Drug Craziness

What, to you, was the strongest message to come from the Van Nguyen case?

It seemed clear to me that this was a perfect example of 1) the madness the War on Drugs inspires, and 2) the injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing (and in this case, a mandatory death sentence).

1) Nobody involved in the case seemed to question where drug crime comes from. It was taken for granted that Bad People are pushing these evil substances on our innocent and helpless youth. When I read that Nguyen's crime was trying to smuggle 14 oz. of heroin, I thought so what? Drugs are sold because people want to buy them, and they're not even close to being as destructive as they're made out to be. So who gives a damn if he was selling; if I ruled the world 14 oz. of heroin would get you a shrug, not a death sentence.

2) Mandatory death sentences for people who trade in these substances? They're so bad that they merit an automatic and necessary death sentence? Here's a man with no prior criminal record who did not appear to be a menace to society. There was every indication that he was not trying to make a career out of the drug trade, only to do it once.

Of course, for someone caught up in the madness like John Howard,

"I don't believe in capital punishment, he was a convicted drug trafficker and that is to be wholly condemned," Mr Howard told radio 3AW.

"(But) I hope the strongest message that comes out of this, above everything else, is a message to the young of Australia.

"Don't have anything to do with drugs. Don't use them, don't touch them, don't carry them, don't traffic in them and don't imagine for a moment — for a moment — that you can risk carrying drugs anywhere in Asia without suffering the most severe consequences."

I could put a good spin on it and say that he's just telling young Australians to stay out of legal trouble, something I advise as well. But I have the awful feeling he's tying this in to something inherent in a particular class of substances, when there's nothing inherently dangerous in the use of those substances.

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I see it as no different to

I see it as no different to committing murder in Texas. :behead:

It is the law.

It is THEIR law.

Would you want me to come and tell you how American law should be?

Murder isn't wrong in Texas

Murder isn't wrong in Texas because a law says so; murder is wrong because it violates a person's right to life (a right that is nearly universally accepted).

Probligo, Sure come on over

Probligo,

Sure come on over and protest capital punishment in Texas if you'd like, so long as you don't advocate the murder of our citizens for non-crimes, like not believing in Allah, or smoking cigarettes, or the like.

Hell, you can even come over and protest for capital punishment in the case of murderers.

However, I didn't notice when McElroy set foot on Singaporean soil. So he really can't be accused of coming over.

I don't know about New Zealanders but saying that something is "Their law" really doesn't carry any weight with Americans, even when done in all caps. We think differently than that over here. We believe natural rights are even something those who live in Singapore should have.

So do you think the northern states were wrong to abolish slavery in the south here in the Unitied States? I mean, after all, wasn't slavery, "THEIR law".

My own feeling is that

My own feeling is that legalising drugs in countries like the US and UK would probably be wise. But I don't think that you can justify it by chat about "natural rights". American "natural rights" are just a collection of attitudes inherited from their British founders, dressed up in the jargon of the Enlightenment. It is arrogant to insist that the predominantly Chinese population of Singapore MUST adopt them.

Dearieme writes: "American

Dearieme writes:

"American “natural rights” are just a collection of attitudes inherited from their British founders, dressed up in the jargon of the Enlightenment. It is arrogant to insist that the predominantly Chinese population of Singapore MUST adopt them."

Ethical relativism is just a collection of attitudes inherited from British and American thinkers of the early 20th century. It is arrogant to insist that critics of Singapore's drug laws must adopt it.

Or in other words, having rejected other people's moral principles on the grounds that they are just unfounded beliefs, what foundation do you offer for yours--and without any moral principles, what basis can you have for criticizing those who would like to make Singapore adopt enlightement values?

It is arrogant to use

It is arrogant to use natural rights to say someone should not be murdered for engaging in a mutually beneficial, voluntary exchange that harms no third parties?
Even if he knew the penalty, that still doesn't make it right. You know the penalty for resisting the draft, but does that make the consequences warranted? Screw the majority of Chinese that support this (assuming they even do); a majority has no moral superiority.
To excuse this as an issue of one culture's fuzzy concept of natural rights interfering with another's cultural ways is to engage in a base and stereotypical cultural relativism.

There is a pretense in

There is a pretense in Singapore that certain crimes do not happen there, thus these draconian laws.
In reality it's no doubt that they happen all the time, thus the ease of foreigners getting into trouble with the law. And Singapore is more than happy to sacrifice foreigners to prove a point at home and abroad.
There doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that now is the time when anyone, even at the governmental level, can expect a change in Singaporean policies and laws, any more than one could have expected a Rosa Parks-like event in the 1930s.

I concur with Greg. Unless

I concur with Greg. Unless Singapore is reliant on the tourism industry, and I doubt it, this kind of thing can be expected to happen. Perhaps they will suffer in international trade the way Kathie Lee Gifford felt the heat...

I am sure there are inherent

I am sure there are inherent dangers in heroin.

Heh, Probligo is taking on

Heh, Probligo is taking on yet another group of folks about the rightness of laws because they were passed by the local majority.

David, you're putting words

David, you're putting words in my mouth. I didn't "reject" natural rights as understood in the US, I rejected justifying them by arguing that they are "natural". They might be superior by virtue of being of British origin but can't be superior by virtue of being natural. If they were "natural" they would presumably be natural to the population or government of Singapore too. I find it arrogant for outsiders to insist that Singapore adopt them simply because the US has: I think that Singapore might reasonably ask to be persuaded to adopt them, rather than being instructed to adopt them.

Here's a fascinatingly

Here's a fascinatingly comparable case: the thoughts of the Governor of the East India Company on whether he should risk prohibiting suttee:
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1829bentinck.html
Note that since he had authority over much of India, he had responsibility. Similarly, the victors in the American Civil War might have decided that they had responsibility concerning slavery. Darned if I can see how the American people, the Australian Prime Minister or the New Zealand editorial writers have responsibility for Singapore. Of course, if any of them could write as well as the Governor could, they might persuade Singapore.

Well maybe if the US forces

Well maybe if the US forces itself on Singapore the way the British did in India, we will have the authority to stop such acts.
Sutee was, and is, wrong, and the British actors on the scene at the time were right to stop it, without reflecting any kind of legitimacy in imperialism per se. I would heed Lysander Spooner's advice to the slaves and their sympathizers, to use direct action and civil disobedience, in order to stop these kinds of acts. No need for a nation state to step in.

Dearieme, it seems to me

Dearieme, it seems to me that your objection to natural, or inherent, rights is that an unnatural creation (a government) doesn't recognize them. But, whether a government recognizes it, or not, whether you recognize it, or not, regardless of who formulated the philosophy of inherent, individual rights, I do have the right to life, liberty and property. These are things that exist in a state of nature, without a government, society, or infrastructure required to give them to me. I possess them by virtue of being a sentient, living being. The government of Singapore may violate those rights, but it is not in their power to give them, recognize them, take them, etc.

For an interesting discussion (especially in the comments section) on whether a law is moral because the government creates the law, see this entry on my personal blog.

Hello. I am a Singaporean

Hello. I am a Singaporean and when I saw this article, I thought I would just comment upon it. Do take note that my views are not necessarily reflective of my nation.

Well, you can look at it from a few points of views. I would offer up the more practical first.

We must execute him partly because of foreign pressures from Australia. Given their urging and pressures, there would be great difficulty in letting him off since this would lead to us being viewed as subjected to foreign pressures, an entirely unacceptable occurrence. Not only would this erode our sovereignty as an independent nation, but it would also encourage citizens from strong foreign powers to act as drug mules here as they are assured that the might of their nation shall protect them. Therefore, to reduce the argument to the simplest level, we must execute him because of the view of others.

I agree that there are certain rights that are inherent to all man. But I would say that the right to life is not such a right. The right to life shall be void if you undertake action that undermines the inherent rights of others. Therefore, you have the inherent right to life only if you yourself do not undermine the inherent rights of others. Let’s take a simple example. The freedom of movement. If you commit a crime, then this is taken away from you, yes? Moreover, there is capital punishment elsewhere as well. Accordingly, his attempt to introduces 26 000 doses of drugs to Singaporean, would cause much suffering and foreseeable many deaths from drug overdoes and such.

I would say that it is certainly arrogant of western people to step in and say that you must do what we say because this is what everybody knows is true, our natural rights. So we are wrong.
If you wish to object, then do so on moral, political grounds. Or any other sound basis. Do not come in here and proclaim loudly that it is your natural rights. Let me tell you here and now that it WILL NOT be your natural right here in Singapore.

He knew what he was doing. This was not a case of some drug package being found in his luggage or something. He was carrying it strapped to his chest. Given that he knew the risks, it would be wrong to say that he was an innocent. He knew the risk, he got caught, he got executed. If he couldn’t afford to pay, then dun play.

And yes, there is still a drug problem here of course. As in other nations. But it is truly minimal. Dugs are not openly offered on the streets and it is rather difficult to get access to them. Which is what we want. As for suggestions that we take out foreigners just to make a point, that is not true. We catch many locals as well, including the rich and powerful. There have been local media reports on this.

By executing him, we have shown our resolve, that our laws shall not be bend by any foreign pressures or such. If you feel that it is your inherent right to carry on a drug trade, then it might be ill-advised for you to come to our country to carry out your inherent right

Mr Smith, I think perhaps

Mr Smith,

I think perhaps you are not familiar with the philosophical background of many of the posters, which may have led you to misunderstand some of what was said.

'Natural rights' are so called because they are seen to arise out of the nature of man. Arguments arising out of them are purely moral and not political. Under them, for example, you have the right to think whatever you want to as it is part of your nature. Similarly, you have the right to property, including owning your body.

Thus, everyone has a right to life in that outside of certain circumstances no person may morally damage or destroy their body.

Now, you are correct that unde certain circumstances one person may morally kill another. If person A attempted to murder person B, then person B could, quite morally, kill person A while defending himself. This is because A was attempting to violate the rights of B and B acted to preserve his rightful property.

Let us add another actor into the fray. B, out of fear for his safety, hires security guard C. C detects A's attack, and unfortunatley has to act hastily and ends up killing A while defending B against the attack. In that case, C has also acted morally. As an agent of B, he had been the recipient of the power to defend B's property and thus his action can be considered to be morally authored by B himself.

Let us say however, that A had tried to kill B, and had failed and given up on his attempts, and that B was aware of this. In that case, were B to suddenly kill A, it would be an act of murder, since the window where B was acting to protect himself would have closed.

Let us turn to the case at hand.

1) I assert that all drug laws are immoral by definition.

1.1) If A and B want to exchange property, and neither is defrauding the other, there is no basis for any third party to try to interfere. It is irrelevant whether or not heroin addiction if beneficial or harmful to a person. If a person wants to inject heroin into his veins, he has the right to do so since he is working on his own property. I have no more right to prevent the sale of heroin than I have the right to prevent you from buying deep-fried foods - even if you have advanced coronary disease. Your body is your property to dispose of as you see fit.

1.2) If any third party lacks such a right to interfere, then they cannot hire an agent to enforce such a right. Thus, when the officers of the state to claim that they have the power to prevent such transactions, they are in fact in error. They have no such moral power. Any action along those lines is a tyrannical act of aggression.

2) Mr Nguyen was not in the process of attacking anyone. Thus, for him to be killed meant he was the victim of an act of aggression. By the nature of the process, especially the timing of his death, the agents of the Singaporean government committed an act of premediatated murder. Yes, this logic also applies to a person who rapes an murders a child and then is subsequently captured and imprisoned for twenty years prior to his execution.

None of these arguments address Singaporean laws or the wisdom of Mr Nguyen's actions. They stand in indictment of American and Australian laws as well. In this case, Mr Nguyen was killed as part of enforcing laws that are widely accepted but happen to be immoral. The Singaporean government certainly has given ample notice of its intentions to kill anyone carrying things it didn't approve of so he was, as you say, not ignorant about what he risked.

I may have the right to walk around carrying a sign accusing a hot-tempered neighbor of being an "asshole", but it is probably not wise since he would, upon learning of the sign, try to beat me to a pulp. However, his ample warnings concerning his willingness to use violence to prevent people from disrespecting him would not make such a beating moral.

Tarran said it quite well,

Tarran said it quite well, but I do want to respond because I think that Mr. Smith is taking issue with my "natural rights" comment. Mr. Smith, you misunderstand me, I think. When I discuss natural rights I am, as Tarran points out quite correctly, discussing a moral philosophy. The key to that moral philosophy is that it is an observable one. We can theorize about what a man has in a "state of nature", that is when there is no society, technology, government or other works of man to influence the situation. And, when we do such theorizing, we come to the conclusion that a man (or woman for that matter) has life, liberty and property. What do we mean by these things? Just this, a man is alive and will remain alive, barring accident or illness. The man has freedom of movement, thought, speech and association, which constitutes the larger right that we term liberty. And the man has the ability to take and improve physical things and assert ownership of those things. Since men hold these rights naturally, that is no outside influence is needed to have these rights, it is not moral to take them away coercively, by direct or indirect force.

Hopefully that clears up, at least somewhat, why I believe that Singapore's government (and all other governments, for that matter) is inherently immoral. It is because they take actions which violate my rights without my consent and use force to coerce me to certain courses of behavior. Courses of behavior that, in many cases, I would not otherwise choose. I would highly suggest reading John Locke, Thomas Paine, David Hume, Adam Smith and the rest of the Enlightenment philosophers to gain an understanding of what we mean when we say "natural rights" or "inherent rights".

When you suggest that I don't have a right to life because someone else could take my life, you miss the point. Killing me is violating my right to life. In some cases, that violation is justifiable, such as the case where I pose a direct and immediate danger to you. In other cases, the violation is not justifiable, and humans mostly agree that this constitutes murder. The concept of murder as a crime would not exist if we did not implicitly agree that every human has a right to life and violating that right is immoral. Just because a group of people exercise their collective will before killing someone does not make the killing a priori moral.

Here's the key question of political theory:

When is a group morally justified to do something which an individual is not?

To tarran, Yes. You are

To tarran,

Yes. You are right. I have read some of the works of past thinkers and I recall some of it now that you have pointed it out. I did seem to have misunderstood what you meatn by natural rights.

For the moral point of view, I would say that as the guardian of the people, when the government sees an act which would harm its citizens being carried out, it has a right and a duty to stop this act from being carried out. With lethal force if need be, which in this case it is. How far should the government go of course, is something which needs to be worked out between the government and the citizens.

Since the government is moral in its doings in my view, the fact that he knew what was the consequences of his actions meant that he should be willing to pay the price.

However, I think that while we must debate about moral or philosophical points, at the end we must have a more practical view point and act on the basis of that rather than some philosophical debate.

To eric,

Hmm, my recollection of these points are rather vague as I read philosophical works as recreation only and quite a while ago.

However, just because you have those rights with a absence of government, does not imply that those rights are still in force with a government. They are only rights in the sense that nobody is around to interfere with these rights since nobody is around in the first place. With the coming of a government, and the agreement that certain rights shall be void under certain conditions, these “rights” then no longer exist.

Since you have already agreed to these new viewpoints, namely that certain rights are voided under certain conditions, by your very act of joining the society in question, you cannot then reject actions undertaken to enforce the rules. If you choose not to agree, then you should not be a part of this society which does. Accordingly, you should seek admission in another society and leave your current one. By entering our airport with the “no drugs over … grams, or you shall be executed” message playing over the airplane’s public address system, I think it is fair to say that he agreed to our society’s rules and give up his “rights” under this agreement while within our borders.

As for your final point, I believe I address it in the above passage. Collective will shall be held supreme as as an individual you have agreed to subject yourself to this collective will by fact that you have joined this society of your own free will, which is true since you have not choose to leave.

As for your final point, I

As for your final point, I believe I address it in the above passage. Collective will shall be held supreme as as an individual you have agreed to subject yourself to this collective will by fact that you have joined this society of your own free will, which is true since you have not choose to leave.

This is a common myth that people believe, so don't feel too bad that it's pure nonsense. I guess black slaves should have meekly submitted to their masters since by "joining" the society via slave ships they somehow agreed to it, right? It might be fun to make-believe that people have all somehow chosen to consent to whatever crazy ideas Singapore's governing officials have merely by walking around Singapore, but that's not how things actually are. It's analogous to a killer standing between you and your car with a sign reading "By crossing this line you agree that I can kill you" and then killing you.

Here's a thought experiment for you to munch on (paraphrased from Roderick Long's talk): When person A crosses over onto an area owned by person B, there's generally an expectation that A has to do whatever B says. For example, I can invite you over to my apartment with the rule that anyone inside my apartment must wear a funny hat (it may be a dumb rule to make, but I can do it). It wouldn't be just for you to just sort of hang around and not wear that hat. But now suppose that you're sitting in your apartment when you get a knock on the door, and I present myself and say "Here, you've got to wear the funny hat." When you ask why, I respond that you've agreed to wear the funny hat by moving in next door to me, and that "If you choose not to agree, then you should not be a part of this society which does."

However, I think that while we must debate about moral or philosophical points, at the end we must have a more practical view point and act on the basis of that rather than some philosophical debate.

I think the problem here is that taking a "practical view" (whatever that means) can be used to justify just about anything, and so you're incoherent when you say that's the basis we should act on. What you or I should act on is what each of us deems to be true, not whatever is "practical" (whatever that means).

well, we have actively

well, we have actively choose to join this soceity. we are not forced to, as are your slaves. in any case, the truth is that an overwhelming majority agrees with an overwhelming protion of our rules and the minority that does not should abide by the rules since they are a) not entirely unreasonable and b) since most people agree to do so and these minority have not made any violent protests.

when i say practical i mean that we should act on principles and ideals while keeping in mind reality. that pure ideals may not always be practical, that compromise might be necessary. that as such, ideals should be modified to enable it to be carried out in our world instead of expecting reality to change to suit our ideals.

John Smith, Aside from the

John Smith,

Aside from the natural rights discussion (which side I'm on you can probably guess) I wanted to talk about the specific criminal act Nguyen was found guilty of. If the government imprisons someone for murder, that's not so bad. But I don't think drug use is that harmful, i.e. it's not a crime in the first place, so punishing someone for it is unjustified. I'm not sure exactly how many doses of heroin 396.2g makes, but it's not like some orphan was going to inject it all at once. I don't have direct personal knowledge of the effects of heroin use, but from the people I know who do, I've seen that it's entirely possible to do it responsibly. Without overdosing or getting addicted, I mean.

unfortunatly, responible use

unfortunatly, responible use is not something one would normally associate wth drug addicts. that is why they are called drug addicts. i rather doubt that they can control themselves. the end of it is that they would prob do some rather serious damage to themselves. and we dun want that. so we deter them with death. true, the case is prob clearer with a murder and rape of a nun. but we have to draw the line somewhere. and for us, it is across drug trafficing.

John Smith, you're going to

John Smith, you're going to have to wait for a detailed response. I'll probably follow up with a detailed response on my own blog and trackback to here, since this going to be lengthy and it makes more sense to put it there. That said, a few quick points.

1. I'm an advocate for compromise on ideals when necessary to come closer to the ideal. You, apparently, are an advocate for compromising ideals when necessary to achieve what you deem good for society, regardless of whether you more closely approach adhering to a moral principle, or not. Please explain how this position is, in any realistic fashion, different from that of the German fascists or Russian communists?

2. Your argument about agreeing to the collective rules of a society falls apart upon closer inspection. Indeed, if I willing travel to Singapore then I accept Singapore's rules. On that point you are correct. But, the act of being born and raised in a society does not indicate active acceptance of that society's rules. That is one of the main points of the Declaration of Independence. The barriers to leaving your native society, generally, are so high today (since there are no frontiers like we had in the past) that it can no longer be argued that staying constitutes acceptance. If it is not possible for me to leave, then it becomes difficult to argue that I really agree with those rules. Instead, I tolerate them because I have no reasonable choice.

3. Majority does not imply morality. Just because the majority of Singapore's citizens agree to something does not make it right. The majority of German citizens liked what Hitler was doing in the 1930's. Did that make it right? The majority of whites in the southern United States liked black slavery. Did that make it right?

1) i did not say it differs

1) i did not say it differs from their position. i do not know if they do, since my history classes are long behind me. but if you say there are, then lets take your word for it. in any case, i think giving a name to your ideals is rather irriating. like it is mine ideals. i didn't take it from somebody else. so why be so concerned over what name to call it?

2) well, it is really a matter of degree, isn't it? if you truly wish to leave you can do so. therefore if you dun, one may assume that you are not all that opposed to our ideals, after all. anyway, what barriers to leaving? you can leave any time you wish. our border guards certainly would not stop you.

3) i did not say majority rule is right. i said majority rule is not that bad, considering that the rules are not that unreasonable. therefore, aside from being the will of the people, they should also be rightous. as for how to determine that, well that is really up to everybody.

Well I figured it was worth

Well I figured it was worth a try, but as usual the reasonable response falls on deaf ears.

well, we have actively choose to join this soceity. we are not forced to, as are your slaves.

Lol, well then I guess Jews in WWII Germany should have submitted meekly as well right, since they had "joined the Nazi society"? And how do you know van Nguyen chose to join "Singaporean society"? You guys have psychic powers or something?

unfortunatly, responible use

unfortunatly, responible use is not something one would normally associate wth drug addicts. that is why they are called drug addicts. i rather doubt that they can control themselves. the end of it is that they would prob do some rather serious damage to themselves. and we dun want that. so we deter them with death.

Well at least you guys are honest about your brutality. Ever stopped to think that treating drug users as evil pariahs and killing them might itself contribute to the "serious damage" in the first place? No, I suppose you wouldn't...

John Smith raises a very

John Smith raises a very interesting point, one which anarcho-capitalists would do well to consider deeply.

Anarcho-capitalists generally assume that in AnCapTopia, market pressures would tend to make the various competing legal systems broadly libertarian. I submit that at least in some cases, perhaps even most, that would not be so. Societies would form that would be very authoritarian, with stern punishments for their members that violate the rules. The overall system, i.e. the collection of all legal systems, would itself be libertarian since everyone would be free to choose the legal system they preferred.

Suppose that property rights in land were widely recognized. Suppose that a wealthy man bought a sizable piece of property (say, the island of Singapore) and established his own legal system and enforcement agency. Suppose that his legal system said "anyone on or entering my property with drugs will be killed."

If the property had been justly obtained, and if anyone on his property were free to leave, and if no one were forced to enter it, would the execution of someone who entered his property with drugs be morally defensible? Would it be more morally defensible if no one was allowed to enter the property unless they first signed a contract agreeing to be bound by the property owner's legal system?

Also I couldn't resist

Also I couldn't resist posting one more time. This is hilarious:

the end of it is that they would prob do some rather serious damage to themselves. and we dun want that. so we deter them with death.

They're going to harm themselves... so you deter them with death? Yup, that'll sure keep them from harming themselves...

If the property had been

If the property had been justly obtained, and if anyone on his property were free to leave, and if no one were forced to enter it, would the execution of someone who entered his property with drugs be morally defensible? Would it be more morally defensible if no one was allowed to enter the property unless they first signed a contract agreeing to be bound by the property owner’s legal system?

Well the first question is easy to answer: Let's imagine the wealthy man owns a small house, and you accidentally trample the petunias in the front yard, for which the homeowner has declared merits death. Would it then be moral to kill you? It sounds silly, but this is the crux of the question.

The second question is a little more difficult; like voluntary slavery contracts, I don't think "death contracts" (for want of a better term) are really meaningful contracts, since they seem to involve alienating your right to life from yourself. I don't have a really good argument against voluntary slavery contracts, however, so I'm not too sure.

well, it is really a matter of degree, isn’t it? if you truly wish to leave you can do so. therefore if you dun, one may assume that you are not all that opposed to our ideals, after all. anyway, what barriers to leaving? you can leave any time you wish. our border guards certainly would not stop you.

Suppose I come to your house every day and rape you. I then defend this action by saying that 1) your discomfort is "only a matter of degree", and 2) since you haven't left your house yet, you can't be very opposed to my "rape ideals" after all, and that 3) you can leave your neighborhood anytime you want, since the neighborhood watch won't stop you. By your argument then I have done nothing wrong.

Stefan: nicely illustrative

Stefan: nicely illustrative case. I think I'd agree that in the first case, the property owner would be acting immorally. I'd even go so far as to say it would be true even if the petunia-trampling were intentional, and in fact even if the trampler intentionally commited trespass in order to intentionally trample the precious petunias. The three actions (trespass, trampling, and killing) are all immoral but not equivalent, and the first two do not justify the last one.

So let's make it interesting. Would a contract saying "I agree to be killed if I stomp on your petunias" be valid? I think the analogy to slave-contracts is a good one...

Even more interesting. Assuming it would be valid, to what degree can the notice and/or consent be implied rather than explicit before it's no longer valid? If I put a Big Frickin' Sign over my petunias is that good enough, assuming I can show that you clearly saw and understood the sign and that you took some affirmative action, such as entering my property?

Not that I want to turn this into a Contracts 101 course or anything... but I think a lot of the morality of Anarcho-Capitalism hinges on such matters. Specifically - when is it morally just to impose your legal system upon others? Or is Anarcho-Capitalism a purely consequentialist notion, unsupportable using moral standards such as natural rights?

More interesting still: if

More interesting still: if "death contracts" are immoral and/or invalid, then by what means would any system of law acquire validity over any person? Even if I deliberately chose (and paid for!) the laws and protective services of EddieLand, Inc, how could those laws ever be justly enforced against me if my agreement to their consequences - up to and including death, which by necessity must be part of any arrangement backed up by force - is itself not just?

So let’s make it

So let’s make it interesting. Would a contract saying “I agree to be killed if I stomp on your petunias” be valid? I think the analogy to slave-contracts is a good one…

Right, both kinds of "contracts" involve agreeing to let someone else imprison/beat/kill you if you don't do what they want, also referred to as "involuntary servitude" in the less extreme cases. My intuition is that this isn't really a valid contract because it's not related to scarcity; that is, if you think contracts only exist to establish title to certain definite material objects (which are scarce) then contracts that don't negotiate some kind of allocation or alotment of scarce resources aren't valid.

Heck I can make the scenario even more ludicrous; we all agree that limbs, organs, etc can be bought and sold under libertarianism, but suppose you make a "brain contract" with the petunia owner to trade him some of your frontal lobe for cash to facillitate his research on why people like petunias. It seems like in this kind of territory we've ventured far beyond what contracts are supposed to do, and the best argument I can think of (that's not utilitarian) is that such practices violate one of the assumptions of justice, namely that we are all independent physical entities with equal dignity and status.

Even more interesting. Assuming it would be valid, to what degree can the notice and/or consent be implied rather than explicit before it’s no longer valid? If I put a Big Frickin’ Sign over my petunias is that good enough, assuming I can show that you clearly saw and understood the sign and that you took some affirmative action, such as entering my property?

This part is actually not as interesting in my opinion; the scenario you posit is wild, even for libertarian fantasy-land. Implicit contracts exist legitimately when there's an almost universal knowledge of what they say (that's why you owe the restaurant owners money after a meal; virtually every living adult in north america understands that contract), but otherwise don't. That's what motivated the above example (due to Roderick Long) about someone "implicitly" agreeing to wear the funny hat by moving in next door. Unfortunately while they are usually easy to recognize in personal interactions, people like John Smih here think all sorts of crazy implicit contracts apply once you start talking about governments.

Stefan is right on target

Stefan is right on target with the "crazy implicit contracts" point. I suspect that John Smith would tell us that it is immoral to rebel against the Singaporean government if a citizen finds them oppressive. Because the citizen, purely through the act of being born and living in Singapore, has consented to a social contract that allows the government of Singapore (or EricLand, for that matter) to take such actions as the government may deem appropriate to maintain law and order, regardless of what may be considered moral. The interesting part is the seeming refusal to recognize that his "practical" arguments are indistiguishable from arguments made by Fascists and Communists throughout the 20th century.

Why of course; how else

Why of course; how else would the fascists and communists have succeeded so well if people didn't already believe for the most part that "the government is always right" to the point of religious belief? When I was reading "The Gulag Archipelago", what struck me as most incredible was not the Stalinist brutality, but Solhenitzyn's reactions to it. Often he would go from lucidity about the evils of state oppression to wistful admiration of the glorious Motherland, etc, sometimes on the same page!

All of this condescending

All of this condescending morality does absolutely dog-sh!t to remove the fact -

If I kill someone intentionally in Texas, I face the death penalty. That is their law. :behead:

If I am caught with drugs in Singapore, I face the death penalty. That is their law. :behead:

It does not make the law moral.

The perceived lack of morality does not entitle outside interference in the laws of either country.

The last vestiges of the death penalty (for treason) in NZ was removed in the 1960's. If it had not been repealed I would be campaigning for its removal on the grounds that it is an immoral law.

If NZ has no legal equivalent to RKBA, does that give Americans the right to insist that NZ should have such a law? No more than an American might accept that I could promote RKBA as being immoral.

I have considerable sympathy for the Singaporean's POV. He (like me) might not have the same world view as the other inhabitants of this space - those like Eric for example. I for one would not be at all happy having to accept his idea of morality, particularly if it were imposed by force majeur. Sorry Eric, that does not make me an immoral person.

The perceived lack of

The perceived lack of morality does not entitle outside interference in the laws of either country.

Sure it does. If group X in area Y is slaughtering peaceful Christians, then it's moral to sneak them out to a different location. If group Z in area W is raping and torturing women for walking unveiled, then it's moral to help them escape too. What do you think morals are if they have no connection to action?

To Stefan: For the Jews in

To Stefan: For the Jews in Germany, I would say that they are partly at fault for their own deaths. Do understand that just like most people I am against Nazi and I regret that they died. But they should have left as soon as things looked like they were going against them. Many Jews did leave ahead of the death camps when the Nazi being building up in their hate crimes. Now then, I am not saying that morally they deserve to die. They had a right not to be killed out of hand. So no matter what they die, what happen to them was wrong. But on a practical non-moral viewpoint, they were dumb. They should have gotten out as soon as they could

And we know to an absolute certainty that van choose to join Singapore society. He stepped across the border, didn’t he? With the “we will execute you if you take drugs” message playing on the plane? Come on. In this particular question, there can hardly be a doubt. If he felt that he could not agree to such a society, then before leaving the plane, just tell the officials. I am reasonably certain we could let him go without harming him.

Not exactly correct. We only execute the drug traffickers. Not the addicts themselves. The addicts we sent them for treatment. We dun execute them. Kind of defeats the purpose. I think you misunderstand my sentence. Maybe cos I didn’t write it clearly.

That is incorrect. I did not agree to be in a society that rapes people freely. Therefore, you cannot rape people freely. You as a private citizen certainly do not have to right to enforce any contract of any sort. But even if it is the government, to rape people for no valid reason would be wrong. And we should stop such a government.

To Eddie: I would say that yes, the rich owner of the property would tend have absolute right of rule over all being within his realm, assuming that it is legal under the country he is in and that it is clearly understood by the being entering his realm. Similar to the rule of the captain at sea. I would remove an evil government because the people do not owe it to said government to let them rule. The government serves the people, not the other way another. If govt fails, then remove them. However, we do owe it to the owner to let him do whatever he wants on property. Because he owns the land by working hard. It belongs to him.

The people dun belong to the government. The government belongs to the people.

The owner does not belong to the land. The land belongs to the owner.

To Eric: I have said that I do not deny that I am a fascist. I am not sure if that is the correct term for my thoughts, but I would accept the term if it is fitting. Let me put it this way. If fascist think what we I said, then ok. I am a fascist. Does that satisfy you?

Hmm. Actually I would not support revolt. I would rather changes be made to the system from within or by leaving. But if the government of Singapore one day became truly oppressive and evil, then I would not be against revolt either. It is just that I dun think that would happen.

To all: I would say that the level of acknowledgment would have to be very high for it to be valid. In this case, it is. People know exactly what are the relevant laws pertaining to their actions. It is widely known, and basically universal. Therefore, I would say that the high burden of “prove” is there. In a way, by not objecting to the said laws, the people agree to them.

Now, in the case where the said laws are truly unjust and evil, then logically they should be changed. Through voting out the current government, peaceful protests and such. However, if the government were to undertake oppressive action to prevent this, then clearly the government has betrayed it citizens and the social contract between them. Accordingly, the government is evil and must be overthrown.

While the implicit contracts are reasonably held to be valid most of the time, if the implicit contracts are not reasonable and are unjust, then one should try to change them. I do not support implicit contracts at all costs. If they are not normal reasonable rules that simply help us to get by, but brutal insane laws, then they should be changed. So let me make it clear again that I do not support implicit contracts no matter what.

As for what is considerable reasonable or not, that is for every individual.

To Stefan: For the Jews in

To Stefan: For the Jews in Germany, I would say that they are partly at fault for their own deaths. Do understand that just like most people I am against Nazi and I regret that they died. But they should have left as soon as things looked like they were going against them.

That's irrelevant to the question of whether the Nazis were justified in killing them "because they joined Nazi society". Sure you could leave your house to escape a murderer, but it's not a requirement of justice.

And we know to an absolute

And we know to an absolute certainty that van choose to join Singapore society. He stepped across the border, didn’t he?

No, "we" don't. Your imaginary "Singaporean society" doesn't have the authority to kill peaceful traders.

That is incorrect. I did not

That is incorrect. I did not agree to be in a society that rapes people freely.

How do you know? The terms of the "Singaporean society contract" seem to change a lot depending on whatever you feel like they should be, huh?

for the jews issue, i have

for the jews issue, i have stated in later parts that yes, it would be incorrect for the government to engage in grossly injust actions as killing the jews are. therefore it is immoral.

you didn't answer my question either. he stepped across the border freely? yes? i take it that he bought the airplane ticket and came here of his own free will? he must also have understood the relveant laws regarding drugs in my country given that it is required for the plane to broadcast them prior to arrival. therefore, when he choose not to object to them and indeed willfully enter the country, knowing full well the laws as they stand, he has agreed to come under the governance of the laws, particularly given that the laws were not grossly injust and evil, seeing as they serve to prevent drug abuse, a likely occurance should he sucess in distributing the illegial drug. therefore, he is executed in accord with the law when caught.

would you support a total absense of laws simply because we all should have unlimited rights?

i know becuase our government does not condone raping people nor is it done freely by citizens. therefore one can reasonably understand that rape people is not agreeable to people.

as for my understanding what my soceity entails, that is precisely what it is. my understanding. other citizens may or may not agree with me. but i see that most people agree in general with the principles of our laws as they stand.

if you are saying that i do not stick to a consistant arguement, which i do not know whether you are, then i would say that one should adopt to new information. given that the suggestion of gorssly evil and unjust laws under a social contract has been put forth, obviously i would have to clarify my position on that, namely that social contract does not make right grossly evil and unjust laws.

lastly, i would ask that you have a care in your respect for others. you seem to have a angry and hostile tone in your statement. there is no need for such. if you disagree with my positions, then so be it. there is no need nor gain from getting into a fury. have i?

would you support a total

would you support a total absense of laws simply because we all should have unlimited rights?

I never said I wanted an absence of law; what I'd like to see is just law.

there is no need nor gain from getting into a fury. have i?

For heaven's sake man, you're advocating killing people for engaging in peaceful, non-aggressive activities. You're damn right that makes me mad. It's called righteous anger, something it would seem people don't have enough of these days.

i feel that your idea of

i feel that your idea of just law is effectivel no law at all. if you are going to so restrict the powers of the government that it cannot effectively act, then what laws are there?

and yes, i certainly would kill people for engaging in these "peaceful, non-aggresive" activites because they harm people indirectly. you would not. i would.

and yes, i certainly would

and yes, i certainly would kill people for engaging in these “peaceful, non-aggresive” activites because they harm people indirectly. you would not. i would.

More's the pity.