HPPUB BOOK REVIEW of McWilliams Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do


Author (or Editor): McWilliams, Peter

Title: Ain’t Nobody’s Business If Your Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Society

Fiction? N

Publisher:  Prelude Press

Date: 1996

ISBN:  0-931580-58-7



Series Name:

Physical description: Paper

Relevance to HPPUB: victimless crimes laws, libertarianism


Book Review of Peter McWilliams: Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do

Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country

By Peter McWilliams; Los Angeles: Prelude Press, 1996; 694 pages paper ISBN 0-931580-58-7


This book was very important to me as I worked on Do Ask, Do Tell in 1996-1997.  The author, Peter McWilliams, would die in his own vomit in 2000 after the fibbies locked him up for growing and using medical marijuana to control the nausea from his AIDS and cancer drugs.

Peter McWilliams recently achieved national attention, especially from ABC report 20-20 reporter John Stossel (on his special on victimless crimes laws on May 26, 1998) for this, as the government imprisoned him and seized his computer assets after it accused him of trafficking marijuana. McWilliams maintains he was growing marijuana for only his own medical use.

The book is laid out as a detailed, complex but progressive argument against all laws in our “free country” that criminalize “victimless crimes.”  The book was self-published, but McWilliams had several people helping him and the technical quality of the book is very good.

This book is practically an encyclopedia on "vice" laws - gambling, drugs, prostitution, pornography, consensual sex. It is well organized, into a discussion of moral principles and government, followed by detailed examination of each "criminal" subject area.

And McWilliams covers just about everything: the philosophical arguments, the specific issues (drugs, sodomy, free speech, prostitution, gambling).  He makes many interesting points, about how the invention of the printing press broke up the “monopoly” of the ecclesiastical establishment over intellectual property,  the Anthony Comstock affair with censorship (“Comstockery”), and how their may have been business incentives to make hemp (which has many other uses) illegal.  He discusses the contributions of many historical figures like Susan B. Anthony.  Near the end of the book, he proposes a simple constitutional amendment:


            No citizen of the United States, or the several States, shall be subject to criminal prosecution unless he or she physically harms the person or property of a nonconsenting other.

            (p. 641).


            Is it that simple?  Perhaps not, as I argued in my own book.  But this is a very succinct statement of how I would like it to be! 

            Of course, we can sit around and imagine the counterarguments, often based on the indirect effects on vulnerable people of a variety of “vices.”   To what extent is morality a collective, communal experience?



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