This is beyond outrageous. Massachusetts, and its Democratic Governor Deval Patrick in particular, is currently considering a law which would make playing poker online a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and $25,000.
I have to admit upfront that I don’t much like poker or gambling: in fact even a normally engaging guy like Ed Brayton can bore the hell out of me when he starts talking about poker championships and basketball instead of penning exposés on Reverend Sun Yung Moon crowning himself king of the world.
But jail time for playing poker? What possible legitimate role of government is being served there? And where is the justice in sending people to jail for non-violent, private acts that hurt no one (except, potentially, themselves) in any case? I guess Massachusetts citizens will just have to rest easy that their police officers aren’t executing petty, non-violent gamblers on their front lawns like they do in Virginia.
Is stopping a behavior that some people enjoy but that you don’t like really worth risking murdering your fellow citizens with ridiculously overzealous legalized persecution? Even if you think that gambling can potentially ruin people’s lives (and clearly, for some, it can, though this is almost certainly a small minority of total players), what sense does it make to impose punishments that definitely ruin their lives? This kick in the face will teach you not to hurt yourself!
But wait, we’re not done yet. Just molesting the corpse of American liberty wasn’t, apparently, grotesque enough for Democratic Governor Deval Patrick: he had to introduce this legislation in the same bill in which the state is proposing to sell “licenses” for three casinos in the state, to the tune of several hundred million dollars each.
That puts this whole thing squarely in the category of “scam.” Step back for a second and look at the situation objectively. We have an entity who makes money from selling the “right” to do something, which it can only do because it denies everyone else these rights in the first place. They are cashing in and then turning around and spending money on SWAT teams and police hours spent to harass and murder… their competition. To be fair, Massachusetts isn’t the only state playing this absurd game of greed and hypocrisy: Texas, Virginia, and Illinois got there first.
I’m only weakly libertarian, and no pal of Paul (Republican presidential primary candidate Ron Paul that is). But stuff like this makes… my skin crawl.