Why do YOU feel you have the right to dictate what one does in their social life?

So many people feel that it is their duty, obligation, whatever to tell people who they can have sex with or what they can put into their veins, whether or not they can spend their money for sex or on a deck of cards.

So why do YOU feel that such an attitude is reasonable? What justification do you have for telling people that homosexuality, drug use, gambling or prostitution is wrong?


I feel I have the right to tell people what they shouldn’t do, if that course of action seems likely to result in harm to innocent or unconsenting third parties, otherwise knock yourself out!

Who are you asking? Cuz, I don’t.

In principle, social choices are individual, and harm only the chooser; in practice, the aggregate choices of individuals have an effect on everyone, and can do some harm to people wouldn’t choose the same way. You might think that patronizing prostitutes is an individual choice, but when my property values go down because my neighbourhood becomes a known cruising spot for hookers, it’s no longer a perfectly individual choice, is it? Likewise, when my kids can’t play in the park across the street because it’s littered with needles and burnt spoons, your choice to kill yourself with heroin isn’t so limited to yourself, is it?

Living peacably in proximity to one another involves a certain sacrifice of individual liberty. I can’t smoke in restaurants where I live, but I accept that as the price of my community.

I don’t have this problem but I really think it is simply that they are jealous because they are too uptight to try those things and “by god, if I can’t do it then neither can you, so stop enjoying yourself”

Its really none of anyones gosh darn buisness what anyone else does unless it directly effects them in a negative way.

For example a husband may not want his wife to be a prostitute b/c there may be a chance he catches something from her.

A wife may not want her husband to gamble b/c there is a chance she may end up homeless b/c of his problem (if there is one)

etc. etc.

So you’re saying that people who are opposed to homosexuality secretly want to have gay sex? People who oppose prostitution really want to pay for sex? People who oppose pornography like to look at pictures of naked chicks? Gambling opponents are closet Vegas-hounds? You realize how silly this suggestion is, right?

People oppose the social habits of others for different reasons. Sometimes, it’s a morality thing - doing X contributes to the Great Downfall of Society. Sometimes, its the secondary harm that may result - the needles-in-the-park example give above. There are a number of reasons, few of which have anything to do with jealousy.

I don’t know. I just learned from a television commercial that pot has 4 times the cancer-causing tar of the average cigarette.


What I don’t understand is why we don’t just let natural selection take place. Like George Carlin once said, “The kid who swallows too many marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own!”

I say we let these people do whatever they want IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR OWN HOME. So long as nobody else gets hurt, let 'em kill themselves one joint/line/needle at a time.

Funny, I thought this thread was going to be about people who read Left Behind novels, or learn to speak Klingon…

There’s virtually no such as a perfectly private choice in a community, unless you’re really obsessive about privacy. If you masturbate thrice daily over the sump in your home, that really doesn’t affect me. But if you buy drugs, that supports the drug trade, which definitely has a large-scale effect; likewise, prostitutes. Buy a weekly stroke mag, and the pornography industry persists. Keep a lot of loaded guns around the house, and one of your children might accidentally pop a cap into mine while they’re in their respective back yards.

That doesn’t mean I want to ban all, or even any of those things. But the idea that one’s “social life” has only individual effect is simply wrong. To the extent it affects me, I have some proportional right to a say in that choice.

I don’t care what anyone does-- as long as they don’t do it in the street and scare the horses.

hansel: Well all of your examples can just as well be attributed to the prohibition of said actions as it can be attributed to the actual actions themselves.

If drugs were legitimate people wouldn’t be hiding in the park.

If prostitution were legal women wouldn’t be selling themselves on the street corner.

However, I don’t want to say that’s not a valid point, as I did start this thread to get peoples real world reaction, nor that both problems would be completely and totally solved by an end to prohibition.


I make no conclusions on what should be done with the specific issues you raise (prostitution, drugs). I’m only observing that there’s a general justification for everyone else to get involved in your personal decisions to the same degree that those decisions have a wider effect, which most decisions do.


You might have a more lively debate if you specified that you were talking about making laws against these activities as opposed to just “telling” people not to do them. Not sure if that’s what you’re original intent was or not. Frankly, I’d be in favor of legalizing all 4 examples you gave.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

*No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. *

Your problem there is not drugs but littering. I wouldn’t want to see a park full of used tampons, but I wouldn’t support a law banning menstruation either.

I didn’t say I support banning drugs. In fact, I think that the war on drugs is a screaming failure. But surely you see the difference to my kids between the litter from, say, smokers or menstruators, and the litter from heroin junkies. You don’t get AIDS from a cigarette butt someone dropped.

I think it is because deep down inside a lot of people are self important little pricks. They seem to think that there way is the only way. They are small and weak minded and feel better about themselves based upon what they are against. People like the PMRC, Fred Phelps and Osama Bin Laden all come to mind. The thing that they all have in common is that they think that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

Ah, december, but Donne did not conclude from this that the tolling of bells or the washing away of land by the sea should therefore be made illegal.

(And a nitpick: I think the word in line 8 is “manor” – not necessarily envisioning himself or his friend as country squires, but equally well as countryfolk who lived on a manor as tenant farmers, feudal land tenure still being a part of English society in Donne’s time.)

Can’t say I do. I’d think an infected sanitary napkin would be as dangerous as an infected needle, and both strike me as struck-by-lightning unlikely. Seems a half-smoked cigarette butt that a curious pre-teen decides to light up would be more dangerous than either, and your kid getting hit by a car crossing the street is probably thousands of times more likely than any of those scenarios.

Bringing AIDS and children into the discussion is just pushing emotional hot-buttons for dramatic effect. Over the years I’ve known hundreds of people who have tried dozens of drugs (myself included). I’ve seen some nice, life-affirming moments, and I’ve seen some truly horrible physical and emotional damage, and I think there are a lot of reasonable, worthwhile discussions that cold be had on the subject, but that almost never happens because we invariably jump straight into frantic hand-wringing on both sides of the issue.

Fine: Get rid of the kids. I’d rather accidentally step on a used tampon than on a dirty needle. To make it more real: A past girlfriend was taking the garbage out of the bathroom in the coffee shop where she worked; when she pushed on the bag to squeeze the air out, a needle stuck out between her fingers–2 mm either way, and it would have gone through skin; when she mentioned it to a coworker, he said “oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to warn you about that. There’s always junk needles in the garbage.”

I’ve lived in a neighbourhood full of prostitutes, and I’ve lived near a “needle park”. There’s a pretty definite social effect that makes it somewhat my business whether or not other people make those choices. There’s a lot of other things to consider, and my own concerns certainly aren’t the be-all and end-all of the community response, but I’ve got a stake that may be tiny individually, but can be pretty strong when everyone agrees with me.