On the Other Hand...

Guns, Drugs and Suicide

by Jim Davies

Not long ago, I walked in to my local Police Department and asked, "Could you tell me, please, whether or not there is a law here forbidding suicide?"

The cop gave me a somewhat sideways look, supposing perhaps that I might be pulling his chain, but when I mentioned I was a writer he decided to take the chance and invited me in to the back room. I fear that's the room, invitations to enter which are often not the sort you can refuse.

The walls were papered with propaganda about the perils of marihuana, which I had time to survey while the policemen consulted his handy book of NH laws.

Sure enough, he told me after a few minutes; in this State there is no such law. Thank you very much. So now we know that so far, the Pols in Concord have not been so utterly stupid as to write a law that would be 100% incapable of enforcement. Had he told me the opposite, I had my follow-up question ready: "What, then, is the penalty prescribed for breaking it?" Apparently, even Pols can sometimes see the total absurdity of their natural instinct to legislate, and we must be thankful for small mercies.

The Wrong Signal

However we must note that on the usual arrogant reasoning that that sub-species employs, the absence of an anti-suicide law sends a truly terrible message to "society", and especially to the young and restless. Ah! the Children! - from the way the Pols inflect their voices when they speak about the dangers facing children, you really would think they cared something for their welfare. It's become a modern art form, to insert that half-sob, that lowering of the octave, into the tone of a political speech. Yet here they are, failing to forbid the most terrible thing a teenager in turmoil could possibly do: end his life! And all because of that shockingly inconvenient fact that there would be no way at all to punish the lawbreaker, what with his being six feet under already.

Sometimes, then, all too rarely, reality intervenes and forces Pols to behave in a logical manner. Let's disturb their complacency a little further.

Now that we've proved it's quite okay for them to "send the wrong signal" with respect to the ultimate in self-damage, we've also proven that it's even more okay for them to laissez-faire when it comes to self-damage of a less permanent sort. They don't like that one bit, which is why I'm sure that they dream long and often about how they might construct an anti-suicide law that would not be absurd on its face; but that's the inescapable logic of the matter. The plain (and ugly, to them) fact is that Pols have no business telling us not to do ourselves a damage; none, period.

What, then, of those anti-marihuana posters on the wall of the nick? - well, it's the policemens' wall, and they have to decorate it with something, and if they want to advance the view to visitors that pot is dangerous I'm not sure I want to take time to stop them. Nothing wrong with peaceful persuasion. And there is evidence that some drugs (though not marijuana) are, if taken in large and frequent doses, both addictive and damaging; so any advice to take care what we ingest is well worth considering. But persuasion, of course, is not at all the issue; the issue is whether force is to be used to convey such opinions; the force of law and all its ugly superstructure. And my answer to that is absolutely, unquestionably, most certainly NO.

Self-Ownership

We could have (and perhaps I should have) reached that same conclusion by another route: we could have noted that every one of us has a natural right to the sole ownership of our own lives. Not anyone else's, but just our own.

That premise must be correct, for if it were not so, there would be no basis for any stability or peace in society at all; competing claims about whose lives and property we could each control, and to what extent, would absorb all its energies. There would be chaos, anarchy in the common-use sense of the word (though not in its accurate one) and the human race would, ultimately, self-destruct. Indeed, those very dangers are very real and apparent today.

Since it is correct, it follows swiftly and directly that all attempts by a majority to force compliance to some particular standard of private conduct are illegitimate on their face. So much for the government's insane "war on drugs", which is far more accurately identified as its War on People.

The premise has many, many more consequences than that, though; and one of them has to do with guns. At first sight that's surprising; not too many pot-heads are to be found at gun-rights rallies, and vice versa. Both are mistaken. They actually share a very substantial common cause: self-ownership.

Sole ownership of one's own life directly implies the absolute right to defend it, but whatever means are necessary. Not the obligation (pacifists can choose not to defend themselves) but the right. And until the modern anti-gun hysteria swept the land, that right was fairly well honored; even today, to kill when one has reasonable cause to think one's life is in danger is not seen as reprehensible. But it's been savagely eroded - by those ever-intrusive Pols.

Recall the Bernhard Goetz case? - that subway rider, thinking himself in mortal danger, shot four hoodlum kids but was acquitted of serious charges for that very reason. Yet he was convicted for having the very means to exercise that self-defense - the gun! Truly, the Law is an Ass! The Pols pretend to honor our right to self defense, but remove, one brick at a time, our ability to make use of it. There are 20,000 anti-gun laws now on the books, and every one of them violates this vital principle of self-ownership. And of course, the Constitution itself, as any disinterested reader can see in five minutes flat.

We do own our own lives, folks, and it's high time we took them back again. And little as we may like it, that does mean letting everyone else do the same.

© Copyright Jim Davies 1999

Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.

The above is Edition # 172

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