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

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I started writing this on Thursday, then decided to let it sit so I could read it and edit it again before it saw daylight. It appears as being posted at the time I first saved a draft. Meantime, Sanborn posted his thoughts, which appeared before this post appeared. We have many of the same observations.

Website statistics are difficult to analyze precisely without spending quite a little more time than I feel like doing (and even then, the best you can do is make slightly more precise observations than in a cursory look). It looks to me as if the Decorum Forum has a base visitor group of around 50-80 people, and the past four days have seen a doubling of our normal "unique visits" and page loads.

I mention that because I have been listening to elegies for Bill Janklow much of today. A large number of people have and will give public testimonies as to how compassionate, loyal, effective and [insert any complimentary term] Bill Janklow was. Everyone is different things to different people. The political class has a wider range of people to be different things to than do most.

A lot of people in South Dakota will be privy to broadcasts for a few days reprising Janklow's life and broadcasters and print reporters will try to "balance" the praise with several versions of "he was stubborn," or "I often disagreed with him, but you knew where he stood." It's a great opportunity for SDPB to attempt to mitigate the damage the legislature would have done if it were to tell the truth about the man.

What I say here will most likely see a smaller audience. That's probably as it should be. At least it's how it is.

Thursday on SDPB, former State Budget Director Curt Everson said, "There is law and order in this world, but I think Bill Janklow wanted law and justice."

If "justice" means...
1. Fairness.
2. a. The principle of moral rightness; equity.
b. Conformity to moral rightness in action or attitude; righteousness.
3. The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law.
4. Conformity to truth, fact, or sound reason.
...then, regardless of whatever he was to any number of people, he was a sociopathic maniac on the subject of justice for people using non-approved methods to feel better.

I was the Libertarian nominee for governor in 1998. Janklow was incumbent, running for his final term. Bernie Hunhoff was the Democrat. All three of us were invited to address the South Dakota Water Users Association (I'm sorry, that's not the name, but it was a water users group) early in the campaign, the first time we were all three together as gubernatorial candidates. They gave Hunhoff 20 mnutes, me 5 minutes, and Janklow always talked three times as long as he should have.

My five minutes were a brief outline of the consequences of prohibition, including the fact that it had created an open, unregulated market with access to illegal drugs available to anyone of any age. I concluded with the statement that my first act as governor would be to pardon every So. Dak. conviction for possession or sale by adults to adults of cannabis. Hunhoff pretended I wasn't there during his 20 minutes (the same treatment the Democrats in So. Dak. have given the greatest public policy disaster since slavery all along).

Janklow talked for nearly an hour with no mention of either of us, then at the end pointed at me and said, "Anyone who wants to give drugs to kids is absolutely nuts." He continued, "We may be losing the war on drugs, but even if everyone else gives up I'll still be here fighting, like the Lone Ranger on a hilltop."

The reporters there, Terry Woster, Chet Brokaw and a local paper all agreed with Janklow's interpretation of my words, and failed to report any of the crazy stuff Janklow said. I saw this repeated in several newspaper accounts of Janklow statements when I had heard what he actually said.

I and a lot of other people have knowledge of some really ugly Janklow incidents, most of which if published would dim his star considerably. But his own words on the day last fall when he announced his imminent death illustrate his own delusions:
"I gave a damn about what I did. I wouldn't change a thing, except I would have stopped at a stopsign."
That amounts to a verbal toss-off of the incident in which he killed a man who never knew what hit him. It implies a resentment that Randy Scott didn't stay the hell out of his way.

Here are some vile things he did to South Dakotans who, mostly, had no idea who he was.

For a while in the 1970s, possession of a small amount of cannabis was treated as a petty offense, punished by a small fine. As Attorney General, Janklow got the spineless, useless legislature to make possession of eight ounces or less a misdemeanor (jail and a larger fine), and more than half a pound as a felony.

In 1996, in a fit of pique ("These people are laughing at us. They know exactly how much is a felony and they carry just under it with them.") he asked the spineless, useless legislature to up the penalties and lower the dividing line between misdemeanor and felony to two ounces.

These two changes in law have resulted thousands and thousands of lives damaged to varying degrees, with no benefit to anyone unless you count dog trainers and handlers.

In 1999, Janklow introduced and promoted a bill that would have made ANY drug crime (including possession of rolling papers) a felony with a mandatory 30 days in prison. This made it through three of the four steps necessary for the legislature to sign off on it. At the final step, the floor vote in the House, even the spineless, useless legislature decided it didn't have the stomach to quadruple the number of felons in South Dakota in one year.

During his testimony to the House committee in favor of his bill in 1999, Janklow said,
"I don't have many moral principles. I don't. But I do know what drugs do to young girls."
I would like to see those three sentences inscribed on his gravestone. The reporters in the room didn't think them worthy of repeating.


Bob Newland said...

A visitor said I suck. Cool. Traffic.

Bob Newland said...

Apparently I suck twice as much as Mike does, even though we agree on the subject on which we suck.