“Should X Be Legal?” Doesn’t Sound Bloody Enough

“Should X be legal?” misses a lot of the options in any discussion, and it hides the brutality of some of the options.
For instance, “Should pot be legal?” sounds like the sort of questions with sane answers on both sides. Maybe it doesn’t, but it seems like it could. “Should we send armed agents of the state to violently remove people from their homes to put them in cages for years if the people possess leaves that make you feel funny when smoked?” has an obvious answer. But “Should we fine people for circumventing the tax structure by acquiring goods from untaxed sources?” goes right back to the realm of reasonable questions. Between these cases, we see that adding this precision lets us see whether there’s even a sane debate to be had.

A brief example of the disingenuity of states’ rights champions

So, California wants to have its own emission standards for automobiles. They want standards that are stricter than the national standards. Some other states do, too, but California is the one that really upsets the anti-environment right because there are so many cars in the state that California standards are effectively national standards.

Where are all the states’ rights champions on this? Why are Fox News pundits not up in arms about the rights of states to set their own standards? Whenever national law looks like it’s about to progress, the right, especially in very regressive states, appeal to states’ rights. There are two options for why:

  1. They have principled reasons to support states’ rights, or
  2. It’s politically expedient to appeal to a principle that nobody really holds but seems more likely to at least keep a few states back than an argument from their actual principles would.

Given the silence of this group on California’s rights, 1 is very unlikely.