The Edges of Responsibility
David sent this Article to me...
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From an interview with Terry Goodkind [fantasy author]. Thoughts?

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Question: TG, I read your article on scifi-Dimensions, and was upset when
you called drug users (a group which used to include me (pot)) a party to
murder. Do you consider people who went to speak-easies responsible for
the murderous gangsters? I would blame the prohibition laws. What do you
think of people who purchase gasoline (from countries that support
terrorism)? Also, your books have inspired me to give up drinking and
smoking.

Answer: I have a friend who had a daughter in college. One night, as she
was walking back to her dorm room, some men drove up behind her and
executed her. Five young women matching her description were murdered that
same week. Drug dealers had killed any woman they saw who looked like a
woman they wanted dead. This young woman's life is over. She will never be
able to enjoy her life, to experience love, a family, a beautiful sunset.
Her life is over as part of the price paid so that a drug user can
continue to "experiment" with drugs.
Pablo Escabar wanted to take out a competitor in the drug business, so he
did. There happened to be 127 other people on the plane at the time. They
are all dead, part of the price in human lives forfeit so that some user
can continue to have his drugs. The people who use drugs did not murder
these people, but they most certainly are accessories to murder. Every day
people are injured and killed as a direct result of
the work of insuring that the users of drugs have a steady supply.
Knowledge of the violence involved in the distribution and use ofillega1
drugs is too prevalent for anyone to claim that they didn't know that
their use of drugs contributes to and supports that violence. To deny the
connection is to deny reality in order to ignore the guilt of helping
bring death and suffering to innocent people. It should hardly come as a
surprise to hear that those who use drugs would like very much to deny
this Man's mind is his means of survival. A rational being does not
intentionally destroy its means of survival. Yet these people do, so
little is their respect for even their own lives. And we should wonder
that, in their lust to blot out their own consciousness,
they have no regard for their contribution to the destruction of innocent
lives?
Blaming the law they break will not sanctify slaughter. Snatching at
scraps of irrelevant arguments to try to wipe the blood from their hands
or clear their conscience is but a futile attempt at self-delusion; it
does not bring back the lives of those now dead just so users could
continue to indulge their destructive whims.
The silent, unspoken, unadmitted, cringing horror that grips the user's
existence is testimony to the monstrous harm they know they help make
possible. Drug users need to be corrected, their lives turned around, not
indulged.
But a greater moral guilt rests with the cold-blooded creatures who excuse
the user - those monsters who hold such a cynical hatred of life that they
would help the plague to fester and fill yet more cemeteries with the
innocent and guilty alike as they strut around in the blood-soaked robes
of tolerance and understanding.
We all pay (through taxes) a handout so that many users can continue to
finance their drug use. With our compassion we condemn the drug user to
wasted lives and countless innocent victims to death, their loved ones to
a living hell of agony -all because we lack the moral courage to say it's
wrong and will not be tolerated.
If my books have inspired anyone to give up excessive drinking or smoking
then that only serves to prove that individuals can use their minds to
come to understand and
grasp life's values when they see them illustrated in stories. It proves
everything I've been saying.
If anyone is upset with me for saying that those who use drugs are
accessories to murder, I'd say that doesn't hold a candle to the
condemnation coming from the face looking at them in the mirror. Excuses
do not alter reality.

Annette, Monday, 1-12-04 11:00 PM
OK, My Thoughts
Apparently no-one else is out here. At least not with "thoughts." :}
Here are mine, anyway.

1) I don't think the speaker in the question is being very reasonable when he says he'd blame the anti-booze laws for causing all the bloodshed during prohibition. That's even sillier than blaming the patrons of the speakeasies. There's a much better group to blame for the bloodshed: the ones who actually carried it out! This is reasoning along the line of "guns don't kill people, people kill people" - don't blame the instrument, blame the one who used it.

2) On the other hand, Williams' argument isn't a great deal more logical. His reasoning seems to be "Someone close to me died at the hands of a drug dealer. There'd be no supply - and therefore no need for violence - without demand. Therefore the users of drugs support murder."
OK, yeah, maybe. Unfortunately, this can apply to *way* too many things. I mean, how about alcohol, for instance? It's legal now, but takes a terrible toll on zillions of adicted people. Again, if there wasn't such a demand from social drinkers, wouldn't the supply to the (much smaller number) of adicted ones be cut off, vastly improving society? Aren't we supporting companies who supply a killer product when we buy (legal) alchol?
And let's face it, people are willing to kill each other over just about anything under the right (wrong?) circumstances: water, food, money, road rage...
Because people can and have killed over food, does this mean I shouldn't buy any? Should I not obtain or use money because it is at "the root of all kinds of evil?" What about oil? Diamonds? Cheap Chinese electronics?
See, it gets very morally ambiguous somewhere in there. At one level I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about saying "You evil nasty illegal drug user: by your support of a corrupt and evil system, you are no better than a murderer."
On another, though... well, I've been thinking a lot about cheap Chinese electronics (and clothing, and toothbrushes, and Dollar Tree baubles, and practically every other category of consumer goods) lately. We all know intelectually that the Chinese government is as corrupt, evil, and nasty as any group of drug dealers. We've heard rumors of Christian persecution, slave labor, and worse over there. We know the working and living conditions are nasty.
But we buy the stuff.
It is hard not to apply the accusations God leveled through Amos to ourselves:
6 This is what the LORD says:
For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not turn back {my wrath}.
They sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample on the heads of the poor
as upon the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
(Amos 2)

The problem is, while it's easy for me to get a real guilt complex about issues like this, it's very much harder to figure out an actual valid response.
It's all but a given that you cannot go through your life in America w/o purchasing and using goods made wholy or in part in China. And once we're boycotting them, well, what about Taiwan, Guatamalla, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and all the other 3rd world sources of cheap exploitable labor? It can't be done. Not without becoming Amish, anyway!
And that's assuming that a boycott is actually the best way to deal with it. Does it *help* our oppressed bretheren in the 3rd world to stop buying their goods? Is North Korea or Cuba better off than China?

See, it gets complicated! I honestly don't know the answer. I just know it feels a little hypocritical to call drug users murderers without assigning responsibility also to myself for my - undesired, unasked for, realistically unavoidable - support of corrupt regimes of other, less classically illegal stripes.
Or can we write all of that off by saying "We live in a fallen world, it is impossible to live in a morally unambiguous way, so just do your best not to make the problems worse?" :}
Annette (Who else?), Wednesday, 1-14-04 6:44 PM
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