Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Humanitarian Anti-Vice Wars
The punishment of drug users (as opposed to sellers) is supposed to help the users themselves: the knowledge that they might be punished provides some deterrence against use, and since the drugs (goes the claim) will themselves harm the users, total harm can go down if you threaten mild punishments for drug users. The War on Drugs, you see, is a humanitarian war. But once the punishments do more harm than the drugs -- as Jimmy Carter famously noted about US marijuana laws -- then you might want to rethink your strategy. Nevertheless, lots of places don't let humanitarian considerations get in the way of a full bore war on drugs.
Iran has announced its plans to execute a 22-year-old man for getting caught drinking alcohol on a fourth occasion.
Hegel believed that people could be coerced into taking actions that best served their own interests. Bertrand Russell, in discussing Hegel's view, quotes Hereclitus: ‘Every beast is driven to the pasture with blows.’ Russell continues in sarcastic vein: “Let us, in any case, make sure of the blows; whether they lead to a pasture is a matter of minor importance…"