"Illegal" Does Not Always Mean "Wrong"

So Michael Phelps, US Olympic hero, got caught smoking pot. So what? Well, I've seen quite a few people get apoplectic about this -- though I expect the reaction would have been much worse if he were a black athlete. The most disturbing part, though, is that apparently many people believe "illegal" is a synonym for "wrong". It's not. Get that out of your system. Remember how it used to be illegal in the USA for interracial couples to marry? We still have plenty of laws on the books which will eventually be overturned because they're forbidding behavior which isn't wrong. The trick is to identify them, not to blindly label everything as "wrong" merely because it's illegal.

Of course, it's true that illegal behavior is usually "wrong" behavior, but for a journalist to assert that illegal behavior is automatically wrong behavior is like a mathematician pointing out that vaginal and anal sex are topologically equivalent: it's true if you start with the right set of assumptions, but that doesn't mean those are the assumptions which matter.

Update: seems that the analogy might be stronger than I thought. As has been pointed out to me, anal and vaginal sex are not topologically equivalent since one is a dimple and the other is the topological equivalent of the hole in the torus. Therefore, even if you think "illegal" means "wrong", a quick internet posting to will catch you out. :)
Ah, but it is moraly wrong by definition. Why I have no use for morals, but a high regard for ethics.
England has a fair few outdated laws too, one of which I'm sure you break regularly ... it is still illegal for a man to fail to practise archery every Sunday!
"for a journalist to assert that illegal behavior is automatically wrong behavior is like a mathematician pointing out that vaginal and anal sex are topologically equivalent"

That's gotta be one of the most memorably warped analogies I've ever seen.

But I 100% agree with you. Also, the author of the article you linked implicitly, but clearly, believes in the "gateway drug" business that if you smoke pot, it's just a short fall down to LSD, cocaine, heroin and on to crack and meth. That attitude needs to go nearly as much as the idea that illegal and immoral are synonymous.
It's hard to let that go when socialists are aware it is indeed a gateway drug sometimes. But blanket statements are evil.
Gateway drug? Myth busted
There is no evidence that it's *ever* a gateway drug.

There is no chemical or physiological basis for that myth, tests on mice have shown that previously taking THC has no impact on wanting to take more/other drugs.

There is no social basis for that myth either. Statistics show a greater link alcohol and tobacco to harder drugs than cannabis.

Of course if they were legalised it wouldn't be a problem.
Re: Gateway drug? Myth busted
Actually, there's been some tenuous indication that it might be a gateway drug, but based primarily on the reason that because it's illegal, it forces people into a criminal subculture which is more likely to be willing to violate other laws. Thus, if it's a gateway drug, it might be that the only way to fix this is to legalize it.
I agree legalizing it would be the way to correct the gateway phenomenon, but only in a portion of cases. Particularly since it would no longer appear so 'evil' and would be safer to partake in, a certain sector of society will partake in it and will like it and wonder about and eventually find out about other drugs. I started with beer and moved on to vodka and eventually tried 151 and then had a bit of (then illegal) absinthe. That's not always how things work but sometimes. I NEVER tried other stuff just because the idea popped into my head but because the idea bloomed from the knowledge that weaker relatives were enjoyable. God I sound like a lush. Too much coffee!
Re: Gateway drug? Myth busted
Meh, I've seen it in 4 friends, so perhaps I'm biased. And these were friends who drank and smoked before. There seems to be a logical progression; once the mind allows for one Illegal, potentially harmful (kills brain cells), alterative substance, it can bring down its guard on others. Just common sense, for SOME minds. Certainly they don't all work like that. But some do. Blanket statements like that it doesn't work that way ever just don't fly.
Re: Gateway drug? Myth busted
Correlation isn't causation. If they smoked and drank before, it's quite possible that they have addictive personalities in the first place. Why not blame the smoking and drinking on their drug use? Instead, we could argue that there's an underlying issue which might be causative. Marijuana's hardly the most compelling suspect here.

And as I pointed out in another reply, there is some evidence that being forced into a criminal subculture if you want to smoke pot may be the culprit here. If you smoke pot, you disregard the law, so having an addictive personality and now being more comfortable disregarding the law could explain this (I'm not saying this is the case, just that it's not clear that marijuana is the culprit).
That marijuana is not the only culprit. And I think it could only be called a gateway drug for those with an addictive personality...but then wouldn't those usually be the ones partaking? So maybe the gov't just wants to control it to 'save' those with addictive natures. Parallels between the illegalization of pot and prohibition can certainly be drawn but mj is not without some the 'demon in the bottle'. AA acknowledges that addicts should not drink at all. Maybe that's the point of calling mj a gateway drug.

Don't get me wrong here...I think mj should be legalized and controlled by the gov't. It would solve a huge amount of the nations problems, not contribute to more. Addictive personalities and those heading down a path of destruction will find a way no matter its legal status. Now I sound like a socialist. Maybe I am.
Re: Gateway drug? Myth busted
By that logic the "gateway drug" would be alcohol or tobacco then, particularly if the user is underage and so already breaking the law - that covers both of the reasons you claim cannabis would be a gateway drug.

The only logical progression I see when somebody takes a soft drug like cannabis or ecstasy is that they realise that the law is an ass, and that they have been lied to about the dangers, effects, etc of soft drugs by their guardians, teachers and government.

... one possible side effect of that could be that they try other drugs or activities, but that's more to do with the law being an ass, than any particular property of any soft drug use.

When you look at taking drugs wether in tablet form, or smoking, they aren't breaking any physical taboo if you have ever smoked a legal cigarette, cigar, or hookah or ever taken headache, caffeine or viagra tablets.

Sometimes the opposite of illegal things is wrong...such as how some states say it's illegal for a woman to deny her husband sex. Taking it when she doesn't want to/shouldn't give it is rape.

It also used to be illegal to drink alcohol. Think about that...