Friday, October 20, 2006

Internet Gambling

It's somewhat difficult to build on George Will's good column in this week's Newsweek about the recently passed law criminalizing most Internet gambling, but I'll give it a try with two additional broader philosophical points:

a) The government should not be legislating morality, especially in this hypocritical manner. Morality should certainly guide legislation, but legislation should not enforce morality. Freedom means nothing if it constrains the freedom to make potentially bad choices. (This is a huge part of why I think so much of the Muslim world is so messed up, frankly - it has nothing to do with Islam per se, and quite a bit to do with governments viewing their role as enforcing Islam's notion of morality.)

b) "Victimless crimes" should not be criminalized. Yes, some problem gamblers or alcoholics let their vices get out of control to the point where it clearly is not victimless, in which case the right thing is to define those lines and criminalize the behavior that has victims. Millions of people every day consume alcohol or gamble, though, with no problems whatsoever.

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