There is a line in Leonard Peikoff's OPAR where he says that a man should not be subjected to the initiation of force until he has demonstrated by his actions that he does not subscribe to reason. I have misquoted it slightly. I am looking for the quote.
The reason I ask is that members of the local city council are considering endorsing Laura's Law, which could allow mentally ill people to be forced to submit to treatment. We have had two or more recent incidents near hear, the Seal Beach Beauty Salon shooting rampage, and the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police, that involved mentally ill people. I realize the two cases are wildly different but people are associating the two in their attempt to portray it as a sort of class struggle, where the class is the mentally ill.
But Laura's Law seems like it may conform with Objectivist Principle's, at least as it would pertain the case of the Seal Beach shooting where the mentally ill person was threatening other people. Should such a law allow law enforcement officers to force a person to receive treatment?
The questioner may be thinking of the following passage from OPAR, Chap. 8 ("Virtue"), section titled, "The Initiation of Physical Force as Evil" (p. 320, bold highlighting added):
Ayn Rand holds that to initiate force against others is evil. But to use force in retaliation, against the individual(s) or nation(s) that started its use, is completely proper. Using force in retaliation means using it not against the innocent, but to stop criminals or aggressors. The ethical difference is the same as that between murder and self-defense....
The context of this passage is how to respond to those who initiate physical force against others. The rejection of reason is implicit in the initiation of physical force. The passage is not at all referring to people who are mentally ill, although it is highly applicable to individuals, both mentally ill and not, who initiate physical force against others.
There is a very informative discussion of Laura's Law under that topic in Wikipedia. Laura's Law is an existing law in California with stringent requirements and restrictions on the use of forced treatments for mental illness in cases where a force initator has "a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards [self] or others." (Quoted from the Wikipedia article.) Such "treatments" usually involve the forced administration of mind-numbing, mood-altering drugs. The Wikipedia article also explains:
The law is only operative in those counties in which the county board of supervisors, by resolution, authorizes its application and makes a finding that no voluntary mental health program serving adults, and no children's mental health program, was reduced in order to implement the law.
The Wikipedia article describes opposition to Laura's Law as follows:
Outpatient commitment opponents make several varied arguments. Some dispute the positive effects of compulsory treatment, questioning the methodology of studies that show effectiveness. Others highlight negative effects of treatment. Still others point to disparities in the way these laws are applied. The psychiatric survivors movement opposes compulsory treatment on the basis that the ordered drugs often have serious or unpleasant side-effects such as anhedonia, tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, excessive weight gain leading to diabetes, addiction, sexual side effects, and increased risk of suicide.
Philosophically, the basic principle (as I see it) is that physical force and cognitive efficacy do not "go together." Physical force, even in retaliation against a prior initiation and against the initiator, does not promote cognitive efficacy. At best, the use of certain drugs may be a reasonable and effective means of subduing a violently ill force-initiator who would otherwise be a continuing threat to others. But forced "treatment" cannot be a means of curing mental illness, and does not belong in a society's political system for that purpose. No individual, whether mentally ill or not, is a "social resource" to be cultivated and eventually consumed by "society," like some kind of farm animal or crop. The only proper role of a society's government, as identified in Objectivism, is to protect individual rights by placing the retaliatory use of physical force (for self-defense) under objective control.
Another point to remember about retaliatory physical force is that it must be a retaliation against an actual initiation of physical force that has either already occurred or is provably about to occur unless it is stopped. Retaliatory force cannot be justified as a general-purpose "preventive" measure to be used against anyone who may not actually have initiated physical force against anyone, but who is "deemed by society" to be "anti-social" and potentially violent in the future.
answered Jun 30 '12 at 15:59
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