Libertarianism:  To Legislate Prevention or Consequence?

I wanted to take a moment to offer up a possible correction to a common misperception regarding Libertarianism and legalization or decriminalization of drugs. Libertarians are NOT necessarily in favor of drug use, or sexual exploitation or promotion of any vices. The issue is what role should government play in matters that should be freedom of conscience issues. *This is similar to the Episcopal Church, to which I belong, on matters of conscience not explicitly stated in scripture.

In short, it is a matter of where the bar is set between legalism and antinomianism–as to the role for government to play. A Libertarian, such as myself, may be staunchly conservative–in fact possibly more so than any defender of legalistic barriers. However, I am in favor of informal constructs for promoting that conservatism. An informal construct is choosing to NOT live in a coed dorm, because it represents too high a risk–or, choosing NOT to smoke pot, because it poses too high a risk.

Libertarians draw the line for government at “aggression” against another, and I (and many) would postulate that this also extends to abortion. However, in the case of prohibition issues (substance-based), the law should concentrate on protecting its citizenry against harms to others (such as operating a vehicle under the influence).

The argument follows, that informal constructs exist in abundance to promote abstinence or temperance (i.e., consequences, such as losing one’s job, position, sanity or standing in society). We know from experience that legislating temperance has been a colossal failure and, to be sure, spawns the many manifestations of black market behavior–not the least of which is the absence of a court in which to resolve disputes.

So, I just want to establish that one should not conflate Libertarianism with permissiveness–although through freedom of conscience, some Libertarians are certainly there. The freedom of conscience simply prefers that the individual have the liberty to exist, insofar as the rights of another are not infringed.

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