Author- William Baumgarth
It seems as if the land of the free is often not so free. Laws are passed that criminalize certain actions, but often these actions harm nobody but the person performing the action. These “crimes” are known as victimless crimes.
Public intoxication is a punishable offense and carrying open containers of alcohol are some examples of victimless crimes. Often the punishment is a fine and/or jail time. But why? The state considers considers drinking and being drunk in public to be unethical. Which means that the state is trying to get people to live in accordance to the values that the people who made the law possess.
I don’t think that being intoxicated in public is unethical, however, I think people who use violent force to dictate behavior are acting in an unethical manner. The same goes for gambling, drug use, and prostitution. The only people that are hurt when they gamble are the gamblers themselves, the only people who are hurt during prostitution are the prostitutes themselves, the only people are are injured from drugs are the drug users themselves. What do all of these people have in common? The person inflicted injury on themselves by choice.
All real crimes have a victim. Murder, rape, and robbery always have a victim. Murder, rape, and robbery are all violations of one’s property rights. Victimless crime laws on the other hand are meant to “help,” the person who is being punished.
The worst part about these laws is that the punishment they carry often make the “criminals” lives worse. Marijuana, a drug that has never killed a person, has led to the arrests of many. Marijuana does not hurt people as much as a felony record does. Getting high and going to sleep is not the same thing as not being able to find a job.
The more we prosecute victimless crimes, the more we allow ourselves to have our actions dictated and controlled. Any action that is considered “unethical” by lawmakers will be made illegal. How can we do this and claim to be better than a country like Saudi Arabia that cuts off people’s heads for being gay? Some people may think I’m being extreme by comparing ourselves to Saudi Arabia, however, being gay is also a victimless crime. The Saudi’s think that being gay is unethical and therefore they think they have the right to persecute a gay man for being unethical. This is the same mentality the U.S government has about drugs, prostitution, and gambling, expect they shoot and jail rather than publicly chop people’s heads off.
Let people live in accordance to their own values, as long as these values do not violate other’s human rights. People are capable of learning from their own mistakes, and even if they don’t, it’s their own lives and they should be able to live it in a matter which they see fit. The more the state tries to “help”, the more they hurt. We need to start being the land of the free again.