Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do
THIS BOOK IS BASED on a single idea: You should be allowed to do whatever you want with your own person and property, as long as you don’t physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other.
Thus begins a book that everyone interested in politics should read; Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Country by Peter McWilliams. Published in 1998, it is a damning survey of how the United States had become a state composed of “clergymen with billy-clubs”. It analyzes the consequences of punishing so-called victimless crimes from numerous viewpoints, demonstrating that regardless of what you think is the most important organizing principle or purpose of society the investigation, prosecution and punishment of these non-crimes is harmful to society.
This remarkable book is now posted online, and if one can bear to wade through the awful website design, one will find lots of thought-provoking worthwhile commentary, analysis, theory and history.
His final chapter, on how to change the system, while consisting mainly of pie-in-the-sky, ineffective suggestions of working within the system, starts of with an extremely good bit of advice that I urge all our readers to try:
The single most effective form of change is one-on-one interaction with the people you come into contact with day-by-day. The next time someone condemns a consensual activity in your presence, you can ask the simple question, “Well, isn’t that their own business?” Asking this, of course, may be like hitting a beehive with a baseball bat, and it may seem—after the commotion (and emotion) has died down—that attitudes have not changed. If, however, a beehive is hit often enough, the bees move somewhere else. Of course, you don’t have to hit the same hive every time. If all the people who agree that the laws against consensual crimes should be repealed post haste would go around whacking (or at least firmly tapping) every beehive that presented itself, the bees would buzz less often.
I highly recommend this book. Even though I have some pretty fundamental disagreements with some of his proposals, I think that this book is a fine addition to the bookshelf of any advocate of freedom and civilization.
Hat Tip: J.D. Tuccille of Disloyal Opposition.