Friday, November 24, 2006

The best treatment for murderers? Kill them, and anyone who might be them.


However much one might sympathise with the
police who are overstretched by drug-related crime and with householders who have been the victim of pilfering junkies, Mr Roberts’s suggestion is fundamentally flawed — it is amoral, defeatist and illogical.  Those who seek to legalise narcotics cry “the war on drugs has been lost”. One might as well also argue that “the war on murder has been lost” or that “the war on rape, theft, fraud, larceny and pyromania has been lost”. Like drug abuse, these are malaises that will always be with us, and no sane person believes they will ever be totally abolished. Rather we just do our best to ensure that they are minimised — and we do this by enforcing the law and the threat of punishment. Just because you can’t eradicate a crime doesn’t mean you have to surrender by legalising it.
Patrick West would be correct about losing the war on murder if the tactics we used to deter murder caused more harm and mayhem than murder itself - such as if we say served warrants on people suspected of having the materials needed to kill someone in the dead of the night, threw flash-bangs into their homes, and stormed in heavily armed and on hair triggers (and shoot to kill orders for the family dogs).
All of the rather questionable testimony of a CI that, oh sorry, we didn't bother to check out his story before we went in (to the wrong house).
Some people like to pretend that there is an absolute moral guide to living with each other but in reality we are all moral utilitarians.
Even one of our strongest taboos (killing each other) is situation dependent. Cold, methodical murder is often contenanced in extreme circumstances - just look at the American Revolutionary War or, closer to home, wives murdering abusive spouses.
Our response to murder has been tuned over the centuries to keep it down to an acceptable level.
Getting back to Prohibition - drugs are like any other undesirable thing. You have to weigh the pros and cons of any action (including no action) to decide what course is the best one to minimize the risks involved.
we've tried prohibition for 3 decades and drugs are more prevalent then before, more people are on drugs than before, there is more violence associated with the drug trade than before - basically prohibition has failed to improve things by any measure you care to choose.
On the other hand we have alcohol - legal but regulated - no violence in the alcohol trade, and while lots of people use it, most use it responsibly.
Its about time we applied that model to other drugs.