By What Standard Indeed?

Quite fortunately for Kim du Toit, he happens to be more disposed to conduct his voluntary and consensual affairs in ways that happen to be legal in Texas, and more generally, the U.S. Although, with all the traveling around he does for his gun shows, I just wonder if he edges across the legal line in any of the states he must traverse to get from one place to the other.

Not that I mind, of course. But there are sure plenty of "concerned citizens" who’d be perfectly happy to see him locked up for a good long time in order to "protect" the rest of us.

Equally, of course, others who conduct their own voluntary and consensual affairs are not so fortunate. All the while, the irony and hypocrisy seems to completely allude good ol’ Kim:

The U.S.A. leads the way with 2.2 million prisoners out of a
population of 300 million (0.73%, or over 4.5 times the world average).

Excellent. So we stick our lawbreakers in jail, rama lama ding dong.

He goes on to question the idea that prison is not efficacious in dealing with crime, asking: "Efficacy by what standard?" By which he means: a standard of rehabilitating criminals, or a standard of protecting the innocent from them?

Ok, fair enough. But he sure doesn’t continue the logic, does he? By what standard are people convicted as criminals? It’s certainly not clear harm perpetrated on others, is it? How is getting high necessarily harming others (or materially different from getting drunk)? How is producing, buying, or selling some substance necessarily harming others (or materially different from producing, fermenting, and distilling grain)? How is exchanging money for sex necessarily harming others? How about "illegal" gamblers? How about in Washington State, where you can go to jail for years for engaging in online gambling? And how about the numerous British public-company executives arrested, charged, and awaiting possible prison time for operating legal online gambling enterprises in their own countries? And what about the states where you can be locked up for the manner in which you conduct your peaceful affairs surrounding your interest in firearms…? What about that? Kim? Should I go on?

And I’m not even getting started on all the failed social programs that have literally created home-grown war zones where innocent kids are born and bred to be predators.

I recall reading a quote somewhere recently that went something like, "where there are laws, there you will have criminals." I couldn’t find a reference, but here’s one from the 6th century, B.C.

The greater the number of laws and enactments, the more thieves and robbers there will be. ~ Lao Tzu

Get it? Two-thousand, six-hundred year-old wisdom, and it’s still not enough for most people. Well, Kim du Toit is probably a generally nice guy, someone to whose care you could entrust your daughter; often gregarious, kind, and honorable. But he’s not wise, and I think that’s what this world needs. Far more than anything, this world needs wisdom — true, deep, humble, thoughtful, honest, non-politicized, non-advantage-seeking: wisdom.

I’ve actually addressed this whole issue before, but let’s refresh.

  • Over 9 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the
    world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or having been
    convicted and sentenced. About half of these are in the United States
    (2.03m), Russia (0.86m) or China (1.51m plus pre-trial detainees and
    prisoners in ‘administrative detention’).
  • The United States has the highest prison population rate in the
    world, some 701 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by
    Russia (606), Belarus (554), Kazakhstan and the U.S. Virgin Islands
    (both 522), the Cayman Islands (501), Turkmenistan (489), Belize (459),
    Bermuda (447), Suriname (437), Dominica (420) and Ukraine (415).
  • However, more than three fifths of countries (60.5%) have rates
    below 150 per 100,000. (The United Kingdom’s rate of 141 per 100,000 of
    the national population places it above the midpoint in the World List;
    it is the highest among countries of the European Union.)

Did you get that? The U.S. has 4% of the entire world’s population,
yet 22% of its prisoners. It has more people locked up than any other
country, including communist China, and it locks up more as a
percentage of the population than any other country. 701 out of every
100,000, which means you have a far greater chance of being a victim of
American enthusiasm for creating and prosecuting "crimes" than you’ll
ever, ever have for getting whacked by a terrorist. 701 out of 100k in
America. Western Europe? Less than 100, on average. If you’re a Swiss
citizen and you immigrate to the U.S., you’ve just made it 10 times
more likely that you’ll spend time in prison during your lifetime.

The awful French, right? Well, if you move there from here,
especially if you’re an inner-city black man, you’ll cut your chances
of ever going to prison by a factor of eight.

But at least we have some close company, eh? Russia. Belarus. Kazakhstan. Feel honored, Kim? Seeing as how we’re locking up about 15 times more "criminals" than Japan, and about seven times more than most of western Europe, we ought to see immense crime waves passing through those countries any day now.

I’ll expect you to gloat about it, too. Serves ’em right for not being man enough to lock more people up.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Kyle Bennett on February 1, 2007 at 08:41

    You know, Kim, that Social Compact thing, it's great. I mean that seriously, it's one of the things that makes our society what it is, and is – probably more than anything – responsible for what freedom we still have. The great thing about social compacts is that they are fluid, adaptable to conditions, and the penalty for violating them is severe, but never all or nothing. Thus they handle grey areas very effectively. And they allow for redemption.

    They're the main thing that the left is trying to undermine with things like political correctness and frivolous lawsuits.

    But the key word there is "social". It's a social compact, and thus, is enforceable *socially* – as opposed to "legal" compacts, which are enforceable legally. Get it? Mixing the two up – legislating against a social compact instead of against a legal contract, such as, say, a constitution – is indeed naked tyranny.

    The difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals want to enforce the minority's subset of existing social compacts with legislation, while conservatives want to enforce the majority's subset of existing social compacts with legislation. You've made your preferred flavor of tyranny apparent.

  2. Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2007 at 09:04


    So what's the difference between you sitting in a jail cell for engaging in civil disobedience against Apartheid in South Africa, and someone sitting in a jail cell over here for smoking dope?

    You can claim, of course, that you were working for a higher value than those who simply want to get high, and I'd agree with you.

    So, does that mean that South Africa was wrong to lock up its "criminals" but we are right, because the freedom to get high isn't a noble struggle?

    Or, should we have just applauded South Africa for having the "courage" to "lock up its 'criminals'" and not given it another thought?

    I think you know that I think you're a good person, and indeed, it's the reason I would even concern myself with this little and insignificant "project" of mine. The underlying point, here, is that the Republicans are only just barely slightly less of an enemy than the left. Basically, the Republicans don't deserve you. Not for a second.

  3. Kim du Toit on February 1, 2007 at 06:43

    "I just wonder if he edges across the legal line in any of the states he must traverse to get from one place to the other."

    Answer: never / sometimes / all the time. In other words, NOYB.

    As for the other part of your post: while I hold no high esteem for the stupid War On Drugs, it is worth noting that people imprisoned for use/possession thereof have made a conscious decision to break the law, and thus evoke little sympathy from me.

    When I lived in the city of Chicago, I used to carry a handgun ALL the time, despite the (localized) criminality of the action. Had I been arrested for that heinous crime, I would likewise have accepted culpability and refused sympathy.

    In the end, of course, I moved to a place where such behavior wasn't criminal.

    If drug ingestion is that important to folks, they may wish to move to countries where THAT activity is likewise legal. The experience would prove quite salutary, I think.

    Most people are against casual and recreational drug use because it fucks people up. Now, I appreciate that we all have a God-given right to fuck ourselves up in any way we choose, but we don't have the right to do it on the public dime (when the inevitable medical care is required).

    And yes, I also know that State-sponsored medical care is not a justifiable institution, either — but it's what we've got, and we have to live with it.

    None of this is going to resonate with you anyway, given the fact that you and your readers consider the Social Compact as naked tyranny.

    So we'll just agree to talk past each other…

  4. Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2007 at 14:35


    OK, let me attempt to tempt you, but first, I should point out that you're begging the question when you say that "A struggle against oppression does not equal the freedom to self-indulge in illegal substances." The oppression your struggling against was legal, too. By qualifying these substances as "illegal," you are putting the two issues on the same footing. They are both unjust forms of law.

    So, what you are really saying is that it's not unjust law that's the problem, but only unjust law that you happen to find important. In other words, you're not fighting for justice, but for feelings. I've got nothing against fighting for one's feelings, especially if they are based in reason, but you aren't arguing for justice on the basis of morality; only for sentiment.

    OK, suppose we compare fighting against Apartheid in South Africa (and I defer to your expertise on that topic) with the following:

    1. Only medical marijuana with demonstrated medical benefits (you may be aware that the Feds have been locking up cancer patients in CA and elsewhere in spite of state law).

    2. Going to jail in a blue state for getting caught with a concealed, loaded handgun.

    3. Being one of the many, many black men in prison in inner-cities and the south only because the prosecutors could make an easy case and the public and the juries generally operate from the premise that it's no big deal, because the guy is probably guilty of something. I trust you are aware of the increasing number of cases being overturned because of DNA, people stepping forward, and legal pro-bono work by concerned individuals.

    Well, I guess that'll do. If you are tempted, I might be able to come up with more.

  5. Kim du Toit on February 1, 2007 at 11:48

    "So, does that mean that South Africa was wrong to lock up its "criminals" but we are right, because the freedom to get high isn't a noble struggle?"

    A struggle against oppression does not equal the freedom to self-indulge in illegal substances, no matter how much you try to couch the issues under the umbrella of "freedom".

    It's when libertarians conflate issues like this that would-be sympathizers (like me) roll their eyes, and move on.

    Find another comparison, and I'll be tempted to discuss the issue further.

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