Archives for the month of: June, 2018

Philadelphia Dec. 23. 1791.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. — Thomas Jefferson

A friend posted on Facebook about the Oklahoma State Question 788 legalizing marijuana per doctor’s note. I had commented about the legal prohibition forcing me to be responsible for the harm caused by the law.

I was camping for a few days, so now I’m able to take time to write a bit. We Oklahomans vote on the matter tomorrow (26 June 2018).

To be blunt, I oppose all legal prohibitions of vices. If there is no victim, there can be no justification for laws criminalizing the action. (Rationalizations and mental gymnastics should be employed for liberty, not for coercion.)

I’m using the word vice to mean actions that are reasonably called bad, even harmful to oneself, and perhaps, by extension, hurtful to ones loved-ones. I mean actions that are done willingly, even if unwisely, with malice toward no one. That is, if I abuse a substance, I will likely harm myself, but I’m not doing it with malice. I don’t intend to harm anyone, even if the end result will hurt those who care about me. On the other hand, there are natural crimes where my actions intentionally, or at least directly, harm someone else. The most obvious is murder.

It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have. Will Munny (Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven.)

If I may use “natural crimes” to mean that which victimizes at least one other, and vices to mean that which harms no one directly except the doer, then perhaps I can be clear.

I first must set forth my consideration of law, any law, every law. When I consider whether a law is justifiable, I use this criterion: If someone was about to violate the law, and if I had a gun to the would-be criminal’s head, would I be willing to say, “Stop, or else!” If they persisted, would I be willing to pull the trigger?

If the law they are violating is life, if the perpetrator is about to commit murder (a natural crime), or inflict grave injury and harm, then, yes, I could suppose I’d be willing to pull the trigger, and I suppose I would be justified.

If the law they are violating is texting while driving, or smoking a joint, no. Don’t be absurd. Of course not. Yet, we have the laws.

Sure, driving while intoxicated or negligently distracted is dangerous, but it is not intentionally malicious. If someone is negligent along such lines, we have reasonable and justifiable liability laws. We hold them accountable.

Someone might object that a negligent driver may accidentally take a life as a result, and liability and reparations cannot bring back the dead nor satisfy the bereaved. Certainly, but let us consider the natural and often likely extreme; if law-enforcement attempts to apprehend the negligent driver (for citation or arrest), the driver may refuse to comply, and it doesn’t take much for someone to die in such circumstance. A high-speed chase is too often fatal. A “criminal” who objects to being criminalized for a vice often becomes belligerent, and, far too often, such situations end in someone dying.

In many instances, our protection is merely hypothetical. How can we justify proactively coercing someone to protect a life, when the coercion itself is an evil act and very well may result in loss of life. Life for life in the abstract is not justifiable. Life for life can only be justified when the threat of death is clear and imminent. Even in war, it is morally reprehensible for me to take the life of an enemy combatant who is clearly attempting to surrender.

Here is the point I hoped to make on Facebook regarding State Question 788 and the decriminalization of marijuana if a doctor signs off on it. The Law currently criminalizes the possessor or seller of a naturally grown plant. Said criminal is subject to all manner of force and coercion at the hands of law enforcement officials. I cannot justify sending our police to enforce such unjustifiable laws. Our police are armed, and they are trained to use force, even deadly force, to uphold the law. Whether the law is justifiable or not, I am literally responsible, given that is our system, and in it, I am the authority and basis of the government. The government rules by my consent. If I consent, I am responsible.

As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, I am much more willing to deal with the problems attendant to too much liberty. I do not have a clear conscience if I am responsible for too little liberty. I am responsible, in our society, here in the USA, here in Oklahoma, if our government is, in fact, tyrannical. I will act in legal, civil, and voluntary ways to increase liberty and to minimize tyranny. I must make a legitimate effort to repeal unjustifiable and unnecessary laws. I must support decriminalize of drug use, even if it is only halfway.

The same goes for immigration, but that is not the topic here. We must have constraints on immigration, but our laws are too restrictive, and worse, too complicated and hard to enforce. Many of our laws are based on fear. Many of our laws are based on favoring some at the expense of others. That is tyranny, and it is wrong.

I hope my point is clear. I oppose prohibitions on vices because I find the prohibitions more immoral than the vices prohibited. I oppose prohibitions on vices because such prohibitions require our police to enforce unjustifiable laws. Further, unjustifiable laws result in unfair enforcement and unfair judicial practice because mercy and justice cannot be consistently considered. Further still, excess laws, unjustifiable or simply unneeded, push our police beyond their warrant. Excessive laws force our police to overextend, increasing their risks unjustifiably.

Specifically, how many police have died because of a marijuana arrest? How many times have drug raids and drug enforcement deprived a more worthy use of police capabilities?

Again, all of this is my fault, our fault, collectively, because we vote for it. We don’t bend the ears of our legislators and peacefully persuade them to repeal the unjustifiable laws. We don’t vote them out and install representatives who will listen.

Prohibition of vices causes more harm than good. Prohibition of vices is more immoral than the vice.

We have the example of alcohol. Of course, it is different. Yet, it is simply a vice. Many people, good, bad, innocent, and otherwise, died trying to prohibit alcohol in our country. We have many problems associated with alcohol. Many people suffer, and many people die. Yet, we don’t cause it. We, collectively, are not responsible for suffering and death resultant from free choices of free people. Our responsibility ends with our innate obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. I have a simple obligation to my neighbor, my relative, my friend, who has a problem with addiction, or whatever, in so far as I care about them and want the best for them, within my capabilities.

Passing a law and sending the police to enforce it is not the same; it is not a way to fulfill my obligation to love my neighbor. It is coercion, and coercion is evil.

Coercion, being evil, is only justifiable when the coercion enforced is obviously less evil than the harm prevented. By obvious, I mean a clear and imminent harm.

Again, I stand with Jefferson. No doubt, there are problems associated with decriminalizing drugs, but the problems of liberty are not immoral. The problems caused by coercion are immoral. Let us all choose to stand for liberty. Let us all honor every individual as self-sovereign. Let us all refuse to coerce.

 

 

 

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Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

Per the OK voting site:
Tuesday, June 26 Primary Election
Last day to register to vote: June 1 (already past)
Deadline to request absentee ballot: 5 p.m. June 20
Early voting: Thursday, June 21, 8 AM – 6 PM
Friday, June 22 8 AM – 6 PM
Saturday, June 23 9 AM – 2 PM
 
Get your personalized sample ballot there (approximately 15 days before). Mine is ready already.
There is a primary ballot. If you are registered with a party, you will see their ballot for the primary. If you are independent, you will probably see the Democratic primary ballot.
You will at least see the State ballot. It includes nonparty items, like judges, and the State questions. Only 788 this time. I’m with Jefferson. I much prefer the problems associated with excess liberty than the want thereof.
 
The text of 788 is: “This measure amends the Oklahoma State
Statutes. A yes vote legalizes the licensed use,
sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for
medicinal purposes. A license is required for
use and possession of marijuana for medicinal
purposes and must be approved by an
Oklahoma Board Certified Physician. The
State Department of Health will issue medical
marijuana licenses if the applicant is eighteen
years or older and an Oklahoma resident. A
special exception will be granted to an
applicant under the age of eighteen, however
these applications must be signed by two
physicians and a parent or legal guardian. The
Department will also issue seller, grower,
packaging, transportation, research and
caregiver licenses. Individual and retail
businesses must meet minimal requirements
to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees.
The punishment for unlicensed possession of
permitted amounts of marijuana for individuals
who can state a medical condition is a fine not
exceeding four hundred dollars. Fees and
zoning restrictions are established. A seven
percent state tax is imposed on medical
marijuana sales.”
 
Good enough for me. My bottom line, prohibition doesn’t work.
 
I still vote and probably always will, but I’ve grown cynical. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Whoever wins will do what they want, not what we want. (Just ask Scott Inman.) If we can get some Libertarians in, maybe there is some hope of smaller government, but the fact is, government will continue to grow, taking more of our money and more of our freedoms. The nature of government is to oppress. The less we stand up for ourselves, the more government will beat us down, and they take our money to pay for it all.
 
So, vote if you want to. Register if you feel like it. It is too late for the primary and state question, if you haven’t already registered, but you can register for the next round.
Regarding drugs in general, I realize legalization will have its own set of problems, but we already deal with most of that. What we will lose with legalization is knowingly criminalizing people who aren’t actually hurting anyone (except themselves). You can pretend dealers hurt users, but that is silly. Vehicles kill many, many people continuously. Are car dealerships hurting users?
Think it through. Get past the superficial. We can eliminate drug crimes and the associated deaths by decriminalizing and letting freedom ring. People engaged in criminal activity cannot call the police. They resort to violence. Decriminalize and end such violence. Sure, problems will continue, but at least we are not sanctioning such violence. At least we will not be forcing our police officers to execute drug dealers for trying to defend themselves (in their mind).
It isn’t easy, but I cannot approve of my government killing people for simply suffering from vice or addiction. We have legal vices. We have problems accordingly, but they are problems we can deal with legally and peacefully. Prohibition simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t! Why keep prohibiting things that don’t obviously hurt people?
Coercion is evil.
If you coerce, you are sinning against your neighbor.
If you coerce, you are culpable.
Laws, by definition, are coercive. Do the laws you favor clear your conscience? Let me ask it this way: Is the law under consideration so important to you that you would personally kill to enforce it? Example 1, a bloody adult is running at a child with a knife raised and fire in his eyes, while he screams his intent to kill, and you have a gun, drawn, aimed at the crazed adult–you are well trained and a good shot. Do you aim center mass and pull the trigger? I would hope so. Example 2, a 17-year-old is texting while driving. You have a gun, drawn, aimed at the careless adolescent–you are well trained and a good shot, and the car will certainly veer harmlessly into the adjacent ditch and halt. Do you aim center mass and pull the trigger? I hope not.
See the difference? The one law is reasonable in the extreme. The other really isn’t justifiable at all. It is coercive, and sooner or later, suffering results from the coercion, from the law.
Prohibition actively causes pain, suffering, and death.
Sure, vices cause the same, but we, as a society, as a collective conscience, are blameless. Each of us has a moral obligation to do good and assist our neighbor, but if our neighbor refuses polite advice and wisdom, we stand blameless. If we outlaw an action that has no direct victim, we stand guilty of the harm caused.
Our laws against drugs make us guilty of the harm caused by our law enforcement, harm caused even when assiduously following the letter and spirit of the law. The law is bad, the harm is evil.
Stop it. We are worth more than the ephemeral security of vices outlawed. Our police are worth more. Take responsibility and end prohibitions of vices.
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