Many if not most of the most popular discussions in the politics section of this forum are devoted to whether or not one supports or opposes the criminalization or legalization of victimless activities, which when illegal are commonly called victimless crimes
or consensual crimes
. Basically, these are activities in which all of the participants are adults legitimately consenting
to the activity.
From my experience, the common rationals for advocating the criminalization of consensual activities are (1) that the activity is self-harmful to some or all of the participants, i.e. dangerous or unhealthy, (2) that legalization is tantamount to a state declaration of approval (which I think was effectively refuted in Pjkeeley
's thread Legality and approval
, (3) that the activity is "immoral" and "immoral" activities "should" be illegal, whatever that means, or (4) that the activity if legal is a gateway or social catalyst towards other more dangerous or harmful activities.
In contrast, I and other advocates of the legalization of the victimless/consensual activity tend to make parallel arguments for the legalization for each specific activity in its corresponding debate. In my opinions, the main arguments for legalizing these activities are as follows:
(A) Criminalization of the allegedly self-harmful/unhealthy activity exacerbates the problems caused by it rather than stopping the activity from occurring by pushing the activity underground, eliminating the possibility of regulation, and causing violent career criminals to be the ringleaders, dealers, pushers and profiteers of the activity rather than legitimate, relatively non-violent businesses. The most common example given is the effects of the historical prohibition of alcohol in the United States.
(B) Criminalization is expensive. And the money could be put towards other allegedly more desirable causes. An example of this argument can be seen in my thread Fund Poverty Alleviation and Tax-Cuts by Legalizing Drugs
(C) The criminalization of a victimless/consensual crime diverts law enforcement resources away from violent, non-consensual crimes such as rape, murder, robbery and vandalism. Some common specific aspects of this argument are prison overcrowding.
(D) Legalization of an activity means the activity can be taxed.
(E) Legalization can actually enable us to prevent the activity from occurring more effectively. In addition to taxation acting as a deterrent, some of the reasons an activity can be prevented more when it is legal are as follows: When an activity is illegal, addicts and users in need of help will be harder to reach and more hesitant to seek out or accept help because of fear of legal repercussions. Rehab facilities and other campaigns to stop the activity may not be possible or may not function fully because the activity is illegal and not reporting illegal activity generally makes one an accomplice. For example, if my neighbor tells me he has a gambling addiction and wants my advice because he plays poker every night and gambling is illegal then technically I may be committing a crime if I do not call the police on my neighbor--meaning either he wouldn't really have told me or if he did I would be unable to legally help in the way I would if it was legal.
(F) There are also moral arguments made, but not by me, that essentially say it is "immoral" to limit someone's freedom or in other words that people have a natural "right" to do the activity without government interference.
For examples of the activities and the debates that correspond to them, consider all these threads each about a victimless/consensual activity that is or has been illegal in many places: prostitution
, homosexual civil unions
, all drugs
, paying employees poorly or choosing to work for low pay
, and gambling
I didn't create this thread to debate any of those specifically, particularly since there is already an individual thread for each one of those. Rather I created this thread to discuss all of them and the overall category of activities of which they are a part. Considering that the arguments in each one seem parallel to one another, it seems that each debate about each particular activity is simply an example or an instance of an underlying overall disagreement about whether or not you think legalization of such activities in general is preferable or not to criminalization. Putting any specific activity aside, I want to know if in general do you support criminalizing unhealthy/dangerous but victimless/consensual activities? Or do you agree with the arguments for legalization above, which allegedly apply to each instance of an unhealthy/dangerous but victimless/consensual activity?
Remember cigarette smoking, alcohol, marijuana, gambling etc. are each only an example of such an activity, so I am not asking how you feel about any one
of those specifically. The arguments that I have listed for legalizing or criminalizing them are the same and apply to the whole set, and I want to know which set of arguments you agree with.Note: I wrote "macro-criminalization" because I am talking about criminalization at the state or national level. I think it is a whole other issue when a small town or condo community or household bans something on its own premises as that is more of an issue of basic property rights rather than the nature of the thing being banned.