I find myself in a bad situation. This is a hard thing to write.. and likely one of the hardest things to post in this blog that I’ll ever do.  I’ll set this up this way:

I said, back when I got into a knock-down drag-out flame war with Franks and Henke a year back that this blog (And my activities on comment areas of other blogs) that it was is and always will be about the ideas. That was true then as now.

If I’m to hold true to that, I’m forced by logic to at least partially, and quite publicly agree with someone who has been less than friendly to myself and to this blog for well over a year, now, and to disagree with someone I respect and have had a pleasant, if undefined friendship with, for many years.

There will be some who will be angry with me on this.  The ones I’m agreeing with will likely ignore me yet, and the ones I’m disagreeing with will likely lash out. In speaking up, I can do nothing but lose face.  I can’t let those minor points coerce me off the facts. Again, as always, I’m about the ideas, and the truth of the matter.  I may well err in pursuit of the truth, but I have seen nothing in this discussion either currently or anything previous to convince me I’ve done so here. Indeed, all the discussions, particularly those of late, have convinced me I’m not off target, here.  As we’ve discussed here many times, that process of the pursuit of the truth is never easy, but there it is. And anyway, history speaks loudly to me that people who speak, regardless of retaliation tend to be heard. Take our nation’s founders, as an example.

So what all am I talking about? This, and this. Oh… and this.

When Dale Franks’ string of Jury duty postings first went up, I observed, but did little more, because frankly, I felt torn on the issue, mostly for reasons not directly involving the case. The case involved, as is well known by now, a guy trying to smuggle about a half a ton of pot into the ‘states from Mexico.  The guy… one Steven Rhett, made his choice and is and should be paying the price he knew existed for the crime he did. The risk involved was why he was doing the crime; he’d get well-paid if he was successful. He was not. How in hell some can call such a man ‘innocent’ is well beyond any bounds of ‘reason’, because under no conditions is he innocent of the crime he’s accused of. He wasn’t a hero, he isn’t a free enterprise guru, he’s a criminal. He’s guilty…. in ever moral sense of the word, and of course in every LEGAL sense of the word. It was against the law to do what he did, he knew it and did it anyway.

So on what basis is Franks getting all of this grief for being on the jury that convicted the guy?  Because they disagree with the drug laws, on supposed freedom issues.

And why? To explain that, I think a comparison is in order;

I have spoken often to the dramatic change over the several years this blog has been online, to the change of direction that overtook Andrew Sullivan. His massive change in political direction occurred because he found he couldn’t justify his homosexuality within the framework of the politics he became famous for. I’ve said many times since that conversion that his entire political being is wrapped around self-justification, in that one area of his life. I suspect and suppose that the loud objections we hear on this issue with Franks et al, under the guise of ‘libertarianism” is much the same; Self-justification.  And yes, all that implies. Thereby, the arguments presented by each often make the same amount of moral sense; Which is to say, None at all.  I would have to ask, if there is ANY item that our purist “libertarian” friends would consider worthy of banning. .. anything at all… and on what basis they’d ban it.  After all, nuclear warheads being smuggled into the country would most certainly find a buyer.  Would they have been raising quite the stink they are now? After all Nuclear warheads don’t harm anyone.  It’s how they’re used, that creates the situation of harm. Right? If the answer comes back”Yes” you’ve exposed the flaw in the argument; Selective process. If they answer, ‘No, nothing should be banned in a free society’ then you’ve exposed them as bloody fools. There’s no middle ground here.

It should be said that Franks has his problems with the drug laws as such.  (Moreso than I) He’s stated so on a least a few occasions I’ve noticed. However, he makes the point that the law exists, for better or worse and must be dealt with as such, and at one point suggested a curative:

Perhaps you should address this policy through the legislature.

So what did these purists expect Franks to do? A jury nullification along the lines of that which freed OJ Simpson? Remember, that was supposedly done on moral ground as well. We see how THAT one turned out.

Look, gang, disagree with the law if you like, but work it through to change it, if that’s the goal. Because… and mark this well…  because if one ever expects the government to intervene in any matter… any at all, on what legal or moral basis will you stand?  Take their freedom of speech as an example… a right which I note they continue to exercise at an astounding rate.

Sorry, gang… The law is an all or nothing proposition. You cannot select which you’ll follow and which you won’t, particularly if you’re taking a stand on the basis of morality. Sorry. You either respect the law as it stands in all cases, or you don’t seek it’s protection, ever. Like for example in the case of free speech rights. I’m sure there are those who will bravely tell us they will not ever seek such protection. The fact was is and will remain that they already have benefited from such protection, and therefore their claims have no moral legs.

Let’s broaden the field just a bit and ask if there are ANY laws a libertarian feels bound to obey? Any at all?
As commenter Ted, over there said:

The real point is we are living in a country based not just on individual rights, but also individual responsibilities. Responsibility to follow the laws of the government we have, and to oppose that government if it’s laws become too oppressive.
If you don’t like the laws of the current system, the founding fathers gave examples of several honorable options.
A) Work within the system (i.e. obeying all the laws) while trying to get laws changed (Franks’ choice)
B) Fight outside the system to change the laws or the government. Either publicly defy the law or declare revolution. (The system is free to fight back, but that doesn’t make it right)
C) Move somewhere with a different system.

There’s also the somewhat less honorable

D) whine about the system and try to weasel around it while enjoying its’ protections.

I’ve said often enough, with several of the founders… Thomas Paine, I think, among them, that the government is a necessary evil.  For this particular conversation the discussion centers on the word “necessary”. If our libertarian purist friends feel drug laws are unnecessary, then work through the system to change that problem.  That is a process that involves changing minds.  That also takes time. Now; that they seem to have some problems with the mind-changing process would seem unquestionable. Then again, looking at the exchange of insults at the links above, one can easily develop a full appreciation as to why. But as I’ve said in these spaces previously, shortcutting that mind changing process doesn’t help us toward the goal.  If government at some level is necessary, one cannot simply ignore it on the basis of a disagreement with one law or another.  Because if that’s done as a matter of routine, government becomes impotent and unable to perform its function in those areas where it is necessary.

And that assumes the purist argument that drug laws are unnecessary.  That is an argument, which I do not share.  Nor do the majority of the American people.  Like it or not, those are the minds you’re going to have to change, if you want to get where you claim you like to be. if the goal is to keep that necessary evil in check, then minds are going to have to be changed and educated for the purpose.

The process I saw going on this last week doesn’t even approach that standard.

I note as I post this that Dale has added some thoughts worth considering.

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One Response to “Moral Accounting”


  1. Rhett, et al | BitsBlog