Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Some Clarity on the War on Drugs



2 comments:

Jason said...

Excellent points made by the Chaplain, Peter Christ (what a name!). That we condone our government to wage domestic war on its own citizens is particularly egregious.

michael-in-oceania said...

This is the point that Lysander Spooner was trying to make in his much-misunderstood essay "Vices Are Not Crimes."

To give you a local example, New Zealand decriminalized prostitution several years ago. Many people (including many religious leaders whom I respect), predicted that the result would be a "boom" for the sex industry.

That has not been the case, for several reasons. First, there is a licensing regime, strongly enforced. Second, it is still illegal to import prostitutes from other countries. Third, the zoning and consent laws around brothels are quite strict (e.g., they cannot be close to churches or schools, etc.).

To give you an example of what I mean, there was a "massage parlor" in an expensive neighbourhood, which existed for many years before legalization was passed. After the law change, the "massage parlor" applied for a brothel license. The neighbors objected, the local council refused the consent, and the "parlor"/brothel, which had been there for many years, had to close its doors!

Similarly, quite a number of "free lancers," who had been operating out of their own houses and apartments for years, started getting turned in by their neighbors, for operating without a license. Street-walking, which used to be fairly common in many parts of South Auckland, has now dropped significantly. All in all, the "sex industry" in NZ is no larger than it was before legalization, and (I expect) may actually have shrunk.

To me, the best way for society to handle vices, in general, is for the public authorities to concentrate on public health and harm reduction, and for the Church to handle the underlying spiritual maladies. Criminally prosecuting vices, as such, always backfires.