Friday, August 15, 2008

Why Drugs Should Be Legalized- Part II

The crux of the libertarian argument for legalization is the individual's right to make choices about one's own body. In this regard, the legal treatment of drugs should be no different than the legal treatment of sex. Like drugs, sexual behavior has health consequences, and like drugs, sex has moral implications. Yet most of us believe that our sex life is our own private business and that the government should never be in the business of restricting our private sexual activity. I say private here because most people do appreciate the role of government in regulating certain activities in public places. We can't have sex in public parks and similarly, there's no reason that drug use can't be similarly restricted if it were to be legalized.

From a purely philosophical standpoint, people need to decide how they feel about this issue. Do people have the right to their own bodies or does the government have an interest in controlling our private activities that don't harm others. And there are other implications here- The libertarian response is simple and doesn't require elaborate justifications for the wrongness of different government restrictions, restrictions which can range from bans on the food we eat to bans on abortion procedures.

If you believe government should have the power to restrict the right of individuals to decide what they put into their own bodies, you're also bound by the practical implications of that government power. Government is not perfect, nor does democracy always work as cleanly as we'd like it to. If we don't have a fundamental right to make decisions about our bodies, than you have to accept other restrictions on our rights to our body as policy differences. Or in other words, you can't pick and choose, arguing that government has the right to regulate some aspects of our choices about our bodies, but not others. If you accept that government has power over us, than you have to accept that certain "safe" activities will be prohibited by the government for the mere fact that government is imperfect and there is no one perfect way to calculate risk.

The libertarian answer is most simple- we have the right to our own bodies and the right to make decisions about our own bodies. The food we eat and the drugs we take should be no one's business than our own when done in the privacy of one's home.


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