Hailing from Upstate New York, and having some want to return to my childhood home, I follow New York politics to some degree. Lately, King Cuomo has been taking liberty after liberty and freedom after freedom away from the citizens of New York; it has even been rated as the least free state in 2012 and 2016 by the Cato Institute. While, much of the state votes red, New York is almost always blue thanks to New York City and a few other counties: typically, republican gubernatorial or presidential candidates stand little chance. This year, the Libertarian party has put forth an excellent candidate in Larry Sharpe (that many democrats and republicans could get behind if they looked at his policies) but of course, the media attention sticks with the left, documenting King Cuomo’s further power grabs, Anthony Weiner-esque crazy rants and of course his crony capitalist corruption – of course, all with a positive spin. This year, one of Cuomo’s leftist primary opponents has been garnering more media coverage than that of the Republicans or Larry Sharpe. It may in part be due to her already risen star, or maybe it’s just New York politics, but the former Sex in the City star Cynthia Nixon has already been on the Late show with Colbert, and picked up tons of media coverage. She was also endorsed by the Working Families Party, a progressive-left leaning party that are also proponents of raising the minimum wage and making higher education a universal right. (Which when inspected closer, actually cause more problems for the individuals they are trying to help.)
To be fair, I do not have the time to dig into all of Nixon’s stances on issues, but one in particular crossed my news feed and caught my eye. Over the last decade or so, cannabis has become more of an accepted plant, with some states going so far as to decriminalize it’s recreational use. Nixon feels the same way and said so in an article on the Huffington Post. It would seem that this is great news. Another gubernatorial candidate – after Larry Sharpe – for New York State wants to legalize cannabis: “a win for choice and personal liberties,” I thought. And then I read the byline: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” and this is where my excitement died. Unfortunately, Nixon’s stance is akin to many of those on the left, they see that minorities make up a larger number of drug crimes than that of the white majority, but then they suggest the resolution to the problem is simply to make that crime no longer a crime. This is hugely problematic and makes very little sense when considered as part of a larger picture.
Nixon claims that cannabis use is “effectively legal” for white people but not for minorities. To some degree she is correct. According to the ACLU: “despite roughly equal usage rates, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested.” This may sound startling, and it may in fact be problematic, but consider that the law is not inherently racist. It is simply words on a paper deeming interactions with a specific plant to be criminal behavior. You could decriminalize cannabis, but incarceration rates for minorities across the board will continue to out pace those of whites due to policing policy. In heavily populated urban areas which have a majority population of minorities, there is a higher police presence than in low populated rural areas which are predominantly white. And of course when there is a higher police presence, there is a higher likelihood a police officer will see a crime. Undoubtedly, there is some bias in the minds of some police officers who might release a white teen with a warning for smoking a joint, but would instead take a black teen doing the same thing down to the station, but not at a rate of 3.73 times more. And if you disagree with this, know that that as of 2012, 52% of the NYC police force was white.
Nixon’s went on to say:
There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that
white people do with impunity.
Let us think about this logically. Essentially, she is saying that because one race specific group is arrested for a crime more than another race, we should nullify the law that makes that specific action illegal; we do not need to consider how the law is enforced, that police departments encourage revenue generating tickets or arrests, that there are quotas within departments, or that unconstitutional policies like stop-and-frisk are an actual policy. Instead, we are going to focus on race. Let us humor Ms Nixon, in 2015 73% of all arsons were committed by white people, so according to Ms Nixon’s belief in absolving laws based on uneven racial conviction rates we should make arson legal.
This is racial ideology at it’s finest. And of course, the progressive left cannot see it and have missed the actual problem altogether. Arson, defined in common law as the malicious burning of the dwelling of another, should no doubt remain illegal as one individual is damaging, destroying, or otherwise negatively impacting the property of another individual: i.e. property rights. But consider cannabis use: cannabis use is one individual consuming a plant in a variety of methods to achieve an altered state of personal consciousness. The simple act of consuming the cannabis plant does not damage anyone’s property. This is where Nixon – and many other politicians – fail to recognize that the government has absolutely no jurisdiction over the legality of personal consumption of a plant. The individual is born with certain inalienable rights, and there is little doubt that the individual should have the right to do as they see fit with their own body, especially when it does not adversely effect any other individuals personal or property rights.
We do not allow the State to mandate birth control, vitamins, or supplements, so why is the State allowed to tell us what not to consume? Giving the State the power to approve what an individual puts into their bodies is essentially confirming a master. This is not an issue of race, it is an issue of personal property rights and self-ownership. The individual owns their body, not the State. When we advocate to end the War on Drugs, it should not be racially motivated, it should be reasoned that all individuals regardless of race have the right to choose what they do with their private property so long as they do not impinge upon another individual’s personal property. It should be reasoned that the individual owns their body, not the State.