The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Punishing people for attempting to feel better is insane

After about 25 years of public advocacy for a more sane approach to whatever problems are caused by the use of psychotropic substances, and after about 15 years of active lobbying through legislative and ballot initiative approaches, I have some observations. These are prompted somewhat by one of the Forum's more active respondents (see comments on the last few posts).

"Drug" prohibition is just plain insane. That means that the people who support it are insane in at least one area of their lives. That means that in order to try to effect change, one must deal with people who are by definition, insane (in at least one area of their lives). It is human nature to observe evidence of insanity (for example: "I think punishing people for attempting to feel better is okay, if it's done scientifically.") in some area of a given person's politics and to suspect that the insanity extends into other areas.

There are other possibilities; ignorance, stupidity or maliciousness. That's about it.

If anyone is ignorant of the deleterious effects of prohibition of some arbitrary stuff then they are willfully ignorant.

No cure for stupidity, although, theoretically, you have a chance of voting it out of office.

Maliciousness? Just another form of insanity.

The willfully ignorant are the most likely to be the enforcers, I think, along with a healthy helping of the malicious. You either have to be basically mean or willing to abvert what your senses tell you. Or stupid, but stupid people are everywhere, even on my side of this argument.

When a judge says he has no choice but to hear cannabis cases and to pronounce sentences of a certain minimum severity for the crime of attempting to feel better, he has given his judgment and conscience over to someone who is, by definition, crazy, stupid, uninformed or malicious. Given the carnage that has resulted from crazy politicians' pronouncements and eel-spined judges who enforce them, it is not a stretch to compare present circumstances to the enforcement of the Nuremberg Laws, which set the legal platform for the attempted annihilation of a loosely-defined group of people.

I used a considerable amount of personal resources in the course of my advocacy. I raised a considerable amount of money from people who supported the premise that the only right worth protecting is the right to do as you damn well please while understanding that it comes with the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences. (paraphrase of a P. J. O'Rourke quip)

It is not the duty of politicians, judges and cops to create consequences that would not exist but for their fascistic mania that requires them to push people around.

A lot of people who probably voted for the issues I advocated---if they voted---have approached me with various suggestions about how I should have gone about my advocacy. I honestly can't think of anyone who donated to any of various cannabis advocacy campaigns who told me they thought my rhetoric was out of line.

Take your shots, Foruminants.


chad sechsington said...

bob, i read your blog post not long after reading this article in the rapid city journal and thought it underscored your point about judges and their duties. in this case, an out of state man was found with more than 10 lbs of marijuana and under the law, he could have faced up to 15 years in prison, but his sentence was brought down to serving "only" 10 days in jail and sent back to his home state to face whatever repercussions from violating his probation. i can only wonder what sort of punishment he'll face in his home state.

judge jeff davis had an opportunity to implement the full letter of the law and slap this man with a stint in the state pen, but chose to suspend a significant portion of the proscribed sentence because being reasonable is still well within his power as a judge.

if i'm not mistaken, one of the points of your post was that even though a judge has to follow the letter of the law, they are still able to make decisions based upon logic and reason. sentences do not have to be underscored and peppered with retributive exclamation points that arise from petty vindictiveness and prejudice while hiding behind the excuse of "hey, i'm just doing my job."

Bob Newland said...

Welcome to the Forum, Chad, and thanks for posting.

I read the Journal story you cite. To me it demonstrates the banality of evil.

Davis could have sentenced the man to the six days he had served already and to nothing else. Instead, he endorsed the presumption that the accused man had actually done something wrong.

Granted, it was likely a lighter sentence than the guy would have faced under a different judge, but that just underscores the whimsical nature of the law.

In Illinois, the guy will undergo four years of "supervision," spending significant sums to be in accordance with terms of his probation. A slip that any of us might make without significant repercussion could result in his being shipped back here to do some time.

Judge Davis should simply refuse to hear such cases, and attorneys should refuse to represent clients in such cases, since the law itself is immoral.