Morality Should Not Determine Legality

By Ian Brzeski | United States

For many people, morality is relatively subjective. To some, sex before marriage is a sin, and to others, it is perfectly reasonable. Some people love taking drugs, and others are appalled by them. People of all kinds differ in their values on these issues and on many others such as access to guns, homosexuality, and prostitution. Whether or not committing a particular act falls under someone’s values, everyone should realize that committing victimless “crimes” should not be punished by the state.

What are Victimless Crimes?

In essence, a victimless crime is a “crime” under the law where there is no identifiable victim. It is performed when no other person or party is involved in the action taking place beside the perpetrator or consenting adults. Consuming drugs is a prime example of a victimless crime. The only party that person would potentially be harming in that act alone would be himself. He or she willingly chose to engage in this act; thus, there is no victim. The same goes for that person when they engage in obtaining the drugs through consensual means. These means include joining into a contract with his “dealer.” The two adults here both agree on terms in this exchange. The dealer provides the drugs, and the consumer provides a means of exchange for his desired goods, presumably money.

Freedom of Choice

Locking people up like caged animals for committing victimless, nonviolent crime is complete nonsense. It does not matter what a person’s morality says about drugs. One could think that they are awful and downright immoral, but that does not change the fact people can do as they please as long as no other person is harmed or brought into unwanted affairs. Those people, out of their own free will, chose to engage in that exchange and then go on with their lives as they please. Nobody was hurt, and everything was purely consensual. Fundamentally, it is not that much different than going out and buying groceries.

If you do not like drugs, don’t do them. Nobody forces you to take them, and if somebody does force you, then that is a crime in itself as it takes away your freedom to make those decisions for yourself. Just as people want the freedom to decide to say no to drugs, others should also have the freedom to take drugs without fear of being imprisoned by the state. It is inconceivable to think that drug abusers belong in a prison cell. Drug abusers need help, not prison time.

While incredible amounts of funding have gone towards decreasing drug use, the drug addiction rate is the same as it was about 40-50 years ago. Instead of spending over a trillion dollars in incarcerating these people, spending should be focused on helping these addicts. Portugal decided to do this about 17 years ago, decriminalizing all drug use and focused their spending on rehabilitation for drug users. At one point, about 1% of Portugal’s population were drug abusers, and now that number has been halved.

The same decriminalization practices should be used for prostitution, pornography, owning guns, and any other victimless crime. If you do not like any of these things, then don’t partake in them- it’s as simple as that. Not to mention that decriminalizing and accepting all of these would make them safer. No more back alley pimps who abuse and drug their prostitutes to make a quick buck. No more sketchy and untrusting drug dealers who may lace their products. No more massive cartels as the majority of their products would be legally imported in the country; thus, losing the majority of their funding. Everything listed here would run as a legitimate business which would then promote competition, naturally making these businesses safer. Interdiction on all of these things is no different from the prohibition of alcohol, and we all know how well that went.

Legalization in Amsterdam

I recently went to Amsterdam where marijuana, certain psychedelic drugs, and prostitution are all legal. The prostitution is all kept in one sector of the city, known as the Red Light District. The Red Light District was bustling with people and seemed as if it were just another business center. These businesses are basically “forced” to care for the health of their laborers as they would have an incentive to because it would be horrible for business if one of their workers had some disease such as an STD. One could find drugs anywhere, but nobody is forcing others to take them. If you want to smoke a blunt, then you can, and if you do not want to, then you do not have to.

The overall cleanliness of the city was surprising. One would think that by allowing drug use and prostitution, the city would be pretty dirty, but that is not true in the slightest. Homeless people and garbage on the streets were not to be found, at least from my experience. Amsterdam has experimented with decriminalizing some of these victimless crimes, and it seems to be going pretty well for them.

Victimless crimes are not real crimes. People should not be punished for doing things that do not harm others or their property, and we must put an end to decades of government control over people’s choice of how they treat their bodies.

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4 thoughts on “Morality Should Not Determine Legality”

  1. I don’t disagree with you, I think there is something to be said for decriminalizing victimless crimes, but what about the fact that some of these crimes can lead to putting oneself or other people in danger. I’m just imagining someone taking drugs, but then being reckless and driving and killing other people on the roadways. So wouldn’t we want to prevent this possibility? More a matter of preventing possible injury than punishing an action? I’m curious what your thoughts are!

    • Hi, thank you for the response!! I do see where you are coming from with the matter of preventing possible injury and for me, I don’t think that it may necessarily make that much of a difference.

      For instance, on principle for me, nothing is necessarily a crime unless there is a victim. People like to speculate on all the possibilities on what could happen. Theoretically, I could go out driving, completely sober, and maybe have a slight lapse of concentration, crash the car, and accidentally kill somebody else. If you want to prevent possible and accidental injuries, outlawing driving would undoubtedly help with that. I know that it’s a stretch here from the point you are trying to make, but I do think it does bear a little bit of truth

      Taking drugs and then driving is obviously going to increase the chances of an accident occurring, but it doesn’t mean that a crash will take place, so that’s why I believe acts like that are still victimless in a sense. It’s victimless until somebody is hurt or if somebody’s property is destroyed. Now I’m not saying in the slightest that driving under the influence should ever be socially acceptable, nor do I think it ever will be.

      People who are under the control of another substance generally have friends or a group of people who will make an effort to make sure that they do not go out and drive drunk/drugged. The majority of the population knows for a fact that it’s stupid to drive under the influence. There are still plenty of people who drive under the influence today, and the law doesn’t change that. People who don’t do drugs and don’t drive under the influence because they think it’s stupid, not because it’s the law. Personally, I don’t think the law has much deterrence these issues.

      The state can’t arrest somebody for a crime that hasn’t happened yet. Giving the state that power will inevitably lead to a more coercive form of government which inhibits on our freedom. The state will never be able to prevent all crime. It’s just not possible. I’m not saying that I’m against “law.” There could potentially be law and order without a government. I’m not an anarchist though; I have reasons for not being one, but the law and order argument is one of the reasons.

      Again, thank you for the response!! I appreciate it

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