The Socratic Method used for Defending Drug Use...
Pro-Drug: Why shouldn't drugs be legalized?
Anti-Drug: The primary reason to keep drugs reason is because of their nature. They are highly addictive substances, usually resulting in destroying the life of the person addicted.
Pro-Drug: You say that drug use is addictive. Define that term.
Anti-Drug: An addictive person needs something for their day-to-day life.
Pro-Drug: So, would you also say that food is an addiction?
Anti-Drug: Certainly not.
Pro-Drug: Well, why not?
Anti-Drug: I need food, yes, but it helps me. It benefits me. It satisfies a certain want that makes me a better person. For these reasons, I do not call it addictive.
Pro-Drug: What is the difference between needing food everyday and needing a drug everyday? Why is the one an addiction, and the other one not an addiction?
Anti-Drug: I call daily drug use addiction, because it has a negative connotation to it; drug use has always been rightly considered a debilitating object when it comes to personal, moral, and educational development. There is very good reason to protest all legalization efforts of these abusive and anti-social substances. I do not call my daily food consumption an addiction because its use is positive and necessary to my goals; it is one of those goals being to live.
Pro-Drug: So, addiction is not simply the use of chemical inebriants. It is also their daily use. How frequent a person uses the drugs is also an attribute of addiction, correct? Instead of saying the word "addiction," then, you might as well being saying "frequent use of something with a negative connotation"?
Pro-Drug: And frequent use of something with a positive connotation is not an addiction?
Anti-Drug: That is correct.
Pro-Drug: What are some of the other activities for you that fall under the group of activities you engage in daily that have a positive connotation?
Anti-Drug: I feel that activities like reading, exercising, and playing chess are helpful towards developing my brain and intelligence.
Pro-Drug: What style of literature fits your reading taste?
Anti-Drug: I prefer the works of Locke, Rousseau, and other Enlightenment thinkers.
Pro-Drug: And what if congress, the president, the governor, or any other ruling authority were to ban the reading of such literature? What if the laws said that Renaissance literature or Ancient Greek philosophy was the only acceptable reading material?
Anti-Drug: I would call those laws oppressive and tyrannical.
Anti-Drug: The purpose of the government is to satisfy and uphold the will of the people. And so that the will of each individual person is respected, the government is to allow civil liberties. Among these civil liberties, we must count the right to read, write, and publish any type of literature that we want.
Pro-Drug: So, in your opinion, you deserve a civil liberty of freedom of speech, because you are more educated about your own wants in this area, than any other person, correct? That is to say, the government should not be allowed to regulate what type of literature you're allowed to read, because it is something that only you can be allowed to make decisions about, right?
Anti-Drug: That is correct.
Pro-Drug: And, what if the government were to make reading altogether illegal? Or, what if the government were to make it illegal to use some exercise practices, but not others? Or if it was only legal to use a checkered board for checkers?
Anti-Drug: All laws would be tyrannical, but I can only hope that the people who saw such laws could see how ridiculous they were, and would revolt.
Pro-Drug: So, you agree that the government should not be allowed to interfere with a person's personal life, correct?
Pro-Drug: So, why then, have you allowed the government to tamper in the regulation of drug control? If the state should never outlaw certain types of literature or artwork, then why should it ever be allowed to outlaw certain types of drugs or intoxicants? I have always agreed that so long as an action does not harm or interfere with my activity, then I will have no reason to oppose it. Do you not hold the same creed?
Anti-Drug: I certainly do hold the same creed. And I believe that there should never be an infringement of civil rights by any government or civil authority. However, drugs exempt from that category of rights which man deserves. It is clear and apparent that the only product that comes from drug use is overdosing, destroyed lives, poor health, and other countless miseries.
Pro-Drug: The first reason you proposed to me on why drugs should be illegal is because they are addictive. We agreed that there are certain patterns in good behavior that have a daily frequency, and there are certain patterns of bad behavior that could also have a set frequency. Likewise, we also admitted that sometimes there are no patterns of good or bad acts, and that they are either spontaneous or infrequent. That was the sum of our conversation on addiction. And, it was the primary reason you proposed for banning the use of drugs. But now, since addiction clearly exists for good things as well as for bad things, it cannot be the reason for banning drugs. For if we banned every addictive, or "habitual" activity, the people would be a great deal more restless and unsettled, since habit is simply a human convention. And now, the problem is not addiction, but the negative effects of drug use on society, that we should ban all freedom to put what we want in our bodies?
Anti-Drug: That is correct.
Pro-Drug: The principal way in which drugs harm people is in overdoses, hospitalizations, and maybe even debilitated moral development?
Pro-Drug: Are you familiar with the sport of rock-climbing?
Anti-Drug: I am.
Pro-Drug: Then I sure you are aware of the point I am going to demonstrate. Sometimes the hobbies and interests of individuals entail the necessity of danger. We could say the same thing about boxing, hang-gliding, skiing, flying planes, or almost any outdoors activity. The reason why those activities are exciting is because they bring you to the edge of the human personality. They help break down the borders that we slowly declare, the walls that we slowly build up around ourselves. There is a difference between rock-climbing over an obstacle and reaching the top of Mount Everest. These activities have the potential for disaster, by damaging the person engaging in them, and therefore affecting his friends and loved ones, the way an overdose would be seen. And yet, we do not censor any of these activities. In fact, they are encouraged as healthy. Why is this?
Anti-Drug: I agree that such activity should not be banned, but I am still skeptical about legalizing drugs.
Pro-Drug: Do you also realize that, if these sports were banned, that people would still continue to practice them?
Anti-Drug: I am aware. People can become passionate about anything. And those who have enough passion are more willing to break the law to satisfy their interests.
Pro-Drug: And do you realize that, since their activity would be illegal, they could ask nobody for help, assistance, or capability? That is to say, the aid they received before would be absent, since they could not publicly seek help for their activity. You agree, correct?
Anti-Drug: Yes, I do.
Pro-Drug: Then you must also know, that the equipment rock-climbers would use would be inefficient? You also know that they are more likely to suffer death or injury, compounding the tragedy that would have come if we kept it legal, right? I hope you see that the same can be said with drugs. Illegal distribution of drugs has come with unsanitary methods, unsafe and unclean products, sometimes-poisoned products (purposely or accidentally), and sometimes drugs that are infected with horrible, life-threatening diseases. You must agree, that there are actions that can only potentially harm the person engaging in them. And you must also agree that when these types of activity are outlawed, they are still engaged in and done so in a way that is much more harmful, anti-social, and debilitating, than if it were legal? You agree with all this, I hope?
Anti-Drug: It is clearly true.
Pro-Drug: In both cases, the harm reduction program only contributed greatly to the pains being suffered by society. Do you not also understand that other activities can sometimes be deemed harmful by others when they are not?
Anti-Drug: Give me some examples.
Pro-Drug: Many people say that pornography harmful to the people who view it. Many people say that certain literature, or the pamphlets of the other side, is simply mindless propaganda. Everything from obscure art, to certain religious beliefs, to misunderstood games, to popular books, to fads and trends, have been considered at one time or another, or by one person or group of people, to be harmful and self-destructive. There are still churches to this day that engage in book burning, urging their pew-holders to bring "sinful literature that obstructs the love for god in his people." Would it not be a great injustice if a group of people were to inhibit your right to a personal activity you enjoyed?
Anti-Drug: I would certainly believe so.
Pro-Drug: One might even argue that something as tame as painting, or writing poetry, or composing music, is harmful to a person. They could argue that it consumes too much of a person's time, causing them chaotic relationships and unstable living conditions.
Anti-Drug: I agree. It is certainly clear that drug use is not the only activity that entails certain dangers to it. And it is also certainly clear that outlawing these potentially hazardous activities only increases their risks and dangers, creating the reverse effect of the legislation. I suppose, too, that it is not much different at all than a person's tastes in other activities, since any taste can really lead to someone's demise, under the right circumstances. But, does not drug use degrade the moral condition? Does it not inhibit genuine emotion and is it not an obstacle to ending poverty and injustice?
Pro-Drug: On the contrary, I feel that by legalizing drugs, we would be reaching a state closer to social justice and equity. It is true, that a person's involvement with drug use can definitely limit their social relationships, hinder their personal development, and otherwise prevent them from achieving a state of peace and satisfaction. But, one might as well apply this argument to any type of activity. It is very possible, theoretically, that a person could spend too much time painting. It might be their artwork that is consuming all of their time, and preventing them from being a father to a needing son, or a lover to a needing partner. Is this not possible?
Anti-Drug: Sure, it does seem possible. Theoretically, as you said.
Pro-Drug: It is rare that one would ever find a person spending all of their time painting. The reason for this is that art, whether expressed with verse or brush stroke, is the outlet of the soul. Once a person has accomplished a great deal of painting, writing, sculpting, or even philosophizing, they receive satisfaction. And coupled with the draining effect of creating, there is exhaust, which contributes to a rest period. The activity of artwork, then, by its very nature, is unlikely to be addictive like a drug, and therefore, we wouldn't rationally compare it with drugs. But, that still does mean that the potential is there, correct?
Anti-Drug: Your words are true.
Pro-Drug: It is very possible that a person can demonstrate an addictive personality to thrill-seeking behavior, unrelenting lust, craving of a certain type of food or drink, ceaseless desire of a certain game or hobby, among so many other things. And in our society, where drugs like Nicotine and Alcohol are tolerated, those activities clearly show what an addictive personality can express. So, should we not understand that while these activities of sexual activity and recreation are great in their own, that they should be moderated in accordance to each individual's habits and wants, so as not to become an evil?
Anti-Drug: It seems to be the only reasonable idea.
Pro-Drug: So, must we not also say the same of drug use? Is it not true that drugs have been the catalyst to many great minds opening up and giving us wondrous gifts of art? But, is it not also true, then, that these drugs have destroyed many lives?
Anti-Drug: Both are true, it seems.
Pro-Drug: What do you think is the best way for society to respond to this?
Anti-Drug: Society should allow drugs for those who are benefited from them, and allow for treatment and liberality when it comes to those who are harmed by them.
Pro-Drug: Society should accept drug use. It should provide its people with drugs that are beneficial to their existence. And, it should tolerate those whose drug habits are harmful to their own existence. We should only tolerate negative drug habits, because their suppression has created so many more social ills. The spread of the AIDS or HIV virus through unclean needles, the contaminants in heroin and cocaine that cause neural damage, the unclean production of methamphetamine causing it to destroy the body and the mind, from unlabelled and unknown drugs to random drugs pawned off as something they're not. All of these things are caused by outlawing harmful drugs. We should allow those addicted to use drugs that are harmful, but we should always provide treatment and encourage people to live in moderation. We would encourage people to be sober some of the time, in order that they might contribute to the social development of their society, to create and express, to live deliberately and according to will, so that when the time comes for death, there will be no regrets.
Anti-Drug: But, should we allow all drugs?
Pro-Drug: I think it is only necessary. People who advocate for the legalization of Marijuana, but oppose the legalization of mushrooms, LSD, and other drugs, are hypocrites. They want to afford themselves rights which they openly and willingly deny to others. I certainly would agree with anyone, though, if they were to say that drugs can destroy a person's life. There is no question to this. The only question we have with ourselves is this: what step can we take to minimize the harms of drugs without obstructing freedom? To legalize all substances, in one way or another. However, education is necessary. Perhaps we can have a drug program much in the way we have a driving program. A person needs to go through training and pass a test before they are allowed the privilege to a certain drug; and the test they would take would judge how the person reacted to the drug, to see if they would be able to function well on it in society or not. Perhaps limitations like that, but beyond that, I wouldn't want any limits. Some people make distinctions between hard and soft drugs. Perhaps some of these distinctions are real, but I don't think that makes my point any less important: every person might have a favorite drug, from caffeine to heroin. And so long as they can function well on it, and it contributes to their moral and educational development, why should we limit their use in it? It would be just as tyrannical to say to the people, "You can read and write anything, but you must not read or write your political or religious ideas."