Libertarians are often assailed as being pro drugs for our belief that the Drug War is a waste of resources and a violation of basic rights of citizens. Above is a clip from a Canadian TV interview of ex-cop Barry Cooper, once considered one of the best police officers in Texas, discussing his reasons for being against the Drug War. In particular, pay attention to his points about citizen’s duties to fight against unjust laws.
After you’ve watched the video, we’d like to add a few observations to Barry’s comments.
In response to the reporters assertion, “Isn’t it up to a democratically elected government to write the laws and changed the laws?”, we’d point out that democracy is not what is held high in the United States’ founding or its constitution, never mind that practically every politician talks about democracy as if it is the ultimate objective. Certainly Barry’s response was a valid one, but we also should remember that the United States was founded with the intent of respecting individual rights and liberty, and certainly not to enshrine with power the whims of the masses who might use government force to impose their will on a minority — which is allowed in democracy.
Such assertions, that democracy is most important are fatuous in the context of so many fleeing popular tyranny abroad in the founding of this great nation. As well, the Founding Fathers often wrote about the importance of protecting the liberties and freedoms of the minority from the tyranny of the masses, and spoke harshly of democracy (a word not mentioned in the Constitution or Declaration, and a concept often derided in their writings!). After all, the most numerous minority in the United States is clearly the individual.
We’d also remind readers, if we needed a Constitutional amendment for the failed alcohol prohibition of the late 1920s, why has none been required for Drug prohibition? Unfortunately, the answer is that the Constitution simply ain’t respected like it once was. Today it is a supple document, and as such, politicians have steadily convinced far too many voters that giving up personal rights and freedom is safer than retaining them.
Which leads us to a second point: The journalist follows up with an attempted “gotcha” question by asking, “what if somebody thinks other laws aren’t particularly suitable for their lifestyle” such as those against speeding, robbery, drunk driving, etc. — should they simply be ignored too? Bary’s answer is solid (you gotta love Rosa Parks!), but to it we’d ask readers to consider the concept of consensual behavior and its relationship to crime. When someone steals, they are taking someone else’s property without their consent. When someone murders, they lack the consent of the victim. When someone drunk drives, they impose their threat to others on the highway who do not consent to driving alongside a ticking time bomb.
Therein lies a critical concept of libertarian beliefs — a belief in fundamental liberty and freedom. Someone smoking pot in the privacy of his home or backyard may not be your or my cup of tea (or beer or mixed drink, for that matter), but so long as said pot smoker is not driving under the influence (which is a valid law) or engaged in some other criminal behavior, why treat him as a criminal?
Most Americans are comfortable with the timeless saying, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll fight with my life to protect your right to say it.” Implied in the statement is a defense of the constitution and of personal liberty and essential freedom. The same ought to be said of someone smoking a joint.