A debate about drunk driving

JG  Jeffrey Tucker brings something new to the debate on drunk driving: reason.


SB I recall being stuck behind a driver who clearly couldn’t go in a straight line anymore, and then after a few blocks of swerving finally ran himself off into a ditch for a little nap. His recollection in the morning may have been that he was completely rational throughout the evening, or that he trusts himself with what he can’t recollect. Maybe he’s still out there always somehow getting home safely on weekends?

SB in any case, he was going extra slow … so while unorthodox we can hardly criticize his driving as reckless.

JG *sniff*

Is that eau de sarcasm you’re wearing?

SB it’s a classic scent …

CM This story hardly advocates reason, and the argument is, in my opinion, bad. Of course, it is my opinion, but I’d like to make my point.
What you are putting in your body is a proven depressant than affects some worse than others. The amount required to impair someone’s driving may be .04, and another might be .12. The amount of alcohol in you is pretty much irrelevant to what we are talking about here.
The issue is not whether x bit of alcohol will impair your driving, but that your judgment in getting behind the wheel in the first place may be impaired.
Certainly, out of 10,000 people driving drunk, only 1 may get into an accident. Hell, many people may drive far better drunk than your average person on the road drives sober. That, again, is completely irrelevant to the issue.

The issue is, indeed, impairment. But then, where do you draw the line? If you focus on impairment instead of alcohol, you are waiting until *after the reckless driving has started* before you step in.

The article proposes friends and family, fellow drinkers or bartenders as ways to stop you from driving drunk — but that hasn’t worked in the past, and I don’t see it working well enough in the future. Law enforcement isn’t working, either. I don’t know how to fix the problem.

I think it does come down to 1 oz of prevention being better than 10 oz of cure. We need to stop people from drinking then driving. If friends and family can’t, then we leave it up to the police. Since the police can’t, where do we go from there? Will making driving while under the influence of alcohol legal somehow solve the problem?

I can see a potential person, maybe only one in ten years, but a person nonetheless, saying “Well, driving after drinking is legal now; I don’t need a designated driver.” I think everyone reading this can see this as an unreasonable statement, but that is because the reasonable tend to surround themselves with other reasonable people. Reasonable people don’t drive when they are drunk (and I mean drunk, not after a beer at a football game, or whatever it is normal people do), and yet there are people who end up in a crash, blowing 0.14, clearly impaired. Would they have gotten into that crash sober? If the alcohol is the reason for their impairment, why shouldn’t that be accounted for?

How do you stop a person from driving when blowing a 0.14? Or a .16? If legalization isn’t the issue, how do you solve it?

VM If that unreasonable person DOES get behind the wheel and start driving recklessly, he IS putting others in danger and committing a crime. We call that crime “reckless driving”, or “criminal negligence”. That’s already illegal. We don’t need to enforce MORE redundant laws that serve no purpose other than catching innocent people in their wide net, mostly for the purpose of revenue generation.

CM Without a law regulating Alcohol in his system, how do you stop him *before* he gets in the vehicle and starts driving recklessly? Why do we wait until people are in danger?

Another thing: Who wants driving while intoxicated legalized? Certainly, not people who drive sober. Again, I am not saying all people who drive intoxicated are a danger, but there is strong data that points to a causal link between reckless driving and intoxication.

VM I drive sober. I want driving while intoxicated to be legalized. Not so I can drive while intoxicated, but so innocent people’s lives aren’t ruined by bad laws. Likewise, I don’t smoke marijuana, and have no desire to, but I want it legalized so innocent people’s lives aren’t ruined by bad laws.

And how do we prevent any crime *before* it occurs? Psychics predicting criminal behavior? Guess we need a new federal department…http://www.zdnet.com/…/62/58/000249/minority-report.jpg


VM And yes, I’m implying that you rooted for the bad guys in Minority Report.

JG VM wow, that’s really hitting him right in the wooden balls….. anyone?

VM Haaaa.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X_Ot0k4XJcSee Translation

JF Innocent lives are also ruined by someone killing them. Legalization doesn’t solve the problem but the over reach here from groups like MADD, research them to find out all the shit neo-prohibition laws they helped to create. We need a much better public transit system, cabs that don’t cost $40 a ride and take 2 hours to get when everyone needs them and programs that help alcoholics get their habit under control.

CM You are drawing a parallel link between making marijuana legal and driving while intoxicated, where they are not. I do not want to make alcohol illegal, but I do want to make driving while intoxicated illegal. The reason is this:
As I mentioned, there is causal data that links driving while intoxicated to reckless or unsafe driving. As with all causal data, it is not an absolute cause, but it is a cause.
We are at an interesting point in this debate; you are worried about the people whose lives are ruined by these laws. I am worried about the people who are killed as a result–a child hit by an impaired driver, a driver killed when an intoxicated driver ran a red light or stop sign, even a dog hit by a driver who swerved onto the sidewalk.

What evidence do you use that making driving while intoxicated will improve the overall safety of our society? And yes, I am using safety broadly; safe for people whose lives would otherwise be ruined by the law, and safe in the way that accidents are reduced.

Even the article implies that driving while intoxicated is certainly not a good thing to do, and advocates friends, family, etc as methods to stop drunk driving.

If a driver is pulled over for reckless driving while sober versus while intoxicated, should the punishment be equal? How do you judge the severity of the offense? If driving intoxicated is legal, do we punish the friends, family, bartender that allowed it to happen?

Currently there is a trend holding bars liable for the drunk driving of their patrons. If we are living “la vida libertarian”, does that type of legal shenanigans stand?

Also, as for Minority Report, precrime were the bad guys? Now I’m confused. I am always rooting against Tom Cruise as a general rule…

CM I agree that the neo-prohibition laws are just a bucket full of overreaching crazy. Hell, the founder of MADD left the organization because even she realized they were just a bucket of crazy. I am not talking about taking away your alcohol, but I am a full fan of the idea that you should never, ever, ever drive while intoxicated.

VM Public transit is woefully inefficient in a lot of areas (basically anywhere outside of metropoleis), cabs are made more expensive by government-mandated licensing (though Lyft and Uber etc. are helping this problem immensely by simply ignoring government edict), and there are lots of programs for alcoholics, the most effective of which are nonprofit rather than government-run.

Generally speaking though, there should be no difference between someone driving recklessly and someone driving recklessly while intoxicated, from a legal standpoint. In fact, there are a lot more dangerous things one can do behind the wheel of a car than be drunk (being tired or angry or distracted, for example). So yes, the punishment should be the same regardless of the chemical composition of your blood.

My overall argument doesn’t rely on prevention, but on justice. It is categorically unjust to punish someone for something that presents no immediate danger to any other person. If someone can drive safely, comparable to a sober person, at .10 BAC, what crime is being committed, other than the “crime” constructed by legal fiat? The injustice of punishing someone for a harmless activity is enough for me to object to laws prohibiting drunk driving.

JG CM You seem to have a pretty inaccurate idea of what the function of law actually is. It is not prevent crime, nor are they statements on what is wise or unwise, safe or unsafe behaviour. The function of law is to redress crime after it happens. By definition, no law can serve to stop someone from doing something criminal. Regulating alcohol on your breath doesn’t serve to prevent drunk driving.

When you say that having people without guns and badges prevent drunk driving “hasn’t worked in the past”…. I have no idea what period in the past you’re referring to.

Simply having your keys in your hand, standing near your car with alcohol on your breath puts you at risk of fines, vehicle seizure, license suspension and jail time. And you find it surprising that people who drink are not being open about their impairment? that people are not lining up to offer drunks other options?

MS I think if you’re planning a night out a cab should automatically be in the budget or a DD!! Alcohol effects everyone differently , it can’t generalized into a number .0whatever. I’ve had over a half a dozen or more people in my life over the years killed or their life’s altered by idiot drunk driver. You drink, don’t drive. That simple.

JG Question: is killing someone as a drunk driver somehow worse than killing someone as a sober driver?

MS Yes

JG Really? How?

MS Irresponsiblity. An accident is an accident. Add in the alcohol , texting, etc. then it’s adding to the possibility of an accident !!! Can’t Believe you’re actually seriously asking this question!!!

CM Laws provide guidance for what constitutes a breach, and the punishments thereof, but here I think it is you who are confused. You say the purpose of law is redress crime after it happens; if that is the purpose of law, then prior to that you are making the assumption that the law will be broken. The purpose of the law is to tell you what you should not do. If you do that thing you should not do, then it is about redress.
While certainly there are laws on the books that should not be there, you are shooting your own argument in the foot. “… you find it surprising that people who drink are not being open about their impairment?”
That implies two things: They are aware that what they are doing is illegal, and that they are taking measures not to prevent themselves from driving recklessly, but to prevent themselves from getting caught.
If you get behind the wheel while drunk, and you are hiding your drunkenness, you are knowingly putting other lives in danger. That is the kind of thing I think the law *should* attempt to prevent.
I realize that the implementation is flawed, but I don’t see how throwing the law out would improve the situation.

*AS* To make a point on that Mark, texting while driving does not equal Drunk. The question was drunk impairment. You can get into an accident while texting, and be completely sober at the time

MS Do you see regular drivers involved with accidents every day when somebody gets killed no but when a drunk drivers involved yes!!! Kind of self-explanatory really.

JG MS you clearly don’t understand the question. What effect does the likelihood of an accident on the accident itself?

MS*AS* I’m just using texting as an example texting in the statistics is just as bad as drunk driving.

*AS* And a second point Mark. That’s a wild generalization. Of the last 10 traffic accidents involving fatalities I have heard of on the news, only 1 had alcohol as a factor. (According to the broadcast, but they are usually pretty quick to say it if applicable. )

So yes, I do see accidents involving sober people that end in death. I also see accidents with drunk people ending in death.

As well as accidents of both kinds that end in nothing serious.

You are free to hold whatever ideals you wish (for the record, I’m of the same mind, I don’t believe drinking and driving is ever a good idea.)

MS I just can’t believe you people are arguing this point I’m actually driving with a certain amount of alcohol in your bloodstream I think it’s ludicrous really think that you guys should give yourself a shake you should not be drinking and driving at all!!!

MS I’m done because I guess were misunderstanding each other here have a good day

CM http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-1317.htm
This. This data is why the likelihood of the accident should be taken into account.
In 2010, almost 40% of all traffic fatalities included a driver whose BAC was greater than zero. Do you think 38% of all drivers are driving drunk?
Driving while intoxicated, even if only correlating, is something that must be addressed seriously in some way.
Do you think taking this law off the books will save lives?
I am with MS; if you drink, don’t drive. Everything else is debate creep, additional points that do not in any way affect the discussion of the issue at hand.

JG As long as this debate is taking place on my wall via an article I shared, I’ll be the judge of what’s relevant to the discussion. If you want to dictate the terms of the debate, make your own thread.

*AS* ” *AS* I’m just using texting as an example texting in the statistics is just as bad as drunk driving. ”

Quite right MS. And the reasoning behind it is fairly obvious. But really, this lends itself to the question that was presented perfectly.

Since a person that is texting is as likely of being involved in an accident as a drunk person, what would make the death in that scenario mean less than the death in the scenario involving alcohol?

In both scenario’s a life was lost. I don’t know about you but I for one do not think any solace would be had in the victims family if they knew that the driver was sober.

Sober or drunk, in death there is no difference.

CM Very well. As a method of continuing the discussion, I will accept your terms. What about the data showing that 38% of traffic fatalities included a driver whose BAC was over 0? Let’s not stop now on my account.

CM You are right, certainly, *AS*, JG, JF–whether the person who killed was drunk or sober, it is still a death.
That being said, and I try to keep bringing this up, the chances you will kill someone skyrocket when intoxicated. If a drunk driver is pulled over prior to doing the killing, or convicted of vehicular manslaughter after, he was still a drunk driver.
I can’t, in all honesty, preach something I’ll term “abstinence only” driver education; there is no condom for stupidity, and stupid, drunk people will always get behind the wheel of cars.
How do you stop them from doing that?

*AS* I’m of a similar mind CM. I agree that an intoxicated person is more likely to commit an error while driving.

My point was merely to challenge Mark’s seemingly black and white opinion.

VM What if I told you that you can disapprove of something without using the law to exact violence against those who pursue it?


CM VM, I totally understand that, as well. Certainly, many things I disapprove of are legal, and many I approve of illegal.

How do you stop drunk drivers from driving drunk?

JG *AS* at least, has grasped the point of the question.

If you kill someone while driving, then you are responsible for that death – morally and legally. If you kill someone while driving and you are drunk, your are responsible for that death – morally and legally.

Legalizing drunk driving doesn’t give drivers a free pass – they face the same consequences that every other driver does.

(Don’t worry CM, I’ll get to you)

VM Think about this for a second. Even getting into a car (while completely sober) radically increases the chances that you’ll accidentally kill someone. In that sense, driving itself, to say nothing of drunk driving, could be considered reckless behavior, in exactly the same way that we consider driving while intoxicated to be reckless behavior. Should we make driving illegal to stop people from committing traffic accidents?

CM I believe I am grasping the point as well; I certainly agree that you are equally responsible for a death, drunk or sober. I also don’t feel like that matters; what we are discussing, there, is a dead person.

I want to discuss the person, still alive, who gets behind the wheel of the car while their judgment is impaired. What about the person who blows .03 and misjudges a yellow light?

If we are merely arguing responsibility, why is running a red light illegal? The person who runs a red light is equally responsible for the death whether the light is green or red.

JG CM so far you seem to agree that laws surrounding drinking and driving are fairly ineffective – is that correct?

CM I agree that the laws are ineffective, but in no way agree with the idea that they should be repealed, unless something that addresses the issue at hand is implemented to replace them. And to clarify, I do not mean a law to replace them, though I personally do not see a better way.
It could be a system, like Designated Dri… Wait, that hasn’t worked. Well what about public tran… Well, we’d have to spend millions on an overhaul of that… Awareness Campai… Wait, I feel like that has been tried before. In fact, all of the above, to varying degrees of success, have been tried simultaneously, in parallel, and have failed to address the problem.

So take away the law, but all I can see that doing is making stupid people feel justified in their stupid decisions. They won’t have to be secretive, they could drink to .10, tell the bouncer to suck his dick, and then get into a car feeling totally justified in doing so.

The bouncer can’t physically stop him from doing so, if the guy is already outside of the privately owned premises upon which he drank, because the law would protect the drunk citizen from receiving a much justified beating.

VM I’d like to also point out the most PSAs about avoiding drunk driving focus on threats that the police will ruin your life if you drive drunk. Almost none of them have anything to do with safety. By far the worst one I’ve ever heard was a radio ad saying that if you pop a mint before the breathalyzer, you’d just wind up the guy with “the freshest breath in lock-up”, basically threatening you with prison rape if you drive drunk. How is that even slightly okay?

CM I’m on board with you there, VM, about the PSAs doing it wrong… But over the last 30 years, I think they’ve tried both ways. They have the PSAs with statistics, different PSAs telling you about the punishments and fines, different PSAs showing gruesome accidents… PSAs don’t work. The law doesn’t work.

I do not agree with their repeal, though. We shouldn’t stop with the PSAs, we shouldn’t stop shaming drunk drivers, we shouldn’t repeal the laws.

VM Wait, you’ve just admitted that the laws/punishments don’t work, but you want to continue them anyway? That amounts to unjustified violence against innocents, you do realize, right?

CM What is your solution, JG? If you are taking my agreement that the laws are ineffective as victory, what about all of my statements saying I do not support the repeal of the law?
The law has a huge body regarding personal safety and regarding the safety of others. If we decide “Well, we should repeal drunk driving laws,” what is it that makes seat belt laws stand? What is the criteria for leaving a law on the books?

I am not putting words in your mouth, I am not saying your stance is “repeal personal responsibility laws”. It is at this point that I need to know what your criteria is for a law regulating personal responsibility.

VM, I am not saying we shouldn’t overhaul the laws, reduce their punishments, change how they work. I am saying we should not legalize drunk driving. You will notice the title of the article presented is not “Reform drunk driving laws to improve public safety,” it is “Legalize drunk driving.”

What I would like to mention is that data has a black hole, an area we can’t plumb: How many drivers would drive drunk if it weren’t illegal?

Right now, we are talking about the people who have driven drunk. We are talking about the people whose lives were ruined by trumped up charges… But what about the theoretical untold story? The life of a person saved because the drunk person who would have killed them said “I won’t drive because that is illegal”?

JF The only way we are going to get past this is autonomous cars, if your car knew you were drinking and then simply didn’t let you drive yourself or if cars never let the users drive then it’s problem solved. Yes it might be 30-50 years away but if you’re looking for a solution there it is. In the meantime if money alone is stopping us for. Public transit then how much money could we save with police resources saved, courts not as jammed up etc… Public transit is a partial solution and simply brushing it aside because of money is really unrealistic if you truly don’t want ppl to drink and drive

CM Autonomous cars are far closer than 30-50 years; consumer grade autonomous cars aren’t beyond the scope of the decade, given the good driving record of Google’s car, and Google’s car is only the first. Once you get people behind the idea, more investment, I think that could be the solution we need — we just need to last the next few years until we get it figured, then a few more until it is consumer ready.

JF Well I think it’s a long wats off before the public trusts them and, speaking as someone who works in the car industry, there is going to be at least a decade of trial testing before any of these cars can totally drive themselves.

VMHey look, you just thought of a nonviolent market solution to the problem! Want to stop drunk driving? Don’t advocate for laws prohibiting it (which you’ve admitted don’t work, and also admitted allow for injustice to be committed against innocent people), go invest in companies designing driverless cars.

JF The 30-50 year estimate was an estimate of when the majority of us will actually use the new vehicles.

CM But VM, what about the 10-15 years between now and when self driving cars are available to consumers? You keep talking about the trumped up charges, the injustice committed against people who are otherwise innocent, but making drunk driving legal does not address the issue of real people who really drive drunk who really hurt people. Reckless driving laws only come into effect after the reckless driver is already on the road.

As I said, what is it that will stop the drunk driver from driving in your theoretical society where drunk driving is legal? Their own judgment? That doesn’t work. PSAs? You agreed, those don’t work. Their friends and family? Their bartender? The bar they drank at? All three of those run in stark opposition of a libertarian society of personal responsibility.

VM I’d like to point out here that drunk driving laws ALSO only come into effect once the drunk driver is already on the road. You’re trying to make a distinction that doesn’t exist.

JG CM you at least are following my logic here. I don’t support seatbelt laws or any other personal safety laws. I support only those laws which call for restitution to victims of crime (and those are few enough).

But back to impaired driving. You say don’t want to stop PSAs, shaming of drunk drivers, or laws surrounding impairment. But what if all those things make the problems worse, and not better? Would you still support them?

CM The distinction does exist, and what you are doing is oversimplifying and creating a black and white dichotomy.

A driver who gets behind the wheel drunk, by virtue of law, by virtue of PSAs, by virtue of friends and family trying to talk them out of it, gets behind the wheel knowing they are at increased risk of reckless driving.

The idea of the law is not purely the punishment, the idea is the idea of the punishment stops people from driving drunk. Once they have driven drunk, yes, a punishment should be levied. What should the severity of that punishment be? Now we are in a moral gray zone.

The idea of a 0 (Drunk driving is illegal at its current level of punishment) and a 1 (drunk driving is fully legal) is absurd to me.

Reckless driving laws, they have been used, so let’s use them. We have two swerving drivers. One is sober, but joyriding. One is blowing 0.12.

If drunk driving is legal, should the punishment for our two drivers be the same? Perhaps on the first pass. But what about repeat offenses? The joyrider may not do it again, he had to pay an $800 ticket.

The thing about drunk driving is that it impairs inhibitions, and driving drunk is inhibited by memories and punishments. By the very definition of inhibition reduction, he is the more likely reoffender. If we have a law that would then punish repeat drunk drivers, then drunk driving is not legal.

If you agree with the previous statement, we are coming closer to a middle common ground, but the previous statement relies on a reform of the law, not a repeal of the law.

Even then, I do not believe the punishment should be equal; a joyriding driver is driving unsafely, but has his full reaction time and decision making faculties available to him. He may crash due to his swerving, but a sober joy rider is more likely to stop joyriding when seeing oncoming traffic. The drunk person has inhibited judgment, reaction time, motor skills. You think he should be given the same punishment? I would argue that his offense is far greater than a joyrider.

Put another way, if a joyrider sees oncoming traffic, he will stop joyriding. Is it because he thinks it is a cop? Or because he knows that swerving when oncoming traffic endangers him further? Does that matter? In either decision making scenario, his joyriding is only likely to injure himself.

The drunk driver, however, is swerving due to a reduced set of faculties, and is more likely, then, to fail to correct his driver in the presence of other people. By that very statement, he is more likely to cause harm to others, not just himself. By this presented logic, I would say his offense increases the danger of society at large, and a more onerous punishment more than justified.

CM JG, I do not like your informal debate tactic of asking me leading yes or no questions. ><
My rhetorical questions are designed to give my following statements context, but yours leave them open to my slipping into some kind of verbal or written trap. I am not trying to lure you on in what I am saying; I am making statements that give you clear indication of my point of view. Your leading questions leave me wondering “If I say yes to this, what will his statement be?”

In a discussion like this, I can see no reason to be unclear; tell me where you are going, tell me what exactly you disagree with in my statements. We may never agree, but it will help us reach a middle ground. Or, if you are stuck in your current opinion, it will at least tell me your justifications.

If you are unable to rebut my points at all, as I have tried to rebut yours, and we are stuck in a loop of questions and answers (I have tried to make different points in each of my posts), then we are having an intellectually dishonest discussion.

I have already conceded points; prior to this discussion, I was highly zero tolerance. At least now, I can see an alternative view.

VM In that case, let me be perfectly clear. Crime is a matter of justice, not any other virtue. Justice concerns social reciprocity, what is owed. Thus, the law exists to ensure that what is owed is paid, debts made right. From this we derive the idea of criminal law from the idea that those who commit injustice against some discrete victim have incurred a debt to that victim, and ought to pay that debt, or that they should be forced to pay that debt. It then also follows quite directly that there can be no such thing as a “victimless crime”, simply by definition. If there is no assignable victim who was demonstrably wronged, the law has no place demanding recompense or punishment of any sort. We see this in issues of legal standing. If someone cannot demonstrate that they have been harmed, they cannot bring suit against another party. This seems perfectly reasonable. So then, ex hypothesi, we have a drunk driver who, while driving somewhat recklessly, harms no one, if only by chance. While he certainly may have done something morally wrong, there is no person who would be able to claim legal standing to punish him for his impropriety. Any additional “crimes” that are invented by legal fiat, including drunk driving per se, involve a legal entity claiming a right it would not ordinarily have to punish someone for a “crime” that has no victim. This legal entity would under any reasonable circumstances have no legal standing to pursue justice, and thus what it is doing in prosecuting the drunk driver itself constitutes an act of injustice. Therefore, by this reasoning, any drunk driver whose recklessness harmed no one but had been prosecuted under the law anyway is the victim, not the criminal, and should be treated as such.

JG CM fair enough, let me address that.

First, thanks for making your views clear and thanks for being open-minded.

Second, I understand your concern about me playing “gotcha”. I can only assure that I’m not playing games or trying to trap you – I don’t play those games.

Consider where I’m coming from. I don’t know which points you are willing to concede in advance – I ask questions to see which points are worth discussing. I don’t have the keyboard stamina you do, clearly. So to compensate I’m pretty selective about what I engage in.

A formal debate requires an impartial moderator and a neutral setting. We have neither. It’s a post on my wall, so I’m choosing to have the conversation I want to have.

No disrespect intended. I have no “aha!” up my sleeve.

CM Now we are getting somewhere. I appreciate your argument VM, and it certainly has value. That being said, if you are proposing laws only that have victims, we quickly arrive at a dangerous place. Should we make it legal to sell guns to someone who is demonstrably mentally unstable? Certainly, he couldn’t commit the crime of shooting someone before he had the gun.

Should shooting *at* someone be legal? He has not hurt anyone. Should shooting clay pigeons in the back yard of my house in [Home City] be legal? The chances of my hurting someone are very low. Should I be punished for this only after I’ve hit someone?

Courts are designed to punish offenders of law. Laws may not be designed as a deterrent, but certainly act like one. Laws deter people from doing things that offer a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public.

Even if we take out of the books all laws that protect “myself” (common sense, or stupidity laws), what about the laws that prevent people from doing things that demonstrably reduce safety?

There is no way, in your argument, that I can even provide reductio ad absurdum, your argument has provided that for me, I am afraid.

Running a red light where no one is hurt? That should be fine.

Shooting a gun in my back yard in the city? That should be fine.

Driving on a sidewalk on which there are no pedestrians? That’s cool too. (Though an argument could be made that the cement is a victim of this crime, as I would provide increased wear on it)

Throwing darts when someone is standing in front of the dart board? What if I am *really* good at darts?

Reckless endangerment is a law for a reason; I have demonstrably reduced the safety of others, even if I have done no harm to others. Should we be allowed to reduce the safety of our environment to a value just above 0, as long as no one gets hurt? Or should someone step in to put a stop to it?

My argument is that demonstrably increasing the overall safety falls under the purview of law as a deterrent of unsafe behaviors.

CM Very well, JG, I will answer the leading questions assuming no “Gotcha!” is forthcoming.

For your most recent question, as to whether I would support a system that makes the problem worse, where is your evidence that it makes the problem worse? I do not support the laws as they stand, I support reworking and reforming, but in no way could my argument be said to support repealing them. No way will I ever support legalization of drunk driving.

People have been sent to jail, had their lives erroneously ruined due to false murder conviction. The argument made by VM that argues to the following effect of “we should repeal the law because innocent lives are ruined” could equally be used to say “We should repeal murder laws because innocent lives are ruined.”

There is a difference of course; the innocent lives that are ruined are the lives of people who drank then got behind the wheel. Were they driving at .01? .02? In either case, they were drunk. So where is their level of personal responsibility? Would they have gotten behind the wheel at .04? .08?

That rhetorical argument matters significantly, even if we don’t know the personal tolerance of the person in question. Ultimately, it comes down to a judgment call on the behalf of the person drinking, and we have strong evidence that their judgment is impaired. You are arguing, then, that we should leave the decision up to them *until they have hurt someone*.

Statistically speaking, they are more likely to hurt someone drunk. Does a drunk driver know they are incapable of driving safely when drunk? Obviously not; some people drive drunk EVEN THOUGH IT IS ILLEGAL. They obviously believed they were “safe-to-drive”, as the colloquial parlance is concerned. If they got into an accident, a fender bender, if they got into a crash where someone was injured, let’s say they broke their arm, should their punishment be equal to a person who tripped another person accidentally and the victim broke their arm?

Under a version of law based solely around the victim, those are equal crimes.

Do you believe accidental manslaughter an equal crime to murder? Again, in both cases, the outcome is *identical*. You have a dead body.

JG //The argument made by VM that argues to the following effect of “we should repeal the law because innocent lives are ruined” could equally be used to say “We should repeal murder laws because innocent lives are ruined.”//

True – but what is the practical difference between these two cases? There are two main ones that I can see:
a. The person wrongfully convicted of murder had a trial
b. A murderer has a pretty good idea whether he or she is guilty. A person who is over the legal limit CANNOT know whether they are guilty until they are informed, not by a judge or jury, but by a police officer.

The two differences are procedural – but procedure is a key component of justice. A fair trial, an impartial judge and jury, provision of legal counsel, etc. etc. These are all part of carrying out justice. But none of them are possible when the “crime” is having the wrong chemical makeup in your blood.

JG // You are arguing, then, that we should leave the decision up to them *until they have hurt someone*.//

We already spoke about this in person, but I’ll repeat it for the benefit of others – this is not exactly my position.

Government laws are not statements on what is good, or what is safe; they have nothing to do with what you “ought” to do. Rather, laws are threats of physical force. All of them. When a cop pulls you over he is threatening violence if you don’t comply – resist and the cop will order you to comply. Resist the order and he will physically restrain you and carry you off to a cage. Resist this restraint long enough and you will ultimately be shot.

So laws are not morally neutral – a law is a threat of force. When is it morally right to threaten force? Only against a person who has first used force. Hitting someone with your car is force – driving on the road with a certain chemical makeup in your blood isn’t.

JG So my position is that, despite all good intentions, it is morally wrong to use force against people who have not used force against you. All laws, by definition, are threats of force. Therefore the activity addressed by the law determines the legitimacy of the law. Until an impaired driver causes harm, the law cannot legitimately be brought to bear on them. We have to look for other, non-forceful ways.

CM What you have said there is something that I must agree to, with the caveat that by living in a society where these laws are enforced we accept a level of force in enforcing the laws as a part of the social contract. In fact, being as this is a democracy, I believe you would find that the majority opinion is that these laws that increase public safety (whether morally right or morally wrong) are, by and large, for the public good.

I respect your opinion, but I have signed a social contract that accepts this use of force in protecting my safety. Whether morally right or morally wrong, I believe it is justified in using force against a person who has weighed the two ideas, to drive or not to drive after having been drinking, and come out saying “I realize that currently I am at increased risk of serious bodily harm to myself *and others*, and I am ok with that.” Of course, some emphasis should be added to the part about “and others”.

You are arguing a point of morals when the person whose stance you are defending has forsaken the safety of those around him. Your agreement with allowing him to make that decision (a decision I would argue should not be allowed) is accepting of a theoretical social contract in which *the increased and preventable potential for serious harm* is worth less in the eyes of the law than an action *resulting in actual minor harm*. The point made by VM, that driving could result in serious harm, and is certainly more dangerous than walking, is part of the social contract I have accepted — but I still want to minimize the risk where I can.

I believe force is justified in stopping them making that decision, because they have weighed the pros and cons, and have decided that my personal safety is worth less to them than getting home a bit faster, or a bit cheaper. And while this may be a moral quagmire, allowing them to make that decision with no input from me, and no redress prior to the point that they have applied force to another object or human, is (with bluntness I state), complete and utter bullshit.

Edit: Totally overhauled, because I murdered the English language, then asked for her forgiveness. Since then, I have hidden all evidence of my treachery under a thin veil of “Click here to view edit history”.

CM Ugh, give me a minute to edit. I just reread some of what I said and it is a graveyard where English went to die, rapidly and unjustly.


JG That darn social contract, eh VM? Got us again!

(sorry. Libertarian inside joke)

KN The proponents of allowing people to drive on publicly funded highways while impaired is amusing. Please explain to me your thoughts on allowing impaired pilots or air traffic controllers. Or impaired surgeons. Hey i get it you are fine to drive your reactions and judgment are fine and not retarded in any way…

VM Alright, JG has responded to most of the points, though I think I’ll address the “social contract” bit. Accepting a “social contract” is fine FOR YOU, but that still does not grant anyone the moral right to aggress against anyone else. In other words, you may agree to be punished if YOU flaunt the terms of the “social contract”, but you have no right to bind anyone else to those same rules, simply by virtue of your agreeing to it. So even if you agree with these social rules, you are still aggressing upon someone else by imposing those rules upon them without their consent.

KN Come on *AS* that was funny..besides unless JG meant “buggar” differently than the definition i am in my rights.
The laws (both common and statue are preventative in nature). Much like getting grounded by your parents. The issue is financial.
No seat belts= increased numbers to ER with substantial injuries that could have been prevented. If you dont agree with this logic I can’t teach you the kinematic formulas here (you will have to trust me on this. Or drop an egg inside a shoe box from the second floor and tell me what happens to the egg…im curious) Why care? Who pays for the medical treatment? We do. How long before this causes ripple down in decreasing funding for roads, utilities etc. Healthcare costs are one if not the top expenditures in Government. It is meant to remind people not to do stupid stuff. Now impaired operation and over 80mgs% is a whole other beast. What sort of cake are we going to spend on this?
Scene: im driving with 13 oz. of whiskey in my system. I know that this makes my Blood Alcohol 120mgs% (i wouldn’t get on a bus let alone drive yes im impaired. I know I am impaired because professional sports athletes who get paid to make split second movements and their bodies need to react dont play sports in my current condition…
I T bone a van killing the driver and I paralyzed the passenger (she was starting her 3rd year of Medicine). Her dad is dead (he paid the bills) she can not work or become a Doctor.
Lets add up the cost of me paying her medical bills, therapy, and equipment she will need. As well her projected income over her career as a Doctor…guess what..i can’t pay…who does? Maybe her neighbor could at least build a ramp for her…
We have laws like this to prevent idiots like me from doing this.
Do this and that will happen…seems fair after I knowingly drink, get into a car knowing my judgment and skills are impaired and ruin a family.
Just my uninformed opinion with no statistics or life experience to ever back up some of these outlandish claims..

CM VM, I think we have a different idea of what a social contract means. I am going to make a concluding statement, try to cover everything, then recuse myself from this conversation. Due to a drastic difference of philosophy, I fear you and JG will never see eye-to-eye with me, and that is ok. That is, at the very least, your right. I will be honest, and I will be blunt; what you want, libertarian anarchy, would not and could not work. Much like a Marxist Utopia, it relies far too much on a society of purely reasonable people.

What you have to remember is that even a very temporary breakdown of law en*force*ment has, historically, led very quickly to an incredibly dangerous and negative outcome. (http://www.cbc.ca/…/gene…/montreals-night-of-terror.html , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray-Hill_riot ) Not only that, but human beings have shown a propensity towards violence with what should be considered very little provocation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Vancouver_Stanley_Cup_riot ,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Riot ).

If all men were as reasonable as VM and JG, I would imagine something akin to libertarian anarchy would be feasible, but even then only in a vacuum. For example, a close friend of mine died due to his not wearing a seat belt (the accident reconstruction crew believed the seat belt would have saved his life). In a vacuum, that could be considered a “Darwin Award” type of situation, but what of his family, friends, fiance?

You do not sign onto a social contract as a personal thing, you sign on as a societal thing. I think that does need some clarification; you say you don’t sign it because you do not accept another’s right to use force against you. That seems to imply you think I accept force be used against me, where I would not. The example cited by JG is “being pulled over for a speeding ticket is essentially a threat that the police officer could kill you,” but that example is egregious. Perhaps I get a speeding ticket for going 120kph on the Yellowhead, but the idea of a severe speeding ticket stops me from driving 180kph. Further, if a police officer pulls me over, I am unlikely to resist to the point of his killing me, and I would hope that JG and VM both agree that getting killed over a speeding ticket is highly unlikely.

There are instances of people being killed erroneously, but these are statistical outliers. I would challenge you to find a safer system, though — if the police do not en*force* law until there is a victim, what is your system for keeping people safe. I want to avoid using rhetoric as I have no intention of returning to this thread, but how would you enforce justice upon a threat of murder, in a society where no force can be applied unless unjust force is used first?

I do not mean this as an insult, merely as an observation. True Libertarian Anarchy is an immature goal, one that relies far too heavily on humans being good, self regulating creatures. JG was even willing to admit that driving while drunk certainly constitutes a reduction of public safety, and I asked how far public safety could reasonably be reduced before anyone was allowed to step in? In any case, the version of ‘law’ that you (JG and VM) subscribe to is a foreign concept to me, though it was introduced to me as though it should have been self evident. Oddly, I tried to find your version of law in a few ways; first, I checked the definition. You version of law is not contained in the definition of law (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/law ,http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/law ). I then attempted to find it by reading essays about the purpose of law, but that is a much more nebulous form of research, and all have a political bias (as my own definition does, and as your definition does). The closest I could come to something of not obviously biased resource was the following:http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/…/what-is-the…/ . Please do not balk at the URL, it is citing an essay written by Princeton University’s McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence.

Another source that seems to find no similarity with your own definition is thishttp://www.businesslawbasics.com/chapter-3-purposes-and… .

It seems the definition of law that you are using is merely the definition of law that you *want*, and that is OK. Certainly, we live in a Democracy, and you are as able to express your views in public discourse as I am. That being said, I would also like to make my own views on the matter clear, and my views are that reducing law en*force*ment will constitute a massive reduction in public safety, and ultimately impinge on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I realize this is a line from the American constitution, but never before has so succinctly been summarized the human condition. You may certainly feel that your right to liberty is being impinged, of course, as I know you do feel–but if accepting the social contract of the place we live is so onerous to you, I believe there are areas of the world where you will find the rule of law is much more cavalier. This is not an insult, nor a reductio; if you legitimately take major issue with the place you live, I cannot see why you would stay here.

What I feel compelled to say is that the Social Contract is not merely on the en*force*ment of justice; it is in the maintenance of public services and buildings (the roads, schools, businesses), it is in the maintenance of safety of society, it is in the protection of the health of those who live here. I am a socialist of sorts, though not one who believes in a utopia. I just believe that paying my EI and CPP offer untold social boons (as I have leveraged EI myself), paying income tax allows me a degree of health care that I could not hope to afford on my own, offers me affordable education, roads in good condition, and a thousand other services I make liberal use of. These, too, are part of the social contract, and one does not simply sign one page.

CM The enforcement of laws is a part of that contract, and certainly not fine print; I believe the enforcement of laws holds a high position in the contract, and one that cannot be overlooked. If there is no recourse for failure to pay your dues, or no guidelines for the improvement of public and personal safety, society does not last long. Perhaps you do not wish for absolute anarchy, as you do have Libertarian in your general self-description, but anarchy has been tried numerous times throughout history. There are no first world anarchies, and, in fact, one will find that anywhere without the hand of a government with its people’s lives and happiness in mind quickly terminates. Anything that relies on the goodness of humans, or the reasonableness of humans generally cannot last, as humans, while good in mediocrity, and reasonable in small doses, tend to be unreasonable and lacking in goodness in a vacuum (and while I do not know of a study that addresses this directly, it seems a common enough theme in history).

What it all boils down to, in the end, is that I believe a state with laws regulating public safety, enforced by trusted officials (police) that are beholden to the people is the best case scenario. We see a breakdown of justice in the United States where the police have become too powerful, or lacking accountability, but we do not live in the States–we live in Canada. The balance here, the justice, is better than that of the States. Is it perfect? No.

Would I move anywhere else? Aside from a small selection of Scandinavian countries (and even then, only if it were required of me), I would not. I enjoy the social contract that exists theoretically here in Canada. I accept the laws, even those I do not fully agree with, largely because without them I would lack the degree of protection of my safeties and rights that I enjoy. And I use enjoy as a double entendre there, its technical definition, its emotional definition.

I could keep going, write a treatise on the issues I take with libertarianism in general, but your facebook wall has been profaned enough with my views.

Thank you for reading, thank you for the discussion, I have enjoyed it, and I certainly have had my own personal views expanded.

To conclude, I will address the original point briefly.

Allowing anyone intoxicated by alcohol to drive poses a significant danger to public society. It is bullshit. If the law preventing it were revoked, I truly would engage in a move (I do not know what that move will be, in this theoretical future) to prevent it. Perhaps I would engage in violence. I don’t know. But too many lives would be in danger if that law were taken off the books.

You do not accept the laws I accept, but I do not accept your philosophy of reduction of public safety.

DL ^Allowing Google to drive is far more frightening (in MY opinon) and it’s already happening. In fact, Google will likely become a drunk’s best friend. If my search query returns for “Nelson Mandela Necklacing” are any indicator, society (and you) are in for a big crash.

JG CM – don’t leave yet!

Just to add to what VM said, “social contract” theory is a pretty disingenuous and pretty facile theory of the State. It’s just an attempt to say that people who don’t consent to the State’s activities *really do* consent because they happened to be born in an arbitrary geographic area.

Even if the State resulted from a contract, in practice the contract is only between a very small group of men who desire to rule and does not include those who will be ruled. And even if the majority did consent, they have no right to force the contract on the minority. And even if there was unanimity, the first generation would have no right to force the contract on the second generation, etc. (See Lysander Spooner, “No Treason” for more on this).

In any case, I find the “social contract” argument self-contradictory. The idea of the social contract is to show that the State is somehow voluntary – which shows that people who make this argument understand that involuntary, forceful interaction is morally illegitimate. Yet the argument is used in order to justify involuntary, forceful interaction. If force is OK, why spend time arguing it isn’t really force? If force isn’t OK, why justify it? There needs to be a little more moral clarity on this issue.

DL http://news.nationalpost.com/…/canadas-last…/

JG As for practical considerations (“libertarian anarchy wouldn’t work”) – will we ever achieve a society in which no one is ever murdered? If not, is the solution to write up a contract which states who can be murdered by whom?

Will we ever achieve a society in which no one is ever raped? If not, should we write up a contract stating who is allowed to rape whom?

JG This is the kind of moral argument you are leaving yourself with – force is not OK, but we should institutionalize it because I can’t imagine life without it.

DL The argument isn’t about whether or not it’s ok to make laws, or not. It’s whether or not the drunk driving laws are too restrictive or not. I think they are. Does that mean I want to see more piss ass drunk drivers? No – but I also can see, quite clearly that the current policies aren’t helpful either.

The problem drunks are still on the road anyways. I’ve had more than a few career alcoholics as employees in my band. By the letter of the law, I was legally responsible for anyone they would have killed while driving away from a gig of mine under the influence, despite there being literally no way for me to stop them, other than calling the cops on them every single rehearsal or show.

One could argue that I should have, but then I noted that I’d have to call the cops on literally the vast majority of friends and players. It would, ostensibly, be the moral thing to do, and save lives. Does that make the law right for holding ME responsible? I don’t know. Not one of those thousand drunks I’ve been responsible for over the many years of me running clubs, bands, etc. has ever killed anyone, even though I know statistically that should have happened at least once, by now. I doubt that there is a single participant in this thread who hasn’t let it slide with a party guest, at some point, so pointing the holier than thou intolerant of anyone else’s opinion on this issue kind of finger isn’t really reasonable. Sometimes things are simply bad laws. Like making weed illegal. Bad law. The application of drunk driving laws has become so draconian that there really are no fair ways to apply them.


CM JG, I am back by invitation. I am not saying that sarcastically, I just don’t want to offend people, I really don’t–I have no business forcing my views on people. That being said, I have a problem with your reduction to “who is allowed to murder whom”.

That would imply something of a “license to kill.” Rather, the contract is more easily described (and with emphasis added) as: “Who is allowed to murder whom, and *under what restrictive circumstances this piece of the contract applies to.*”

That statement applies to self defense, that statement applies to police. Police are not simply allowed to around murdering people, and in Canada police killings are incredibly rare. They are even rarer elsewhere, and even constitute a national tragedy (http://www.pri.org/…/iceland-grieves-after-police-kill…). There was a full day of mourning, the police apologized to the family of the victim, despite the fact that killing was a last resort.

Even in Canada, the list of police killings is short (http://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_killings_by_law…), and most often is accidental or in self defense (a police killing in self defense would constitute double protection under my own personal writing of my social contract).

To not accept the police enforcement of law, or even laws themselves that you do not agree with, is a different kind of social contract, whether or not you agree with the broader sense of the word. You not subscribing to the type of contract I do, which affords me protection of the State, that opens you to a far broader array of difficulties that my contract does not. Please note that I choose to use “Social Contract” not as a binding force, but merely to describe the parts of society that I accept, and I recognize that you accept a different subset of that idea.

I would challenge you to show me a place where a lack of law en*force*ment has improved the state of affairs. I am talking a place with no drunk driving laws, or a place with no public safety laws. Hell, show me the health statistic of a place that does not enforce any non-smoking laws, for something that is likely to have the least effect.

You mentioned the idea of “who is allowed to rape whom?” I should hope you agree that no one should rape anyone. How do you enforce that? You punish the person who has raped, or make him pay recompense (redress) to the victim. What is fair redress for that? If the redress is literally anything the rapist can afford, then the rapist will be able to rape again. Again, how do you stop it? If a rapist in your world is punished as they are in mine, how is your law different from mine? Rape is not what we are talking about, as the laws governing rape are a deterrent in a libertarian State, as they are a deterrent in my neo-semi-democratic-socialist State (and even that name is far too restrictive to capture the complexity of governing a country as far reaching as Canada).

You agreed that getting behind the wheel at 0.16 BAC is reducing public safety, but do not believe it should be regulated by the State. How do you propose, then, that we stop it? I have already said, I am perfectly comfortable accepting a certain degree of force, though I fear that sentence will be misinterpreted. I believe if friends and family have failed to stop the person, if the people at the party have failed to stop the person, if the bar does not have policies that allow them to stop the person (or the person has circumvented those policies), then the State has full right to step in as a last resort. I am not saying they should tackle everyone who looks at a car while drunk, but if the person has made it onto the road in an unsafe driving state, they should be stopped. If force is required, so be it. I am fine with reducing the penalties for low BAC driving, but I believe there should be penalties even for 0.01BAC driving, even if only to deter them from driving at 0.12 or 0.16 or 0.20 some day in the future.

I believe in law as a deterrent, and I believe in the enforcement of that law towards the ends of the public safety, and public good. Your version seems to revolve around the private good, or the good of the citizen first. That is ok, there are plenty of ways to do that. There are societies more welcoming that idea internationally; if you thought it more important that you have your own personal liberties to make your own stupid decisions (no seat belt, allowed to drive drunk), certainly I would expect you to leave the country. As it stands, it seems through your actions though not through your words, that you are willing to accept (even begrudgingly) the social contract of Canada. For truly we live in a glorious age, when the social contract will protect your safety even if you rail against that same contract… For in the United States, whistleblowers are not protected, and protesters are not protected, and the social contract is cracking, if not broken. We are not at that point, and if we get to the point that the United States is at, I would certainly (at the least) consider action against the government. My words are that of a coward, but they are also those of a pragmatic coward; I do not know how I would react if the world came to the point where the United States is, where police kill unarmed civilians and get off without even a trial.

I am no nationalist, I feel very little patriotism, but that is probably much of the reason I love where I live now. My personal freedom to express my views, even and especially where they disagree with those of the Social Contract, is a freedom I do not take for granted, and it is that freedom that I would defend. I would also defend the State’s right to enforce laws that uphold public safety, again with emphasis on the en*force*.



JG “You agreed that getting behind the wheel at BAC 0.16 is reducing public safety.”

Actually, the statement I agreed to was that getting behind the wheel at BAC 0.16 was unwise.

I reject the notion of “public safety” – it’s an attempt to classify someone as an aggressor before that aggression is demonstrated. Punishment before any actual crime is committed against a victim.

DL It’s not necessary to classify someone as an aggressor to have an intervention with their actions and to charge them with a crime. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, however intermittent. Waving a loaded gun in a day care with the safety off, a grin on your face, and all the golden intentions in the world will still necessitate the intervention of others in the vicinity.

VM I’d like to point out a case where the dramatic reduction in law enforcement had led to equally dramatic “public” good. New York City, right now. Police are essentially limiting themselves to enforcing laws against violation of person and property (the kings of things any rational person, even a libertarian, would call crimes), and the people are all demonstrably better off. Q.E.D.

VM http://reason.com/…/nypd-punishes-city-by-not-citing…

CM Using a case study from the United States is a bit of a low blow, as I did mention not once, but twice, that the social structure in the United States is broken. If you want to argue against a police state, I am very much on your side.

The issue in the United States is not the use of *force* to enact justice, it is the use of *excessive force*. You will see above one of my citations, which was the list of police killings in Canada. You will also see that the entire history is one page.

The United States history is not one page. It is not even broken down by year. It is broken down by *month*. (http://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_killings_by_law…). That is broken. That needs fixing.

I have tried, where I was able, to cite only Canadian sources in the interest of keeping this debate from creeping worldwide. The reason for that is that Canada does not have a broken police state where excessive force and enforcement of laws is not the case.

Who here has never been pulled over for a speeding ticket? And gotten a warning? I’ve been warned, the officer was pleasant, I was pleasant, I did not feel threatened. I would imagine there are many similar cases.

In the case of New York, and the police strike, it is no wonder that the people are happy about the reduction in useless citations. The law hasn’t changed just because people are not getting fined. Even in that case, you have given *me* a point in this discussion. I have never said the law should not be overhauled, and petty fines for silly offenses have never been a point I would argue in favor of.

Another issue I take is that you wield “The State” as some sort of talisman. No matter what, there will be “The State” because, unless you are arguing *no* government (pure anarchism), even you will have “The State”.

I am about to propose a reductio ad absurdum, and I am aware of it, but at the core of your argument I merely see “The government can’t tell me what to do!”

Your argument seems based on the individual, and provides a broad sweep towards lumping a great many things into “The State”. that ignores the fact that police officers are also individuals. I think that is important to remember. The threat of violence? Just because you perceive it doesn’t mean it is there.

The other issue I take is with your citation that a police officer pulling you over is a threat of killing you; I would argue in Canada that is not the case. Unless you attack the officer, he will not attack you. Unless you resist, he will not attack you. If you attack the officer, he is now able to use force, as *you used force first*. He won’t kill you during a speeding ticket unless you throw something at him, or speak back to him violently, or engage in some form of altercation; you used force first.

This escalates, of course, to “Who is allowed to murder whom,” in a way. I think that does need some extension, though, as it seems to imply a “license to kill.” More properly, I believe it should be worded “Who is allowed to murder whom under *this restrictive set of circumstances*.” You will be hard pressed to find the person who does not believe in self defense.

In the case of “Who is allowed to rape whom,” I think you and I both agree that there should be no exceptions to this rule. In your world and mine, the laws in that case are equivalent, whether the application of those laws is.

So let’s break this discussion down to its barest of bones.

I accept the use of force to enforce laws that exist to improve public safety. That is part of an agreement I have made. I have issue with some of these laws, but my issues are small enough that I do not feel I need to take a direct hand in changing them; I merely vote for whichever politician is closest to my own personal views. Is it perfect? No. I have never argued it is, but it is far better than having no laws to that effect (in this case, legalization of drunk driving).

You, however, will never find a candidate who would propose what you seek. You then have two options: Accept the social contract of where you live, knowing it increases your own personal safety, or run for government yourself, and affect the change you seek.

The issue in running for government is that you would have to convince a majority of people to agree with you. I would like to think I am a rational, reasonable, intelligent person, and I am not convinced. In fact, the removal of laws that improve public safety seems to me to be an idea that will reduce public safety.

What about Iceland? You would be hard pressed to find someone who thinks their law enforcement is violent — but they have laws very similar in function to ours. So why are you attempting a system that has little or no data showing it works, instead of proposing some system similar to Iceland? What makes theirs work?

I am happy with where I live, with the accepting of authority as a way to improve the safety of society, and I believe your version requires reasonableness, rationality, and intelligence to work that is beyond homo sapiens’ collective ability. I believe your method of approach, while not leading to absolute anarchy, would reduce public safety. And that is something I cannot reasonably give support to.


First, VM is from the U.S, so it’s only natural he would cite a US example not a Canadian one. The article cited in the OP was also written by an American. I didn’t intend for this discussion to be Canadian-only.

Second, I think the cultural and socio-political differences between Canada and the US are not as numerous and not as vast as you believe. Having studied political and social issues from both countries, I don’t see a great chasm of ideas separating them. But perhaps that is a separate discussion.

Third, just because police don’t kill as many people in Canada does not change that a police with flashers on is making a threat of force. It is not a voluntary encounter, no matter how pleasant everyone involved acts. You are free to do only what the officer allows you to do, and if you fail to act as the officer wishes, he will use force. The fact that most police encounters don’t end in death merely shows how seriously people take the threat of police force.

Still don’t believe me? The next time a cop tries to pull you over, keep driving. We both know what the officer’s response will be.

CM I was unaware VM was from the United States. Certainly, the United States should be on the brink of some form of revolution, though I must remind everyone that the Bolshevik revolution was for similar reasons and founded on similarly optimistic ideas.

To say the police pulling you over is not voluntary is a bit of an oversimplification. The way you word it almost seems as if the police officer has ill intent. I believe most (though not all) police wish to serve the public good.

Is a murder a voluntary thing? A theft? Is getting hit by a drunk driver voluntary? I started absurd and moved into the real world for a reason; what you want, by reducing the amount of laws protecting public safety is move the authority of safety from the so-called State to individuals? Is that correct? Because individuals in power, out of power, in public, on farms, in trees, eating green eggs and Ham, in dirt, in the ditch, on a roof, under a hoof, with a plow, anyhow, have shown historically to make poor decisions.

Do I believe the state should have absolute power? No.

Do I believe the state should tell us what to do? Not necessarily.

The issue is that drivers text if no one tells them not to. They drink and drive if no one tells them not to. They won’t wear a seatbelt if no one forces them to.

The way things are now doesn’t work. The government you want won’t work.

The only viable option is a middle ground. At least, as far as I can see it.

JG You seem to have shifted subtly between arguing against legalization of drunk driving for its own sake, and legalizing drunk driving because the anarchists want it. Accepting the argument against drunk driving laws doesn’t ipso facto commit you to anarchism. Don’t let that be a stumbling block in this debate.

(Ask VM – there’s a whole anarchist club, with merit badges and everything. We don’t let just anyone in)

//Is a murder a voluntary thing? A theft? Is getting hit by a drunk driver voluntary?//

Excellent questions! The answers are no, no and no. Now you can see the distinction I’m making – there are two ways that human beings can interact with each other. Voluntary/peaceful means, where all parties agree to the interaction. And involuntary/coercive means.

As I stated previously, coercion is only morally justified in response to force. In the case of the three examples (murder, theft, being hit by a drunk driver), the victim is not consenting to the interaction – hence force can legitimately be used against someone who commits these.

No, I don’t think it’s an oversimplification to say a cop makes a death threat when he pulls someone over. Nor is the fact that a person may not *feel* threatened change anything. If a sniper in the bushes points a gun at me intending to shoot, he is threatening my life, even though I don’t perceive the threat. A cop doesn’t need to enjoy using force – he still fully intends to use it if required to gain your compliance

CM If I have given you the impression that I would do anything merely in opposition of some group who wants it, without strong underpinnings of reason and rationality, I have erred far more grievously in my words than I could possibly say. I apologize for that.

As far as moral justification of force, where is the distinction you are making for the person hit by a drunk driver? I have asked this before, and will ask it again one thousand times, will you let a drunk driver get behind the wheel 1000 times? 10,000 times? Does he get behind the wheel as many times as he wants, until he hits a pedestrian? Does it only become morally wrong after he has hit that pedestrian? Is getting behind the wheel while your judgment and reaction time is impaired morally wrong? That is a well that is certainly deeper than many would give it credit for.

If getting behind the wheel while severely impaired is wrong (or, at the very least, indefensible from a moral standpoint), would it not be moral to stop him from doing so? Where is the line for the methods I can use to stop him from doing so?

If he has gotten behind the wheel drunk and hit and killed a pedestrian, and served whatever due and just punishment has been set as per your rationality of “redress for the victim”, as though any redress could be offered to the dead, what then? If he then gets behind the wheel drunk, again, what recourse have you? If driving drunk is legal, what do we do with this person who drives drunk again?

No, I am not arguing legalization of drunk driving is wrong simply because some group wants it. I am arguing that legalization of drunk driving is wrong because of the tens of thousands of lives irreparably altered by a drunk driver. I am arguing that legalization of drunk driving is wrong because of the untold number of people who have not gotten behind the wheel drunk as a result of the law. I am arguing that legalization of drunk driving is wrong because I would rather be on the road with ten thousand police officers than I would even one driver whose judgment and reaction time severely impaired.

Libertarian Anarchy only comes into it at all because I am attempting to rebut your points directly, while also making my own. Rebutting your points directly has gotten me to a point where I understand your opinion, but I believe that is as far as I will get. Libertarian Anarchy needn’t even come into it any more, aside from being an underpinning of your opinion.

The underpinning of my opinion is simply this: drunk drivers are not just slightly more likely to get into an accident, they are wildly, significantly more likely to get into an accident. Not only that, but the accidents they do get into tend to be more serious (see the above quoted statistics showing nearly 40% of traffic related fatalities involved a driver intoxicated with a non-zero level of alcohol).

The odd thing about this all is that you seem to have dug your heels in the ground strictly on principle, not on reason–you even said, when we spoke verbally, that getting behind the wheel while drunk is at the very least a poor decision, and could even be considered to be morally wrong.

I am not here to draw political lines. Whether you live in a Communist state, a Fascist state, a Democracy, a Necrocracy (http://mentalfloss.com/…/10-things-you-might-not-know…). Regardless of your political opinion, getting behind the wheel while drunk reduces the safety of those around you. It puts you in danger. It puts anyone between your location and your destination in danger. It shows a lack of judgment even that you are willing to get behind the wheel while drunk, and that lack of judgment could be fatal. Whether it is a choice to blow a stopsign, whether it is a delayed reaction to events in an intersection, whether it is an inability to maintain a straight driving trajectory.

What you are telling me is that your politics are worth more to you than my life is. Perhaps that is an exaggeration… At the very least, your politics are worth more to you than my safety is, based on your own perceived safety at the hands of what I can only imagine is a dystopian nightmare State.

Perhaps there is a place for your Libertarian Anarchism, but it is not in the arena of drunk driving. If we are going to keep this debate strictly on the grounds of drunk driving, then I am going to make a statement that is very blunt:

If you will argue that drunk drivers should be allowed behind the wheel on moral grounds, your moral compass and mine are so wildly desynchronized that there is no hope for finding common ground.

To me, making a choice (whether your judgment is severely impaired or not) that puts other lives at significantly increased chance of injury or death is a choice that puts you on the wrong side of morals.

I will injure you. I will break your arm. I will tackle you. I will hit you. If that is what it takes to keep you from killing someone, then the cost is paid.

Interpret these facts how you will:


The way I interpret them is that it is morally indefensible to allow drunk drivers on the road.

SB So… I make one little comment and by the time I get back there’s 111 of them. Rest assured I have read them all and synthesized a solution that is so pragmatic it’s sure to please no-one here. Andrew and I have decided to unilaterally impose a speed limit of 40 kmph. To take the strain and temptation off law enforcement, the cars themselves will be designed to go that speed. Sure, it’ll cramp people’s driving styles, but one cannot deny it would reduce traffic fatalities by like 90%. Safety first, right?

JG //will you let a drunk driver get behind the wheel 1000 times? 10,000 times? Does he get behind the wheel as many times as he wants, until he hits a pedestrian?//

My position is not that a drunk driver should be permitted to get behind the wheel. My position is that using force is not a morally valid means of preventing him from doing so.

So, would I “let” a drunk driver get behind the wheel? No…. but that doesn’t justify using ANY method to stop him.

//Does he get behind the wheel as many times as he wants, until he hits a pedestrian? Does it only become morally wrong after he has hit that pedestrian?//

He shouldn’t get behind the wheel even once. I said before that the question of whether drunk driving is wrong is a complex one that I’d have to think about. But assuming it is immoral, force should only ever be used against force. Drivers should be persuaded not to drive drunk, but it doesn’t become aggressive force until they actually threaten to damage property or person.

//If getting behind the wheel while severely impaired is wrong, would it not be moral to stop him from doing so?//

Absolutely. Even if it weren’t morally wrong, being concerned for others’ safety is a virtue.

//Where is the line for the methods I can use to stop him from doing so?//

Any non-forceful means could be used. Until that person directly, imminently threatens another person or their property, force is not an appropriate response. A wildly increased likelihood of an accident does not constitute a direct threat to a person.

The point is, the ends do not justify the means. By all means keep drunk drivers off the road – but don’t do it by using force. Just because a drunk person is doing something immoral does not mean that anyone has a blank cheque to do to that person whatever necessary to stop them.

JG So much for the nice portion of my response.

I regret mentioning that I happen to be a libertarian anarchist. It was made in passing, as a footnote, but clearly you aren’t able or willing to look past it.

Yesterday, you were not aware that I was a libertarian anarchist; today, you are an expert not only in libertarian anarchism but in how it colours my every opinion. For someone who very early on complained that I was not being upfront about my position, I call that hypocrisy.

I had a paragraph typed up regarding your constant raising of “libertarian anarchy.” Then I read “libertarian anarchy needn’t even come into it any more” – so I deleted it. Then you went on to spend the remainder of your post talking about libertarian anarchy. This is getting ridiculous. Are you not capable of staying on the subject at hand?

I guess I can understand why you insist on bringing it up as often as possible – whoever happens to read it this thread will automatically realize how misguided and stupid I am: “look, this guy’s a libertarian anarchist – NO WONDER he doesn’t want laws against drunk driving!” I’m not playing this game. Score your cheap points elsewhere.

I don’t consider myself an expert in your opinion – I was more than willing to take your statements at face value and let you explain yourself. I didn’t expect you to share my view of the state, I was willing to confine myself to the question of “should this law be on the books, given the current political system?” Apparently that wasn’t enough.

As long as we’re being blunt, you wield moral theory like a baby wields a sword. You might hit your mark every once in a while, but it’s not because of skill. You have no idea what you are holding in your hands – it’s just a toy.

I don’t consider you a bad person – just a bad moral philosopher. You got one thing right, at least – we are not even in the same universe in terms of moral philosophy. You are willing to physically injure someone in order because you read some statistics? I call that assault and battery. If assaulting a person who hasn’t yet harmed anyone is morally acceptable to you, that makes you no different than any violent criminal.

If you can’t type a post without bringing up my political ideals in an attempt to win the debate, let’s not waste anymore time pretending this is a meaningful discussion. Good night.


CM I am not asking for a blank cheque, I am asking for a cheque for $10.00, I will use what I need and return the remainder.

What you seem to stand by in this case is moral absolutism. “Any use of force,” you say. The world is far grayer than that.

What if I put myself between the drunk person and the door of his car. At what point am I allowed to assume he will threaten force? I am not using some unlikely situation here, drunk people whose judgment is impaired are prone to use of force. That isn’t even a stereotype, that is a real situation.

So now we have an escalating series of events, and I am powerless to stop it until it culminates.

Step one: I tell him he can’t drive. He does not comply.

Step two: I place myself between my car and him. He tells me to get out of the way.

Step three: I continue to hold my ground. He threatens violence, but there is only threat. Does that allow me to use force?

Step four: If I have not used force, and he pushes me, I have lost any advantage I may have had; I am now out of the way, unable to stop him.

Could I have tripped him at step two? Could I have taken his keys?

Again, this isn’t some edge case; there is a reason “bar fights” are so common. Hell, Edmonton is the stab capital of the Canada. Do I wait until he pulls his knife out? Too late then, I would be powerless to stop him.

This is not an area where moral absolutism can hold any type of sway. In fact, to approach this situation thinking you have the absolute morality in mind almost seems foolish; the world does not exist in black and white, it has tones and shades of gray.

In this case, I realize I am allowing some black seep into the white of my morals, but I am willing to accept that to prevent a deeper black. I am not world police, in this case I am only talking about drunk driving. I am not going to rush out to press my morals on all people, but in this one small area I have power to effect change.

CM Very well, I will drop the pretense of moral philosophy. I would never consider myself a philosopher in any case; seldom is it that I make morals my own, I am no great thinker. These morals come not out of a theoretical philosophy but of listening to minds I believe to be greater than mine, and trying to build something cohesive out of it. I am inexperienced, my morals still immature, and perhaps I have not nearly plumbed the depths of moral theory that you have. I am OK with that.

I cannot wrap my head around your moral philosophy. Perhaps it is too complicated for my lack of moral expertise; this is something I am willing to admit. I did try to recuse myself from this debate, and tried to do so with respect and honor. I do not wield “libertarian anarchy” as some throwaway to make you sound less reputable, and I do not care one way or another; I write under the assumption that only you and I read this. On the facebook status where I mentioned having this debate, I never mentioned your name, nor linked to the debate. I doubt many, if any, of my friends are or will read this, and that is OK by me.

To me, morals aren’t theory. It is a similar case to that of Government, really; if theory had any bearing, we’d live in a Communist Utopia–the problem in this is humans. The best laid plans go to waste when even two humans are introduced to the equation.

This debate would not even be happening if not for the fact that humans have wildly warped senses of the world. If humans were all reasonable, no one would drink then drive. No one would text and drive. Greater than that, there would be no war, no murder, and no rape. We do not live in that vacuum, we do not live in that utopia.

I do not want to win this debate. It isn’t even a debate. We stopped debating long ago, I am afraid. I really did try to escape, and I am sorry that it has come to this. I bear no ill will.

My final point, and I suppose the load bearing pillar of why I believe authority and law are required to uphold public safety, is the point that humans are not yet ready for reasoned self government. I don’t mean that in reference to your politics, I mean that in leaving them to choose whether to drive drunk or not. I mean that in leaving them to choose whether to try heroin or not. I mean that in leaving them to choose whether to take the cash out of a wallet before returning it to its rightful owner.

Certain people are capable of the above–but I believe most people do not fall into that category. I am sorry that I have affected a negative mood in you, it really was not my intent. I am sorry that you believe I was trying to make some sweeping philosophical attack, that was not my intent.

Moral philosophy is truly irrelevant when you put 100 people in a room. Hell, moral philosophy is irrelevant when you put a bunch of hockey fans in the same room — the 1955 Montreal riot wasn’t even over a game, it was over Maurice Richard getting suspended.

I am no psychologist, but I have read papers. I am no statistician, but I have viewed data. I am no moral philosopher, but I am willing to defend my morals. We are both lay people in this argument, and I willing to admit that I am certainly not knowledgeable. If you expected to find deep moral philosophy in a facebook discussion, I believe we have both erred in our understanding of this whole status chain.

Your moral absolutism has led me to go and reread a great deal of material on Ghandi, so perhaps some good has come of this. That being said, I believe nonviolence can only be used to a point. Where is that point? I am not qualified to answer on the broader scale. But I am happy to say I believe that point is crossed before a drunk driver gets behind the wheel.

CM I won’t lie, I am saddened by what this came to. Neither of us were big enough to step back before it got to this point; I don’t claim the moral high ground on my attempt to step back earlier, for obviously that failed.

I am saddened because I am, in a way, confused… As though we were to debate a law without addressing the politics behind our decisions. Certainly, my politics play a part in my decision, as I am sure your politics play a part in yours. Again, I am sorry you took my addresses to your underlying political beliefs as something of an insult–I did call them immature at one point, and that certainly counts against me. I did not mean to resort to insult, but I have a bad habit of typing in stream of consciousness.

I am saddened because in our discussion, we were unable to come to some middle ground, though I suppose we both knew that long, long ago. Why did I keep typing? I suppose that is because this is a game to me. What we talk about here, we lay people, is theory that will likely never come to pass. Certainly, neither of us will have a hand in making it come to pass. How is it that two human beings can fight over something so meaningless? And yet here we are.

I suppose I don’t know what I expected. I’ve read studies that say statistics will never change a belief, and yet statistics are what I foolishly cling to. You are right, I would harm another human being over statistics. That being said, something as nebulous as drunk driving has such a far reaching scope, it is almost impossible to properly quantify. One person killed in a drunk driving accident may affect the lives of hundreds of people, and I suppose it is the fear that someone I know will be among that hundred–or, far more terrifying, will be the one person whose loss affects hundreds of people.

If this were a more formal setting, I would not argue so much on grounds of ethos; certainly it is a human weakness I have that many of my instincts are driven by my emotions and my fears. In a more formal setting, I would argue far more based on Logos, but even then I do not have the logical reason to argue against your stance. I would have to defer, and certainly that would cost me the formal debate.

I would ask, on behalf of others in the future, that when you believe they are but a toddler swinging a sword, you choose words more delicately. I obviously cannot infer tone from the written word, but I am willing to guess that the tone of calling me a child was not kind. I would have even settled for “bad moral philosopher.” I do not believe there is ever a reason to insult the person behind the idea, though. Even when I insulted your politics, I merely called your politics immature, and I would never have wanted to insult you directly. If I have done so, I again apologize, though I know I cannot apologize enough.

Thanks for the discussion; I have learned a great many things from it.


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