinism — especially when it comes to legalizing drugs. They forget that the moral order they have inherited is put at even further risk as laws change to allow more destructive behavior.

Case in point is the sad story of Andrew Grande, whose secret life as an amateur gay porn star is not being told in the media.

To the libertarian, such a profession would also not present a problem, as prostitution does not. But the two — drug use and the self-debasement of prostitution and pornography — go hand in hand. Ask any strip club dancer how easy it is to get up on stage stone cold sober. Ask anyone who has been under the influence about the stupid things he did. Indeed, Grande probably started young, when he was impressionable. And recent reporting has shown that our “safe schools czar,” Kevin Jennings, was head of an organization that used the schools to promote homosexual sex between boys and men. Certainly the ability to engage in such destructive behavior is enhanced by the use of drugs ....


To give sanction to a drug that robs the individual of reason and conviction is to give up on our way of life. It is another surrender to the counter-culture. It sends a dangerous message to young people. A recent study shows that the creeping sanction through legalization of “medical” marijuana in certain states is giving young teenagers a sense of safety about marijuana use.

Marijuana killed Andrew Grande, not only in the literal sense, but in the sense that it abetted his descent into a very sad, counter-cultural lifestyle. Its legalization is supported by the same forces that promote Kevin Jennings, one-world government, Gaia worship, and legalized prostitution. All these elements work against the traditional libertarian values of initiative, freedom, and honor. Libertarians need to rethink their position on drug legalization.

The entire essay is at the link.

The closest I've come to making Mary's argument is in, "
The Ashley Biden Cocaine Scandal." But see also, "I Don't Smoke Pot, and I Don't Like It."

Now, compare Mary's piece to that at Silent Running (the author makes specious arguments, and essentially ad hominem attacks, rather than rebut Mary's substantive argument on culture). Via Memeorandum. Much better is David Swindle's rebuttal, "Pro-Drug War Conservatives Need to Rethink, er, REMEMBER the Role of Government." I'm still with Mary though.


Dana said...

I'd be for legalization, if drugs affected only the users. But my wife is a pediatric nurse, and she's seen way, way too many child abuse cases, and she has said that she has never seen a child abuse case in which drugs and/or alcohol wasn't involved in some way.

Maybe, maybe, if people didn't have children I wouldn't object to the legalization of drugs, if we also had a guarantee that the government wouldn't be continually paying for drug rehab and we wouldn't have to pay to support those losers when they couldn't hold a job.

Part of libertarianism is when you see someone who's going to die in the street, and you let him die in the street. Are our libertarian friends willing to go that far?

Rich Casebolt said...

Rights-respecting governance can be maintained (and a police state forestalled) ONLY as long as We the People maintain our self-control on a near-continuous basis ... for without self-control, a rights-respecting society inevitibly slides into anarchy, which then invites an acceptance of repression that we would otherwise not tolerate.

The use of mood/perception-altering substances inherently compromises our ability to maintain that self-control ... and while there are conditions that require the use of some of these substances, to use them simply because one wants the buzz is the height of selfishness and irresponsibility.

David Swindle said...

Thanks for the compliment and the link Donald.

I'd be interested in your take on the rest of the debate that Mary and I have been having: