Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

DeathRant: No Tears For Iraq?

Note - from June 24th 2009, this blog has migrated from Blogger to a self-hosted version. Click here to go straight there.

Yesterday's execution of convicted heroin trafficker Van Ngyuen was a travesty and a waste of a life for no reason other than the continuation of a massively-flawed Prohibition program which will eventually fail (as al lprohibitions eventually fail). But let's get some perspective on the event, raather than turning it into a full-blown Blairite Emoting Convention where every soppy twerp in the country mourns someone they don't know.

The kid knew the price he would pay for smuggling drugs if he was caught in Singapore (and if he didn't, it's his own stupid fault - it's common knowledge). He took the bet (i.e., that he would not be caught) and lost. Happens all the time (people taking bets and losing, I mean).

Maybe he got the probabilities wrong - maybe the odds of detection and capture were higher than he thought they were. or maybe not. But everyone who undertakes a voluntary action is responsible for their own due diligence: buyer's remorse is commonplace but it is not a justification for reneging on a contract, and likewise if you place a bet where a loss means your life, then you had better make sure that you understand the odds.

After all, the key variable is the 'hazard' - the price you pay if wrong, multiplied by the probability of being wrong. If that price is your life, then the probability fo being wrong had better be something that you take all steps to minimise. (Frankly, trying to return from Thailand via Singapore strikes me as a stupid thing to do if you were a drug mule...).

What we have is a young man who took a bet and lost; if you want to shed tears for complete strangers, think about the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been deliberately and systematically slaughtered by a supposedly 'civilised' 'coalition' that includes our own trained killers. think of the children torn to shreds in Iraq and Afghanistan by cowards - be they cowards dropping 2000-lb bombs from 35,000 feet, or cowards 'lighting up' villages - My Lai style - using small-arms fire. Indiscriminate killing of people who have not done a single thing to deserve it, is far more reprehensible than having a clearly-stated policy of executing people who choose to traffic in controlled substances.

Everyone knows my position on drugs - they ought to be made completely legal. The current system generates massive profits to a criminal clique, and also generates massive profits to the pharmaceutican companies that produce patent-protected analgesics, barbiturates and opiates. In that way it is no different to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, which enriched the Mafia and the Kennedy clan.

But even if I think that the laws prohibiting drugs are stupid and will eventually be repealed, there is no way on Crom's Green Earth that I would take my life into my hands in order to try and make a point (or to make some easy money). I do not use illicit drugs at all (although I would love to get a good regular supply of Ephedrine), even though I think everyone ought to be allowed to use them: my personal preference to refrain from their use does not render invalid my position that other individuals ought to be permitted to use them. But people who do so, need to consider the hazard involved - that is, the costs imposd by the State if captured, multiplied by the probability of capture.

You might find the foregoing somewhat bemusing, given that I am a signatory to the ever-expanding group of bloggers and other Netizens who have offered to publish and host the leaked document detailing George Bush's declaration of a desire to bomb al-Jazeera; however I fully comprehend the risks of detection (100%), and my estimate of the probability of prosecution (0.01%) coupled with the sentence for breaching the Official Secrets Act (I was required to sign an undertaking at the age of 18 - the age at which my security clearance was established - that indicated my acknowledgement of the penalties for revealing classified information) means that my subjective assessment of the hazard is less than a day in jail.

(Of course when and if one is prosecuted, one doesn't get to serve the single day... ha ha).

the point is this: when individuals exercise their sovereignty and undertake ventures that carry an attendant hazard, it is nobody's place to cry for them. If your kid dies in a motorcycle accident, then cry for them all you want - because you'e lost a child; but don't expect the rest of the coutnry to join you in donning the black veil. And if your kid dies because he got caught smuggling drugs in a coutnry with the death penalty, then you've got even less justification for expecting GroupGrief.

For details on the people who are prepared to host the "Bush Wants to Bomb al-Jazeerah" memo, go to "We're Prepared to Pay the PRice of Freedom - Are You?" over on