Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

From Loren Lomasky, Libertarianism as if (the other 99 Percent of) People Mattered, 15 Social Philosophy & Policy 350, 369-70 (1998):

That brings us to the question of that which is beyond the pale of toleration by cooperative libertarians. I do not have any neat schematism for the display of these breaches. Rather, I can offer nothing more exact than this rule of thumb: All those measures that deliberately or foreseeably trample on the rights-respecting activity of some to advance the interests or designs of others merit all the disdain and noncooperation libertarians can muster. If slavery were still around and enjoyed the support of millions of one's compatriots, it would be the paradigm of an institution with which no accommodation is possible. But it is not exactly bold and provocative theorizing to send one's moral principles into battle against Simon Legree. Since slavery is blessedly dormant, the War on Drugs is perhaps the best example of a contemporary practice enjoying wide popularity with which libertarians must conscientiously refuse any degree of accommodation. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have been jailed for illicit chemical consumption; civil rights have been obliterated by glinty-eyed G-Men; vast swatches of our cities have been rendered unlivable by fallout from the battles. To be sure, drug crusaders have offered rationales for these policies, rationales that invoke timehonored moral concepts. Some drug warriors profess that by threatening to lock up drug users and then carrying out those threats, they are acting for the sake of the users' good. It is a wondrous if not entirely benign feature of human lips that they can be employed to say virtually anything. This is one of those cases where discernment is needed to distinguish between the plausible and the pathetic. The level of discernment which is needed to see through the various drug czars' rhetoric does not, I confess, seem to me to be great. Whether great or small, though, I do not see that a conscientious libertarian can have any truck with this crusade. One may not relieve oneself of the burden of one's unpleasant neighbor by informing the authorities where he keeps his stash, and one may not become one of those authorities. Period

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