Friday, May 9, 2008

Daughters, sons, Iraq... and more... always more...

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"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men."

~ Sam Adams
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Just one of those days...

We had more shoplifters at work. I was sitting in my car on my break and watched them pull into the parking lot. I was suspicious just from appearance... ratty car, two young women with bags over their shoulders, a man following them in... but I'm always willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt. But when the women came out of the store, together, their bags looking heavier than when they went in, I had my alarm going off. So, I took down their license plate number, gave them the eye as I walked by... and went and told the boss "I think we've been hit again." We checked the security cameras and sure enough...

They stole about 9 brass plumbing valves, big ones. About 40 pounds of brass. The local metal recycling center says brass is going for over $2 a pound. The retail loss to the store is over $400. But we have their images, a description of the car, a license plate number... odds are they're tweakers -- methamphetamine addicts -- who will try and sell the valves for scrap. Of course the recycling yard has a description of the items and a police report number should they try and sell them there.

I've no problem with a person choosing any substance to use, abuse, or kill themselves with. I'm a big believer in Darwin. The dumb ones we can do without. But I'm also a believer that folks should be free to snort, smoke, inject or supposit anything they want. Crime however -- theft, assault, child and spousal abuse -- sucks. The redneck part of me says they need to pay. The humane, human rights, sympathetic, empathetic part of me says they can change or need to be made to understand the need to change.

But I live in a country that suffers under the shadow of mass hysteria about drugs. Whatever someone does in their own home, is their business. If they get high and go out and drive recklessly it is the driving recklessly that is the crime. But then a government that invades a person's home because of what they are doing in the privacy of their home is also criminal. And now, here in the US, we have armed home invasions by police -- armed as heavily as any military combat squad -- as a regular occurrence. And innocent people die from these raids far, far too often. There is a young man at the Cato Institute, Radley Balko, that has investigated this travesty of injustice for the past several years and his reporting (he is also an editor at Reason Magazine) paints a dismal picture of a policy that has become routine virtually everywhere across the country. (and if you're really curious about drug policy and want to meet some of the best and brightest minds and read up to date info, vsisit my friend Pete Guither's blog, Drug WarRant)

Now... I've avoided this issue here at the Morning Donut completely. Its an issue that has been stuck in my craw (not craw, CRAW!)(for you Maxwell Smart fans) for personal reasons for over a decade and the incident of shoplifting at the store today tipped me over the edge. So there you have it... but, because I do focus on this issue in depth in other venues I won't overburden you with my pet peeve. I'd rather focus on positive things, Opal Creek and Pablo, my photography and the beauty of the natural landscape, but today, I had my chain pulled.

And not to dwell, but it is a very provable fact that the drug war is both a failure and a policy destined to destroy our Constitution. If you support the drug war I can only say, you are in error in your support. You would be hard pressed to provide any positive results from what many call Prohibition II (or in new millenium techo-talk, Prohibition version 2.0). Where at one time addiction was a minor problem that was dealt with by the addict with their physician, addiction to drugs today is a problem that has escalated into an epidemic of health (HIV and hepatitis among the needle sharing crowd and in prisons) and crime. Whereas those whose addiction is to alcohol have socially acceptable diversion choices, a drug addict must admit to illegal activity and the choices available to them are far far less than those available to the alcoholic seeking treatment.

A lot of drugs suck, they're just not fun and lead to problems. The counter to that is that most who use drugs, legal or illegal, do so responsibly, have jobs and families and don't fall prey to abuse of their substance of choice. And, like I said above, what anyone does in private is no one else's business. When someone's activities become criminal, then... Houston we have a problem. And most importantly, under a society dedicated to principles of liberty, professed defender of the democratic process, to usurp the very principles of freedom (principles that are in fact of a very universal innateness) is both hypocritical and deserving of contempt and derision.

It is that notion of human dignity and the essence of freedom that prods me to write about Tibet and indigenous people's plights. I would hope that the old saw about it always being darkest before the dawning of a new day really is true. Well friends, these are truly dark times. But we need only to shine a light to scare the cockroaches back the corners and wither the vampires and other boogeymen of the dark who drain our positive possibilities away.

Like Chief Dan George said, playing the role of Lone Watie in the 1975 Clint Eastwood movie, the Outlaw Josie Wales, "we must endeavor to persevere."


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And if you were wondering what the heck my title had to do with this post...

My daughter Robin has a young male friend, Ryan, who is leaving for Iraq in a couple of weeks. If I hate the drug war because it is a fatally defective policy founded upon a stack of lies, then I have to hate the Iraq War for the same reasons. But I'm a vet, my brothers are all vets and my dad was a WWII vet who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I'll never diss a soldier. I understand. More than I care to sometimes... so I ask, if you are the praying type, send a good word out for safety for all those young men and women in uniform. And when you are done praying, tell your elected representatives to do something positive for our nation's veterans. For a change...

No pictures today, sorry... my mental landscape is too cluttered to focus in that direction. But you know I'll be back atcha again when my mood lightens up.

May we someday know peace. In Sha ' Allah
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“Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

1 comment:

Rain said...

I am in agreement on all of this. I don't think drugs should be illegal and it makes no sense to me that they are given people can overdo and kill themselves with alcohol legally. The whole thing is crazy and a lot of those in prison today re there for drug related crimes. Given that, there is no excuse for theft and I want to see anyone who steals pay the price for it. Sometimes it's going to jail that it takes to convince someone to turn their life around.

On Iraq, I just hope soon the wind will change there. I don't know though. Voters seem to know what they want and then get to the polling booth and forget it all with some emotional response that makes no sense. I am still hopeful though as there is no sense for us being in Iraq