You Are Not My Daddy
THE FREEDOM ARGUMENT
I’m a good dad. I don’t want my kids using meth. Indeed, I will force my opinion about not using meth upon my kids. I will prevent them from using meth by force if necessary.3 As a dad, I have other policies as well. For example, my kids are not allowed to ride their motorized quads without helmets or to ride in the car without seatbelts. They are not allowed to smoke cigarettes or skydive either. However, at some point, my kids will be responsible to decide for themselves what activities are too dangerous for them. Both assessing the dangerousness of an activity and determining how much danger is acceptable will become the exclusive domain of each of my kids as it pertains to them. Resolving these questions for one’s self is an important task and responsibility of any free person.
The question of who gets to make decisions about the disposition of certain property is central to understanding freedom. Who gets to decide what activities are too dangerous for you? Should I get to decide what activities are too dangerous for you? What about your neighbor? Or the majority? Or the president? Or congress? Or some judge? In a free society, the owner of the property gets to decide how the property is used.4 Because you own your body, I assert that you should decide how your body is used or abused.5
In terms of the freedom argument, the question of legalization of meth poses exactly the same question as many other issues currently confounding our fellow citizens. The following non-exhaustive list contains questions which are each different versions of the same question about how a particular body is used:
Should people be allowed to eat Big Macs?
Should people be allowed to consume any unhealthy foods at all?
Should people be allowed to play football despite the risk of serious injury?
Should people be allowed to skydive or rock climb?
Should people be allowed to ride in cars without seatbelts?
Should unprotected sex between consenting adult strangers be allowed?
Should consenting adults be allowed to have sex in exchange for money?
Should adults be permitted to ingest marijuana for health reasons?
Should adults be permitted to ingest marijuana for mere personal pleasure?
Should competent adults be allowed to voluntarily end their lives if they choose?
Each question begs the initial question about who gets to decide how a particular human body is used. Those of us who are pro-freedom would in each case conclude that the owner of the particular human body in question should decide how that body is used.6 The initial issue of who decides must be resolved first.
Although I would try my best to persuade others not to use meth, I concede it is not my decision. Among adults, persuasion is fine, but coercion is not. I will not force others to live by my assessments of dangers. I respect the property of other people such that I respect their right to use their property in ways I vigorously disagree with.7 I have no claim on how others use their property unless and until their activities trespass upon my property.8
The freedom argument is much bigger than the question of whether meth should be legal. It certainly resolves the question, but it raises larger questions about the very nature of government. Any legitimate role of government is confined to protecting rights. Indeed, unless you disagree with the principles upon which this country was founded and believe government is the source of rights which may be distributed to us or taken away, you must agree that government can have no rights other than the ones we individually delegate to it. Because you have no right to be my daddy, you have no such right to delegate to government. Further, because no person individually has any such right, even the majority of people added together collectively have no such right. Therefore, when the government acts as my daddy, it acts wrongfully; even if it acts pursuant to an accurately counted democratic vote.9 Although it is perfectly fine for me to act as a daddy to my kids, the government has no right to act as a daddy for us.
Some people posit that legalized meth would send the wrong message to people about using meth. However, the government’s role is not to send messages to us about what is right or wrong or good or bad. We don’t need messages from government. Free people determine for themselves how to run their lives. I have a right to be a self destructive idiot if I choose. I own me.
Additionally, the “messages from government” objection overlooks an important point. The concepts of legal and illegal are far different from the concepts of right and wrong or good and bad. Because an activity is legally permissible does not obligate people to conclude such an activity is right or good.10 Merely because the law allows my kids to insult other kids doesn’t prevent my wife and me from successfully teaching them not to do it. The unwillingness or inability of many people to invest the mental acuity to distinguish between these concepts has contributed to an intellectual feeblemindedness which is akin to a malignant tumor killing our society. The “messages from government” objection nourishes that tumor. We should embrace the concept that we are free to adopt personal standards of conduct which exceed the minimal threshold defined by law.
I regret devoting so few words to the freedom argument. It deserves much more. Many others have far more eloquently detailed the case for freedom. I hope to live to witness the day when the freedom argument is accorded the respect it deserves. I hope this skeletal argument stirs the interest of those who read it and encourages them to explore it more fully. The reason our society has been deteriorating in so many ways is because it has come to accord less and less respect to the freedoms of others. Winning the freedom argument is the only way to destroy the cancer that infects our world.