At the first GOP debate tonight in Greenville, S.C., Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Congressman Ron Paul made the case for legalizing drugs, even heroin.
In an exchange with Fox News' Chris Wallace, Paul made the point that people should have the freedom to do things to themselves that might seem crazy to others.
"You have a right to do things that are very controversial," Paul said.
"Are you sugggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty?" Wallace countered.
At this, Paul turned his attention to the audience, which loudly cheered most comments he made, despite orders from the moderators not to do so.
"How many people here would use heroin if it were legal?" Paul asked. "I bet nobody would."
Then Paul invoked a voice of sarcasm.
"Oh yeah, I need the government to take care of me," he said. "I don't want to use heroin, so I need these laws."
At that, the crowd burst into applause.
Even Wallace had to laugh.
"Who thought heroin would get applause here in South Carolina?" he said.
There were winners and losers in the debate (Pawlenty looked smooth; Santorum looked angry) but every time Paul is allowed to share his unique perspective with the rest of the country on national television, it's a win for intellectual debate. Rather than a slew of candidates repeating Republican party talking points, any debate with Paul has at least one candidate throwing a huge monkey wrench into the works. And that makes the debate something worth watching.