Editorials

Victimless Violations and Consensual Crimes

by Circe Cicero

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Victimless crimes are actions ruled illegal that do not directly violate or threaten the rights of any individuals other than the perpetrators. A victimless crime often involves consensual acts in which two or more persons agree to commit a criminal offense in which no other person is involved.

Examples include: Buying and selling drugs, prostitution, owning guns, video recording cops, illegal immigration, gambling, jaywalking, operating a business without a license, selling raw milk, feeding the homeless without a permit, pornography, curfews, dancing at federal memorials, remaining seated for a judge, seat belt laws, helmet laws and tax evasion and resistance.

Drugs are my favorite victimless crime.

Drug dealing and prostitution are only made dangerous and violent trades by their illegality. Criminals have no legal recourse to dispute resolution (courts, lawsuits, contract enforcement) and must rely solely on violence to settle disagreements. Portugal and the Netherlands have largely legalized drugs and prostitution with resounding success.

Portugal decriminalized possession and use of all drugs in 2001. Following legalization, new HIV infections from dirty needles, overdoses, and (surprisingly to skeptics) general drug use dropped (Cato Institute). Why would general drug use drop? Destigmatization of drug abuse and substitution of treatment for jail and fines. Instead of feeling like outcasts, addicts feel more comfortable seeking treatment. As well, social institutions encouraged treatment rather than punishment.

Marijuana and prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. For reference, the lifetime prevalence of marijuana use in the US is 41.5% (where marijuana is largely illegal) compared to Netherlands’ 25.7% (where marijuana is completely legal).The prevalence of HIV in America is 0.6% compared to Netherlands’ 0.2% (CIA World Factbook).  

But of course there’s the most powerful example of prohibition in American history: The Prohibition. It was the era of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, with the rise of gangster armies and organized crime. The Noble Experiment ended after 14 years of disaster. Prohibition also saw the rise of the first gun control laws: The National Firearms Act.

Gun control laws assume that gun owners are automatically criminals; without having committed any crimes, guilt is assumed.

You’re probably thinking of school shootings and assault rifles by now and wondering how they could possibly be used for self-defense. I’ll provide two examples.

George Grier of Long Island used an AK47 to defend his family against a score of MS13 gangbangers in 2010. The police then arrested George Grier on weapons possession charges.

During the LA riots in 1992, Korean shopkeepers banded together in militias to defend their stores with assault rifles when the police withdrew their protection from Koreatown.

Sure, maybe banning guns would reduce random shootings. But those casualties would be absorbed by the Koreans and George Grier’s to family, lawful victims having had their ability to defend themselves handed over to irreverent criminals. Criminals wouldn’t be criminals if they cared about the law. Furthermore, Warren v. District of Columbia holds that police are not required to protect citizens. Hence, their abandonment of Koreatown.

Police are also not often fond of the public filming them while doing their job and will find any way possible of attaching “crimes” to those who try to hold public officials accountable. Common accusations include wiretapping, obstruction of justice, and interfering with police investigation.

According to CopBlock, an organization devoted to informing the public about and encouraging the filming of police: “…courts have ruled that police can lie to you, and that they may not be held accountable for their actions per unfair legal doctrines and practice like ‘sovereign immunity’ and ‘acting under color of law’.”

Those remaining crimes involving unsafe activities are only likely to end with the perpetrating party’s injury. Those supposed crimes involving transactions are no one’s business but those involved.

Yes, it’s a good idea to wear a helmet or seatbelt; I won’t disagree. But why should anyone be punished for potentially nominating themselves for a Darwin award?

Yes, buying raw milk may be risky. That’s the customer’s risk with the knowledge the milk is raw.

Yes, dancing at a federal memorial is disrespectful. It is the moral responsibility of all free individuals to defend the rights of others, even when they do not agree with their behavior.

Perhaps you agree with me, these crimes are victimless. Regardless, they are considered crimes by those in positions of authority. People go to jail for these crimes for years and decades.

According to Keith Preston, the author of Attack the System, 86% of federal prisoners are behind bars for victimless crimes.

The United States has the largest prison population in the world. There are 1.51 million people in US state and federal prisons against 10.65 million prisoners in the entire world—14% of all prisoners in the world are incarcerated in American prisons.

Running those numbers again, there are approximately 1.3 million people imprisoned for victimless crimes in the United States.

Victimless crimes are how the prison-industrial thrives.

When non-violent drug abusers are thrown into prison with vicious criminals, they must become vicious to survive. This process of radicalization snowballs until all criminals are violent criminals.

When you are selected for jury duty for one of these cases, vote for acquittal. When you see one of these heinous victimless crimes being perpetrated, look the other way. When you have an opportunity to win a victory for liberty, take the chance. Even a whisper of dissent dispels the silence of petty tyranny.

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