There’s an eternal
tension in the post-modern Right which should be familiar to most of you.
On the one side of the family dinner, we have the conservatives; on the other
side, the libertarians. It’s not unlike a marriage between an Anglican and
a Roman Catholic in terms of the chilliness which frequently shows up at
these “reunions.” Had a medieval thinker been allowed to gaze through his
or her crystal ball at an all-party meeting of the Canadian Alliance, he
would conclude that there would have had to have been a dynastic marriage
behind the sight of two factions so unalike belonging to the same organization.
The points of division are well known. One of them involves what the libertarians characterize as “victimless crimes.”
the reason behind the libertarians’ known social liberalism is because the
more tradition-minded conservatives tend to use quasi-socialistic language
when justifying laws that restrain certain kinds of behavior which, though
consensual, are treated as acts of violence. Drug use, underage intercourse,
and other acts judged illegal -- largely confined nowadays to mind-altering
substances and sexual behaviour deemed perverse. There used to be censorship
laws included in this category, but they are almost gone, and those that
are left tend to be thought of as quaint. (Here’s the relevant section in Canada’s Criminal Code.)
note that the Party that is trying to reformulate the standards of public
decency deemed normal in the past is the Liberals. Instead of judging acts
of sexual deviance and of illicit substance use as an outrage against the
community, they’re using the standard of exploitation: pedophilia is no longer
the defilement of girls, but is now sexual exploitation of them. Drugs are
no longer a rip in the fabric of a decent society, but are now in place to
save the victimized youth from the exploitation of nefarious gougers selling
addictive products. And incest is now the most serious form of sexual harassment.
the conservatives lose the ball on this one? Is it because of the overtolerance
for libertarians’ verbal cleverness? Or is it because of a failure of scholarship?
A Juris Doctor
I am not, so I cannot claim any expertise in the philosophy of jurisprudence.
Nor much knowledge of the field, either. But I can bring what I know of political
science to the task.
why libertarianism is an easy sell theoretically is that a lot of our existing
laws have the libertarian philosophy as their bedrock, and the others are
justified as a more sophisticated add-on to that philosophy to grapple with
changing times. That’s why libertarianism is such a hard sell in the political
marketplace, because it’s an easy model to dismiss out of hand, as if it
was a long-discarded tricycle.
crack in the mortar between the bricks that sealed libertarianism in came,
not just as a result of the economic thought that’s a primal part of the
package, but also because libertarians largely agreed with the goals of the
permissive society, if not the means to implement them. Early libertarians
were on the side of those who regarded the blue laws as an embarrassment
and the sight of Chuck Berry being arrested for violation of the Mann Act
a humiliation. This is why writers such as Buckley consider libertarianism
to be a sort of refined libertinism, even if National Review
did swing over to a qualified support of the libertarian case for abolition
of the drug laws on the grounds that competition from legitimate business
would administer a case of financial hemophilia to organized crime. As a
matter of increasing public order in the Hood by whacking the drug lords’
pocketbooks and giving far less incentive for youngsters to join them.
in the shift is a justification for drawing the line that doesn’t sound either
old-fashioned or health-fascist. A case for complete abandonment or repeal
that requires neither the therapeutic state nor an invocation of “the morals
of the community” as its justification.
it is -- the common sense conclusion, based upon the wisdom derived from
centuries of observing human nature, that certain acts of self-abuse are
destructive in this specific way: they make a formerly upright man or woman
a kind of enemy within because their capacity to behave in a law-abiding
way is eroded. Or: a person engaging in such behavior is “an accident waiting
start with LSD, because the original criminalization of it is still a matter
of controversy. There is a mountain of evidence that chronic LSD use leads to a case of schizo-affective disorder, whose symptoms are uncannily similar to a psychological dissection of Bill Clinton by Edith Efron.
If chronic LSD use is the reason behind Clinton’s seeming inability to understand
the meaning of the words “criminal act,” let alone match his behavior to
the laws of the land, then he is a perfect poster boy for the continued criminalization
of the substance.
Note that the above argument would not change at all had LSD remained legal.
the analogy of the “demon rum” would be brought in by a person wanting LSD
to be decriminalized, as well as the mis-aimed Reefer Madness film. Both would be cited as evidence that I’m seeing ghosts and goblins.
agree with that objection -- but the risk of burning out that part of the
brain which enables one to be law-abiding is a serious enough risk to at
least demand a thorough study of that substance’s long-term effect on later
criminal behavior, including skill in covering it up. Done before building a legalize-LSD bandwagon.
as narcotics are concerned, they tend to be used as “love drugs” -- hence
their continual presence in the model circuit. A counselor sort would conclude
that they’re taken as solace by those who see themselves as unlovable.
this, a libertarian would conclude that narcotics are not a releaser of future
criminal behavior. All of the crimes directly associated with narcotics users
are simply the furtive behavior of people who are merely stigmatized as criminal,
people who would be just be pathetic had narcotics been legal. As far as
the crimes associated with the narcotics trade is concerned, that can be
explained by invoking Prohibition and the rise of organized crime under the
stop a minute. Being loved and unloved, being liked and disliked, are emotions
that result from interactions with, primarily, other people. The person who
“feels no dislike” might be as reckless as the person who “feels no pain.”
What if such a person is capable of punching someone? What if the interaction
between the distorted perception due to the drug and non-co-operative reality
leads to the kind of jealousy resulting from love betrayed without any objective reason for this explosion? What if heroin is a drug of abusive narcissism?
again, a careful look at the psychological effects of narcotics would seem
to be the admission price for any decriminalization effort to be even taken
such as amphetamines and cocaine tend to lead to paranoid schizophrenia.
I’ll confine myself at this point to noting that paranoid schizophrenics
are frequently committed or at least hospitalized because they’re an unpredictable
physical threat to other people.
as the law of the land includes measures to prevent future crimes, the drug
laws seem unimpeachable. A legalization drive would probably spill over into
a battle against other laws of this sort, such as possession of burglar’s
tools and of concealed weapons. Or, for that matter, of brandishing weapons
Imagine a young Jim Jones type under that kind of regime: “What are you
scared for? I’m not going to shoot you with this thing, I’m just pointing
it at you. Why would I be committing a crime if there’s no intent to harm
on my part?”
With this point made, let’s examine sex crimes, focusing on pedophilia and incest.
I’ll focus on first because it looks like the ramparts are being breached
with respect to this crime. Despite its illegality, child pornography is
available all over the Internet, and it’s not hard to get your hands on pictures
featuring explicit sex of that sort. Some convicted possessors of child porn
might be folk heroes, and there exists at least one society established for
legalization of pedophilia proper -- the notorious Réné Guyon
argument revolves around sexual exploitation, as I noted above. But this
might be the time to drag out the older argument involving the defilement
What might bring girls in willingly to this kind of sexual behavior is the chance of making a grown man her husband or perhaps controlling him (this latter desire was illustrated in Nabakov’s Lolita) -- or perhaps controlling him as a means of making the “big boy” marry her.
hardly spell out the consequences of this. The concept of common law marriage
is based upon the association of a long-term sexual relationship with a partnership
that has legal rights and obligations, provided the partners live in the
same household. This is precisely the argument made to justify the legalization
of homosexual marriage.
the scenario. A twenty-seven-year-old man and a twelve-year-old girl begin
sleeping together. (This is the same age as the lesbian couple in The Vagina Monologues.)
After a few months of regular intercourse, the girl suggests that it might
be more convenient for both if she moves in. So the man invites her to be
What legal status does this girl now possess? What status will she have in twelve or eighteen months?
assume they live together for two years; she’s now fourteen. The law in all
jurisdictions in North America would say that she is his common-law wife
now, and entitled to the rights that the law allows her to give. Such as
co-ownership of property.
it possible for a minor -- who (in Canadian law) is entitled to make voidable
any contract he or she willingly entered into -- to be fitted into the legal
status of common-law wife? Even if I omit the birth of a child – or perhaps
the tainting of love with opportunism to avoid the above legal entanglements.
This sounds a lot like the reason behind those girls being jilted now!
need to bring up something else. A girl that learns to be a successful coquette
as a tween might stay a tween psychologically for the rest of her life. That
would tend to make her irresponsible throughout the course of her life --
and this includes any time when she gets her hands on some real responsibility.
Finally, I turn to incest. Here, the usual counselor’s stereotypes get twisted up.
on the definition of pedophilia as the sexual exploitation of children, the
counselor type sees incest as the exploitation of the son or daughter by
the parent they’re sleeping with. This stereotype, though useful in clinical
psychology, has a real blind spot: ignorance of the cuckolded parent as the prime victim of incest. This blindness sets loose a blame-the-victim dynamic.
change the usual scenario to one where, for the purpose of discussion, the
cuckold is the victim. Here is the case of a parent who took care of a son
or daughter from birth, raising them, protecting them, even teaching them
about the birds and the bees so they can land a future mate. And then, they
find out that this human being that they raised and protected, and taught
about sex, has used this nurturing to steal their mate right under their own roof.
know how the typical cuckolded mother would react. But I have a damned good
idea of how the cuckolded father would take this.
behind the shift of perspective just above is to show how the child would
react to the opportunity of turning an authority figure into a sexual partner.
Think of how easy it would be to get out of any kind of parental discipline
at all: just treat any such discipline as nothing more than a desire for
sex -- or, in the case of the cuckolded parent, an outburst of nothing more than sexual jealousy.
Intercourse does tend to turn what would otherwise be seen as verbal aggression
into either plain nagging or plain envy, so what used to be orders can now
effectively be dismissed out of hand.
how an unknowing cuckold would react to the loss of their parental authority.
One likely response is to take out their dwindling control of their family
on others. This turns what otherwise would be a basically upstanding man
or woman into a bully. There is also the risk of them entertaining the idea
that the division point between winners and losers in society is marked by
presence or absence of contempt for authority -- that winners show it by
treating legitimate authority figures with disdain. What if this attitude
departs from the privacy of the family home by the same man or woman that
sees evidence of its success inside that private home?
far as the parent screwing his or her kid -- I need not explain why this
is a blatant abuse of authority that could be carried outside of the private
home too. The sexual exploitation theorist is absolutely correct concerning
What all the above crimes, with the possible
exception of pedophilia, have in common are: the abuse of the brain in such
a way that it lends serious doubts about the abuser/sufferer’s ability to
function as a law-abiding citizen even after the abuse stops. And the resultant
damage to the brain seems to be biologically based.
should give real pause to anyone that seriously considers any one of these
activities to be “victimless crimes,” especially when the logical course
of invocations of such repeals as precedents for other legal actions is considered.
“Crimes that breed future crimes” might be a more accurate label.
Email Daniel Ryan
M. Ryan is a thirtysomething intellectual whose "slacker" phases were spent
(almost literally) bivouacked in the library. He was born and raised in Toronto,
Canada, and considers himself to have been "raised right."
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