Lysander Spooner discusses various vices which are prohibited, or strongly discouraged, in society. He concludes vices are distinct from crime, and that there is no sound justification for their prohibition.
An outspoken supporter of individual rights, Spooner's point in this text is simple: if no harm comes to anyone other than the person practicing the vice, no crime has been committed, and there is no reason for prohibition. Arguing his point meticulously, the author makes a strong case against the government or other forces of authority attempting to stymie or criminalize the vices of man.
Establishing that no man likes to be prohibited against himself, Spooner does not dispute that certain vices can be a mistake. However, it is human to express curiosity and to experiment - whether or not a person incorporates a vice into their daily life permanently, they should not be in fear of punishment. So long as a person with vices remains sane and is not harming others, the government has no grounds to intervene.
Common arguments of authoritarian people are addressed one by one, with Spooner's sound logic applied to each. Anticipating the moral panics of popular society, the author calmly and rationally refutes the arguments employed by those behind such manufactured outrage, and reveals their position to be one dimensional and couched in emotion rather than fact.
Lysander Spooner's sentiments were vindicated in the early 20th century, when the outlawing of alcohol in prohibition proved a colossal failure, with side effects such as deaths caused by tainted alcohol from amateur stills. In the modern era, as politicians consider and enact reform of drug and prostitution laws, the opinions he expresses continue to resonate.