Like all proper thinking libertarians (No True Scotsman notwithstanding), I welcomed and applauded the recent passage of the Right To Try bill. Naturally, given that Trump specifically promoted passage of the bill in his State of the Union address, the left-o-sphere and many who are reflexively anti-Trump expressed vocal denouncement and disdain for what, to me, seems a pretty cut-and-dried Good Thing. The law gives terminally ill patients the “right to try” drugs that have passed Phase I of the FDA’s approval process, but haven’t completed testing. Frankly, if someone is terminal, I cannot fathom why anyone would stand in the way of him trying anything.

Nevertheless, many do. Reasons given were varied. They included the fear of instilling “false hope,” the fear that some will be exploited by the unscrupulous, the fear that the FDA’s process and/or reputation will be sullied, and and several other “harm to the collective” arguments. Some bioethicists have chimed in as well. I find none of these compelling in the slightest, because none of them rebut the basic premise that an individual – in this case, a dying individual – should not be debarred from putting whatever he wishes into his body.

This law isn’t authorization to use “alternative medicine,” aka woo, because we already have the freedom to do so. People have always had the liberty to seek out snake-oil “remedies” and treatments, and those who supply them can do so as long as they don’t overtly declare specific health claims and inform that the FDA hasn’t evaluated them. So, we’ve got all sorts of voodoo supplements and “natural” crap available to us already. This bill gives people who are going to die a shot at a drug that might actually work. Sure, the odds may not be high, but if your death is certain and imminent, wouldn’t you roll the dice on a long shot?

I got into some pretty heated arguments (heated on the others’ side – I don’t grant strangers on the Internet the power to elevate my blood pressure one bit) on this matter, in particular with several self-identified experts who work in relevant fields. They got pretty mad at me, and called me names (boo hoo – whatever might I do?!). All that’s in a normal day’s business, but one antagonist inspired today’s article with this bit of derision:

So you think that you should have the ability to disregard the opinions of people who actually know issues better than you because “freedom.”

Yes, oh mighty Expert, I absolutely should have the [redacted] ability to [redacted] disregard what my [redacted] “betters” believe. It’s called liberty, it’s the premise upon which this country was founded, and it’s my inalienable right as the “owner” of my body. So, yes, because “freedom.” As a mantra often used by the authoritarian Left for the one issue where they assert individual liberty goes: “My body, my choice.”

Know what? I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you feel the very same way in many instances. I highly doubt you place such blind trust in experts when the area of expertise isn’t your own. Furthermore, you (should) know that expert opinions do vary, that science and knowledge do evolve, advance, and correct, and that opinions are not facts. But, perhaps you aren’t a hypocrite, perhaps you do defer to experts at all times and in all things.

Guess what? You get to do that because “freedom.”

A smart person will weigh all information available before making a decision, including the opinions of experts. A smart person will probably, if the experts’ opinions are well-formed, well-grounded, and compelling, be more likely to heed experts’ opinions. But, again, he will do so because “freedom.”

Snarling disdain for someone who objects to forced compliance with others’ beliefs is the surest way to ensure that I pay no attention to your opinion. Why? Because it establishes you as an authoritarian thug, ready and willing to compel rather than convince. I don’t care how noble you think your position is, your use of force to impose it is grossly immoral.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C.S. Lewis

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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