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May 2009
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Drugs, elephants and imaginary children

Bernd Debusmann has a good OpEd at Reuters: Drugs, elephants and American prisons

Are the 305 million people living in the United States the most evil in the world? Is this the reason why the U.S., with 5 percent of the world‰s population, has 25 percent of the world‰s prisoners and an incarceration rate five times as high as the rest of the world?
Or is it a matter of a criminal justice system that has gone dramatically wrong, swamping the prison system with drug offenders?

He also talks about the shifting mood in the country that is becoming quite noticeable.
Nice little OpEd.
Then I was struck by a comment by “SG” to the article…

I am weighing the pros and cons and right now I veer towards the cons, especially because children are ultimately involved: kids are not to blame if their parents/guardian reckless attitude towards smoking pot will endanger their well being.
If a kid swallows a plastic bit of toy in the room next to where you are cheerfully yapping away sharing a dooby with your friends and unaware, what then?

My first reaction: Why have you placed a random unsupervised child in the room next to mine? I’m not married, haven’t had any kids, and don’t have any plastic toys, but you want to arrest me because of an imaginary child and an imaginary toy in an imaginary room, based on an imaginary view of my responsibility as a parent and my awareness when stoned?
This is a big part of the problem with prohibitionists. They imagine a scenario where someone might get hurt and decide to “solve” it not by addressing the actual scenario logically, but by arresting everyone whether they have any connection to the scenario.
It would be just as easy to imagine in SG’s scenario a situation where a mother is so absorbed with cooking dinner, juggling various timings, keeping one thing from burning, while blending the sauce, etc. that she fails to notice the child in the next room choking on a plastic piece of a toy. My God! We have to get women out of the kitchen! We need to outlaw cooking!

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