That Makes Her a Heroine in My Book


In the 1970s, we used to hear libertarians arguing for legalization of drugs. Somewhere along the line -- perhaps with NORML's call to "tax legal marijuana" -- we had to drop the word "legalize." It was too firmly associated with taxation and even licensure. We began using "decriminalize."

Now I see an essay by a NORML policy analyst describing decriminalization as "a policy whereby cannabis users face an administrative fine in lieu of a criminal arrest for possessing personal-use quantities of pot."

So what's left? Later in the essay, the writer uses "depenalize," which seems to mean that users no longer face long jail terms.

I am reminded of the day I suddenly understood that the writers objecting to corporate welfare weren't referring to subsidies or monopoly privileges. They were referring to *tax exemptions.* Clearly people just don't seem to have any use for words that mean that the state simply isn't involved in an activity. And when there is no word for a concept, the concept soon disappears, and people can no longer even think of that to which the concept referred.

I think we're just going to have to start using "de-statize," even though it too will eventually come to mean something that isn't liberty.

ONCE AGAIN, THE LOYAL OPPOSITION. Spain's new prime minister has announced that he is willing for Spanish troops to remain in Iraq if there is more UN supervision of the occupation. That suggests a couple of different questions:

(1) Is this what the Spanish people -- who opposed the invasion of Iraq -- really want? Is this what the great welling up of democratic sensibilities in Spain was really aiming at? Or did democracy once again produce (as it must) something rather different from what the voters had in mind?

(2) If the UN had been in charge of the invasion or occupation of Iraq from the beginning, does anyone really believe that the terrorists would have been satisfied that their demands had been met? "Oh, well, that's all right then" -- can't you just hear Osama saying it now?

It's bad enough when the pro-war faction insults our intelligence; but when the anti-war side confirms the insults, one just despairs.

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