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Our Right To Drugs: The Case for a Free Market Paperback – April 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The War on Drugs, as Dr. Szasz so carefully shows, is nothing less than a Jihad, a Holy War waged by the forces of reaction and restriction in our society against all those who think that there should be peaceful choice, or self-ownership, or genuine free thought. And like all Holy Wars, this one permits the worst atrocities to be visited on the unbelieving because they are not just wrong - they are evil.
Like many libertarians, Dr. Szasz has little use for compromise; in this case, by those who favor "decriminalization" or "medicalization" of psychoactive drugs. Such people, the author shows, will only end up replacing the current Ayatollahs (cops and ex-generals) with a new Inquisition lead by doctors and psychologists. In the world of physician-monitored drug usage, instead of being evil, anyone who wants to alter his or her own mood will be labeled as "sick" - and instead of being sent to jail, they will be forced into "treatment".
In trying to think of some literary comparison to "Our Right to Drugs", I can only think of Plato's records of certain iconoclastic dialogues about ancient Athenian closemindedness. Truely, Dr. Szasz is our Socrates.
This book "cuts to the chase" as regards fundamental constitutional issues raised by laws regulating
the procurement, possession, sale, and use of drugs.
The book's most striking charge (a correct one, at that!) is that a fundamental tyranny overtook this nation about
90 years ago when "Americans" lost their property rights over their own bodies--all in the name of governmentally-controlled "truth in advertising" for drug sales.
However, this "seemingly benign" governmental goal created untold danger for the very people it was meant to
protect. Szasz rightfully puts America's so-called "drug problem" in proper perspective by suggesting that the
admonition "buyer beware" should have sufficed--for drugs, as for almost everything else.
In the most general terms, this book demonstrates that there are no shortcuts to a thorough-going approach to American Liberty and Freedom. Dr. Szasz very clearly, and effectively, corrects those who claim that drug laws be summarily repealed for any reasons other than their moral unacceptability in a free state.
Making proper analogy to the wrongful justification of the slavery of blacks in America (owing to their mischaracterization as property), Szasz makes it clear that the infringement of property rights (both of your body, and substances you might possess) lies at the heart of America's despotic and tyrannical so-called "War on Drugs.Read more ›
He ignores the distinctions between "decriminalization" and "legalization", and lumps all "legalizers" into a single category, as not being "good enough". He does not seem to realize that there is a wide spectrum of beliefs on drugs, ranging from his position, to the position that all drugs should be banned everywhere.
He is uncompromising, and this is politically defeating. Nonetheless, his position is admirable, and his idea of drugs as a "right" similiar to all other "rights" bandied about in political discourse today, is a good one.
Nice philosophy, and one I wish more accepted it, but he's too radical for today's politicians, who are still in the dark ages of social medicine.
Fear of people committing suicide easily, is Szasz's main hypothesis for why we regulate prescription and illicit drugs the way we do in America today.
This book is good for convincing one that drugs should be legalized, but it is no help for accomplishing that feat politically.
Szasz states in the Preface to this 1992 book, "everything that I say in this book is premised on my contention that in today's American society there are two kinds of diseases and two kinds of treatments. The first kind of disease, exemplified by AIDS, is discovered by doctors; the second kind, exemplified by drug abuse, is mandated by legislators and decreed by judges."
Here are some representative quotations from the book:
"Courts now routinely order persons who use illegal drugs to attend drug treatment programs, from which mental health experts conclude that there is a huge demand for drug treatment services in our country."
"(N)o one is, or can be, killed by an illegal drug. If a person dies as a result of using a drug, it is because he CHOSE to do something risky."
"(T)here was no question, during Prohibition, of randomly testing people to determine if there was any ethanol in their system, or of searching their homes for alcohol, or of imprisoning them for possessing alcohol, or of involuntarily treating them for the disease of unsanctioned alcohol use."
"My point is simply that neither participating in the drug trade nor using drugs (legal or illegal) need be interpreted as constituting vice, crime, or disease."
"(W)e supinely accept agents of the therapeutic state monitoring our drug-using behavior, refusing to recognize that it is simply a pretext for the government's meddling in our lives."
"The gun lobby has long warned, 'When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very well written book. I have used it for research in my own writing. I recently purchase 2 copies after an attorney friend asked to keep my original book.Published 24 months ago by Kathleen Sammons
The best book ever written about the inalienable right to self-medicate. Brimming with Thomas Szasz's brilliant insights and glistening prose.Published on November 20, 2013 by N.. Martin
I purchased my first copy of OUR RIGHT TO DRUGS almost twenty years ago. I have purchased many copies since and will never be without a copy. Read morePublished on July 6, 2012 by TinsleyGreySammons