My Blog List

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Straight to Nowhere

Instapundit links to blogger mistermix at Balloon Juice, who writes of a recent massacre in Buffalo, New York, where eight people were shot and four of them died. The local newspaper looked into the backgrounds of the victims and found that nearly all of them had extensive criminal records. For its trouble the Buffalo News caught much flack from community activist types. Balloon Juice argues, correctly I think, the newspaper actually performed a public service for its readers, whom we assume are mostly law-abiding citizens: by revealing the sordid pasts of the victims they may be reasonably assured they will not meet such violent ends themselves. Balloon Juice goes off the rails, however, in the last sentence: "The sad fact is that the Buffalo News is giving the people what they want and need: context, in the form of code-words that classify the violence that is in large part a side-effect of drug prohibition."

It's pretty much de rigeur among Libertarians (which is one of the reasons I cannot count myself among their numbers) that all drugs should be legalized, that people have the right to do to themselves whatever they like, even commit suicide on the installment plan. Up to a point, I concur, but when Libertarians also argue the legalization of illegal drugs will lower crime by eliminating a major source of it, I must part company with them.

To believe legalizing drugs lowers crime one must also believe the neighborhood dope peddler, when deprived of his livelihood, will go in search of licit employment. Not at all: he will instead try his hand at car theft, gun running, armed robbery, extortion, you name it. Drug dealers are not wannabe accountants or doctors who for want of opportunity go to the dark side. They ply their trade not just for the lucre, which is undeniably attractive, but also for the glamor, excitement and respect they think that violence and criminality will earn them in their rotten neighborhoods (sadly, they are greatly encouraged in their twisted ambitions by our utterly corrupt popular culture). To argue drug dealers will go straight when their contraband become legal is as ridiculous a notion that the mafia would disappear with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.

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