Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty
In the midst of this endless variety of opinion, what man, or what body of men, has the right to say, in regard to any particular action, or course of action, "we have tried this experiment, and determined every question involved in it? We have determined it, not only for ourselves, but for all others? And, as to all those who are weaker than we, we will coerce them to act in obedience to our conclusions? We will suffer no further experiment or inquiry by any one, and, consequently, no further acquisition of knowledge by anybody?"
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Before I read this piece, my libertarian self was already in agreement with Mr. Spooner. My philosophy---Do as you like so long as you don't harm others. But what I liked about Mr. Spooner's approach to not criminalizing vice was his focus on how "vices" are not only different for every single person but that vices are simply attempts by persons at finding happiness. (That is, persons only have such vices because they are seeking happiness; no one practices a vice if he believes it is a harm to him/her.) To that end, what right do I---or any govt, for that matter---have to tell a person that he cannot "try" that or this thing because it will not make him/her happy because a) I have tried it already and found it "not" happy or b) others have tried it and they have concluded it "not" happy too. That would be ludicrous. Only that person---with all his/her faculties, tastes, experiences, desires, predilections, turn-offs, temperaments, goals, etc.---can tell if such a thing makes him/her happy or not. It is up to him or her to decide. No one can decide for them---especially not government.
What does this mean? Simple. All drugs should be legal because all persons should have the right to choose whether or not using drugs is a happy experience. The same for gambling, prostitution, boxing, etc. If persons voluntarily and knowingly consent to engage in these practices with others of the same like, then only they can determine whether it brings them pleasure or not. They might make a mistake in doing so but it is for them to discover this. As you and I do about a million things in our lives. What would life be like if we hadn't the freedom to exercise all our freely-provided options? It would be a boring existence, that's what. It might even be a pointless existence. No thanks---I'd rather exist. And exist happily too.