TCU Daily Skiff Friday, April 23, 2004
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People have right to consume as they wish

Brian Chatman is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.

Obesity is the biggest killer in America. In response, schools are now banning the sale of “junk food” and providing balanced meals. What about the rest of the country?

Why don’t we ban the possession and consumption of “junk food” in the United States? Of course, what is “junk food”? Sure fudge and cake fit the description but what about chicken? Almost all food can be bad for you when your diet is unbalanced. Where do we draw the line? If we decide and ban the sale of “junk food,” how do we stop Granny in her kitchen from making “gateway” sweets? One day you eat Granny’s chocolate chip cookies and the next thing you know it’s her chocolate éclairs. The only way to solve this problem is to build more prisons, up police funding for a special task force and arrest everyone that qualifies as obese.

I think we can all agree this is going overboard. The costs would be astronomical and it would abridge our perceived right to choose what we consume. Harmful or not, our right to choose what goes into our bodies is more important than stopping people from eating “bad” foods for legitimate or recreational purposes. All we can do is educate and inform the public, then leave them to make their own decisions.

So if we have a right to decide what we take into our bodies, why do drug laws exist? There are “good” drugs and “bad” drugs. All drugs are potentially dangerous regardless of their legal status, yet we spend billions on control of a select few and still can’t solve the problem. Thousands of users are in prisons, but others are still free. Even if we could stop the sale of drugs, what about Granny and her pot greenhouse/meth-lab?

It is hard to take drug laws seriously when a story about the latest bust is followed by yet another commercial saying “drink beer and women will find you irresistible.” The line between what is a “good” or “bad” drug is blurred when tobacco is the second leading cause of death and is still legal while marijuana is not.

The only way to justify drug laws would be if violent crime occurred every time someone took them. Five college students getting stoned and searching for Jerry Garcia’s soul in a lava lamp is not a danger to the public. I suggest we make more stringent penalties for public intoxication and driving while intoxicated, then eliminate drug laws. We should then tax these drugs heavily along with increases on cigarette and alcohol taxes, then use that and what we save from eliminating drug enforcement programs, to fund better drug education and rehabilitation programs.

Before everyone has the collective reaction of “Drugs are evil and liberals just want to everyone to do drugs,” remember that I am not saying drugs are good. I personally don’t even understand why someone would drink, let alone do any other drug. What I want is a respect for an individual’s right to choose what they do with their bodies and punish them only when they harm others. Drug enforcement takes police manpower away from more serious crimes. People are going to do “bad” things, whether it’s eating cookies with a green elf on the package, or dropping acid then chasing that little green elf around their kitchen. All we can, and should do is educate the people and leave them to decide what is right on their own.
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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