One of the greatest benefits to being a citizen of the United States of America is that we are given the freedom of choice. A freedom to make our own decisions, and decide what we think is right for us. Some people however, will question this very notion of us being totally free. How much freedom of choice do we really have, and why should the government be able to regulate us at all? For years the government has imposed laws that limit our rights, and freedom to choose. Some of the most commonly argued topics about government laws are, the legalization of illegal drugs, the legality of pornography, and the twenty-one year old drinking age. Many people are opposed the fact that the government is allowed to tell us what we can and can not do. Arguments range from the seemingly ineffectiveness of current laws, to the simple premise that the government has no right to prohibit its citizens from any of these activities if they choose to partake in them. One of the most interesting perspectives on this whole matter comes from John Stuart Mill, and hisRevised Harm Principle.? This principle states that people should be free to do what they want unless they threaten the vital interests, i.e., security or autonomy, of others. Many good points can be raised about this issue by arguing from his perspective as stated in this principle.
Looking first at the issue of legalization of illegal drugs one could conclude that John Stuart Mill would be for the legalization of these drugs as long as it could be assured that the taking of drugs by an individual would not affect others. In this case Mill is not concerned with the individuals rights, but rather with the consequences of one's actions on other people. The question them becomes; Is drug use an action, that although performed by the individual, threatens the vital interest of others? I believe that most .
people would say yes. First looking at an example of a non-habitual user, Mill would state that the individual's actions are not harming those around him as long as he continues to be a contributing member of society.