Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

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Which best describes your view?

I support criminalization of unhealthy or self-harmful activities--such as but not limited to cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and gambling--even when they are consensual.
3
19%
I support the legalization of all victimless/consensual activities by adults including marijuana use, gambling, alcohol consumption, prostitution, etc.
13
81%
 
Total votes: 16

Jellymeat
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Jellymeat »

Illegal recreational drugs come with health problems for prople who are not used to taking the drug, or are long term users of a particular drug. Health problems are a demonstable facet of most (all really) drug use/abuse and as such has a direct cost to the state. Freely available recreational drugs with associated health issues from use such as cannabis, herion, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, BZP, GHB, morphine, morphine sulphate etc etc etc will place strain on the the health system and the cost of health care will rise as a consequence.
So is the argument that drug use will increase if legalized? I agree that some drugs are particularly bad regarding the health of the user, but I'm not so sure that making them legal will make their use more prolific. If heroin was made legal today, I for one would have no interest in the slightest to try it, neither would anyone else aware of its effects. If I did really want to try heroin though, I'm going to do it whether it's legal or not. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Portugal has had all drugs liberalised for some time now. Maybe you could demonstrate how this has been a failure in terms of the numbers of drug users statistically?

Mind you, despite the drastic decline in drug use, the number of drug users seeking professional help in Portugal has increased so maybe I could give you this one. I would be interested to see how these costs compare to the costs of incarceration. Especially in the long term.
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PaulNZ
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by PaulNZ »

Jellymeat wrote:
Illegal recreational drugs come with health problems for prople who are not used to taking the drug, or are long term users of a particular drug. Health problems are a demonstable facet of most (all really) drug use/abuse and as such has a direct cost to the state. Freely available recreational drugs with associated health issues from use such as cannabis, herion, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, BZP, GHB, morphine, morphine sulphate etc etc etc will place strain on the the health system and the cost of health care will rise as a consequence.
So is the argument that drug use will increase if legalized? I agree that some drugs are particularly bad regarding the health of the user, but I'm not so sure that making them legal will make their use more prolific. If heroin was made legal today, I for one would have no interest in the slightest to try it, neither would anyone else aware of its effects. If I did really want to try heroin though, I'm going to do it whether it's legal or not. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Portugal has had all drugs liberalised for some time now. Maybe you could demonstrate how this has been a failure in terms of the numbers of drug users statistically?

Mind you, despite the drastic decline in drug use, the number of drug users seeking professional help in Portugal has increased so maybe I could give you this one. I would be interested to see how these costs compare to the costs of incarceration. Especially in the long term.
I am sure the statistics you refer to are available to you should you wish to research that further, I read that the Netyherland's is anpother example where adult use of cannabis is low per head of population but people seeking professional help for addictions has increased. Incarceration of people with health issues caused by addiction should be a crime! Clearly, this demographic of vulnerable individuals require something more than locking up; but that is a discussion for another thread.

I concede that part of the attraction to drugs in the first place is the fact that they are illegal. The "buzz" derrived from this fact from our young people as part of their risk taking behaviours whilst growing up. Once the gateway is open, with some in society whose personalities are so inclined, may progress onto other more harmful drugs. I say this from personal experience as a teenager, experimenting with this and that. I came through that phase in one peice, but some remain in it to their detriment. Making these drugs more available simply to ensure we have more personal choice is not necessarily an improvement for society as a whole.

I think a balance is required with regard to legistlation, health services and education about use and consequences. Making minor drug offences such as possession of small amounts and use offences which could be dealt with by way of an instant fine, similar to a traffic ticket with no record. This together with education and improved health services (seperate specialist court for drug offending by addicts) but with the same hard sentencing regime for those in to the manufacture and sale of drugs might be a start. To simply let socoety go for it for the sake of choice appears to me to be counter productive.

?
Jellymeat
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Jellymeat »

I think a balance is required with regard to legistlation, health services and education about use and consequences. Making minor drug offences such as possession of small amounts and use offences which could be dealt with by way of an instant fine, similar to a traffic ticket with no record. This together with education and improved health services (seperate specialist court for drug offending by addicts) but with the same hard sentencing regime for those in to the manufacture and sale of drugs might be a start. To simply let socoety go for it for the sake of choice appears to me to be counter productive.
If your general argument is one that hinges on the issue of health and protection in a benevolent fashion, it is certainly more admirable than the reasons why governments keep substances outlawed. I think the issue of freedom to choose is important though...
Health problems like heart disease and diabetes are significant killers as a huge understatement. These problems are exacerbated by things like fast food and soft drink which are also substances ingested for their short term biochemical rewards. By the same logic, should we outlaw these too? With on-the-spot fines fore people caught choosing to ingest them and prison time for people producing them?

And what about something like natural psychedelics? The likes of which some people wish to use for their creative and ontological insights. The LD50 of drugs like cannabis and psilocybe cubensis as examples which are non addictive and only physically harmful at doses many thousands of times greater than their psychoactive doses. Should people be free to take these if they choose and make mutually consentual exchanges with others for them? I am reminded of the Bill Hicks line,

"See I think drugs have done some good things for us. If you don't think drugs have done good things for us then do me a favor. Go home tonight and take all of your records,tapes and all your CD's and burn them. Because, you know all those musicians who made all that great music that's enhanced your lives throughout the years? Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreal **** high on drugs, man."
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Scott
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Scott »

Thank you for your replies Wooden Shoe and Xris. Isn't it amazing how parallel prohibition of any one of these activities is to another (e.g. historical alcohol prohibition in the USA to modern drug prohibition by the USA)? Of course, I have trouble getting in their heads, but there are still groups that support complete prohibition of alcohol.
A Poster He or I wrote:Prostitution is a little trickier, as it creates pimping to go along with it. I feel pimping should not be legalized, but how to keep it at bay while legalizing prostitution per se, I have no ideas.
Actually, I would argue that pimping is mainly a problem created by prohibition and is not unique to prostitution. Indeed, I believe that is the purpose for which mobs are formed and become so significant. Mobs act like a government and police force for those activities which are criminalized by the overarching, official government. Indeed, the title '[illegal] protection agency' is often synonymous with mob, and the way they charge taxes and force their own customers is remarkably parallel to that of the actual government for its legalized businesses. Where things like gambling, alcohol selling & buying, drug dealing and prostitution are legal, there is no need for mobs/pimps to act as taxing 'protection agencies' (with the irony of often being the main thing from which people need protection).

Of course, we can also take the word prostitution and by extension pimping more metaphorically, in which most talented and/or hard-working members of the working class are being pimped around there bosses. It's remarkable how easy it is to say the 14-hour-a-day-working-but-realatively-not-well-paid-sun-drentched-roofer can be described as selling his body like the common streetwalker and the wealthy share-holders, business execs and governmental cronies living off the fruits of the working class can be described as exploiting the desperate and vulnerable and where calling such people pimps barely seems metaphorical anymore.

Thank you for reply, A Poster He or I.

***

Thank you for reply as well, Jellymeat. You are wise to bring up the Prison Industrial Complex, which provides a great deal of explanation why politicians and governments exacerbate the problems in society which they claim to fix.

***
Existence wrote:
Scott wrote: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?
I would need more information to adequately address this question. Are you asking that victimless/consensual activities be legalized without restraint? An example of restraint would be age. There are more than enough young adults who would like to be able to use drugs without being arrested for committing a crime. [...]
Great question! Unfortunately, the answer is a little of a yes and no. In a sense, yes I am asking that consensual activities be legalized without restraint. However, in the case of many situations--particularly young children, the severely mentally retarded and the severely mentally ill--I would argue that one or more of the participants are incompetent to consent and that any alleged consent is invalid and negligible. I would support laws that reflect that, such that if a normal 30-year-old has sex with an otherwise seemingly willing 12-year-old it is not considered consensual sex but rather rape and if instead sex he gives the 12-year-old a joint, a beer or the chance to gamble it would similarly be considered the non-sexual equivalent of rape, i.e.force-feeding, forced-joint-smoking, etc.
Existence wrote:At what point is one able to determine when an activity of consensual participants is victimless?
Really, I personally use the words victimless and consensual interchangeably in the philosophy of politics.
Existence wrote:Should I assume the legal definition of age of consent when addressing this question? And if so, does this legal definition of consent negate the question?
I'm not sure I understand these two questions. What may be throwing me off is that the legal definition of age of consent varies from one jurisdiction to another. (We may or may not have more luck sorting these issues out in the topic, incompetence to consent.

***

PaulNZ, thank you for your replies. I do not see a reason to believe the prohibition and legalization of drugs would be so particularly different than of all the other consensual activities that have been or are illegal in many jurisdictions past and present including: prostitution, homosexual civil unions, alcohol, paying employees poorly or choosing to work for low pay, and gambling. (If you think the drug issue is so different and are interested solely in talking about drugs, you may or may not find one of the following topics more useful: All drugs should be legal or marijuana legalization.) Your worry about the effects of legalization and the creation of a black-market to avoid taxes seem to be disproven by the lack of a major black market for tax-free cigarettes, alcohol and prostitution where those things are legal (discounting of course many illegal varieties of these legal things not dealing simply with tax avoidance such as underage prostitution, drunk driving and smoking-cigarettes-during-pregnancy).

Have you any evidence that the release of prohibition of criminalized activities increases actual usage (e.g. did significantly more people start drinking alcohol again once prohibition was lifted in the USA)? Have you any statistics regarding how this would effect government-spending on things like rehab and hospitals considering such services are often provided even during prohibition? Have you any comparison of typical 'tax and administrative' rates on the black market (i.e. that paid to mob bosses, protection rackets, lawyers and such) versus the legalized costs you mentioned? (Please don't take these questions as an attack because I am genuinely curious about such information.)

Since I am not looking to just talk about drugs, are you, PaulNZ saying or do you agree with the following: I think a balance is required with regard to legislation, health services and education about use and consequences. Making minor alcohol, tobacco, prostitution or gambling activities such as possession of small amounts and use offenses which could be dealt with by way of an instant fine, similar to a traffic ticket with no record. This together with education and improved health services (separate specialist court for alcohol, tobacco, prostitution or gambling by addicts) but with the same hard sentencing regime for those in to the manufacture and sale of alcohol, tobacco, prostitution or gambling might be a start. To simply let society go for it for the sake of choice appears to me to be counter productive. If not, why not?

***
Invictus_88 wrote:So if government loses the right to impose taxes, how can it afford to secure, ensure, and protect the liberties of the people?
In this topic, simply for the sake of simplicity, I personally will talk only about consensual activities performed by and between people and NGO's not between the government/state and people. I have created a new topic to address the unique issue of taxes and attempt to answer your question.
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
Scottie
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Scottie »

I would think that prostitution can be considered a victimless act, provided that the provider and the customer approach each other on relatively equal footing. There are many women (and men) who make a good living offering services to people who want them provided they are managing the business aspect of the thing adequately.

Those who use reputable proprietors (madams, managers) can negotiate consensually and, in many cases, effectively.

Those who are in abusive exploitive situations, often given drugs by their managers, beaten for not performing to expectations by managers and clients, expected to tolerate violence from clients, are not really consenting, or would revoke their consent if they felt they could. Unfortunately, the criminalization of the activity means they can't seek help very effectively with issues of violence, drugs, STDs, and other forms of exploitation in addition to the reality of police looking the other way when the managers pay them off.

On the question of pimping - isn't it one of brokerage? Pimps, if you strip away the mythology, merely broker relationships. In some cases, use of the brokerage service by the workers is conditional upon being drug free, being tested for STDs, practicing safe sex, and being capable of professionally handling a business transaction/activity with a client. From there, you can go all the way down the standards continuum to the abusive and exploitive, often violent, relationships based on drug addiction and a broker's view of his workers' role as chattel to be exploited merely because he or she can. This is generally facilitated by the criminalization because it limits the workers' ability to defend themselves ageist predatory conduct.

which -

If you look at it in this light it is, in many ways, pretty similar to employer/employee relationships in general. Successful participation can only occur when an employee can adequately fend for himself.

Although the relationship IS consensual in a generic sense, the employer/employee relationship is a special type of relationship the larger boundaries of which are set by law. Those laws are created by a segment of a population in a capitalist society whose interests are in keeping with the employer class and therefore, there are cases in which their interests diverge from those of the working class.

The relationship is quid pro quo but is generally predicated on a position of advantage in favor of the employer. Could we say that it is a conscious act on the part of an employer to profit from a relationship which is in many, but not all cases, based on an unequal distribution of power?

In the case of people for whom the minimum wage actually mitigates an employer's ability to further exploit him for less remuneration, the further exploitation through lower pay would likely and predictably result in a worsening of what likely is an already dire set of circumstances. Continuing this kind of relationship might come about from the individual's lack of ability to adequately defend himself against it. These employers understand that they are acting in their own interest by acting against the interests of a segment of the population who's social mobility is restricted.
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Scott »

Certainly there are forms of prostitution and non-sexual employment -- as well as drug use, gambling and so forth -- that are not consensual, i.e. slavery. In fact, someone can be forced to do any one of those otherwise consensual things without their consent by simply having a literal or metaphorical gun pointed to their head. Nobody is suggesting legalizing those special non-consensual instances, at least not me. Certainly, there is also the argument that poverty or classism creates a fundamental station in which one is unable to consent, or if we recognize consent from which dire results will follow. For instance, consider the legalization of organ-selling. The biggest problem with that would be the existence of poverty which might lead to odd situations in which someone sell their vital organs to provide food to feed their family which is oddly familiar to the poor so-called illegal immigrants who riskily sneak across violently imposed borders to dangerously work like slaves at sub-minimum wage rates simply to send as much of that meager back to their families as possible. This issue of poverty either seem to negate consent or give reason to criminalize consensual interactions depending on one's view of it is not isolated to a single issue like the sexuality of prostitution but rather other forms of employment of easily exploited poor people like sweatshops as well as anything like perhaps the people who were convinced to take adjustable-rate sub-prime mortgages in the USA despite the financial dangers because of the desperation of their financial situation and need to have somewhere to live.

My point is that these issues stemming from poverty do not seem to me to be reasons to specifically criminalize those activities listed in the OP such as gambling, prostitution and drug use, although they could be a reason to treat interactions with poor people differently and at the least with a hint of skepticism regarding the consensuality of the activity in general not just with a few issues like prostitution but with all transactions and social interactions including all forms of employment or any activity that might provide poor people with the meager amount of security, safety, food, clothes, shelter or basic comfort/pleasure that poverty deprives them sometimes in a seemingly life-threatening way.
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Belinda »

Victimless crimes should be legalised. I cannot think of any strictly victimless crime .

Prostitution causes harm to the sex workers unless both experiential and pornography workers are securely self employed, in trade unions, or otherwise in strong bargaining positions vis a vis their employers or clients. Certainly experiential sex workers need extra perks in the form of special police protection and danger money. If prostitution were legalised and even perhaps a nationalised industry there would still be victims i.e. those many people who are offended by sex blatantly for sale.

Drugs legal or illegal should be scrutinised by publicly financed bodies of experts before they may be marketed. It is the opinion of such experts that e.g. cocaine is so harmful and has so few advantages that it should be illegal. The ordinary citizen is unable to assess drugs for herself, and pushers such as big pharma and criminal suppliers have efficient marketing techniques. The drug taker, whether or not the drug is legal, is undoubtedly a victim unless the benefit of the drug is supported by plentiful evidence as e.g. controlled use of morphine as a specific against pain.However the immediate rewards from recreational drugs are such that impulsive citizens make victims of themselves. Until education and living conditions together adequately arm indivuduals against the use of dangerous drugs it is best that some drugs remain illegal. Certainly it should be a crime to drive a car while under the influence of any mind-altering drug. However, except in the case of such irresponsible behaviour, it is the marketers, i.e. the pushers and suppliers, who should be criminalised, not the users. Public awareness should be alerted as it has been, successfully, regarding smoking.
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Scott »

Belinda, I think you are arguing that financial poverty causes otherwise seemingly consensual interactions to no longer be consensual. Particularly when money is involved in the transaction, one becomes a literal wage slave. I think I can agree with that. And regardless I can certainly agree that I want poverty reduction and eradication to be prioritized over the legalization of consensual crimes. Consensual crimes are probably more often called victimless crimes in which case victim apparently means one who has suffered from significant non-consensual interaction as opposed to for instance the way a racist can be said to be a victim when interracial marriage is legalized because it makes the racist feel bad emotionally or that a mother is a victim because she is made to feel disappointed when she finds out her child is taking drugs.
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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PaulNZ
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by PaulNZ »

Scott said:

Since I am not looking to just talk about drugs, are you, PaulNZ saying or do you agree with the following: I think a balance is required with regard to legislation, health services and education about use and consequences. Making minor alcohol, tobacco, prostitution or gambling activities such as possession of small amounts and use offenses which could be dealt with by way of an instant fine, similar to a traffic ticket with no record. This together with education and improved health services (separate specialist court for alcohol, tobacco, prostitution or gambling by addicts) but with the same hard sentencing regime for those in to the manufacture and sale of alcohol, tobacco, prostitution or gambling might be a start. To simply let society go for it for the sake of choice appears to me to be counter productive. If not, why not?

I don't think we should pick on addicts, I think we should pick on dealers. Decriminalising minor possession of cannabis etc is fine, but there are harms associated with it as a gateway drug and it should remain an "infringement", like a traffic ticket. This together with education and some targeted resources aimed at problem groups where drug addiction levels are high would work alongside.

I have an interest in drugs as I have worked in this area and seen a lot of harm caused to families by members of those families who have addiction issues with one or more drugs. I've seen a lot of death, infact there is a reasonably high mortality rate with our hard drug scene, with several overdoses or drug related heath issues causing deaths each year in my wee town.

The death is pretty cheap to deal with by society financially speaking, a lot harder for families emotionally. The years of addiction prior to the death is where the real harm is done I suspect. I have just spent two days in a tent with a body after a young man was beaten to death over a disagreement about a single cannabis tinnie - 1 gram of cannabis! He had been an addict on methamphetamine, methadone and heroin for about 10 years, had lots of health issues as a consequence, but ended up being beaten to death over a gram of cannabis. He leaves behind a 5 year old boy. Isolated case maybe, but timely to this discussion.

With regard to alcohol, gambling and prositution, they are all legal in my country. Some management is required of these things to manage the harm to the community and laws exist to form this framework. Do I think the sellers of these services should be criminalised? No. But the potential harm to those predisposed to these activities should be managed, as it is currently in New Zealand, within a framework of rules.

So, yes and no. Maybe the key word in your statement was "balance", that being between carrot, stick and education.

Cheers

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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Scott »

PaulNZ, you seem to be contradicting yourself. You want selling drugs to be illegal but you want selling alcohol, gambling and sex to be legal albeit regulated. What's the difference that makes that determination?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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PaulNZ
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by PaulNZ »

Scott wrote:PaulNZ, you seem to be contradicting yourself. You want selling drugs to be illegal but you want selling alcohol, gambling and sex to be legal albeit regulated. What's the difference that makes that determination?
More akin to tolerating what is already legal and continuing to manage it within a framework, which permits choice to a point, while limiting the harm through regulation and education. The same system should be applied to drug use with regard to the users. Those with a predisposition to addiction will find a way if they choose to but we shouldn't simply let evryone go for it in the name of peronsal freedom. We still have a responsibility for harm reduction if we can, which of course comes at the cost of a little bit of freedom, as is the case with any regulation.

For example, about 10 years ago we dropped the drinking age in New Zealand from 20 to 18 years of age. It has done more harm than good with binge drinking youth now being more at risk than ever, deaths and hospital admissions for young people with alcohol poisoning are up by a significant amount. There is currently a bill being consodered to put the drinking age back up to 20 as the experiment has failed and cost the country money as a consequence.

So less enforcement, or should I say decriminalising the consumption of alcohol for 18 to 20 year olds was proven not to work in this particular case.

I think a balance is required as I said previously, a balance of carrot, stick and education.
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by Scottie »

I have an idea that drugs remain illegal in the US because drugs are a form of currency which, at the level they're dealt with institutionally by elites e.g. Oliver North and players in the Reagan adiminstration facilitating the importation of cocaine and use of the proceeds to finance the Nicaraguan Contras, is useful to certain elites BECAUSE the illegality drives up the price to insane levels whereby one ACTUALLY CAN use the proceeds to finance warfare, interference in foreign governments and covert black ops. Coca is a hardy plant which is not difficult to either grow or refine. The same is true of heroin. Any scarcity which drives the economics of the current traffic in either substancd is purely a function of legislation.

I can accept the idea that people would be better off without either cocaine or opium because, unlike cannabis and psilocybin, they can be deadly. It's ironic that the dangerousness underscores the fear of them, the propaganda to engineer the institutionalized fear of them, and the unwillingness to legalize them to prevent the even greater social ills caused by elites using them to finance warfare and covert operations which must remain off the books for reasons of "national security".

-- Updated May 18th, 2012, 6:17 pm to add the following --

If anyone is interested you can google Alberto Fujimori, Peru, The Shining Path, James Baker + Alberto Fujimori, Alberto Fujimori + US drug policy. . .

Fujimori was adamant that much social unrest in Peru was, in large part, due to cartel pressure in Peru which was a function of US demand for drugs together with US drug policy which drives up the price to enable gangs like The Shining Path to flourish.
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Re: Macro-Criminalization of Consensual Crimes

Post by MogulPhil »

I support criminalization it for under 18.
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