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Ron Paul, Hookers, and Heroin (Is being free to do drugs the essence of American liberty?)
The Daily Beast ^ | 05/18/2011 | Michael Medved

Posted on 05/18/2011 9:12:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

The 2012 presidential candidate has gone off the deep end in defending the right to sell sex and drugs as personal liberty—and stretched libertarianism past the breaking point, writes Michael Medved.

How would you describe a perennial presidential candidate who insists in a televised debate that government has no more right to interfere with prostitution or heroin than it does to limit people’s right to “practice their religion and say their prayers”?

The phrase “crackpot” comes immediately to mind—and in any contemporary political dictionary that term would appear alongside a photograph of Congressman Ron Paul.

The Mad Doctor, who proudly consorts with 9/11 Truthers, announced his third race for the nation’s highest office on Friday the 13th (appropriately enough) by declaring that if he were president he never would have authorized a lethal strike against Osama bin Laden. The firestorm over this remark distracted attention from previous controversial comments just eight days earlier, when he used the first debate of the 2012 race to stake out exclusive territory on the lunatic libertarian fringe.

Asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News about his insistence that “the federal government should stay out of people’s personal habits,” and his specific opposition to restrictions on cocaine, heroin, and prostitution, the candidate claimed that social conservatives would nonetheless vote for him “if they understand my defense of liberty is the defense of their right to practice their religion and say their prayers where they want to practice their life. But if you do not protect liberty across the board it’s the First Amendment-type issue… You know, it’s amazing that we want freedom to pick our future in a spiritual way but not when it comes to our personal habits.”

In other words, as long we’re free to seek salvation in heaven, we must be free to enjoy drugs and hookers while we’re alive?

This addle-brained attempt to equate religious freedom with liberty to pursue profit as pimps or pushers counts as daft rather than deft. As a preening “Constitutionalist,” Paul ought to understand that the First Amendment explicitly protects “free exercise” of religion but says nothing about a right to operate bordellos or market recreational drugs.

Wallace also asked the crotchety candidate if he was “suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise in liberty?” In effect, Paul agreed that they were. “Well, you know, I’d probably never use those words, you put those words some place,” he stammered, “but yes, in essence, if I leave it to the states, it’s going to be up to the states.”

This suggestion of leaving regulation to local authorities makes no sense at all when it comes to the drug trade, which usually involves international (or, at the very least, interstate) commerce. Moreover, his invoking of the First Amendment in the need to “protect liberty across the board” means that the states would have no more right to outlaw bongs and brothels than the federal government. The Supreme Court has federalized Bill of Rights protections since 1925 (Gitlow v. New York), meaning that First Amendment protections restrict state power (under the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection”) just as much as they limit the Washington bureaucracy. If the feds can’t interfere with selling smack or sex (under some bizarre misinterpretation of a constitutional right to free expression) then states can’t touch those activities either.

Reasonable people might disagree on the advisability of restrictive drug laws and the criminalization of prostitution; many thoughtful conservatives believe that society would benefit by decriminalizing recreational drugs (especially marijuana) and authorizing the sex trade under medically regulated circumstances. But the suggestion that such reforms amount to a sound shift in social policy isn’t the same as Paul’s provocative (and preposterous) claims.

The only possible argument for this constitutional interpretation would involve a sweeping expansion of the fictitious “right to privacy”—a whole-cloth invention of the Warren Court that conservatives (and originalists) generally hate. If the Constitution actually hints at a right to privacy so comprehensive that it protects a previously unrecognized right to sell sex, then how can it not guarantee the freedom to terminate your pregnancy? But Paul insists he remains fervently pro-life and speaks with (appropriate) contempt of Roe v. Wade.

Did the Founders ever intend to guard “personal habits” from governmental regulation? If so, then why did prior generations fail to employ Paul’s argument to challenge the long history of strict local, state, and federal supervision of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages?

Enjoyment of booze (yes, I just poured myself a delicious Barleywine Ale from Full Sail brewery) represents perhaps the most commonly practiced “personal habit” in American culture, but that hasn’t stopped authorities from limiting the hours of bar service or, in numerous “dry” counties or states, prohibiting the marketing of liquor altogether, both before and after our ill-fated experiment with Prohibition.

At its rotten (in fact putrefying) core, the Paul logic obliterates the crucial distinction between private, intimate activity and commercial enterprise.

When it comes to alcohol, for instance, there’s a world of difference between enjoying ale in your dining room and operating a bar or liquor store. Even those who maintain that purely private activities (like sex between consenting adults) deserve constitutional protection can recognize that selling sex or drugs on street corners is hardly private, nor is setting up bordellos or pubs to lure customers.

Commercial transactions are by their very nature public, with an inevitable impact on the larger community. That’s why rules against growing and using weed in your own home seem far more intrusive and unreasonable than laws against mass marketing of marijuana.

In this context, one could argue that a “need to protect liberty across the board” should include a near absolute ability to do what you please in your own home, but it wouldn’t involve untrammeled freedom to make money in any way you choose. Building wealth inevitably involves others, and significant, impactful social interaction. Would anyone claim that protecting liberty guaranteed a right to advertise some phony, falsely packaged “miracle cure” for cancer that did significant harm to those who purchased it, or for a public market to offer dead cats labeled as ground sirloin?

Congressman Paul’s refusal to acknowledge any role for government in restricting drugs or prostitution—and his insistence that these “personal habits” deserve the same protection as prayer or worship—represents a sad caricature of conservative and libertarian ideology.

The good doctor added to the reckless pattern when announcing his candidacy on ABC’s Good Morning America by claiming that the successful raid against bin Laden represented the beginning of a planned “massive invasion” of Pakistan by the U.S. military. The Pakistani press will no doubt focus on his remarks, arousing an already alarmed public with reports that a “high American official” predicted the imminent occupation of their country.

Pakistanis don’t understand that Ron Paul isn’t a serious political figure, but most Americans do. Last time he ran for president, he raised and spent more than $28 million, but won far less than 1 percent of convention delegates (21 of 2,830). This time he’ll fare even worse, since his campaign rhetoric already seems to make less sense.

Dr. Paul will be 76 by the time of the election next year, so the good news is that 2012 will likely represent Dr. Demento’s Last Hurrah, or more precisely, his Last Harrumph.

-- Michael Medved hosts a nationally syndicated daily radio talk show heard by more than 4 million listeners. He is also the author of 12 nonfiction books, most recently The 5 Big Lies About American Business.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: drugs; libertarianism; prostitution; ronpaul
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1 posted on 05/18/2011 9:12:24 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

No, but drug cartels with more money and arms than God are.


2 posted on 05/18/2011 9:13:26 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islamophobia: The fear of offending Muslims because they are prone to violence.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Freedom of Choice


3 posted on 05/18/2011 9:16:57 AM PDT by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways a Guero y Guay Lao >>> with a floating, shifting, ever changing persona.....)
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To: SeekAndFind

It always pisses off the libertarians here when I equate Ron Paul and Libertarianism. And that you cannot divorce libertarian principles from Ron Paul. And when you think of Ron Paul - you think of libertarians. And when you think of libertarians - you think of Ron Paul smoking crack with hookers.

And on and on...

It pisses ‘em off. But hey. It’s what I do.


4 posted on 05/18/2011 9:17:08 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (I'm a Birther - And a Deather)
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To: SeekAndFind

Seek clearly the fact that you posted this makes you a braver man than I!


5 posted on 05/18/2011 9:18:19 AM PDT by Kartographer (".. we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.")
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To: SeekAndFind
FLAME SUIT ALERT!


6 posted on 05/18/2011 9:20:10 AM PDT by Kartographer (".. we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.")
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To: SeekAndFind

Libertarians have long been huge fans of heavy drug use going all the way back to the founding of the country. I mean, how else would you come up with a flag with a talking rattlesnake?


7 posted on 05/18/2011 9:21:57 AM PDT by Eyes Unclouded ("The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." -George Carlin)
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To: Responsibility2nd

The freedom to do drugs is different from the choice to do them. Just like Mitt Romney’s freedom to burn the flag is far different from his choice to do so.

That subtlety is often lost on the Romneybots. Romney vs Obama = Obamacare vs Obamacare light...not a choice.


8 posted on 05/18/2011 9:22:22 AM PDT by willyd (your credibility deficit is screwing up my bs meter...)
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To: SeekAndFind

Drugs are bad, but the war on drugs has just ended up being a war on liberty for all.


9 posted on 05/18/2011 9:22:22 AM PDT by rokkitapps
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To: All

This is where Libertarian’s get it wrong. We don’t just want liberty for liberty’s sake. The LLibertarian view of it has never really existed in functioning society; complete autonomy from authority.

Liberty as our founding fathers defined it was accountability and responsibility; first each individual’s accountability directly to God, then to ourselves. If you are accountable to God and yourself, then the authority others can wield over you is limited.


10 posted on 05/18/2011 9:23:02 AM PDT by Turbo Pig (...to close with and destroy the enemy...)
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To: SeekAndFind
Did the Founders ever intend to guard “personal habits” from governmental regulation? If so, then why did prior generations fail to employ Paul’s argument to challenge the long history of strict local, state, and federal supervision of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages?

I guess the author doesn't know that until the beginning of the temperance movement that coincided with the Progressive movement in the early 20th century, there were no restrictions. Today's laws are mostly political protection for special interest groups. Here in TN the liquor lobby far outspends any other on buying political favors. Thats why we still cant buy wine in the grocery store.

The federal government has no business legislating morality. So yes, heroin and hookers should be perfectly acceptable federally. If, on the other hand, your city, or perhaps even your state, want to legislate in that arena, feel free to do so.

11 posted on 05/18/2011 9:27:51 AM PDT by jdub (A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.)
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To: SeekAndFind
I am not an advocate for legalization - I support existing drug laws on the grounds of prudential judgement.

However, I agree with Mr. Paul that the apparatus necessary to actually achieve enforcement has many bad effects, and, it is possible that I could be convinced that my prudential judgement is wrong and that the laws should be repealed.

12 posted on 05/18/2011 9:28:38 AM PDT by Jim Noble (The Constitution is overthrown. The Revolution is betrayed.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Liberty is not licence.


13 posted on 05/18/2011 9:31:09 AM PDT by grumpygresh (Democrats delenda est)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Ron Paul is a capital-L Libertarian—as in the modern Libertarian Party.

Overall, Libertarian Party thought is as far removed from Reagan conservatism as the Green Party is removed from Reagan conservatism.

In fact, the Libertarian Party and Green Party have more in common with each other than either does with Reagan conservatism.

Why do we waste time even entertaining the Paul supporters? Would we waste time debating someone pimping the current Libertarian Party candidate or the Green Party candidate?

The term RINO gets thrown out too much here, but in Ron Paul’s it is accurate. He is a Republican in Name Only, because he is in fact a member of the Libertarian Party masqurading as a Republican.

Instead of tolerating Ron Paul supporters, we should tell them to go find a Libertarian Party forum to post on.


14 posted on 05/18/2011 9:31:36 AM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: SeekAndFind

I have listened to Medved often enough to know he is a socialist that votes Republican. If it neither picks my pocket, or breaks my leg, the govt has no business enforcing laws against it. The reasoning that someone else can do something that costs the society money is true, but that is a problem of too much socialism, not a reason to regulate behavior. We should not be paying for anyones medical, food, housing or treatment as taxpayers. Let people live or die on their own, bury them in Potters field when they pass. I will take care of my own, take care of yours, or have them taken away to be housed and fed by the state directly. THAT I would support. Let’s reopen the nut houses, and the orphanages. You can bet on how many pregnancies by single mothers would drop, if they cannot get govt support for the act.


15 posted on 05/18/2011 9:32:13 AM PDT by runninglips (Republicans = 99 lb weaklings of politics.)
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To: SeekAndFind
I don't consider myself a Libertarian because I don't believe in conspiracy theories and I don't want al Qaeda to win the war. But on this issue at least, I think Ron Paul makes sense. Doing drugs is not the essence of freedom anymore than drinking beer is. The problem is that preventing everyone from doing drugs requires that the Constitution be trashed. How did the DEA gain the power to break into peoples' homes by surprise? How did police agencies on all levels acquire the right to seize property without due process? I would rather have meth users on my street than go on granting governments such powers.
16 posted on 05/18/2011 9:32:52 AM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: jdub
"The federal government has no business legislating morality. "
I was in a discussion on another thread a while ago....I actually had a freeper tell me that since I do not support the war on drugs, that I was immoral, and with that being the case, had no qualms whatsoever forcing his morality on me through legislation. There are social conservatives. And then there are socialist conservatives.
17 posted on 05/18/2011 9:33:21 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Project Gunwalker, this will make watergate look like the warm up band......)
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To: Turbo Pig

Libertarianism is nothing more that a set of theoretical constructs that has no basis in the reality of human nature.


18 posted on 05/18/2011 9:33:21 AM PDT by SVTCobra03 (You can never have enough friends, horsepower or ammunition.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Vice addiction is the Libertarian default position.


19 posted on 05/18/2011 9:33:28 AM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t like Ron Paul, but talk radio is very boring on the subject of drugs etc. They don’t pay attention to the problems with our policies.


20 posted on 05/18/2011 9:33:51 AM PDT by Politics4US
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