Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why Do We Have Laws?

One of the worst arguments against ending prohibition I have ever heard came a few weeks ago, during a discussion of the subject between Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera. O'Reilly, an ardent prohibitionist, blurted out, "If we legalize murder, then we could shoot more people."
Now, before we jump to the conclusion that O'Reilly is a homicidal psychopath who would murder people if there weren't a law, it must be understood that he is actually a paranoid sociopath who bellieves there should be a law governing every aspect of our lives, from what we watch on television or listen to on the radio to the top salary corporate officers should be paid. O'Reilly seems to be one who believes that
we are basically evil, and will do harm to others or ourselves unless everything we do is strictly regulated. He truly believes that laws prevent crime.
He is, of course, wrong, as are so many others. From the very beginnings of civilization, when it was discovered that it is better to ally with others rather than killing or stealing from them whenever encountered, it has been deeply ingrained in our very Being that it is wrong to kill, rape, or steal from others, or otherwise trespass on the person or property of others. We know, in our very Spirit, or, if one is an Atheist, in our deepest subconscious, that these are crimes against Nature, and that repercussions are inevitable.
There are, however, a small percentage of those in society who are missing the basic moral reasoning most of us possess. These individuals do not have the ability to consider the consequences of their actions. In the earliest times, they were taken out of society by retributive actions by the family or clan leadership of the wronged. Thus were the laws of Nature enforced--to every action, a reaction; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. With the advancement of civilization came the rule of law.
There are two kinds of laws--just and unjust. Just laws are those that establish a code for dealing with criminal acts against Nature. Unjust laws are those that create new crimes and are therefore, in themselves, crimes against nature.
Laws, traditionally, were never intended to create or prevent crime--we know that, law or no law, crimes are committed. Rather, laws were created in order to set a code by which retribution could be realized without leaving it in the hands of those who may kill the wrong person or wrongfully accuse others. Laws could be said to keep the peace by setting an order of punishment or retribution, thus preventing large scale family feuds or clan wars. In modern civilization, laws for crimes against Nature are necessary to remove the social and/or Spiritual devients and depraved who commit crimes from society.
As civilization grew, so did government. Laws became a tool for adding more wealth to governmental coffers, or for controlling the thoughts and actions of the general populace. At various times, in various societies, it has been a crime to be a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or a Buddhist. Property of those individuals or societies were confiscated by the governments which outlawed their religions, and the practitioners were often tortured before they were killed. Such laws are, in themselves crimes against Nature in that they attempt to suppress the natural tendency of our kind to find Spiritual growth and strength. Nature Itself has enacted retribution against those governments which had such laws--most of those governments have fallen, and those that continue to suppress the Natural inclination toward the Spiritual, will inevitably fall. Law or no law, these religions have perservered and serve the Spiritual needs of the majority of the Earth's human population, while the governments that have enacted laws against Nature serve nothing.
Toward the end of the Nineteenth Century A.D., governments began to realize the value of demonizing so-called vices and creating "victimless" crimes against them. Under such laws, government coffers could be vastly increased by confiscating property, exacting fines, and by receiving pay-offs and campaign contributions from the crime lords whom the laws enabled.
The demonization of alcoholic beverages culminated in 1929, when an ammendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed and it became illegal to purchase, sell, possess, manufacture, or transport such products within the United States. Subsequently, individuals who were missing the Natural awareness of right or wrong rose in power as they sold the "illegal" products to the masses, and murdered those who would compete with them or prevent them from plying their trade. Politicians happily accepted bribes, kickbacks, and contributions from these individuals, and the Federal government gladly confiscated property and exacted fines from those who chose not to pay such bribes. The law did not prevent people from imbibing alcoholic beverages, it only created more crime. By 1934, the crime and corruption rates had become so high, and the civil disobedience of the general alcohol consuming public had become so widespread, that the government had no choice but to repeal the prohibition ammendment.
To backtrack somewhat, the earliest known by-product of agricultural cultivation is beer. As civilizations grew, the water supplies became poisoned, with bacteria, viruses, and harmful parasites, so distilled and fermented beverages became a necessary alternative to water. Wine frequently appears in the oldest of scriptures and writings of nearly every culture. Even where water was palatable, the value of alcoholic beverages in the social context was well known. The main reason alcohol prohibition did not work is because alcoholic beverage, in most cultures, have become a part of human nature.
Vices which traditionally do not involve murder, theft or rape, such as the use of psychotropic drugs for recreation and meditation purposes, are also part of Nature, having been used from the earliest times of civilization by shamans and others to increase the depth of thought. It is human nature to seek ways of looking at things in different ways, or to induce Spiritual awareness or awakening. Marijuana has long been a medium for doing so. In addition, marijuana has been used for various medicinal purposes, and to this day is an accepted therapy for eating disorders and glaucoma, as well as its use in pain distraction therapy.
It must be noted here that the use of either alcohol or marijuana should be in moderation and with prudence. Self-responsibility is the key phrase here, and over use of any substance is unnacceptable. Operating a vehicle or machinery while under the influence is unnacceptable, as is attempting to work in potentially dangerous or hazardous situations.
After alcohol prohibition was repealed, there was a loss of income for those who had profited from the underground economy prohibition had created. The demonization of marijuana had begun long before, with claims that it caused people to steal, that it incited young people to have sex, thus being a contributor to unwanted teen pregnancy, that it made "black men desire white women," all scientifically unfounded. The financial aspects of alcohol prohibition had served well--families such as the Kennedys who profitied from the prohibition are still financially and politically powerful today--so it was easy to create a new prohibition. Marijuana use was not as widespread as alcohol use, so there would not be as much backlash by the general public. The Controlled Substance Act of 1936 began a prohibition which is still in effect today.
As in the case of alcohol prohibition, the marijuana prohibition has created an underground economy rooted in violence and anti-social behavior. Likewise, the government gains wealth through confiscation of personal property and fines. It is estimated that nearly eighty million Americans use marijuana, which only increases the strength of the underground economy as long as prohibition is in effect. Law enforcement officers are constantly placed in life threatening situations, as was the case in the gang wars of the early 1930's. The kickbacks, however, are different in that they are indirect. There is no proof that our politicians are being corrupted by the drug lords directly, so we can not imply that there is such corruption. However, there is still much money to be made legitimately under prohibition--manufacturers who produce law enforcement technology have much at stake in prohibition, and they can influence votes and campaign donations. No matter what else happens in the world, politicians can always take a stand by decrying the horrors of drugs being sold to and used by children. They disregard the fact that if there were no prohibition, the distribution of marijuana could be better controlled and less likely to fall into the hands of children. To all appearances, the financial gain realized by continuing prohibition is worth more than dealing with the victimization created by prohibition.
But Nature always corrects Itself. After more than seventy years of prohibition, more people use marijuana now than ever. Voters in nearly every state that have had legalization of medical marijuana on a ballot have passed such laws, even in the face of severe opposition from the Federal government. It is not a matter of if, but of when the marijuana prohibition is repealed. Common sense and Natural law will eventually prevail.