Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
It’s been known for years now that the US is the world leader in slamming its citizens into the slammer. What’s worse is that so many of these inmates are there for committing a government-invented fiction called a “victimless crime.” It’s a fictitious crime since without an actual victim who has been coerced, intimidated or defrauded by a victimizer there can be no crime.
As far back as 2012 Libertarian News reported “Victimless Crime Constitutes 86% of the Federal Prison Population.” The primary reason for this has long been “the War on Drugs” which is the government’s euphemism for “the War on American Citizens.”
Today, according to World Population Review, “The United States is the world leader in incarceration, despite the national incarceration rate being at its lowest in 20 years” and further notes “The United States currently has over 2.1 million total prisoners.”
The Murder of Peter McWilliams
Written by Peter McWilliams and published in 1996 Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do and subtitled “The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society” is the once and still reigning classic on victimless crimes. How, his book asks, can voluntary interactions among consenting adults such as those involving drugs, gambling, sex, begging, loitering and assisted suicide be logically considered as “crimes”?
Tragically, McWilliams himself suffered the fate of being persecuted and prosecuted under a malicious victimless crime diktat.
diktat (noun) a harsh penalty or settlement imposed upon a defeated party by the victor.—Wiktionary
Peter McWilliams was a photographer, poet, author of 40 books and a marijuana legalization activist. Suffering from AIDS and cancer he began growing and using pot because it was the only thing that calmed his stomach and allowed him to keep his cocktail of medications down. The US government arrested him and denied him the use of his medical marijuana, legal in California but not under federal law, that might have prevented his death.
Wheelchair bound in the end McWilliams died on June 14, 2000. William F. Buckley stated that McWilliams was vomiting and in pain when he died. He had choked to death on his own vomit, a totally unnecessary victim of the politician’s War on Drugs.
His fellow libertarians back then called his death murder by the U.S. government. His story is well known by older libertarians who pause every year on August 5, Peter’s birthday, to remember him.
Consensual Actions Are Not Crimes
Not only are victimless crimes in the United States an inexcusable and unconscionable oxymoron but they’re also a political crapshoot. Casino gambling is legal in some areas of 23 states but may be a felony elsewhere. Pot is now legal in some states but not others. Physician-assisted suicide is legal in parts of eight US states as well as seven foreign countries but a felony elsewhere. If you counterfeit money by calling the result "federal reserve notes" you're simply working at a US mint but if you counterfeit their counterfeit notes you're a felon. Unless you live in certain Nevada counties you can be charged with a felony for exchanging money for sex, but if you exchange dinner and a movie for sex you're just dating.
What few people know is that before the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act was passed in 2012 trading stock based on insider information was a felony everywhere except in the US Congress. If you were a Congresscrat you were exempt from prosecution under the laws that they wrote for themselves. So they profited bigtime from insider trading whenever they wanted with no problem. That’s how our felony laws are a crapshoot; just as a casino’s crapshoot always favors the house so too do the politician’s crapshoot always favor themselves in the US House.
Yet as reported in The American Digest and many other sources no one should be surprised that congressional insider trading still goes on with little to no negative consequences for these trader traitors despite the 2012 law that banned it.
The Solutions to Over Incarceration
But fear not. When it comes to the United States having the highest incarceration rates in the world, based on its penchant for criminalizing virtually everything, California has the “solution.” Once America’s leading incarcerator according to an ABC News story dated May 1, 2021 the Golden State is set to give 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, the opportunity to leave prison early by giving them good behavior credits that will shorten their sentences. Over 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible. More than 10,000 prisoners convicted of repeat but nonviolent offenses, such as fraud, swindling, conning, racketeering, etc., will be eligible.
Hopefully those 86% who committed victimless non-crimes will be among them. In their case however libertarians everywhere insist that they be immediately released with full pardons and an apology from the criminal political classes who imprisoned them in the first place.
As for releasing violent thugs back into our communities to commit more vicious crimes libertarians aren’t the only ones concerned. A politically conservative outfit called Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has been gnashing its hair and pulling its teeth ever since 2016 because some GOPers were apparently in cahoots with Obama’s legislation that would “result in the mass, early release of thousands of felons from federal prison” because it would “help brand the GOP as kinder and gentler.”
This group needs to take the "Limited Government" part of their name a little more seriously by listening to libertarians, the real limited government people.
ALG needs to remember that "felony" is a statist concept, created and defined by the state which means whatever the masters of the state want it to mean. But the people at ALG apparently don't want those 86% consenting, voluntary, mutually agreeable, nonviolent non-criminals released since they never once differentiate real criminal victimizers from victimless crimes. "Senate GOP will own inevitable murders that follow mass criminal release" a related ALG press release screamed back in the day. ALG simply, and mindlessly, conflates "felony" with “crime” including "victimless crimes."
Of course, if the politicians are intent on releasing violent thugs like murderers, kidnappers, terrorists, rapists, child molesters and even rip-off white collar criminals libertarians will be right up there opposing such releases with ALG and every other decent human being.
Fraud is violence by other means
Everyone should also remember that under the libertarian non-aggression principle not all real crimes are violent. Fraud is a non-violent crime. Fraud, per Merriam-Webster, is deceit, deception, misrepresentation, trickery, intentional perversion of truth by a cheater or imposter masquerading as an honest person in order to induce an unsuspecting victim to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right.
Otherwise those 86-percenters who have not coerced, intimidated or defrauded anyone should be outed immediately so they can get on with earning their own living rather than being forced to live off of the poor looted taxpayers, themselves victims of coercive fraudulent government. Many prisons can then be shut down, the employees can go on to more meaningful, productive careers and the crony political classes pocketing bribes from the professional incarceration industry should be moved into some of those empty cells.
The result will be more freedom, appropriate treatment of peaceful citizens, and justice for at least a few of the government powercrats involved in the whole victimless crime fraud. As of now do a search for “Victimless Crime” on ALG’s website and you’ll get Nothing Found. So get with it Americans for Limited Government. Do a little research about felons and victims and what constitutes a legitimate crime. Then you can really start limiting government.
If that ever happened it might mean that one of those rare blue moons is hovering overhead. If only so-called "victimless criminals" but no victimizers get released then libertarians, the ALG, the GOP and even Liberal Democrats like those in Australia would actually agree on doing something right for a change.
Unfortunately that is likely to require three or four simultaneous blue moons.
References and Links
LawInfo defines “victimless crimes” as “crimes against the state that do not harm society.” Both “the state” and “society” are not persons but concepts. A concept is an abstract idea that cannot be physically or otherwise “harmed.” That’s what makes these “crimes” “political crimes” only.
Pros and Cons? This essay purports to see two sides to the victimless crime issue but this sums it up for the “con” side: “Prohibition infringes upon the civil liberties of those who are citizens of the United States, and is a direct threat to the values and standards this nation was founded upon.”
The Libertarian Party Platform favors the repeal of all laws that create “crimes” without victims and “demand the use of executive pardon to free and exonerate all those presently incarcerated or ever convicted solely for the commission of these "crimes." No “pro versus “con” here.
LawInfo Again “A ‘victimless crime’ is an illegal criminal act that only involves participants who consent to the activity.” Simply owning a gun, drugs, porn, gambling for money, exchanging sex for money, paying for assisted suicide doesn’t harm the participants and cannot be construed as actual “crimes.”