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  1. chillinwill
    "It's a free country."

    That's a popular saying — and true in many ways. But for a free country, America does ban a lot of things that are perfectly peaceful and consensual. Why is that?


    Here are some things you can't do in most states of the union: rent your body to someone for sex, sell your kidney, take recreational drugs. The list goes on. I'll discuss American prohibitions tomorrow night at 8 and 11 p.m. Eastern time (and again on Friday at 10) on my Fox Business program.

    The prohibitionists say their rules are necessary for either the public's or the particular individual's own good. I'm skeptical. I think of what Albert Camus said: "The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." Prohibition is force. I prefer persuasion. Government force has nasty unintended consequences.

    I would think that our experience with alcohol prohibition would have taught America a lesson. Nearly everyone agrees it was a disaster. It didn't stop people from drinking, but it created new and vicious strains of organized crime. Drug prohibition does that now.

    The prohibitionists claim that today's drugs are far more dangerous than alcohol.

    But is that true? Or is much of what you think you know ... wrong?

    I believed the Drug Enforcement Administration's claim that drugs like crack and meth routinely addict people on first use.

    But Jacob Sullum, who wrote "Saying Yes" (http://tinyurl.com/yjxru4s), says, "If you look at the government's own data about patterns of drug use, it clearly is not true."

    The data is remarkable: 8.5 million Americans have tried crack, but there are only 359,000 regular users. (The government defines "regular use" as using a drug at least once in the past 30 days.) More than 12 million tried meth, but only 314,000 still take it. The story is similar for heroin. Most people who try these "instantly additive drugs" do not get "hopelessly addicted." They give them up on their own.

    As Sullum puts it: "The vast majority of people who use illegal drugs do not become heavy users, do not become addicts; it does not disrupt their lives. In fact, I would argue it enhances their lives. How do we know that? Because they use it."

    But on the news, we constantly see people whose lives have been destroyed by drugs. Sullum says: "When you have prohibition, the most visible users are the ones who are most antisocial, most screwed up. They're the ones who come to the attention of the police. ... People who present themselves as experts on drug use because they come into contact with all these addicts have a very skewed perspective because they are seeing a biased sample. The people who are well adjusted, responsible users are invisible."

    My prohibition show will also touch on prostitution. I want ratings — I admit it. Former prosecutor Wendy Murphy says prostitution is "sexual slavery."

    I think calling it slavery is an insult to those who've suffered real slavery. Slavery is force. Prostitution is consensual. On my show, I'll let a former "sex worker" and the prosecutor fight it out.

    The prohibitionists also ban the sale of human organs. You aren't allowed to sell a kidney to someone who will die without one. Sally Satel, a physician who is the recipient of a kidney and the author of "When Altruism Isn't Enough" (http://tinyurl.com/yzjnksw), says, "Altruism ... is a beautiful virtue, but tomorrow at this time 13 people will be dead because they didn't get a kidney."

    In a free country, we consenting adults should be able to do whatever we want with our bodies as long as we don't hurt anyone else. People who don't like what we do have every right to complain about our behavior, to boycott, to picket, to embarrass us. Bless the critics. They make us better people by getting us to think about what's moral. Let them mock and shame. But shaming is one thing — government force is another. Prohibition means we empower the state to send out people with guns to force people to do what the majority says is moral. That's not right.

    And it doesn't even work.

    John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

    By John Stossel
    March 4, 2010
    Washington Examiner
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/John-Stossel--86329937.html

Comments

  1. Meow Tse Dung
    I like the way this guy thinks.
  2. ninjaned
    Amazing article. I dont understand why we dont have people who say stuff like that in office. I really just cant express how much I loved that.
  3. Greenport
    ahaha we used to watch this guy in social studies class. Funny thinking he came out with an article like this.
  4. salviablue
    This is an excellent article. If only people like this got more mainstream publicity. Why can't we have these kinds of sentiments presented on question time, or the news at ten, or party political broadcasts etc., or even during prime time viewing.
  5. Wavvv
    A surprising contribution from FOX News to the legalization movement. Although SWIM thinks that most contribution coming from FOX News relates to the "stranglehold" the government is putting on personal liberties. Interesting article, SWIM was wondering if there was a clip to the actual interview he's referring to?
  6. sparkling_star
    Sullum's book, Saying Yes, is an amazing, realistic look at drug use, and anyone who has a chance should read it.
  7. Simplepowa
    Nice article !

    Thumbup
  8. EyesOfTheWorld
    Wait a minute. This was on FOX? Wow. Thats all, but heres more words so i dont get neg repped for one lining.
  9. fanyovsky
    beautiful articulate article. But it has never stopped governments from behaving like lynch mobs at the critical moment. Look at the mephedrone ban in the UK - despite all reasoning against - they did it. All it takes is a few right-wing journalists to whip any senate or parliament into a prohibitionist frenzy. I guess we have to accept the fact that logic is not high priority in the power play of governance.
  10. girlygrrl
    I really don't understand the government's need to babysit "bad behavior". If someone's consensual choices cause no harm to others then why is it necessary to impose laws criminalizing what they do?

    What is wrong with "living and let live"? Legislating "morality" oppresses people. I especially don't understand religions that advocate "free agency" but yet want to outlaw the things that they feel are "immoral".

    If you don't like recreational drugs - don't do them.
    If you don't like prostitution - don't hire a prostitute.
    If you don't like gay marriage - don't get married to someone of the same sex
    If you don't like abortion - don't get one.

    Just seems logical to me.
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