"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised
over any member of a civilized community, against his will,
is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral,
is not sufficient warrant."
John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
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Reader comments about this quote:
Wouild that our self rightous, self described as morally superior "leaders" in this country understood this... rather than their rush to harm the unfortunate of society for the short term fiscal gain of their friends.
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    ... and our leaders stifle our freedom, claiming we are a danger to ourselves and other people. Like infringing on our right to carry handguns because we may kill the criminal stealing our wallet at gunpoint.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
  • 1
     -- judy, miami, fl      
    Hmmmm....well.... interesting,but then who decides what is for ones own good ? I say one who has ones own best possible interests at heart.
     -- Me Again, Somewhere,USA.     
  • 2
    This would apply as well to issues such as the debate over suicide for the terminally ill, 'drug' use, sex education, etc. which appear to be opposed mainly on the basis of a profoundly selfish 'moral' ideology and not on the basis of the wishes or needs of individuals. It's funny how 'fearing' God seems to correlate nicely with wanting to 'play' God. (and wear small shoes, and drive BIG trucks - LOL)
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    Brilliant, just brilliant.
     -- Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday, Vancouver, GVRD(Paine Cnty), Coastal Lwr Mainland BC(State of Neo Sumer), U.S. of Eh!     
    The quote itself is not enough to know one way or another. If he is talking about criminals - then this quote is accurate because a criminal (someone who breaks actual de jure law and not the majority of de facto laws) has denied any moral virtue within himself and is not governed by any code and must be restrained in order to prevent him from further crime. However, for the honest man to be constrained or limited in his action for his "possible" crime is unjust. This is why pre-emptive laws are incompatible with society - they only keep the honest people honest. Criminals who have no morality are going to "break the law" regardless what rules are established. If the government punishes the free exercise of expression from those who are honest in order to catch the few who are dis-honest - tryanny is instantly born.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
  • 3
    Excellent Terry I couldn't have said it any better...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
    Mill is not justifying drug abuse, as some of those commenting here have erroneously concluded. Drug abuse affects non-users. We live in a society that wants drugs not to be abused, as it affects everybody. Mill would agree that drug abuse is harmful to everyone.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
  • 2
    Pardon my noticing, but I don't see the word 'abuse' in any comments preceeding your comment David. There's a difference between 'use' and 'abuse'. 'ABUSE' is DEFINED as: "To use wrongly or improperly; misuse." 'Abuse' is therefore, by implication of its definition, almost always undesirable - a tautology. I too, have been channeling Mill - ROFL.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
  • 1
    There are other de jure uses of force such as, in the implementation of justice. Terry, you need to watch something other than msnbc before parroting such bigoted ideologues.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    The FDA is now planning to make transfats illegal. The better to save us from ourselves. The nannies in Washington know best and will use force in order to make us healthier.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 2
     -- Henry, Edinboro      
    How true. Interesting how this argument is so often refuted by those defending drug/alcohol prohibition. It is not a crime to 'abuse' oneself -- after all who is to judge? However, if a drunken person strikes another person without cause, that in itself is a violation, a crime, and should be treated as such. You don't have to make alcohol illegal because an intoxicated person committed an act of violence. And what of the thousands of legal pharmaceuticals (drugs) that are even more harmful than the illegal ones? Does not a tranquilizer addict affect those around them as would a pot smoker? But these are matters of health and family, not crimes. What of all the productive users of drugs? Do not some drugs help relieve pain, depression, anxiety, illness? Don't they all have some sort of side-effects or consequences? Heck, half the prescription drugs out there can be fatal if 'abused' or cause suicidal tendencies -- unlike marijuana for example. The fact is the government cannot be the 'central scrutinizer' of everyone -- we have to take SOME responsibility for goodness sake -- and some people will suffer for their actions -- that is life. Some will learn from their mistakes, some will not. So because maybe a couple thousand people will die from a heroin overdose in a year, we have to make 300 million give up their rights to privacy, to surveil hundreds of millions to 'enforce the law'? To subject us all to arbitrary search without warrant, seize property because a pot seed was found on it? This is nothing more than legalized theft and blatant fascism. The price is too high to protect people from themselves. Let your children see what happens to a heroin addict -- that ought to be enough to scare them, not put our children in jail with hardened criminals who will do God knows what to them -- and the prison guards and cops can be just as cruel.

    Prohibition is a tool of totalitarians, and the Christian Right is wrong on this one and is the fundamental support for the War on Drugs and the police state that has been nourished by it. Is this really what Jesus would do? Self-righteous indeed.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 3
    Right on John Stuart Mill.

    Too bad we can't listen to genius. Our Founders had it right.

    But, we have lost our way.

    Semper Fi.
     -- bruski, Naples FL     
  • 1
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
     -- Ronw13, Logsden      
     -- jim k, Austin      
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