Government vs. Liberty

I have zero tolerance for vileness (sometimes masked as stupidity), and vile acts performed under the pretext of upholding the law make me very angry. We had the Mehta case a couple of days back where the Indian Justice System perpetrated an act of gross injustice. And today, the American Justice System decided to throw Charles Lynch to the dogs.

If someone tells me that the people involved – the judge, the prosecutors, and the people who frame laws to support America’s criminally insane “War on Drugs” – are civilized folk, I will tell him to get lost. The judge and prosecutors have used every trick in the book and the entire might of the State to railroad poor Lynch. According to the LA Times

Prosecutors David Kowal and Rasha Gerges sought to portray Lynch as a common drug dealer who flouted federal law by selling about $2 million worth of marijuana from the time he opened his dispensary in spring 2006 until it was raided last year.

They told jurors he sold drugs to young people “not yet old enough to legally drink” and carried around his proceeds in a backpack stuffed with cash.

The “young people” he sold the marijuana to? A boy suffering from bone cancer- with a valid prescription from his oncologist. I tried to look for coverage of this case in US media. And I am not surprised to find that except for the LA Times, every other major newspaper is conspicuous by its silence. Of course this is not a “public interest” story or a story on Britney’s undergarments. Maybe that explains it. This case shows once again why a political system with a strong center is an extremely dangerous one.

Laws are meant to protect the citizens of a country from others, not from themselves. Any law that infringes the rights of the citizens can only be constitutional according to the constitution of a despotic country. And such a law will always be used by Government to mount an assault on the liberties of its citizens. An out-of-control Government is by far the biggest threat to the safety of the citizens of a country – bigger than communism or terrorism or anything else that catches peoples’ fancy – because anything it does is justified using the term “national interest”. And all those who are against such “national interest” are apparently “enemies of the state”.

The outward liberties–of speech, of worship, of parliamentary government–are valued by all men except Communists, Nazis and their fellow-travellers. For reasons of necessity or of social conscience, free nations have in recent years accepted certain limitations upon these outward liberties. This acceptance has often been a reasoned and deliberate act of good-citizenship. But the surrender of liberty becomes a habit. It may be the result of laziness or of a failure of moral courage or even of unconsciousness that, for the sake of some temporary convenience, a great principle is being abandoned. If this is true of outward liberties of action, it is even truer of the Liberties of the Mind–of each man’s right and power and duty to think for himself–upon which all other liberties depend.
-Text from the jacket of Liberties of the Mind, Charles Morgan (1952)

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