“As long as you’re not hurting anybody, you can do anything you want to do,” Danny Tanner, of Full House fame said.
I was five when that episode first aired. I heard that phrase again just days ago while getting ready for work. I thought, “Huh ... creepy Bob Saget got something right.”
Rich Paul, a liberty activist in Keene, N.H., was recently found guilty by a jury of his peers on five counts of victimless drug charges. He is facing 81 years in prison. He sold marijuana to another consenting human. The consumer was working with law enforcement and was equipped with audio and video surveillance during the transactions. The informant was a heroin dealer who – since he agreed to wear a wire – is now free, but that’s neither here nor there. 81 years ...
In 2011, police in a Georgia town shut down a lemonade stand set up by three young girls. In order for their stand to be legal, police stated the girls needed to obtain a business license, peddler’s permit, and a food permit.
Eustace Conway of the Turtle Island Preserve in N.C. was visited by code enforcement officials and the preserve was shut down for a number of building code violations in late 2012. Conway has operated the preserve for 25 years without incident, teaching individuals and groups self-reliance and the art of “roughing it.” Of course the structures on site don’t fit modern building codes, that would defeat the entire purpose of what Conway is teaching – survivalism and back-to-basics living.
Charles Molnar and a group of students from the Detroit Enterprise Academy have used reclaimed wood and built benches suitable for six – equipped with bookshelves and reading material – and have placed them at bus-stops throughout Detroit. This idea came about when Molnar watched an elderly woman stand for more than an hour while waiting for the bus to arrive. The Detroit Department of Transportation has said the benches will be removed as the group – who have dubbed themselves Sit Down Detroit – did not follow the proper channels and obtain permits.
A Wisconsin dairy farmer is set to go to trial later this month for three counts of licensure violation and one count of violating a hold order. He is facing a $13,000 fine and/or two and a half years jail time. He was selling raw milk to willing consumers.
In Washington, D.C. it is illegal to talk to and share information about the monuments around the city if a person pays you money to do so – unless you have a license granting permission. The licensing process includes an application, exam, and – of course – fees. Those who violate the regulations face fines totalling $300 or up to 90 days in jail.
These are only a few examples of actions ruled illegal by governing entities yet none directly threaten or violate the rights of any other individual. There is no damage to person or property. In essence, if there is no victim, there is no crime.
It seems as though these regulations – and countless others lacking a victim – serve only to punish citizens for personal lifestyle decisions which do not violate the rights of other individuals.
What about self-ownership? I am ultimately in control of my own life and body. Therefore as long as I am not harming anyone else, I should be free to make purchases I feel are beneficial to me, take part in actions that may not be the norm but don’t infringe on another’s rights, and essentially live peacefully and act as I please.
Law enforcement and the judicial system do not agree. The “Land of the Free” is home to the world’s largest prison population. In 2011 nearly half of Americans in federal prisons were serving time for drug offenses. Thirty five percent were serving for “public order” crimes – the category under which other victimless crimes would fall. Only 8 percent in federal prisons were incarcerated for violent offenses.
On a local level, small-time drug offenders are being sentenced to two years in prison and sex offenders are free to roam the streets on probation after molesting a child – who is essentially serving a life sentence. Where is the “justice” in that? It’s ludicrous.
I understand that drug use and sale is a touchy subject as the argument could be made that family and friends can be affected by drug consumption of an individual, thereby creating an indirect victim – however emotional stress should not be a legislative issue. As a parent, educate your children on the dangers, effects, and bodily harm – be it physical or mental – that drug abuse could cause. Teach your children about peer pressure.
As an adult, use your own discretion.
As an American, you have the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As a human, you have free will; you have the choice to act as you see fit. You also have the choice to follow legislation. You have an equally valid choice to disobey laws you find unconstitutional. Granted, you will most likely face penalties for your choice, but you are ultimately free to behave as you wish.
If you are not cheating, stealing, injuring or aggressing another ... what is the problem?
Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote, “Nobody is in a position to decree what should make a fellow man happier.”
If selling raw milk to someone willing to purchase it makes you happy, go for it. Give a tour around D.C. Teach others to live off the land in primitive structures. Sell lemonade. Build and erect benches so the elderly have a place to sit and wait for the bus. You’re not harming anyone. If there is no victim, there is no crime. Good people do disobey bad laws.
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