If wishes were horses, beggars would ride

There’s been a rather entertaining exchange going on in the comments of my Drug War Victims page. One of the interesting characters visiting that page is Jake, a real gung-ho drug warrior who referred to the victims as “sh*tbags” and thanked God for Nixon creating the DEA.
I think Kaptinemo is having way too much fun debating him.
Jake recently posted:

So then… what’s your solution guys? You want drugs to be legal? Okay. Let’s make all other crimes legal too. You know, i don’t think stealing should be a crime. Just because we don’t like a law… doesn’t mean we should just disgard it.

That paragraph would be a great one for a class studying logical fallacies. The Kaptin points out that Jake is guilty of conflation (combining disparate items into one). The statement also fits into the Ignoratio Elenchi fallacy (as do many drug warrior arguments) — arguing something completely irrelevant, or to an irrelevant thesis. [I thought about referring to red herring, but that often implies intentional misdirection. Aristotle referred to Ignoratio Elenchi as ignorance of what makes a refutation, which seems appropriate for Jake.] There are, I believe, two Ignoratio Elenchi arguments in Jake’s single statement. Can you find them?
Of course, such a ridiculous argument is also fun to counter in reverse:

  • Why not have a 2 year minimum prison sentence for parking meter violations?
  • Why not have no-knock guns-drawn middle-of-the-night raids for suspected tax fraud?
  • Why not seize the cars of those who exceed the speed limit?
  • Why not bust people for possession of Twinkies? (Do you want your children raised in a world where people get fat from eating Twinkies?)

There’s another ignorant response I often see on bulletin boards when I’m wandering around the net (bringing us to the title of this post).
Someone in the discussion will rationally talk about how we can reduce violence, corruption, cost, overdoses, disease, etc. by ending the drug war. And then some Jake will say:

It seems to me that you would eliminate all the problems of the drug war if everybody just stopped making, selling, and using drugs.

Sigh. Yes, that’s true. And if wishes were horses…
Perhaps you have the ability to change the course of the stars in the sky. Because unless you do, the notion of completely eliminating drug use is a fantasy — a fiction, and has no place in a rational discussion.
This means the debate has to start with: “Given the fact that there will always be some people who make, sell, and use drugs regardless of what we do, what should our policy be?”
When you start to look at the realities of the arguments, and toss away the irrelevancies and impossibilities, then you’ll generally find that drug policy reform is the only logical approach that you can take.
I think that part of the reason that people resort to the arguments of ignorance is that they can’t handle the thought of “druggies winning.” They have decided that certain drugs are bad and those who use certain drugs are also bad. Therefore, those bad druggies must suffer. Then someone comes along and calmly and logically explains how ending prohibition would solve all sorts of problems, and a circuit in their head explodes. “But… but…” they whine in their head, “but… that would mean that the druggies would win! NOOOO!”
And they promptly yell “Well, why don’t you just legalize murder while you’re at it?”

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