Laws exist which prohibit so-called victimless crimes involving drugs, alcohol, and prostitution. These laws limit the personal freedoms of those wishing to engage in individually harmful behavior. Some may believe that these laws are ethical, that they should be crimes because society has a moral obligation to prevent someone – anyone – harm. Others may believe that as free citizens every person has the right to do as they please, that a personal decision should not be a crime so long as it doesn’t hurt another person.
It is possible to argue that many of the harms associated with drugs are more related to the laws against them than to the effects. Perhaps people should have a right to choose what to put in their bodies. It seems that our society has a special interest in preventing the use of drugs. Who populates our prisons today? Drug offenders. Could it be that society has focused so much attention on these drug offenders that it has lost sight of preventing other behavior. Serious behavior. Including rape, murder, theft etc.
But there are many public health problems associated with illegal drugs and that means one’s personal decision to use drugs might not, after all, be a victimless crime. But would not the legalization of drugs help stop the violence associated with it and wouldn’t legalization give users a safer means to practice their usage. Are so many people going to die a year because they contracted a deadly virus from a non-sterile needle in the back of an alley? Perhaps. But, then again, perhaps not.
Prostitution is a significant source of venereal disease. It is a source of profit and power for criminal groups who combine it with the illicit trade of drugs and liquor and even robbery. Some may even view prostitution as factoring toward encouraging sex and delinquency, undermining marriage and individuality of women. It is an awful personal decision to engage in prostitution, but does this mean society has a right to limit it?
Prostitutes are denied a wide range of civil and human rights because they are forced to creep around in the shadows of society. If prostitution were recognized as a legitimate career chose, it may this reduce the social coercion on women to engage in prostitution. It may protect those who freely choose to engage in prostitution from fraud, rape, violence, etc.
If the criminal justice is really interested in protecting us against all harmful behavior and not just against the harmful behavior of poor people why are huge corporate acts not treated as crimes? Smoking tobacco is one of the leading causes of death today. And the tobacco companies in their pursuit to make money have known tobacco harms and is addictive yet they denied this fact. ‘
So to conclude knowingly hurting millions of people isn’t a crime if you’re a corporation. And smoking tobacco is not considered a crime even though one is knowingly causing harm to him or herself. My personal conclusion, then, is that not much consideration is given to the actual ethical issues of these laws its just politics.
Isn’t that unethical, too?