George lives in a neighborhood. George has come to believe that using drugs is not a good idea, and maybe even immoral. He thinks that if someone uses drugs, this may: 1) gradually give them some health problems, 2) decrease their motivation to work and possibly cause them to be so lazy that they might even get fired, and/or 3) put that person in a different state of mind that has increased pleasure, less “reality”, and/or less mental reasoning skills. George is so concerned about this that he goes around his neighborhood telling everyone not to use drugs, and he regularly walks around looking for signs of anyone using drugs. He also has a gun in case someone tries to defend themselves against his forthcoming aggression and invasion. One day, as he is peaking through people’s windows from the street, he notices that Bill is in his living room using drugs. He goes into Bill’s house, kidnaps him and locks him in a cage for a prolonged period of time, maybe several years.
Though it is good for one to care about their neighbors’ health and job status, almost everyone who hears this story finds George’s enforcement program morally impermissible. This includes both Democrats and Republicans, and people who believe that it is morally wrong to use drugs. Interestingly, however, many of the people who agree on the impermissibility of George’s behavior nevertheless support seemingly analogous behavior on the part of a certain other King George, aka “government”. Some think it not only permissible but obligatory for the state to coercively stop people from using drugs, and punish those who do. Of course, the penalty for breaking the law is ultimately jail (kidnapping and placing in cage). This is just one of many activities of govt that are generally accepted despite the fact that seemingly analogous behavior would be widely condemned if carried out by anyone else. What gives the govt the moral right to behave in ways that would be wrong for any non-governmental agent? Do moral rules only apply to peasants, or the general populace, and not to those who have joined the peculiar elite gang called “government”? Once a govt hires someone, does this impart on that person a magical shield that deflects moral rules? Are not govt employees also human persons that must obey moral rules? Is initiating violence and aggression against peaceful people wrong for George, but fine for King George and his government workers?
The above argument structure, and some of the full sentences, were derived from political philosopher Mike Huemer.