Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Prohibition still has lessons to teach

Prohibition still has lessons to teach

(My Clovis News Journal column for April 3, 2015)

If government is a good idea — which I doubt — it is being done backward.
Currently, the way it works is a law is passed, then enforced, in an attempt to change people’s behavior. If some behavior weren’t being targeted for change, no one would even dream up a law in the first place.

The only reasonable course, where laws are concerned, is the other way around. People's behavior should determine whether or not a law is enforced, and then once it isn't being enforced, the law should be eliminated.

In fact, this is how alcohol prohibition ended up being scaled back. (I say "scaled back" rather than "repealed", since it is still with us today, as evidenced by "liquor licensing", laws forbidding alcohol sales on Sunday, "dry counties", and various other violations of human rights with regard to alcohol.)

Alcohol prohibition was ignored by enough people that it became unenforceable. Being unenforceable, it stopped being effectively or consistently enforced. Juries stopped convicting people they knew had broken the bad law. Eventually the law changed to reflect this fact. Unfortunately we still suffer the societal damage done by that ill-conceived experiment.

Drug prohibition- for drugs other than alcohol, I mean- may take the same path.

One difference between the alcohol prohibitionists of the 1920s and the drug prohibitionists of today is those who wanted alcohol criminalized understood no such authority was allowed under the Constitution, so they changed the Constitution to make their campaign legal, if not right. Drug prohibitionists never bothered to legalize their stupid and evil War on Politically Incorrect Drugs. Yes, they chose (and continue to choose) to act in a criminal manner to get what they want. And it has been a disaster to everyone other than those who profit from enforcement, punishment, and other inseparable aspects of black market drug sales.

Abuse of any substance is a bad idea, but no worse than abuse of some imagined authority to control how others live their lives.

If enough good and decent people risk punishment by ignoring a law, any law, that law shouldn't be enforced. Then, always slow to catch up to reality, those who imagine their job is to dream up laws should abolish it. They shouldn't amend it or tweak it to try to make it work better, they should go back and erase the mistake as if it had never happened. All political prisoners held in captivity for breaking the "law" should be immediately released and paid restitution directly from the pockets of those who passed, enforced, and supported the former law.

Or, you can stay on course and be surprised when the results of your stubbornness destroy society.

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