Pot, Porn and Prostitution – 3 Ps

scales-of-justice-pot-porn-protitutionThere are three parameters that I think define the level of freedom we actually enjoy. I call them the ‘3 Ps’.

They are Pot, Porn and Prostitution. Why have I chosen these three? Well, it’s not a recent thing, and I have thought about it for years.

I could use transgender rights, since, as readers will be aware, this is an area that concerns me deeply; but while we will certainly discuss these, the issue is too specific. I could use women’s rights but that’s the opposite: too vague — and in any case the 3Ps allow us to consider this question. I could use taxation but goodness me, everyone has a different view.

Separation of Church and State? Yeah, but again, too vague. Children’s rights? The same. Treatment of ethnic minorities — which ones? And how?

I wanted a small number, not more than three, of very specific measures that had certain things in common.

The first was that they had to be, or have been until recently, illegal. You can’t measure whether a culture is open by measuring what it permits; you measure it by the things it does not.

At the same time, the measures had either be things that caused no harm or only caused harm to those who, in full knowledge, took part or indulged in the activity in review. It is no part of government’s remit to save us from ourselves.

I can, quite legally, go into my garage right now and start up a motorcycle capable of 170 mph (272kph), and then go out and burn serious rubber. This is a lethal machine. Killing myself on it would be a lot easier than by smoking pot, masturbating or having sex. Trust me.

I can go off into the woods around here with no supplies or emergency kit — nobody would stop me. I can do the same in the Scottish Highlands or the Alps, where there is a very good chance of getting in serious trouble, maybe even dying. I could — and did — sail my yacht round Scotland, through treacherous, open seas. Nobody would even think of trying to prevent me and these things are all more dangerous than the measures I have chosen.

I can freely use alcohol, which is proven to be addictive and causes liver disease. I can stand on a ladder and prune my climbing rose. I can use a chainsaw to cut up fuel — have you any idea what a chainsaw can do to a person?

Government does not ordinarily attempt to protect us from our own stupidity. So the measures chosen must ask the question ‘Why is government involved with this at all?’

Finally, the measures had to be controversial. There’s no point in a measure that doesn’t inspire debate, or in one that doesn’t divide society, between those who believe in regulation for its own sake, and those who believe in freedom as long as it harms no-one. This is the balance, you see, and this is the question we must ask: are the powers of the State, through law, being used to prohibit activities that either harm no-one, or are no more dangerous or harmful than other activities that it does permit?

I think the 3 Ps, Pot, Porn and Prostitution, address this. They are a reliable barometer. They afford us a good measure of how authoritarian our elected representatives, who, after all, are meant to be working for us, are being, and they allow us to ask which forces are they actually acting for. They are a good measure of how the will of the minority is being forced on the majority. There are others, certainly, but the 3Ps are clear and concise and they produce interesting results.

Some of the argument will be controversial. People might be offended.

Stand by for the first, Pot.

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Copyright 2015 Rod Fleming's World

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