What’s so strange about the outrage over Paul’s remarks is that Paul’s point is perfectly consistent with his — and the Left’s — opposition to the drug war.

I ultimately disagree with Paul about that, but it’s a morally serious argument. Even outright legalizers (Paul says he isn’t one) aren’t necessarily in favor of, say, heroin use. Rather, they argue that the costs of prohibition outweigh the benefits. Too many are imprisoned, too many are arrested, and too many die accidentally while being arrested. Well what’s true of low-level heroin pushers is also true of low-level cigarette pushers. In the war on tobacco, like the war on drugs, if politicians will the ends, they must will the means.

This is something that libertarians understand better than everyone else: The state is about violence. You can talk all day about how “government is just another word for those things we do together,” but what makes government work is force, not hugs.

If you sell raw-milk cheese even after the state tells you to stop, eventually people with guns will show up at your home or office and arrest you. If you resist arrest, something very bad might happen. You might even die for selling bootleg cheese.