Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Agency and Government

“As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue which determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The war in heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: ‘Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare’ or will they heed the counsel of the prophet and preserve their freedom?” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965.)

“In the war in heaven the devil advocated absolute eternal security at the sacrifice of our freedom. Although there is nothing more desirable to a Latter-day Saint than eternal security in God's presence…Today the devil as a wolf in a supposedly new suit of sheep's clothing is enticing some men, both in and out of the Church, to parrot his line by advocating planned government guaranteed security programs at the expense of our liberties. Latter-day Saints should be reminded how and why they voted as they did in heaven. If some have decided to change their vote they should repent—throw their support on the side of freedom—and cease promoting this subversion.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Secret Combinations, Conference Report, October 1961.)

"The first basic principle is agency. The central issue in the premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed him stood for the former proposition--freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter--coercion and force. The war that began in heaven over this issue is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of Lucifer's primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments." (President Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Speeches of the Year, "The Principle of Agency" Sept 1986.)

Some people would use the quotes above to support the opinion that the righteous Government shouldn't prohibit drug distribution, prostitution, pornography, physician-assisted suicide. In these cases of sin, many claim sin is a matter of individual liberty, private contracts, and informed consent. However, when it came to the repeal of prohibition, Pres. Heber J. Grant instructed the LDS in Utah to uphold prohibition.

I have never felt so humiliated in my life over anything as that the State of Utah voted for the repeal of Prohibition.
(- President Heber J. Grant, Conference, Oct. 1934)

From this very stand he pleaded with us not to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. He didn't speak as Heber J. Grant, the man, he spoke as the President of the Church and the representative of our Heavenly Father. And yet in a state where we could have retained what we had, there were enough Latter-day Saints . . . who paid no attention to what the Lord wanted . . .and what is the result? Such delinquency as we have never known. .
(- George Albert Smith, Conference, Oct 1943)

One of the saddest days in all of Utah's history was when the people, including the Latter-day Saints (for it could not have been done without them), rejected the counsel and urging of the Lord's prophet, Heber J. Grant, and repealed Prohibition long years ago--yet many of those voters had sung numerous times, "We Thank Thee, O God, For A Prophet."
(- The Teachings of Spencer. W. Kimball)

Is there a contradiction here? Not at all. Government shouldn't legislate what it thinks people should do. However, Pres. Benson said that it is the duty of government to protect the God-given rights of life, the free exercise of conscience, and control of property. In other words, the government can punish those who cause harm to others. The fear of punishment can server to dissuade against sin.

With our current over-interpretation of "rule of law" our government operates on the basis of "it's not illegal unless there is a specific law in the books that has been violated". This leads to unprincipled business exploiting loopholes and harming people and claiming "we didn't break the law". This in turns leads to the government imposing more and more complicated regulations to keep us safe.

However, when it comes to legalization of pot and prohibition, most don't realize prohibition did not make individual drinking of alcohol illegal. What prohibition did was make the distribution of beverage/recreational alcohol illegal.

The reason there is a Constitutional and moral basis to use the government to prohibit the distribution of recreational alcohol or other drugs is that recreational drug distribution is not simply a matter of contracts and informed consent. Recreational drug use is harmful, and the harmful use is specifically intended in the contract. The distributor cannot say, "I didn't know how the purchaser was going to use the product.". The reason the 18th Amendment prohibited "beverage alcohol" was because the recreation purpose of alcohol was tied to how it was prepared, packaged and consumed. Prohibition did not prohibit alcohol manufacture and distribution for the purposes as a disinfectant.

This applies to cannabis as well. Recreational cannabis abuse is tied to the smoking or eating the dried cannabis leaves. The prohibition principle would not apply to other preparations of cannabis that might have some other useful benefits. (e.g. Hemp rope, or Marinol pills for appetite, etc).

1. Prohibition (18th ammendment) only applied to recreational "beverage" alcohol "distribution"
2. Recreational use attatched to "beverage" form of manufacture
3. Recreational drug use = self abuse
4. Recreational drug Distrubution = accomplice to abuse
5. Recreational intent (abuse) is explicit in contract
6. Constitutional responsibility to stop abuse of others (victim)
7. Therefore, use of government force is constitutional to punish recreational drug distribution.(Kevorkian Principle)
8. (US Constitution Article 1 Section 8) in addition to providing for the "common Defence" by punishing federal harm-doers, the Federal Government (Congress) can protect via "regulation of Commerce with foreign nations". As part of the Constitutional power to "regulate" the Congress can "decide" what is "harmful" and what imports to regulate or prohibit.

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