Free to hurt oneself, but not others

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MANY would contend that they are free to hurt themselves because it is them who are the victims. As long as they do not harm other people, they can do what they like.
However, it is also necessary to consider the emotional and cognitive disturbances of our self-harm to our families and our society at large. A family can be deeply affected by having a drug addict in the family. Naturally, a family wants to see all of its members leading healthy lives.
Drug addictions among individuals can all affect an entire society.
In the case of mercy killing, too, it cannot be said that assisting suicide does not violate any laws. Although such actions may not be directly harmful to others, these actions can also affect families indirectly, as the family of the euthanised person can be psychologically harmed by the loss of their loved one. No doubt, the harm principle is a controversial element in the legislation process.
This being so, the enactment of traffic rules and regulations that require people to wear seatbelts in cars and helmets on motorbikes can be justified because the intention of such a law is to protect the lives of the drivers and passengers against death and injury.
However, the harm principle may consider laws requiring seatbelts and helmets to encroach on personal freedom. The Global New Light of Myanmar dissents from this claim.
If harm can cause grief to a family or to society, the government ought to intervene, taking necessary actions, including the promulgation of laws, rules and regulations to secure the lives of the people. If a policeman or a doctor on duty gets drunk, he needs to be disciplined according to the law because in the case of the former, he has the duty to enable the public to do their jobs, and in the case of the latter, he has the duty to save the lives of his patients. In such cases, it would be inappropriate to say that the government should not intervene to restrict the people’s freedom. Quite obviously, no citizen would want a drunken policeman or a drunken doctor on duty.
Some of individual liberties must be limited by the law in order to ensure the wellbeing of the whole society. Thus, the government must promulgate laws to protect the basic rights of individuals.

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