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Vice Tweet About Dangers of 'Making Things Illegal' Backfires When Readers Point Out Hypocrisy

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A tweet from the news and culture site Vice backfired Wednesday after a number of users pointed out the liberal outlet’s hypocrisy in opposing a proposed ban on flavored e-cigarettes while supporting gun control policies.

Some background: The Trump administration is moving to take non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes off the market, according to CNBC.

“We have a problem in our country,” President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday.  “It’s called ‘vaping’ — especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children.”

“And nobody knows too much about it, but they do know it’s causing a lot of problems. And we’re going to have to do something about it,” he said.

That’s where Vice comes in.

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“Making things illegal often just makes them more dangerous,” the outlet tweeted, linking to a piece from Alex Norcia titled, “The War on Drugs Is Coming for Vapes, and It’s Not Going to End Well.”

Vice actually didn’t make a bad argument, at least from the point of view someone who tends to side with libertarians when it comes to government bans.

Was Vice's tweet hypocritical?

“Right now, there’s no ‘black market’ in vaping products in America, but there is an already-bustling gray market of rogue eBay and social media sellers who don’t check customer IDs,” Gregory Conley, president of an e-cigarette advocacy group called the American Vaping Association, told Vice.

“With ingredients in e-liquid being cheap and readily available, flavor bans are likely to increase do-it-yourself mixing,” Conley said. “All it takes is one teenager using a flavor that isn’t used in commercially available e-liquids to get several people sick.”

It was more of the same throughout the rest of the piece.

“Making things illegal tends to make them more dangerous,” Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who also serves as an instructor at Harvard Medical School, said. “Who knows what the solution is here? Go back in time and un-invent vapes? What do you actually do?”

If this sort of argument sounds familiar, it’s because pro-Second Amendment conservatives and libertarians have been saying for years that banning guns and regulating the firearm industry won’t decrease gun violence — it will just empower shady individuals who weren’t going to follow the law anyway.

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In fact, you could take the last sentences of Grinspoon’s quote and apply it to guns, and it would probably make sense: “Who knows what the solution is here? Go back in time and un-invent guns? What do you actually do?”

The thing is, Vice does not apply this same argument to guns. In fact, a look at the articles filed under the outlet’s “gun control” tag tells a completely different story.

Headlines like “Stores Are Banning Guns Because the Government Won’t,” “It’s Now or Never for Gun Control in Congress” and “The Dumpster Fire at the NRA Could Be Gun Control Advocates’ Big Chance” just prove my point.

Suffice to say that there’s more than a little hypocrisy here. And Twitter users were quick to call Vice out on it.

I could go on, but you get the point.

It’s as simple as this: Banning guns doesn’t work. In my (admittedly libertarian) mind, neither does banning flavored vapes (though arguments to the contrary can certainly be made in good faith).

But to advocate for the former while opposing the latter is logically inconsistent, plain and simple.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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