Bad Argument of the Day

Whenever somebody wants to argue for keeping or making something legal, but doesn’t want to be seen as liking that something (like abortion or drugs), you can be sure he’ll deploy the argument that, well, that might be all well and good theoretically, but it just wouldn’t work in the real world, because people would still find ways to do it anyway.

Of course, laws are rarely enacted with the expectation that they’ll reduce something’s occurrence to zero or near-zero. Legal prohibitions are meant to identify what society finds intolerable, prevent as much of it as can reasonably be expected in a free, imperfect society, and punish those who do it anyway. The argument against prohibiting abortion or drugs because people will still obtain abortions and drugs is no more logical than it would be to argue that it’s pointless to prohibit murder, rape or robbery because in 2008 we had 16,272 murders, 89,000 rapes, and 441,855 robberies, despite long-standing laws firmly punishing all three.

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