By Dan Greene
So Morrissey has cancelled a gig in Iceland because the venue refused to comply with his demand that all meat be removed from the building (he’s done this before also) and it seems that he demands this from all the venues where he performs. Now I liked The Smiths and some of Morrissey’s solo stuff but as soon as I heard about these insane demands he makes, it immediately made me think of those statists on the left and the right who just love having things banned that they disagree with – without realising how dangerous this really is.
How many times have you heard “There should be a law against that type of thing!” or “If I was in charge that would be banned!” or something similar? I don’t care whether you are on the left demanding that certain words and smoking in public be banned or are on the right screaming for drugs or gay marriage to be made (or remain depending on where you are) illegal. We should not be asking governments to ban things just because we don’t like them, that is very dangerous.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people should just do whatever they want. There are things like murder, rape and theft (in all it’s forms) that must have some kind of consequences for the perpetrator. However, if I use marijuana at home for recreational purposes who am I harming? You might say that I am the victim, well so what? If my smoking marijuana were to lead to some form of physical ailment then it’s only myself that I am hurting – that is my choice and mine alone. Or you could take the case of smoking cigarettes in public places, you might say that the victims are all the people who inhale the second hand smoke. Well then don’t go to those places, there is a market for establishments for all smoking, all non-smoking and sections for both.
These matters should not be for governments to decide they should be for the owners of the property (I use property here not only to refer to one’s justly acquired buildings, possessions etc. but one’s own body also) and their decision alone. By letting a bunch of people that a percentage (not all) of the public voted for make these decisions is basically handing all your power and liberty to someone else to manage for you and saying “We unwashed masses cannot be trusted to do things on our own. But you, our wise government sages should choose what is legal and illegal.” When you ask a government to ban something you are giving away some of the control you have over your life to these elected gangsters and playing right into their hands. You have less control and they have more and that’s just how they like it.
The funny thing is that prohibition never actually works. Murray Rothbard remarked in “For A New Liberty” about gambling prohibition that “If every time Jim and Jack made a quiet bet on a football game, or on an election, or on virtually anything else, this were illegal, an enormous multimillion-man gestapo would be required to enforce such a law and to spy on everyone and ferret out every bet¹ .” You can also look at when alcohol was banned in the US in the 1920’s and early 30’s, all that served to do was give gangsters like Al Capone a lucrative market. Many drugs are banned here in the UK officially but are freely available on many street corners and as a result of the prohibition are much more expensive than they would be if people could produce them legally which leads to more crime, which Walter Block explained in his 1976 book “Defending the Undefendable”. Black market drugs are also more dangerous because the suppliers are unaccountable and can mix in whatever crap they like with their drugs. Can you imagine if a public company sold intentionally bad ecstasy that killed hundreds of people? The proprietors would go out of business, be charged with murder and possibly lynched.
How is Morrissey being harmed in any way, shape or form if I eat a burger somewhere in the sea of people at one of his gigs? It would be unlikely he could even see, hear or smell me unless I was right in front of him. We’re back to the property rights thing here, those arenas are someone else’s property and in my view an outsider like Morrissey has no right telling them what they can and cannot do on their own property. Sure, Morrissey has a right to refuse to be there (which he has) but I’m sure there are many other venues that would love to have him play and would pander to his vegetarian impulses. The vegetarian stuff actually doesn’t bother me (I was one for about a year) it’s this idea that people who like his music have to agree with his ethical stance. It just strikes me as the type of thing politicians do when they don’t like something and there is any kind of appetite in the public to ban said thing. It becomes an opportunity not only for more control but also to push one persons world view coercively onto others. What right does anyone have to tell consenting adults who are not harming anyone what they can and can’t do? None whatsoever.
If we continue allowing governments to ban things that are not actual crimes with actual victims then it will continue to grow out of control and become more invasive in everyone’s life. If we just respected the property rights of others and stopped worrying about what consenting adults who are hurting no-one do (no matter how much we disapprove) then we could stop giving government the increased control it craves.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of stuff I really don’t like and don’t want to be around but as long as it’s not coercive or harmful to be or anyone else I really don’t care. I will choose to be somewhere else more to my taste. I would never go appealing to government to take away some of your freedom because I don’t like your activities or lifestyle choices and I hope you wouldn’t do the same to me. If we keep banning things then I shudder to think of the state of liberty in twenty years.
¹ Murray Rothbard “For A New Liberty” Second Edition Pg. 134