Thursday, April 15, 1999
ANNOUNCER This is an ABCNEWS Special.
Itís called ďthe land of the free.Ē But are
you ready for what that may mean?
JOHN STOSSEL, ABCNEWS (on camera) People should be able to do
whatever they want?
NADINE STROSSEN, PRESIDENT, ACLU Consenting adults in private
ANNOUNCER Thatís not whatís happening.
1ST POLICE OFFICER Get your hands up!
ANNOUNCER Police are raiding, invading, arresting Ö
FORT WORTH POLICE OFFICER Head down.
and jailing for crimes that donít hurt anyone else. (Sirens)
WOMAN BEING ARRESTED Man, Iím not doing nothing wrong!
ANNOUNCER This man got prison for selling pornography to
LYNN ALEXANDER They didnít stop adult entertainment, did
ANNOUNCER And women, like this prostitute, are punished for
HEATHER SMITH Hi, Sonny.
SYDNEY BIDDLE BARROWS Who are we to criminalize their doing
something that is OK with them?
ANNOUNCER Itís your Uncle Sam playing parent, telling you
whatís right and wrong. Is that what America really wants?
PETER MCWILLIAMS, AUTHOR Youíre asking the government to
control individual morality. This is a government that canít buy a
toilet seat for under $600.
ANNOUNCER This politician fought to keep gay sex a crime, while
he was breaking sex laws himself. In Iran, you could be stoned for
adultery. Getting stoned in America got this man 93 years in jail.
WILL FOSTER, PRISONER You have the right to kill yourself with
alcohol, but you canít smoke a joint. I mean, where is your freedom of
ANNOUNCER Thereís even a law about buying tickets. Stossel
better not buy from this scalper.
JOHN STOSSEL So, are you doing something bad?
1ST SCALPER No, Iím not. Weíre not out here robbing or
ANNOUNCER Tonight - a rebroadcast of an hour that challenges
the laws we live by. ďSex, Drugs & Consenting Adults.Ē Now, from
the worldís most famous symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty,
hereís John Stossel.
JOHN STOSSEL, ABCNEWS Good evening. ďLiberty.Ē What does
that word mean? This statue was built to commemorate Americaís
independence and the freedoms that came with it ó freedom to speak, to
assemble, to worship. All the things you can do when your rulers leave you
alone. But being free doesnít mean there are no rules. (Gunshots)
MAN SHOUTING AT POLICE Youíre an (bleep).
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) You canít live in peace if thereís
anarchy. (Gunshots) If other people are free to rob us, assault us. We
need police to protect us from this. But for years, the police have also
been going after people who didnít do anything to anyone else.
2ND POLICE OFFICER Get your hands up in the air!
3RD POLICE OFFICER Get down!
2ND POLICE OFFICER Get Ďem up!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Often arresting them brutally.
4TH POLICE OFFICER Open it up. (Man gagging)
4TH POLICE OFFICER More! I said open it! (Man mumbling)
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) They said this man took illegal drugs. No
victim complained about what he did. Or about this man ó heís accused
of taking bets on basketball games. This woman was arrested because she
offered sex for money.
LAS VEGAS POLICE OFFICER All right. Step over here.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) This man for selling sexual videotapes.
NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER If I see you again, weíre going
to lock you up.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Outside a basketball game at Madison Square
Garden, police threatened this man because they say he was trying to
2ND SCALPER If you find any tickets on me, lock me up.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) None of these people robbed anyone or forced
anyone to do anything against their will. (Sirens)
WOMAN BEING ARRESTED Man, Iím not doing nothing wrong!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Everyone who participated in these so -
called ďcrimesĒ consented. Defenders of individual liberty say this
should mean they have the right to do it.
NADINE STROSSEN, PRESIDENT, ACLU We, as free adults, have the
right to imbibe, ingest, inhale or insert whatever we want to in our own
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Nadine Strossen is president of the American
Civil Liberties Union. (on camera) Drugs, gambling, prostitution ó these
are ugly things. These degrade society. By having laws preventing them, we
make life better.
NADINE STROSSEN That is no basis for making it a crime in this
JOHN STOSSEL But youíre wrecking your life, and youíre
often wrecking other peopleís lives.
NADINE STROSSEN Who are the other people? What is the actual
harm? The harm is that they donít like the fact that you are doing
something of which they disapprove.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But disapproval has been the basis for making
things crimes since colonial days.
LAWRENCE FRIEDMAN, LAW PROFESSOR, STANFORD UNIVERSITY There was
very little distinction made between what we would call a sin and what we
would call a crime.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Stanford University law professor Lawrence
Friedman, author of ďCrime and Punishment: An American History,Ē says
the Puritans would have silenced Nadine Strossen because they had laws
against women voicing strong opinions. People were whipped for having sex
outside marriage, or even for idleness. If you cursed, you might be put in
the stocks. And, yes, there really was a scarlet letter. Adulterers were
forced to wear this ďA,Ē usually for life.
LAWRENCE FRIEDMAN It gave a very dramatic message to the
community as a whole that this is bad behavior.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) And we still have all sorts of laws against
what some people consider bad behavior. In many places, itís against the
law to buy a bottle of liquor on Sunday. Try selling a vibrator in
Atlanta, and government officials wearing masks may take your merchandise
and arrest you. And if you go to a prostitute in St. Petersburg Ö
(Clip from TV announcement)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN Weíll have your picture right on television.
ST. PETERSBURG POLICE OFFICER Thatís a guarantee.
PETER MCWILLIAMS, AUTHOR Keep in mind that youíre asking the
government to control individual morality. This is a government that
canít buy a toilet seat for under $600.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Peter McWilliams is the author of ďAinít
Nobodyís Business If You Do.Ē ďConsentĒ is whatís on his license
plate. He considers himself a modern - day freedom fighter. Heís a long
- time marijuana smoker and says everyone should have the right to do
PETER MCWILLIAMS Thereís a lot of stupid things that you can
do with your life, and people do it all the time. But thereís a
difference between what wise people do and what the law should be.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) We need these laws to make people
behave better, to make society civilized.
PETER MCWILLIAMS No, civilized society is, ďYou do what you
want. I do what I want. I will not harm you or your property. You donít
harm me and my property.Ē The government does not need to come in and
tell us, ďThere, there, little children. Weíll take care of you. Just
do what we say.Ē
JOHN STOSSEL But the government does often tell us what to do.
The government tells us we canít gamble, canít sell certain things,
canít take certain medicines. It even tells us what we cannot do with
other consenting adults in our own beds. We consider that when we return.
ANNOUNCER ďSex, Drugs & Consenting AdultsĒ continues.
Here again from the Statue of Liberty, John Stossel.
JOHN STOSSEL When do you get to say to your government,
ďLeave me alone. Itís none of your businessĒ? Perhaps when youíre
doing something very private, like having sex?
PRES BILL CLINTON I did not have sexual relations with that
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The debate over President Clintonís conduct
came to focus on the issue of lying under oath. But as far as the sex
went, even though adultery is illegal here in Washington, DC, most people
seemed to say the sex was none of our business. No one talked about
calling the police.
(Shouting) (VO) In Iran, they sometimes beat adulterers. Or they cover
you with a sheet and bury you up to your waist in sand and then stone you
to death. (on camera) Not in America, though most states here do have laws
against adultery and fornication. You could say, ďWell, if they donít
enforce it, itís no big deal.Ē
(VO) But, in fact, rarely enforced laws are a big threat to freedom,
because you never know when you might be in trouble. Under selective
enforcement, the powerful are safe, but less popular people have a lot to
worry about. In Atlanta, a prosecutor decided to enforce a law against
self - pleasuring devices. You know, vibrators?
ATLANTA REPORTER Atlanta police raided this shop, carted off
boxes full of sex toys.
SEAN ďTIPĒ GAGNE, STORE MANAGER Fifteen to 20 men in black
ski masks entered this store, arrested my whole staff. Thatís
taxpayersí money hard at work.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The customers say they donít need
ĒCHRISTIE,Ē CUSTOMER If you come in, youíre obviously
consenting to it. If I wanted to buy a vibrator, I should be able to buy a
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Not legally. Not here. Because you might be
stimulating the wrong thing. In Minneapolis, you canít buy one from
Ferris Alexander either. Alexander was unpopular with some people here
because he ran adult movie theaters and sold sex magazines and videotapes.
He was popular with more people because, for 30 years, his stores were
very successful. But then a prosecutor deemed some of his tapes obscene.
Authorities locked up his businesses and put him in jail for five years.
LYNN ALEXANDER This process began when he was 72. Heís now
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Lynn Alexander is Ferrisí daughter.
LYNN ALEXANDER It destroyed him.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) He deserves it. Your fatherís a
LYNN ALEXANDER He didnít create behavior. He was simply
selling a product that was in demand.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The illegal tapes and magazines were sold
only to adults. They contain no child pornography, but there is lots of
sex and nudity.
LYNN ALEXANDER Show frontal nudity, and ó shock, horror,
despair, the end of rational thought!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Citing racketeering statutes, authorities
took more than $9 million worth of her fatherís property.
MINNEAPOLIS REPORTER The bookstores and theaters are now
property of the government.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) What was inside, they destroyed.
ANTHONY DESTEFANIS Not only did they throw books and magazines
and tapes, they threw in VHS machines into the cityís incinerator and
blew the incinerator out.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Anthony DeStefanis is Lynnís husband.
LYNN ALEXANDER But who were they protecting? What did they
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) They got your father put in jail.
LYNN ALEXANDER They didnít stop adult entertainment, did
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) They sure didnít. All around Minneapolis
today, video stores sell the exact same tapes that got Alexander in
trouble. And business is good. Thatís what usually happens when vice
squads crack down. The vice doesnít go away. (Siren) But if youíre
unlucky enough to be caught in the sting, watch out.
5TH POLICE OFFICER You get arrested for this again, no more
citations. You go right to jail.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Georgia, until recently, had laws against
sodomy. Thatís oral or anal sex. They used the laws to punish some
homosexuals. Chris Christiansen was arrested for proposing sex to another
CHRIS CHRISTIANSEN Itís the last people they have that they
can pick on.
MICHAEL BOWERS They can have sex. They just canít have sex
with another boy.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Attorney General Mike Bowers argued the
stateís position against homosexual sex all the way to the Supreme
PETER JENNINGS, ABCNEWS The Supreme Court has handed down a
decision today which could affect the sexual habits of millions of
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The court sided with Bowers.
TV REPORTER States may make it a crime punishable by prison
even when committed in the privacy of oneís own bedroom.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Bowers says morality was upheld. He then
cited the sodomy law when he took back a job offer from Robin Shahar.
ROBIN SHAHAR How could I have been fired for this? I mean Ö
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Robinís a lesbian, married in a religious
ceremony to Fran Shahar.
ROBIN SHAHAR People should be free to choose who they want to
love. You canít ó you donít have control over who you fall in love
MICHAEL BOWERS But that doesnít mean they can do whatever
they want to, no more than I can.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But Bowers, who recently ran for governor,
did just what he wanted to do for 10 years. That means heís a criminal,
too, because Georgia also has a law against adultery.
GEORGIA TV REPORTER Mike Bowers, married for 34 years and the
father of three grown children, carried on a love affair with a woman who
worked for him in the state law office.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Bowers admits to the affair but would not
talk to us about the hypocrisy.
ROBIN SHAHAR Mr Bowers penalized me for being honest while he
rewarded himself for lying.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) All this led some Georgia legislators to try
to change the law.
STEVE LANGFORD, GEORGIA STATE SENATOR If you want to have a
trampoline in your bedroom and do flips and ó nude or whatever it is, as
long as youíre not bothering anyone else, why should someone care?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Because itís against God, say many
legislators. Legalizing sex between people like the Shahars would be
MITCHELL KAYE, GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE Through some of
these acts, you canít propagate the species. Theyíre not morally
correct. They say you canít legislate morality, but thatís what we do
as a legislature every single day ó setting curfews for our children,
requiring people to wear seat belts, speeding laws, other laws. We are
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Of course, laws about children and speeding
are different. Children are not consenting adults, and speeders often hurt
other people. But the Shahars are consenting adults in the privacy of
their own home.
FRAN SHAHAR, ROBIN SHAHARíS PARTNER If you donít like it,
donít do it. But donít tell me not to do it.
PETER MCWILLIAMS The problem comes when people come in and say,
ďGod doesnít want you to do that, and besides that, I think itís a
bad idea, and it makes me uncomfortable. So weíre going to put you in
jail for your own protection.Ē
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Which is what we do with prostitutes. Vice
squads arrest a tiny percentage of the lawbreakers, put them in jail and
then usually release them the next day.
6TH POLICE OFFICER Now, I arrested you last night. Iím giving
you a citation tonight. Hopefully, I wonít see you tomorrow.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Sometimes, the madams get longer sentences.
Hollywoodís Heidi Fleiss went to jail for a year and a half. Sylvia
Landry in Louisiana got six years. She then hanged herself in her cell. It
didnít stop anything. Prostitutes are as easy to find as ever.
SYDNEY BIDDLE BARROWS People who are going to do it are going
to do it whether itís legal or not.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Sydney Biddle Barrows, the so - called
ďMayflower madam,Ē because sheís a descendant of the Pilgrims,
admitted to running a big New York City call girl operation. Barrows got
off with a $5,000 fine.
SYDNEY BIDDLE BARROWS There are a lot of women out there who
simply do not feel that it is immoral to sleep with a man for money. And
who are we to criminalize their doing something that is OK with them?
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) But isnít it better if it is
illegal? Arenít we better off protecting ourselves from what you did?
SYDNEY BIDDLE BARROWS What are we really protecting people
against? Weíre protecting women from making a living, and weíre
protecting men from spending their money as they please. I donít think
that anyone needs to be protected from that.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Prostitute Heather Smith feels so strongly
about that, she let our camera follow her as she called on this customer.
HEATHER SMITH Hi, Sonny. How are you?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Her customer agreed to be on camera.
HEATHER SMITH Oh, you look so good. Itís legal for two men to
go into a boxing ring and beat each other bloody for money, but itís not
legal for me to go in and give someone sexual pleasure for money. What
kind of sense does that make?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) No sense, says this group of San Francisco
sex workers. (on camera) This is degrading for women. No woman would
1ST WOMAN IN SAN FRANCISCO A lot of women choose this.
NORMA JEAN ALMODOVAR I donít think a lot of women would
choose to scrub toilets for a living. Nevertheless, because a lot of
people might think thatís degrading, we donít put them in jail. (Car
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) When we make crimes out of acts between
consenting adults, an added threat to freedom is that police have to
entice people into committing the crimes.
1ST PROSTITUTE Whatís up?
UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICER Howís it going?
1ST PROSTITUTE Fine. Want a date?
UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICER Yeah.
1ST PROSTITUTE You a cop?
UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICER No.
1ST PROSTITUTE Yes, you are. (Laughing)
UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICER No, Iím not.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Yes, he is. And this policewoman also lies to
catch a customer.
UNDERCOVER POLICEWOMAN Hi.
UNDERCOVER POLICEWOMAN I hear you are looking for a date?
UNDERCOVER POLICEWOMAN How much you want to spend?
PETER MCWILLIAMS The police, who should be out there catching
the real criminals ó the murders and the rapists and the robbers ó
theyíre out there pretending to be prostitutes, trying to catch people
who just happen to be sexually turned on.
7TH POLICE OFFICER Youíre under arrest right now for
soliciting for prostitution, OK?
PETER MCWILLIAMS Itís shameful what weíre doing in the name
of morality. So, you have to ask yourself not, ďIs prostitution a good
idea?Ē You have to ask yourself, ďIs prostitution worth putting people
in prison for?Ē
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Since prison hasnít stopped the business,
politicians keep raising the ante.
NARRATOR (WAYNE COUNTY, MI TV AD) If youíre dumb enough to
solicit a prostitute in Wayne County, donít be surprised if you lose
your car. The program has netted over 400 cars a month.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Do we have to arrest people and take their
cars to have a civilized society? Wayne County, Michigan, is right across
the river from Windsor, Canada. Here, escort services ó thatís what
they call them ó are legal.
CHANTAL GAGNON, EXECUTIVE SERVICES ESCORTS Ariel, sheís
5í6Ē. She has blonde hair, green eyes. Sheís a 36DD. Are you in for
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) There are more than a dozen police -
registered escort services in Windsor alone. Chantal runs this one.
CHANTAL GAGNON The only difference between an escort seeing a
gentleman and a gentleman seeing a girl that he picked up in a bar is that
weíre getting paid for it. So theyíre saying that it would be OK to
give it for free, but you canít get paid for it. Hmm, Iím not
understanding that. You know what I mean?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The escort services advertise in the yellow
pages and on the Internet. What do the Canadian police think about this?
STAFF SGT DAVE ROSSELL, WINDSOR, ONTARIO POLICE Youíre not
going to stop it. So what do you do now? You work with it the best you can
to make it the best it can be.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Not in America. Here, itís one more messy
criminal enterprise, because of the laws. (on camera) If the majority of
people want these laws, arenít we a healthier society prohibiting these
NADINE STROSSEN ďWhy not let the majority decideĒ sounds
like a totalitarian credo, because we believe in individual liberty.
JOHN STOSSEL People should be able to do whatever they want?
NADINE STROSSEN Consenting adults in private places,
JOHN STOSSEL Still, arenít some things just too dangerous to
allow, even for consenting adults? When we return, a look at the
governmentís biggest and most expensive effort to control what you do.
ANNOUNCER Later in the program ó gambling. Everybodyís
doing it, even the government. So why is it against the law? But next, try
to tell this man itís a free country. What he did in his own home got
him 93 years in jail. And look what Americaís neighbors are doing. When
it comes to free choice, maybe the grass is greener on their side of the
ďSex, Drugs & Consenting AdultsĒ continues
after this from our ABC stations. (Station Break)
ANNOUNCER ďSex, Drugs & Consenting
AdultsĒ continues. Here again from the Statue of Liberty, John Stossel.
JOHN STOSSEL We talk about the past 20 years as a time of peace
in America. But, in fact, weíre at war. This war has been hugely
destructive and has lasted longer than the war in Vietnam. (VO) We spend
almost $100 million a day fighting this war. The military does much of the
work in other countries. (Explosions)
GROUP OF POLICE OFFICERS Get down! On the ground! Now!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But most of the battles are fought here at
8TH POLICE OFFICER Search warrant! Search warrant!
9TH POLICE OFFICER Police officers!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) After all, this is a war against our own
1ST MAN ON GROUND What are you talking about?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Iím talking, of course, about the war on
drugs. This is a war worth fighting, isnít it? We have to protect all
the innocent people who live in fear because their streets are so unsafe.
WOMAN ON STREET CORNER Oh, God, we ask you for the Holy Spirit.
PRIEST Some people selling drugs were shot to death right on
this corner, and our cross is a sign of the suffering that drugs cause.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) In this part of the Bronx, New York, they
hold these anti - drug vigils every month. Jesuit priest Joseph Kane has
his ministry here.
FATHER JOSEPH KANE, JESUIT PRIEST Brothers and sisters, may the
grace and peace of our loving God Ö
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) For 25 years, Father Kaneís lived in this
neighborhood amidst drug violence. But now he believes the laws against
drugs do more harm than the drugs themselves.
JOSEPH KANE Peace be with you. Thank you.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) First of all, they barely make a dent in the
JOSEPH KANE I think what we have to realize is that
interdiction is just about impossible.
UNDERCOVER DRUG AGENT Heís going to sell to this big truck.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The drug war doesnít stop the flow of
drugs, because making drugs illegal makes smuggling more profitable. A
hundred dollars worth of Peruvian cocaineís worth $2,000 on these
streets. That keeps sellers selling.
JOSEPH KANE The corner up above it is heroin. The corner above
that would be cocaine, and then down our block is smoke, you know, so Ö
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The worst effect of the drug war, he says, is
the crime. Kane says if drugs were legal, thereíd be less violence here.
(on camera) Youíve got enough chaos in this neighborhood now. If it were
legal, you donít think youíd have more?
JOSEPH KANE No. John, I hate to interrupt you. I think the
violence in this neighborhood is caused by it being illegal.
JOHN STOSSEL What, the violence isnít caused by the drug?
JOSEPH KANE Itís caused by the cost of the drug. In a sense,
when you make that drug illegal, you have raised the price to such an
extent that Iím willing to kill you to get your street corner. See, I
cannot deal with you legally, so how can I take over this very lucrative
market that you have? The only way I can get you is with violence.
JOHN STOSSEL Now, thatís an odd idea ó that itís the drug
war that causes the crime. But think about it. Drug users rarely commit
crimes just because theyíre high on their drug. But outlawing the drug
causes crime two ways. First, it puts the drug trade in the hands of
outlaws. And second, by making the drug scarce, it raises the price, and
that makes drug users more likely to steal. (VO) Nicotine is said to be
almost as addictive as cocaine. Yet no oneís knocking over 7 - Elevens
to get Marlboros.
JOSEPH KANE Would there be less violence with the repeal of our
laws? There would be.
TOM CONSTANTINE, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION People try to
say itís the law that causes the problem. Itís the drug and the drug
usage that causes the problem.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Tom Constantine heads the DEA, Americaís
Drug Enforcement Administration. He says we must fight the drug culture.
TOM CONSTANTINE I think we have a responsibility as a
democratic society to protect ourselves from those types of detrimental
NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER Bootlegging was Ö
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Of course, when we tried to protect ourselves
from the alcohol culture, it was a disaster.
NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER For 13 years, the idiocy continued despite
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Prohibition gave rise to criminals like Al
NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER Gangsterism was a natural sequel, and
battles for exclusive territories erupted with a violence unparalleled in
the history of law enforcement.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Itís what happens when you outlaw something
that lots of people want. Todayís gangs created by drug prohibition make
Al Capone look small.
TOM CONSTANTINE Their wealth for criminals and organized
criminals exceeds anything that weíve ever seen, even when the Mafia was
dominant in the United States.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But even if the law makes some criminals
rich, he says, we must fight the war to send a message to the children.
Yet kids arenít getting the message.
TOM CONSTANTINE Our teenage population, we are finding that
kids have lost the message that drugs are bad for them. They donít see
us disapproving strongly enough of drugs.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) So whatís the purpose of the war?
Youíve got this huge war. Youíre locking up more and more people, and
the kids still donít get it?
TOM CONSTANTINE The purpose of the war is to save those kids.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Itís not clear that kids are being saved.
Iím sure the law deters some from trying drugs, but some teenagers are
attracted to whatís forbidden. And in poor neighborhoods, what may be
the most perverse effect of the law is teaching kids that real work ó
entry - level jobs ó are for suckers. Why work at McDonaldís when the
coolest guys in the neighborhood, the ones with the best clothes and the
best cars, are the dealers? (on camera) They got the most money?
1ST BOY The most money, the most power.
2ND BOY They have the loot. The cheese.
JOHN STOSSEL ďThe cheese?Ē
2ND BOY Thatís what they call it.
3RD BOY They donít buy cheap stuff like us. They buy
4TH BOY They got the money, power and respect.
JOHN STOSSEL So doesnít it make you want to grow up to be a
ALL No, no, no. Thatís bad money.
JOHN STOSSEL Thatís bad money. (VO) Heroically, most of the
kids will resist the temptation. But thatís a lot to ask of a kid.
TOM CONSTANTINE Thatís why society has to arrest and
prosecute those individuals that commit those crimes as a signal to all
the rest of the people that we care about the issue.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) So whoís the enemy in this war?
TOM CONSTANTINE The individuals who are selling drugs at great
profit involved in these monumental criminal enterprises. Certainly not
those poor people who become addicted to drugs. I donít think they
should be anybodyís enemy. In fact, they should be somebody we look at
with some compassion.
JOHN STOSSEL But we are locking them up.
TOM CONSTANTINE No, not really.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Then whoís filling the jails? Drug laws are
why America imprisons a higher percentage of its citizens than most other
PRISON GUARD Stand by the gate, right there.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Today, 400,000 Americans are in jail, not
because they did something to someone, but because they were caught with
forbidden chemicals. Here in Texas, Will Fosterís in jail because he
grew marijuana plants. He was convicted of intent to sell, and a jury
sentenced him to 93 years.
WILL FOSTER, PRISONER In America, to have committed a crime,
there used to have to be a victim. Iíve never beat up anybody. Iíve
never raped nobody. I havenít molested a child. I havenít killed
anybody. I worked. I paid my taxes. I took care of my family.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Foster ran a computer business.
WILL FOSTER I made in excess of $100,000 a year annual income.
Now, my wife is struggling to make ends meet. And Iíve used all the
money I had saved just to fight this. For a victimless, nonviolent crime.
Never hurt nobody.
PETER MCWILLIAMS Imagine what itís costing
us to do this. Imagine the money. Imagine the agony of people whose lives
are destroyed by a single arrest for something like marijuana.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Peter McWilliams smoked marijuana. He thought
he wouldnít be jailed for this because he lives in California, where
thereís a medical exception to the drug law. McWilliams has AIDS and
says marijuana relieves the nausea he gets from his medicine. But the
medical exception isnít much protection. Recently, nine DEA agents
ransacked his house looking for evidence of marijuana growing.
PETER MCWILLIAMS They went through every paper in my house, and
they just sort of left it all over the place here. And I donít know what
they were looking for or what was going on. I assume that they were
looking for great drug kingpin something - or - another. Isnít that what
the DEAís all about, the major traffickers?
DEA AGENTS The police! Go, go, go!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Actually, legal rules have gradually been
loosened, so narcotics squads can enter any drug suspectís house even in
the middle of the night without knocking. Sometimes, itís not the right
BOSTON TV REPORTER A Boston police SWAT team raided the wrong
apartment looking for drugs.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) After this raid, this minister died of a
10TH POLICE OFFICER Police, open the door!
11TH POLICE OFFICER Open the door!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) And drug police now have the power to take
your property and, unless you know the legal tricks, sell it at an auction
like this. Even if you havenít been found guilty.
WILL FOSTER If you rape somebody, they donít come in, they
donít seize your house. They donít seize your bank account. They
donít seize your cars. They donít seize everything you own. In a drug
offense, they do that first thing.
FORT WORTH POLICE OFFICER Police, down! Police, down!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Still, many in government want tougher laws.
FORMER REP NEWT GINGRICH, (R) GEORGIA We ought to say flatly,
ďYou import a commercial quantity of drugs in the United States for the
purpose of destroying our children, we will kill you.Ē
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) They do that in Saudi Arabia. Here, drug
dealers are beheaded in the town square. Would this solve our problem?
(Church bells ring) Some countries say the answer is more tolerance. In
Italy, Spain and Holland, use of small amounts of drugs is generally
ignored. In Vancouver, Canada, we stopped by the Cannabis Cafe.
MARC EMERY, CANNABIS CAFE The Cannabis Cafe here has cannabis
in all the food, hemp oil and hemp seeds.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) People smoke marijuana in the restaurant,
started by Marc Emery.
MARC EMERY Whereíd you get this pipe?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) What do the police think about this?
SGT RUSS GRABB, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE All things being
equal, marijuana is really not a big deal. Itís essentially viewed as a
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) America was once more tolerant of
intoxicants, too. At the turn of the century, Bayer aspirin had heroin in
it. Some wine had coca leaves. And nicotineís always been legal.
WILL FOSTER In America, you can have the right to kill yourself
with cigarettes, have the right to kill yourself with alcohol. But you
canít medicate yourself, or you canít smoke a joint. You know, I mean,
where is your freedom of choice?
TOM CONSTANTINE Thereís a difference between alcohol and
cocaine. Thereís a difference between alcohol and marijuana. Everybody
who tries that substance ó marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines,
hashish ó does it for one single purpose. They do it for the purpose of
becoming high. I think thatís wrong, and I think itís dangerous.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) I hate to say this to the head of the
DEA, but when I have a glass of gin or vodka, Iím doing it to get a
little buzz on. That buzz is bad, should be illegal?
TOM CONSTANTINE Well, I think if you drink for that purpose,
thatís not too smart. I canít tell what you to do with your own life.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) We do want him to tell airline pilots and bus
drivers they canít get high on the job. Thatís hardly victimless. But
shouldnít people be allowed to harm themselves if thatís what they
want to do? (on camera) Should we outlaw smoking?
TOM CONSTANTINE When we look down the road, I would say 10, 15,
20 years from now, in a gradual fashion, smoking will probably be outlawed
in the United States.
DREW CAREY Oh, my God. Send me to jail.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Better enjoy it while you can.
NADINE STROSSEN Everything can be abused. And if weíre going
to say that any freedom or any choice that can be abused should therefore
be eliminated, then I think weíre all going to have to live in a police
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Large numbers of police recently appeared on
Father Kaneís block. They say theyíre fighting drugs 24 hours a day.
JOSEPH KANE I think our country wants to make war. And weíre
making war against people who we really donít care that much about to
begin with. And thatís why I am personally against it. We have taken
people that I think are precious and weíve destroyed them.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) When we return, we look at what many
people consider the most basic freedom.
ANNOUNCER Stossel and Stossel, father and son making decisions
about the end of life.
JOHN STOSSEL Would you ever want to die?
ANNOUNCER The way we live, the way we die. Should the
government have the final say? ďSex, Drugs & Consenting AdultsĒ
continues after this.
ANNOUNCER ďSex, Drugs & Consenting AdultsĒ continues.
Here again, John Stossel.
JOHN STOSSEL Who owns your body? You or the state? Iíd like
to think that once Iím an adult, my body belongs to me. So Iím allowed
to eat as much as I want to, dye my hair red, get a nose ring, whatever.
Itís my body, isnít it? Well, actually, no.
12TH POLICE OFFICER Give me your hands! (Shouting) Give me your
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) As weíve seen, youíre not free to put any
intoxicant you want into your body.
13TH POLICE OFFICER Head down!
2ND MAN ON GROUND I donít have anything!
JOHN STOSSEL Or sell your body.
2ND PROSTITUTE So whatís going on, honey? Can you try to help
a girl out?
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) You canít bulk up using steroids. Some
places, youíre not allowed to get a tattoo. The purpose of these bans is
to protect us, but itís not clear that forbidding things always does
JANETíS MOTHER One, two, three Ö
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Consider Janet
Cheadle. While she looks
healthy, Janet has a form of cancer thatís likely to kill her before she
becomes an adult. Her parents want to take her to this Texas clinic, run
by Dr Stanislaw Burzynski. He has a treatment that might help her. Itís
now being studied by the Food and Drug Administration. But only the FDA
gets to decide who can be treated, and the agency turned Janet down. They
say itís not safe if people pursue medical treatments the government
JANET CHEADLE, CANCER PATIENT Whee!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Janetís fatherís angry about that.
LYLE CHEADLE My daughter has a terrible disease called
neuroblastoma cancer. I know what the survival rates are, which is
essentially zero, and Iím trying to do something that may save my
daughterís life. We have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) But they wonít let you?
LYLE CHEADLE They wonít let me.
JOHN STOSSEL Janet, do you know what your fatherís talking
about? Can you follow this? And your father wants to take you to this new
doctor. You want to go?
JANET CHEADLE Yeah.
PROTESTERS FDA Go away! Let us live another day!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) When the government moved to put Burzynski in
jail and shut his clinic down a few years ago, desperate patients and
their families went to Congress to protest.
MARIANNE KUNARI (PH) My sonís last hope for life Ö
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Marianne Kunari pleaded for her son, Dustin.
MARIANNE KUNARI Without this treatment, my son will die.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) After this testimony, her son was allowed to
continue his treatment. Heís now doing well.
DOCTOR Looks good.
JANET CHEADLE Barney.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Thatís what Lyle Cheadle hopes for Janet
ó if the FDA would just let go. (on camera) ďWeíre the government.
Weíre here, weíre just protecting you.Ē
LYLE CHEADLE Iím going to tell you, I donít need your
protection, and you need to get out of my face. Theyíre not protecting
my daughter. What theyíre doing is tantamount to murder.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) After this interview, the FDA said Janet will
be allowed the treatment. But why did her parents have to beg? Why should
thousands of others have to leave the country to try to save their lives?
Which brings us to the biggest issue. If itís my body, do I have the
right to end my life? Can I ask a doctor to help? Here in Olympia,
Washington, Dale Gilsdorf is dying. He has lung and brain cancer.
DALE GILSFORD, CANCER PATIENT Oh, this is our ski trip.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Divorced, he spends lots of time with his two
daughters, Renee and Nicole. Heís had a good life. He worked as a
psychotherapist and climbed mountains. Now his wish is to die with
dignity, at a time he chooses, with his daughters at his bedside.
DALE GILSFORD I donít want my children to see me as this
skeleton who vomits, doesnít know his full name, doesnít know them.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) Your mother died that way?
DALE GILSFORD My mother died that way. Thatís a very
undignified way to live your last years.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Dale would like a doctor to help him control
the manner of his death. But here, and in most states, thatís illegal.
DALE GILSFORD In this most important part of my life, which is
my death, Iím alone. I donít even have trained people to help me.
Thatís not right.
POLLSTER Weíre calling with Oregonís ballot measure 16
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) If Dale lived in Oregon, however, heíd have
PETER JENNINGS Voters in that state passed a controversial
ballot initiative this week that allows doctors to help terminally ill
patients who want to commit suicide.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Family physician Dr Peter Goodwin helped
draft the Oregon law.
DR PETER GOODWIN Only in Oregon have we publicly acknowledged
what people around this country believe, and that is that aiding dying is
appropriate for some few terminally ill patients who want this, want it
ĒDEATH WITH DIGNITYĒ ADVOCATE State voters, we need your
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Often, itís older people who feel most
strongly about having control at the end of their lives. (on camera) How
old are you now? (VO) My fatherís 92. (on camera) What if you got cancer
or some disease, and you were in pain?
OTTO STOSSEL Yes.
JOHN STOSSEL Would you want a doctor ó would you ever want to
OTTO STOSSEL I think I should have the privilege to demand it
of my doctor to do something of the sort.
JOHN STOSSEL You should have the right to demand that he kill
OTTO STOSSEL Thatís right. I should have the right to demand
JOHN STOSSEL The law says no. The law says the doctor may not.
OTTO STOSSEL I think it still should be my decision what I want
to do with my life ó not anybody elseís, even if itís you.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) I canít argue with that. But the law says
no, and should say no, says lawyer Wesley Smith, a leader in the anti -
euthanasia movement. (on camera) Isnít it my choice? Itís my life.
WESLEY J. SMITH, ATTORNEY The law is not about ďI, I, me,
me.Ē When we make public policy, it is about ďus, us, we, we.Ē There
are certain individual conducts that we have a right to stop, and I think
having doctors help kill people is one of those.
JOHN STOSSEL Iím scared about the end of my life. What if
Iím in terrible pain? I want to be able to end that pain.
WESLEY J. SMITH Weíre all scared about the end of our lives,
and what we need to have is to be ensured that our pain can be ended. But
killing isnít ending pain. Killing is killing.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Smith worries that doctors or patientsí
families might want to kill off dying or elderly people just to cut
medical costs, or that people might feel they have a duty to die to
relieve the burden on their family.
WESLEY J. SMITH If weíre going to be a loving and
compassionate society, I think if we just say, ďOh, well, itís your
body. If you want to die, go ahead,Ē youíre abandoning people.
DR PETER GOODWIN Absolutely untrue. What weíre doing is
staying with the patientsí perception, listening to the patient, and
then acceding to a desperate plea from a dying patient at the very end of
life. Itís not abandonment. Itís compassionate care.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Dale Gilsdorf approached several doctors
about getting that care, but they said no.
DALE GILSDORF And they just shut the conversation off. I
couldnít even talk about it because theyíre frightened.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) So youíve had to trick doctors into
giving you the pills.
DALE GILSDORF Exactly. Exactly. Youíre hiding from your
physician. Youíre being dishonest with your physician.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Dale lied to his doctors, told them he
couldnít sleep, and they prescribed sleeping pills. But fearing that
that wouldnít be enough drugs, Dale then found an illegal dealer in
barbiturates. He drove to this nearby town where he secretly bought these
DALE GILSDORF Iím not a person that does things that are
illegal, and Iím being forced to do that because the law will not allow
me to get legal medications. Thatís a terrible thing. (Dog barks)
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Dale feels fortunate that at least now he has
his pills and his daughtersí support. (on camera) And how do you
envision your death?
DALE GILSDORF I hope that I will know when and be able to call
my family together and say, ďThis is it. Prepare whatever rituals you
want to. I donít particularly have any.Ē
DALEíS DAUGHTER I envision holding his hand.
DALE GILSDORF And Iíll probably take the sedatives and just
go to sleep.
JOHN STOSSEL Weíll be back in a moment.
ANNOUNCER ďSex, Drugs & Consenting AdultsĒ continues.
Here again from the Statue of Liberty, John Stossel.
JOHN STOSSEL This statue was paid for by something that could
be a crime if you did it ó gambling. The French got some of the money
they needed to build her from the proceeds of a lottery. (VO) Gambling is
the biggest consensual crime. This is legal gambling, but illegal
gamblingís huge. The NCAA says about $100 billion is illegally spent
just on sports betting every year. (Cheering) Occasionally, vice squads
arrest some of the bookies. Police say one operates out of this house in
this quiet Miami suburb. Worried that the people in the house will resist,
police put on their bulletproof vests and attack en masse.
MIAMI POLICE OFFICER Police! Police!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Inside, they handcuff the suspect and spend
hours ransacking the house ó searching clothes, the bed, everything,
before they haul him off to jail. Will this make America safer? Will it
make any difference? Even the police wonder.
SGT PETE ANDREU, MIAMI DADE POLICE People are going to gamble.
You shut one down, and itís going to ó thereís going to open up
another one, you know, and itís going to ó itís a perpetual problem.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) But if gamblingís a problem, why is
government such an eager bookie, spending tax money on ads to lure more of
LOTTERY SPOKESWOMAN (TV COMMERCIAL) The New York lotto jackpot
is now $15 million. Cool.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The law is so inconsistent. Consider ticket
scalping. (on camera) How much?
3RD SCALPER $75 each.
JOHN STOSSEL $75 each. (VO) These guys were offering to sell me
tickets to a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Now, we all know
that ticket scalping is evil and illegal. But why? (on camera) Are you a
1ST SCALPER Iím a scalper, yeah.
JOHN STOSSEL So are you doing something bad?
1ST SCALPER No, Iím not. They should make it legal, because
weíre not doing anything wrong.
WOMAN AT EVENT Where are you getting these tickets? Are you
1ST SCALPER Maíam, I buy them.
WOMAN AT EVENT From?
1ST SCALPER Nice women and gentlemen Ö
WOMAN AT EVENT that are neatly dressed like me.Ö
1ST SCALPER Right.
MAN ON MEGAPHONE These people are leeches. They will take your
money and go.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Madison Square Garden wants the scalpers
ROBERT RUSSO, GENERAL MANAGER, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN Why should
some parasite be allowed to do that on the street?
JOHN STOSSEL What if my family gets sick, and we canít go to
the game? I canít come here and resell my tickets?
ROBERT RUSSO We really donít want that going on around our
business. Itís unseemly.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Because itís unseemly, itís illegal? Yes,
it should be illegal, says this man. (on camera) Itís wrong to sell
things for more?
MAN AT EVENT Thatís right. Right.
JOHN STOSSEL What if I offer to buy your bracelet here for more
than you paid for it? That should be illegal, too?
MAN AT EVENT No, then Iím making a profit. (Laughter)
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) As with gambling, drug laws, sex laws,
thereís lots of hypocrisy here. (on camera) I thought making a
MAN AT EVENT For me, it is. Not for them. (Laughter)
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) That about sums it up. But if weíre adults,
why canít we make decisions about what we buy and sell, about how we use
our bodies, by ourselves?
NADINE STROSSEN We certainly donít want government to be big
daddy or big mommy. You, as a mature adult, have the right to make
decisions about your own life, even if other people might think that
theyíre stupid decisions.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Of course, people who donít like your
decision have every right to complain about your behavior.
ANTI - PORNOGRAPHY PROTESTERS No porn! No porn!
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) To boycott, to picket, to embarrass you. And
God bless the critics.
MALE DEMONSTRATOR It sets a bad example. It sets a bad trend.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) The critics make America a better place by
standing up for virtue, making us think about whatís good and evil.
Shaming us into being better people. But shaming is one thing, using the
force of law another.
14TH POLICE OFFICER Keep your head down. You listen to me.
PETER MCWILLIAMS The law is a very powerful thing. The law
means that you send people out with guns to get people when they donít
follow it. Itís a very, very serious matter.
JOHN STOSSEL (on camera) But people are weak. Having laws helps
people be moral.
PETER MCWILLIAMS Moral is based on free choice. You have a
series of choices, and you make the right choice. Any 5 - year - old can
understand this. Donít mess with their stuff, they wonít mess with
your stuff. Really? Yes. Whatís the catch? The catch is, you have to
tolerate what theyíre doing over there with their toys, and they get to
tolerate what youíre doing over here with your toys. So with our
tolerance, we buy our freedom.
JOHN STOSSEL Freedom is what Americaís supposed to be about.
Maybe we should rethink the rules. Why not just allow consenting adults to
do anything thatís peaceful? Thatís our program for tonight. Please
stay tuned for Nightline after your local news. Iím John Stossel.
Good night, and thanks for watching our program, which was really about
liberty. (VO) A postscript. Since this program first aired, Peter
McWilliams was jailed on marijuana charges. He may go back to jail after
his trial in September. Will Fosterís sentence was reduced to 20 years
DALE GILSDORF Thereís a good one.
JOHN STOSSEL (VO) Eight months after we taped this, Dale
Gilsdorf died. His family says he didnít take the pills heíd put
aside, but he was calmer in his final months knowing the option was there.
And finally, last August, my father died. He was 92.