From: Mike Lorrey (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 16:57:33 MST
Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > They have every right to do so, ONLY if the only negative impact is upon
> > their lives alone. If there are dependents involved, who have their own
> > rights to be free of such irresponsibility, or even just creditors, who
> > have a right to expect their money to be treated responsibly, then the
> > individual engaging in such behavior is putting jeopardy on others, not
> > just themselves, and in a libertarian perspective, the interests of
> > others put in jeopardy are equally as important as that of the drug
> > user.
> > Are you advocating that an addict has a greater right to get high and
> > drive their kids off a cliff than their kids have to continue living?
> I can't speak toward your personal experience, Mike, or for Amara's,
> but I, for one, refuse to concede that there's no such thing as a
> responsible drug user. Yes, drug abuse can lead to actual crime
> against others, and those crimes should be prosecuted, but rational
> people don't make the mistake of confusing the instrument with the
> crime: that's the same argument of the gun-banners.
The problem with this argument is that a gun doesn't chemically alter
the mental processes by which the user makes decisions about responsible
use. It is a highly recursive tool, in that it alters the thought
process that initiates its use.
Now, I did say that I delineate between drug users and drug addicts.
There is a distinctive difference, both physiologically and
psychologically, between a casual user and an addict, as well as between
a modest dosage and an impairing dosage.
This is why drunk driving laws have specific blood alcohol limits which
are allegedly supposed to reflect a point at which a persons judgement
is sufficiently impaired that they shouldn't drive. Similar impairment
levels can be applied to other drug use. The only reason they are not as
widely applied is that a breathalyser test generally cannot test for
such substances, but there are limits set by statutes which are
generally met evidentially by blood tests performed at police stations.
If such dosage limits were not scientifically justifiable, they would
not be law. Similarly, the fact that they exist supports my arguments
that impaired individuals cannot be treated as responsible rational
adults while impaired.
There are other dosage related statutes: drunk while in posession of a
firearm is a crime in many states. Merely being served alcohol while
armed is a crime in some states.
> And further, while forfeiture cases may seem justified on criminal
> drug-abuse grounds, the reality of the law and its present application
> is that they are simply government theft of private property without due
> process. No conviction--or even formal accusation--of any crime is
> necessary for a forfeiture. Due process and the rights of the accused
> don't apply, because no person is being accused: the property itself is
> being accused (the court cases have wonderful titles like "U.S. vs. 100
> Bottles of Wine") Anyone who supports such forfeiture laws is no
> libertarian, regardless of the pretext used to justify them.
I'm not justifying them, as they are in my opinion a poor tool for the
intended purpose, in many ways the most unuseful you can make a legal
instrument perform its intended purpose.
However I doubt there are many instances where the government can seize
property without some burden of evidence to support such a claim before
a judge. The drug seizure laws specifically say that the owner must have
been charged with a drug offense, and dropping, dismissing, or acquittal
does justify return of the property. Several people I know who have gone
through such a situation were offered their property back when charges
were dropped in one case, and acquitted in the other.
I also consider what you point out, that the property itself is accused,
not the property owner, to be a very specious legal mechanism. The idea
of bringing a case against an inanimate object is ludicrous.
A friend of mine, Jeff Steinborn, was one of the lawyers who argued
against these forfeiture laws before the Supreme Court on double
jeopardy grounds and lost.
If you accept that income tax laws are valid, then the argument that
property purchased with unreported income can be seized in lieu of
payment is also valid. If you want your property back, pay the taxes
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