The noted conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who, according to Wikipedia, “was reportedly floated as a potential candidate for the Libertarian nomination in the 2008 presidential election,” provides an excellent example of how conservatives simply cannot be trusted when it comes to civil liberties and, equally important, how different conservatives are from libertarians.
Take a look at this video of Carlson, along with his Fox News colleague Bill Melugin. The video focuses on the arrest of two young men, Jose Zendejas, 25, and Benito Madrigal, 19, who were busted at a traffic stop in California for illegal possession of 150,000 fentanyl pills that were stashed in their automobile.
Tucker expresses outrage over the fact that a state judge released the two men soon after their arrest on their own recognizance. The judge issued the order after receiving a “risk assessment” that is provided under California law.
Lamenting that hundreds of thousands of people are dying of drug overdoses, Tucker, obviously referring to that judge, criticizes people who “are letting drug traffickers go free.”
For his part, Melugin features the local sheriff who is convinced that this type of drug bust could make a big dent in the war against drug trafficking cartels, and instead “we let them go.”
Melugin took his drug-war analysis one step further and said that “most of that fentanyl is pouring in through the open Southern border where there was just a mass casualty human smuggling event.” He was referring to the 53 immigrants who recently died in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio.
What Carlson and Melugin don’t get is that it is decades-old drug war, which has long been a conservative favorite, is responsible for the black-market smuggling of drugs, including fentanyl, which they lament. If drugs were legal, that black-market smuggling would disappear.
What Carlson also doesn’t get is that many drug users don’t actually die of what he and other people in the mainstream press call “drug overdoses.” They actually die from ingesting corrupted drugs. Why are those drugs corrupted? Because they are produced on the black market! Duh! And the reason there is a black market is because of the war on drugs. Without a black market, drug users would be getting their drugs from reputable businesses, such as pharmacies.
If that local sheriff really believes that that drug bust is going to be make a big dent against drug cartels, one has to ask what the heck he is smoking. Law-enforcement officers have been making those type of ridiculous statements for 50 years. You could go back to the newspaper articles from the 1970s, and ever since then, and find any number of local sheriffs or DEA agents with bales of confiscated marijuana or cocaine being displayed at big ballyhooed press conferences exclaiming that they were making a big dent in the war against the drug cartels.
How in the world can anyone today really believe this nonsense? With every drug lord or drug cartel they bust, ten more appear to replace them. That’s how black markets work. How come conservatives don’t understand that, especially Carlson, who professes to have an understanding of economics?
There is something else Carlson, Melugin, and the sheriff don’t seem to understand. In the United States, we don’t have pre-trial detention of suspected law violators, like they do in Russia and China. The Bill of Rights guarantees the right of bail. That’s a legal concept that enables people to be released from custody pending their trial.
That’s what that judge was doing when he released those two men. He was setting the bail. He could have required that they post a cash bond but oftentimes poor people cannot afford a cash bond. Under our system of law, the judge has the prerogative of releasing a person “on his own recognizance,” which waives the posting of a cash bond.
The point of bail is simply to guarantee that the person will appear at trial. It’s at trial where it is determined whether he is guilty or not. Carlson, Melugin, and the sheriff don’t seem to get that. They seem to be presuming that those two men are automatically guilty and, therefore, should have been kept incarcerated to prevent them from committing more crimes. They forget that in America, unlike Russia and China, people who are charged with crimes are presumed innocent, not guilty, and must later be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt with competent evidence before they can be punished for a crime.
Melugin speaks the standard conservative nonsense about the Southern border being an “open border.” Once again, he just doesn’t get it. An open border, which we libertarians favor, means no Border Patrol, ICE, domestic highway checkpoints, DEA, and other restrictions on the freedom of people to cross borders. That’s a far cry from what we have today, which is a system of very stringent immigration controls, a Berlin Wall, and an immigration police state, which both conservatives and liberals favor.
What Melugin and Carlson also apparently fail to recognize is that the deaths of those 53 immigrants are a direct consequence of the very system of immigration controls that they support, endorse, and defend. Those immigrants died because of the black-market transportation of illegal immigrants. Without immigration controls, you don’t have a black market in illegal transportation of immigrants. Instead, immigrants are free to cross borders and travel like regular human beings. How is it that conservatives can’t see that, especially a conservative like Carlson, who, again, professes to know something about economics.
Both incidents — the drug bust and the deaths of those 53 immigrants — are a direct consequence of the drug laws and the immigration controls that conservatives (as well as liberals) support and defend. Unfortunately, conservatives then use those adverse consequences as an excuse to attack such fundamental civil liberties as the right to bail and the presumption of innocence.
Bottom line: It is only libertarians who can be trusted to provide a consistent defense of all aspects of liberty, including the right to ingest drugs, the right to freely cross political borders, freedom of trade, freedom of association, the right to pursue happiness, the presumption of innocence, the right to bail, and all other civil liberties.