Drug Policy

Remembering The Great Anti-Prohibitionist Peter McWilliams, KIA in The Drug War 10 Years Ago Today

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DownsizeDC's Jim Babka remembers the legacy of Peter McWilliams:

Best-selling author Peter McWilliams died ten years ago today, June 14, 2000.

I remember when I heard the news. I can still feel the sickness and anger that I felt that day.

I didn't know Peter personally, but I admired him. Some of my colleagues were good friends or acquaintances of his.

Peter was an eloquent champion of limited government and personal freedom. But his life was cut short by the War on Drugs. The federal government denied him the medication he needed to live and thrive.

Read the whole thing.

Reason on Peter McWilliams, who once memorably wrote, "The drug war doesn't need another martyr. It has too many already" as he threw himself on the mercy of a federal court.

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  1. Here’s a parallel situation. A person is born with a rare and indolent cancer, such that the laws of supply and demand make the drug used to treat it astronomically expensive. You people would let them die slowly rather than have the government subsidize the medicine or regulate the price. AIDS is caused by personal irresponsibility in the commission of vice; cancer befalls the innocent as well as the guilty. The basis of your pity is property rights, which is also the basis of your callousness towards the indigent cancer patient. And yet you expect me to be outraged at his death in particular. Why, so he could live long enough to infect others?

    1. Yeah, you’re right. There are no rich people in this world that provide poor people with things they couldn’t otherwise afford. Dumbass.

      1. And for the rest, there’s always the kidney market, right? Except for people with AIDS. Along a long enough timeline, everyone’s survival rate drops to zero. He didn’t use a condom (or a clean needle). He obviously went to college. Am I to waste tears on his willful stupidity? I think not.

    2. Oooo, one of my favorite statist gems:

      If the state does not do it, no one will. Because the state does it, we know that no one else will.

      1. Thankfully, in this case, the state DID do it. He’s no longer a vector of either anarchism or HIV. Problem solved.

        1. Don’t care.|6.14.10 @ 10:47AM|#
          “He’s no longer a vector of either anarchism or HIV. Problem solved.”

          You, OTOH, remain an ignorant asshole. Problem remains

      2. Why do you guys insist on feeding trolls here?

        1. To piss off Sugar Free. I thought everyone knew that.

        2. this place wouldn’t be nearly as fun without the trolls.

    3. That was the “House” rerun last night about the TB martyr.

    4. If a man ran around a mall robbing people at gun point for money to pay for his child’s cancer treatment, he would be thrown in prison.

      When the government takes money under threat of life-threatening violence, and then gives it this man to pay for his child’s cancer treatment, it’s cheered.

      Why are these two scenarios different?

      If you are going to put the man in jail for being proactive in doing things himself, how can you demand the government do his violence for him?

      1. Easy: The government is much, MUCH better at it.

        1. Okay, now I know you’re just trolling. C’mon. At least Chad and Tony and the like are more subtle. Hell, you’re more obvious than Juanita.

          1. No shit. What can I say? I felt the tone was a bit…sentimental. Andrew Sullivan got busted with a sack and nothing happened. He could’ve been deported. I think the U.S. has changed significantly since this guy bought it, and besides, he seems to be a rather minor figure in any case. Martyr, seriously? The guy was already well on his way out–can the hand-wringing. Concentrate more on living kids losing their FAFSA, and I promise to contribute more constructively next time, m’kay?

            1. Please don’t construe that as my support for FAFSA, btw. I think MJ and college funds should be homegrown.

    5. The government and insurance companies killed charity hospitals and made the cost of medicine skyrocket. Meanwhile the FDA stands in the way of people with terminal AIDS being able to take potential cures like VRX496.

      1. Now if only they’d keep them from entering the country.

  2. You people would let them die slowly rather than have the government subsidize the medicine or regulate the price.

    Of course, if government regulated the price of cancer treatments, the odds are that this cure (and many others) would never be discovered. A net loss.

    And, naturally, having a government subsidize a product or service always brings the price down.

    1. I didn’t say all cancer treatments; I specifically mentioned rare ones. Thanks to irresponsible people like McWilliams, AIDS is no longer rare, and I don’t support subsidizing the meds with either taxpayer money or lax drug laws. He could have always gone the Steve McQueen route…Dr. Nick Riviera. Something for everyone: The unlicensed doctor in Mexico for you, and another “Typhoid Mary” out of the country for me! We all win.

      1. I didn’t say all cancer treatments; I specifically mentioned rare ones.

        Exactly the kind of treatments that won’t be researched under price controls.

        1. I am well aware of that. I simply couldn’t resist spot #1 on the comments section. And it was such a weepy eulogy, so I decided to stink the place up a bit. You wanna make something of it? Everybody’s a troll somewhere.

          1. Why did you choose to call the cancer indolent? In pathology, indolent generally means benign.

            1. Not necessarily. For example, Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma can transition rather suddenly into something far more aggressive, since those little cells are just waiting to attack various lymph nodes through the body. Pretty fucking awful if you’ve seen it segue into Sezary’s Syndrome.

  3. He wrote a great article for Liberty at

    http://web.archive.org/web/200…..liams.html

  4. Drugs are bad.

    1. Wars on our own citizens are worse.

    2. Yes and no, depends how they are used. They are just things, which can help or hurt you.

  5. Peter was really awesome – I had the pleasure to meet him and talk with him a couple of times – coincidentally I just ran across the business card he handed me when I was digging through some old boxes this past weekend.

  6. I was at least as outraged and ENraged as Babka when I heard the news — as much as I had, some years before, been cheered by McWilliams calling out McCaffrey and other drug warriors at an LP national convention that was nationally televised on CSPAN. He fought “the law” and “the law won.” But always remember, the law is an ass.

    One thing I don’t get about McWilliams’ trial: If he had been set upon by thugs and had used extreme, deadly violence to defend himself, we would have seen the deaths of his assailants as the exercise of his right to self defense, even if he had to trespass and steal weapons from a nearby sporting goods store to do it. He certainly would have been allowed to tell his self-defense story to the jury. Why, then, could the judge get away with prohibiting a similar “self-defense” argument relative to his pot use, especially in view of California’s Prop. 215? I have always believed that McWilliams was denied due process, not to mention the best defense, and therefore denied justice. One thing we can do in his memory is to make sure that zealous prosecutors and clueless judges can never again prevent a jury from hearing everything that might be relevant to a defendant’s best defense.

    1. “I have always believed that McWilliams was denied due process, not to mention the best defense, and therefore denied justice. One thing we can do in his memory is to make sure that zealous prosecutors and clueless judges can never again prevent a jury from hearing everything that might be relevant to a defendant’s best defense.”

      Me too! It seems very odd that a person under any circumstances would be denied to say a particular thing in his own defense.

  7. New blog about Peter McWilliams

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