Trope-a-Day: High Times Future

High Times Future: As long as you’re competent to do what you have to do, when you have to do it, your neurological state and how you got there is your own business. Download all the drugs you like! (Well, except those falling under the category of Coercive Substances, or those which drive you insane in ways likely to cause harm to others: magical berserker nutball powder is off the table. But apart from those it’s between you and your mind.)

22 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: High Times Future

  1. I can see making someone else take a drug unwillingly as a form of assault, including slipping a mickey, but I think if you willingly take something that causes you to lose control you should just be held responsible for your actions while intoxicated.

    To some extent at least.

    • Their rule amounts to “If you are voluntarily intoxicated, you are still fully responsible for your actions, because you chose to become intoxicated while non-intoxicated and that’s transitive. Your poor grasp of the consequences is not a defense in law, in ethics, or to your mother.”

        • If I read it right, the drug might be banned (though only those which are truly coercive are; the merely disinhibitory are permitted though sometimes controlled, IIRC), but that doesn’t absolve you of conduct subsequent to voluntary consumption of the banned drug. Of course, if you were forced or tricked into taking it, that might be a different story, but I imagine that would depend on the particulars of the case.

          That much, at least, is familiar law here, too – “I was on crack” is not exculpatory, nor does it mitigate the legal consequences to “busted for being on crack, but not for what you did while on it”.

        • Jade Nekotenshi has it: the reference is here – – which specifically discusses libidigens/aphrodisiacs but from which you can extrapolate to other things.

          Basically, to be banned outright from use, it needs to be both volition-overriding and exotoxic. (i.e., re the latter, you cannot take a combat drug that turns you into a howling berserker with no discrimination, but you can take one that merely makes you stare at the wall and giggle helplessly for the next day even though it impairs the crap out of your volition).

          That said, the law doesn’t concern itself with the disinhibition, et. al., effects of anything you may have ingested, injected, fabbed, or downloaded voluntarily. “You, and only you, are responsible for yourself.”

          The wise indulger in potent pharmaceuticals checks his tort insurance cover and arranges for supervision, be it a responsible friend or an AI agent to puppet his body out of trouble, before indulging.

          • I like the idea of a combat drug that makes you stare at the wall and giggle helplessly for the next day. Modern day hashishin, perhaps.

      • That’s my personal rule:

        “You chose to drink all those additional drinks when you picked up the first drink while you were sober. You chose to get drunk when you picked up that first drink, while you were sober. You chose to do all those foolish, stupid, unwise, unsafe, and destructive things you did when you were drunk, when you picked up that first drink while you were sober.”

        I let some people formerly in my social circle that this is my rule, by which I judge myself, judge them, and judge strangers. It cost me friends. So be it, it’s still my rule.

  2. I imagine that there would be rules about any offensive smells and spreading incorrect information about drufgs, right?

      • Trespass has a hard time applying in a public place, and fraud would probably widespread knowledge of the truth.

        • The data is out there for most anyone to find, and if you’re deliberately misleading people, that’s fraud.

          Recall that the modal Imperial is rather less likely to be overstressed, overworked, cognitively saturated and inclined to trust someone with a shiny sales pitch, relative to the modal 21st century westerner. By our standards, most of them approach being pathologically rational. Heck, they make a named and celebrated virtue of it, even at that.

          Said fraudster might be able to snooker someone, but there will be consequences – legal and social alike – for doing so. If I understand the Imperial mindset correctly, that’s no reason to make spreading incorrect information about drugs criminal per se outside of the general prohibitions on fraud, nor to apply prior restraint.

          As for me, myself, personally, well, I rather like that. And smell problems? Surely there are better ways to deal with stink than to say “we will punish you if you dare stink where I can smell it”, don’cha think? (Here on Earth there are some reasons why we haven’t really come up with an answer less bad than that, but there? This is a technical problem with a technical solution, if I had to guess.)

          • If I understand the Imperial mindset correctly, that’s no reason to make spreading incorrect information about drugs criminal per se outside of the general prohibitions on fraud, nor to apply prior restraint.

            Well… it’s no more or more specifically illegal than spreading incorrect information about anything else… but willfully spreading false information about anything is a species of fraud under Imperial law. Just because it’s not in the form of a commercial transaction or limited to a specific individual doesn’t make it not a form of choice-theft by deception, ergo fraud.

            ( Reference: )

            There’s not prior restraint, but go around spouting deliberately incorrect things in public and the ensuring lawsuits will hurt you. The freedom of speech, the way they interpret it, does not include the freedom to deceive – so while you’re entitled to your own opinion, however damnfool it may be, you aren’t entitled to your own “alternative facts”, and thinking you are will cost you a lot of money. Especially if you voice them loudly enough in a public enough way that you’re facing a collective-action suit a few million sophs strong.

            This is a technical problem with a technical solution, if I had to guess.

            Yeah. It starts with not being entitled to trespass on air you don’t have the rights to, but ends with various polite ways to not have to.

          • Maybe I’m projecting too much the problems we have with marijuana. For example one of them is that there is little to no research done on whether or not it is good for you/harms you.

          • The thing to bear in mind is that this is a polity in which not only was there never any prohibition, but anyone expressing prohibitionist attitudes would suffer severe scorn and social opprobrium. It is just not done.

            And so most of the wacky consequences of our taboos around prohibitions past and present never had the chance to come into play.

          • One thing I’m curious about is how, in this context, Imperial fraud laws operate when we get into the realm of future contingents.

            For instance, what happens if you spread the rumor “There will be a shortage of toilet paper tomorrow!” specifically to cause a run on stores that indeed creates the shortage in question?

            (True story… Sort of: )

          • It is by and large a bad idea to make such future contingent statements in the future simple certain tense, since that implies factuality and the laws apply.

            It is much safer to make them in the future probable (which may include evidentials along with your probability estimate, and thus invites people to ask for your evidence), or tag them as your pure unevidenced opinion, in which case people may value your opinion at what it’s worth – and pure unevidenced opinions aren’t, by and large, considered worth the gas it takes to voice ’em.

          • And while we’re at it, another one: You’ve laid out pretty clearly how outright falsehoods are treated, but what of lies of omission (i.e. selectively withholding information that may possibly be crucial) and half-truths (i.e. giving technically true information, but framing it in such a way that it may be misinterpreted through ambiguity or equivocation)?

          • The crux of the matter is the mens rea, not the specifics of the actus reus.

            Were you trying to defraud or propagate false-to-facts information by performative act X? Well, then, you’re guilty of fraud or propagation of false-to-facts information, and the law could give a crap for your cunning methodology.

            (Whether it was willful, of course, is important, which is where the courts get to decide if you’re a liar or just an idiot.)

        • Someone owns the rights to that air, either directly or in trust. (The property owner, the business owner, the local odocorp, someone.) If you’re emitting something noxious into it without the consent of the owner, you’re trespassing. Simple as that.

          • You know, this is one of those propositions that sounds good and noble on the face of things when you first read it, but the more I think about it, especially in the context of some other things you’ve said about how intensely propertarian the eldrae are and how nonexistent their de minimis rules and standards for quasi-involuntary actions are, must inevitably lead to the heights of absurdity if taken to its logical conclusion in certain areas.

            To wit: By this standard, the act of breathing is coercion. And not just in the narrow case of “You’re on my owned-outright space station, breathing air that I’ve bought, paid for, and had shipped exclusively for my use, without my permission”; it is the very process of respiration in itself which, in the natural state in which most bio-sophonts evolve, is inherently coercive by Imperial standards of property.

            Consider: “A soph is equivalent to all that they possess.” Back in the old days before the Empire of the Star was founded and could claim that it owned Eliera (and its atmosphere) outright by the voluntary consent of its citizen-shareholder members, there must have been at some point a veritable patchwork of allodial properties. Many, if not most, had some form of plant life, which whether by right of homestead or by active cultivation were likewise considered the owners’ respective property. These plants performed the work of photosynthesis to transform light energy into chemical energy, giving off breathable oxygen. By virtue of the fact that these plants are productive agents of their owner (limited in capacity though that agency is), the oxygen produced by these plants must also transitively belong to the property owner.

            Of course, oxygen — like any other gas, as a general rule — has this annoying property of being difficult to contain without specialized equipment designed for the job. Thus, much (if not most) of the oxygen produced will likely escape, where it may find its way into some sophont’s lungs without the express consent of its original owner, thus constituting trespass (however involuntary it may be).

            And that’s just inhaling. Exhaling is an even worse matter, because in addition to the aforementioned containment issues, carbon dioxide exhaled from the lungs is a pollutant (by definition — it’s exhaled in the first place because it’s a waste product that will suffocate you if left to accumulate). Thus, even if by some miracle it manages to stay in the volume acknowledged as “the commons,” you are still almost literally a walking source of potentially perpetual assault torts. Better hope no one else needs to breathe where you just passed…

            (Tangential sidenote: The plant-owners wouldn’t necessarily get away scot-free; after all, they’d have to bear part of the externality costs of their free-ranging oxygen causing all sorts of rust and corrosion. To say nothing of the potential legal quandary that might come about through pollen allergies…)

            Again, all of this is — by my own admission — quite absurd. And yet, in the strict context of Imperial law as I understand it, I don’t find anything to suggest that the logic itself is wrong, or that there’s any sort of mitigating principle at work. Nevertheless — judging by an educated guess that the number of spree killers who were acquitted of murder on the grounds that “They were all breathing at me!” constituted an affirmation of reasonable self-defense from coercion amounts to a sum in the ballpark of zero — there has to be some kind of reasonableness test at work here, implicitly if not explicitly.

          • Okay, I’m going to say that when we hit this level of minutiae, not only can I not see any particular literary function in chasing it, but I am also deeply reminded of why I don’t argue the merits of hypothetical political systems with the Internet any more.

            So let me put it this way:

            Unless I have a really compelling story idea about the administrative travails of an executor minor at the interface between the Protectorate of Balance and Externality and the Office of the Atmohydrosphere – which isn’t impossible, but let’s face it, is unlikely – I am pretty much not going to sit around recreating eight thousand years worth of eye-grindingly fine-grained statute, precedent, easement, and arbitration on the precise boundaries of personal, volumetric-propertarian, and general-trust atmospheres, their voluntary and involuntary interchange, and to what degree changes that aren’t changes are considered changes where fluids are concerned in such a manner that forecloses on the inevitable future picking of nits, not being a shit-ton of historical geniuses with soph-centuries to spend on the issue myself.

            Just, thus please, roll with the notion that somewhere between exhaling tiny volumes of CO2 into your own personal atmosphere and then exchanging chemically-indistinguishable volumes of that with the air next door (obviously permissible), and dumping a shit-ton of chlorine gas in the street (obviously not), a whole passel of very smart people sat down and defined what exactly constitutes trespass to airs, trespass to waters, and trespass to various other inconvenient similar things, that it works very well in practice, thank you, and that their descendants will happily explain the minutiae to any of the minuscule expressed-in-scientific-notation fraction of the population that needs to know anything other than the generally-expressed rules of “you don’t shit where you breathe, son”, et. al.

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