There are too many of these stories

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic: A Heartbreaking Drug Sentence of Staggering Idiocy

John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food restaurant worker, lost his eye in a 2000 accident and was prescribed painkillers. Years later, he met and befriended a guy who seemed to be in pain himself. His new friend asked if he could buy some of Horner’s pain pills. Naturally, the friend was a police informant.

Yep. You know what happens next.

25 years.

Conor follows that article up the next day with this one: The War on Drugs Is Far More Immoral Than Most Drug Use — in which he counters Peter Wehner’s hypocritical OpEd in the Washington Post.

What he doesn’t seem to understand is that many advocates of individual liberty, myself included, regard liberty itself as a moral imperative. I don’t want to ridicule the “language of morality.” I want to state, as forcefully as possible, that the War on Drugs is deeply, irredeemably immoral; that it corrodes the minds and souls of those who prosecute it, and creates incentives for bad behavior that those living under its contours have always and will always find too powerful to resist. Drug warriors may disagree, but they should not pretend that they are the only ones making moral claims, and that their opponents are indifferent to morality. Reformers are often morally outraged by prohibitionist policies and worry that nannying degrades the character of citizens. […]

See the man in the photo at the top of this article? It isn’t immoral for him to light a plant on fire, inhale the smoke, and enjoy a mild high for a short time, presuming he doesn’t drive while high. But it would be immoral to react to his plant-smoking by sending men with guns to forcibly arrest him, convict him in a court, and lock him up for months or even years for a victimless crime. That’s the choice, dear reader. So take a look at the guy in the photo and make your choice: Is it more moral to let him smoke, or to forcibly cage him with thieves, rapists, and murderers?

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25 Responses to There are too many of these stories

  1. Ben says:

    Exactamundo. The drug war is not just immoral, it is flat-out evil. It’s nearly as horrific a social policy as slavery was.

  2. allan says:

    from comments on the first article:

    The drunk driver who killed my wife’s cousin and put her husband in a wheelchair was given a sentence of three years in prison for manslaughter.

    Weigh that one.

    – Liam Bean

    follow the link thru and read the BBC article also…

    Again, I’m only left with a long string of profanity at this point… damn I hate the drug war.

    • Jose says:

      Allan, I would like to echo that long string of profanity. I often wonder how a judge can sleep at night. My first introduction to the insanity of sentencing was years ago. An acquaintance who was a college student at the time decided to go home for spring break and help on the family farm in Looseranna. Unfortunately driving while black with out of state plates in rural LA is a bad idea. He was stopped and searched. Eventually he made it to a judge that must have had a sense of humor that day… 3 years, one for EACH GRAM the officer found. It was not the loss of financial aid or his internship that was most painful, it was the years in Angola. Which for a kid of his intellect and friendly disposition ruined him. I am sure he would love to talk to Sabet about how no one goes to prison for simple possession! Meanwhile the sick bastard child molester living next to my brother in law gets 6 months jail followed by probation. And yeah, my poor niece played at the sob’s house with the dirt bags daughter.

      • War Vet says:

        Not to put this man down since I’d like to think he’s changed and truly feels sorry for his crime and he’s just an all around nice guy: I work with a man who while he was in his 40’s, molested a girl about the age of 11 . . . all he did was touch and nothing more. He got a deferred sentence and I doubt he spent longer than a month in jail. I worked with another guy a few years older than me who went to prison for a few years for having sex with a little boy and he got busted a second time for it. Our drug arrests in Oklahoma keep too many of the bad people out of jail and give drug users far longer sentences. We should have large signs erected along the borders that read: ‘Sex Offenders Welcome, but Stay off the Grass.’ The War on Drugs twists and poises the morals of would be good people because in the real world, you are either pro-drug legalization or pro-child rape (drug money giving rapists in Mexico or Afghanistan more power to do what they do) . . . pro-drug legalization or pro-9/11 . . . pro-drug legalization or pro-recession and there are no ifs ands or buts about the above since drug prohibitions significantly fuels if not creates such things and to support drug prohibitions is the exact same thing as supporting pedophiles, rapes, wars, terrorism and recession. Life only gave America two choices a few decades back: legalize drugs or endure 9/11 . . . its sad to think that people would decide to allow 9/11 to happen by denying drug legalization. That judge you are talking about doesn’t deserve to live . . . his right to live was destroyed long ago when he decided to walk down that morbid ‘War on Drugs’ path. Ignorance doesn’t negate the end results, so yes, even the ignorant need punishing so we don’t teach people to stay ignorant and lie about being hidden in ignorance to avoid punishment. My heart goes out to your friend. The War on Drugs makes it where it’s illogical to give cops access to laws, badges, guns and cuffs. Our drug laws make cops unnecessary and impractical since to protect the laws and the safety of the citizens, we need to rid America of our police forces first. I hope for his sake, your friend who went to Angola can see justice or at least peace for what happened to him. I didn’t go to war so he or anyone could go to jail for any amount of drugs.

        • Jose says:

          War Vet, thanks for the perspective. Maybe I was a bit harsh. The lack of logic in sentencing gets me a bit too worked up.

          As far as law enforcement goes, I have to agree. There was a time when they seemed to serve a good purpose. Nowadays they seem to be more of a mechanism of revenue generation and social engineering.

          I hate to say but I now believe I went to war (if we can call it that anymore) to protect the interests of the wealthy. Surely no one still thinks our government sent us to Kuwait on behalf of the citizens there.

        • War Vet says:

          You the soldier are there for all the right reasons, while the feds, civilian tax payers and even our own higher ups are there for all the wrong reasons. That’s why I always tell the kids to join the police force or military to dilute the system. What’s wrong with wanting to live in a country where being a soldier is an act of humanity . . . or maybe not a single U.S. soldier was worth the lives of the Jews trapped in Germany? We make it honorable and we negate as much as we can, the dishonorable acts of War service. We influence or become the ones who lead and send armies off . . . to disrespect military service is to honor treachery since it takes a special breed of human to be willing to put the ‘bad’ in its place –be it the bad of another country or the bad emanating from Washington. Don’t forget: the tax paying civilian is the thirstiest for blood and oil, not the military, or they would boycott the war/military percent of the taxes . . . if this isn’t true, then explain why people eat at and pay at restaurants they enjoy? The civilian tax payer keeps coming back to war for more. It’s up to the soldier to work the will of humanity in the breeding grounds of calamity and bloodshed. Those Iraqi people sure as hell wanted Saddam out, it’s just that drug money allowed opposing factions/denominations to fight us and each other, thus making us look like the bad guys. Seeing first hand what Saddam did to his people, you were a Godsend to those Kuwaites (or blessed be Hitler). To deny the existence of WMD’s is to deny the existence of the Kurdish people and the Kurdish race and those who look down at modern day American military service are closet racists who don’t want their tax dollars bothered when toppling down a Bathist killer like Saddam. The War on Drugs muddied up the conflicts and 9/11, but it’s up to the non-civilian like you and I and the rest of us on this couch who lost their Civilian cards at war, to steer this nation down the soundest of moral roads. As long as civilian tax payers keep on living their consumer filled democratic lives, we’ll always be called in to defend their checkbooks, TV shows, coupons, gas and mall shopping sprees . . . it is up to us to add humanity to war . . . I know deep down in my heart, there is less humanity in the civilian world than that of the military/war world. If you’ve ever used anything containing or needing petroleum, it’s illogical to feel bad for your service in Kuwait. It’s not about what you did in the War, its how the civilian lives his or her life while you are at war . . . we are sent to war to protect their way of life, or they’d simply boycott taxes the way I boycott Star Bucks for donating money to the ONDCP.

  3. divadab says:

    Yup – Prohibition has been one of the most evil regimes inflicted on the American citizenry, and it continues. It’s criminal enforcement of criminal laws in favor of monopoly capitalism, secret police, and keeping the brown people (and hippies) down. Fascism festering in the flesh of our body politic.

    And here’s one rarely mentioned victim – the American family farmer. At one point, he could run his vehicle and equipment on fuel he produced on his own farm – either alcohol distilled from his silage (Henry Ford’s Model T’s ran on alcohol), or on hempseed oil powering his diesel machinery (Mr. Diesel made his first engine to run on vegetable oil). Notice that even though alcohol prohibition was purportedly repealed, farmers are still prohibited from distilling alcohol to run their vehicles. And growing hemp has been illegal since 1937. Our very own fascist legacy from the thirties.

    Qui bono? The fucking oil companies, that own the federal government. WHat was the price of gas when GW Bush became president? ABout $1.30. What was the price of gas at the end of his second term? ABout $4.30. Mission Accomplished!

    • Windy says:

      Uh, sorry, Diva, but that info is incorrect:
      “January 20, 2009|Steve Gelsi. NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Average U.S. gasoline prices rang up at $1.84 a gallon on Tuesday, up from $1.67”

      What you attributed to W was actually done by Obama:
      Today’s “Gas Price Report. US Low $3.291. Wyoming. US Average $3.607. US High $4.420”

      • divadab says:

        You know, WIndy, there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics” (to quote Churchill) – you neglect to mention that at the end of 2008 (that is, the end of GW Bush’s term), gas prices hit a high of $4.36. This was the situation that plunged the US into recession – I’ve never understood how people miss that a manipulated gas price was what kicked our economy into recession. The financial fraud mortgage scheme was probably equally responsible, but the oil companies get off scot free, despite making more profits in the midst of the worse recession since the 30’s than any company in the history of the world.

        GW Bush did a good job for his oil company masters. To try to blame Obama shows you are just another person who has bought in to the brainwashing.

        The gas price crashed from $4.36 in Oct 2012 to $1.79 in January 2013 – you may as well say Obama brough the prices down as to assert that the price increase was his fault.

        Here’s a link to the data:

        Why on earth do you defend that oligarch GW Bush? That war profiteer? That corrupt tool of the oil industry? Give your head a shake, WIndy.

        • Windy says:

          I do not defend W, he did a lot of stuff that was more harmful than helpful, and ALL of his policies are being carried on by Obama, well more than carried on, expanded. Neither of them was/is a good president.

          Oh, and W’s term didn’t end until Obama took office (though it could be truthfully said that Obama is W’s third and 4th terms, since he’s doing everything W did and worse).

        • divadab says:

          Well, you tried to deflect the blame for high oil prices from GW Bush by blaming Obama. Bush can take all the credit, in my opinion, and he profited mightily from the higher prices and the chaos his invasion of Iraq caused. Blaming Obama just seemed so, you know, Faux News.

          I agree that Obama hasn’t been better. What did you expect – he would not have been a candidate unless he had already signed his soul over to Satan.

  4. kaptinemo says:

    You know the country is in a state of decline when the very word used to describe the ideals of freedom – libertarianism – has become an epithet. And any who would use that word in such a manner displays their true feelings regarding that freedom. Another aspect of the late Professor Whitebread’s thesis

    Let me give you an example. 1919. You are a Republican in upstate New York. Whether you drink, or you don’t, you are for the alcohol prohibition because it will close the licensed saloons in the City of New York which you view to be the corrupt patronage and power base of the Democratic Party in New York. So almost every Republican in New York was in favor of national alcohol prohibition. And, as soon as it passed, what do you think they said? “Well, what do you know? Success. Let’s have a drink.” That’s what they thought, “Let’s have a drink.” “Let’s drink to this.” A great success, you see.

    Do you understand me? Huge numbers of people in this country were in favor of national alcohol prohibition who were not themselves opposed to drinking…”

    To clarify it further:

    “I just want to go back to the prohibition against the drinking of gin. How could a country prohibit just the drinking of gin, not the drinking of anything else for forty years? Answer: The rich people drank whiskey and the poor people drank what? — gin. Do you see it?”


    “That’s it. Every criminal prohibition has that same touch to it, doesn’t it? It is enacted by US and it always regulates the conduct of THEM. And so, if you understand that is the name of the game, you don’t have to ask me, or any of the other people which prohibitions will be abolished and which ones won’t because you will always know. The iron law of prohibitions — all of them — is that they are passed by an identifiable US to control the conduct of an identifiable THEM.

    And a prohibition is absolutely done for when it does what? Comes back and bothers US. If, at any time, in any way, that prohibition comes back and bothers us, we will get rid of it for sure, every doggoned time. Look at the alcohol prohibition if you want a quick example. As long as it is only THEM — you know, them criminals, them crazy people, them young people, them minority group members — we are fine. But any prohibition that comes back and bothers US is done for.”

    Such Olympian pretenses on the part of prohibitionists have been their hallmark from the beginning. True freedom is for them, alone, not the ‘Great Unwashed’, who, supposedly, can’t handle their liberty any better than their liquor. A point that is tacitly behind much of what they do.

    • claygooding says:

      Old Harry used racial bigotry instead of the Democrats as “them”,,and in the 30’s any politician from below the Mason-Dixon Line was either a member of the Klu Klux Klan or their father was the local Grand Wizard,,so firing congress up to pass the Marijuana Ta Act was a walk in the park.

      • Windy says:

        And the vast majority of KKK members back then were Democrats, bet most of you didn’t know that.

        • kaptinemo says:

          As they were also the greatest supporters of the Harrison Narcotics Act, the first Federal law aimed specfically at recreational drug users. Which was stumped for under the banner of the Progressive Movement of the early 20th century.

          Even then it was argued as being unConstitutional, but in their Brandeisian zeal to ‘help’ the poor and downtrodden, the law was passed, and formed the basis of the present national policy.

          History shows that they caused enormously greater suffering than what the laws were supposed to alleve, all in the name of ‘saving’ those who neither needed or wanted to be saved. But it’s been my observation that far too many of my fellow Americans are too busy making History rather than take the time to read its’ lessons…until it’s too late.

  5. Matthew Meyer says:

    OT: Pew poll shows Americans want pot legal, 52-45.

    First time for Pew.

  6. Servetus says:

    The Supreme Court case of Florida v. Jardines dealing with drug sniffing dogs and their proximity to private dwellings appears to have wider implications. The standard, warrantless, ‘knock and talk’ investigations that police do to obtain evidence for arrests appear threatened as well. Incidents of detected marijuana aroma when a door to a home is voluntarily opened by the occupant might now require a search warrant before knocking, talking and arresting:

    And in Mexico, the ability to get information out to the public about what’s really going on with the bloody Mexico drug war is being thwarted by both the government of Mexico and by the drug cartels. A pair of ultra-brave bloggers are fighting back with a blog called Blog del Narco:

    • Duncan20903 says:


      I think the ruling will mean that the dogs get left in the car. The test for “can a cop walk up to your door” for a number of decades has been that they can legally go where door to door salesmen have a right to go.

      Some people have told me that I’m crazy because I post a “No soliciting” sign right beside the “No trespassing” sign. I say it’s $5 well spent even though the door to door bible thumpers don’t respect those signs.

      I actually had a cop banging on my front door not too long ago at 6:30 in the morning. I went out the back door and walked around the house to talk to him. That was done as a tactical move. But it was about a burglary next door and he wanted to ask if I happened to see anything suspicious occur. Thieves sure do like my next door neighbor’s home. It’s the 3rd felony that has occurred over there of which I’m aware.

  7. perffaith says:

    “That’s the choice, dear reader. So take a look at the guy in the photo and make your choice: Is it more moral to let him smoke, or to forcibly cage him with [while] thieves, rapists, and murderers [go free]?”

  8. Thud! says:

    Yet another unanticipated event on the road to re-legalization:

    Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell is urging the Legislature to pass a bill that would allow Vermonters to grow small amounts of marijuana plants.
    By Kirk Carapezza

    Vermont’s attorney general wants a marijuana decriminalization bill moving though the House to allow people to grow one or two plants.

    Attorney General Bill Sorrell says if the state doesn’t allow Vermonters to grow their own pot it will force them to buy marijuana illegally.

    • War Vet says:

      A bill that allows them to grow Cannabis Ruderalis? Oops, read it wrong, a bill that would allow them to grow a small number of plants, not small plants, though I’m sure Vermonteers will have the right to grow what ever kind they want when the bill passes.

  9. Dante says:

    Thank you, Mr. Friedersdorf, for putting my feelings into powerful words. Those who claim to protect us are in fact harming us for their own selfish profit and pleasure, and using morality to justify the carnage. The war on drugs is just like the Spanish Inquisition.

    We humans sure do repeat the same mistakes a lot.

  10. claygooding says:

    Marijuana Has Won The War On Drugs
    [Open in new window]

    At least when it comes to marijuana, the war on drugs is over.

    Two states have passed marijuana legalization laws that fly in the face of national drug policy.

    Polling on the issue shows a rejection of prohibition. The opinions of law enforcement commanders has begun to shift.

    For some who want to cut the budget, the drug war is looking like a good place to start.

    Now, for the first time, when a marijuana lobbyist calls a member of Congress, they get asked for money, not hung up on, Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML told Business Insider. And, as St. Pierre was proud to point out, the man in the White House personally invented a new way to smoke marijuana in high school. “”snipped””

    When trade papers start putting out our side of the argument it sure makes how far we have come seem better.
    Now if only the drug warriors could read.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Oh, despite what some might think, they can read the writing on the wall, printed in big, neon red block letters, 5 stories high, that prohibition is doomed. But, until fairly recently, faking illiteracy was more profitable.

      But, here, literally, is the ‘money quote’:

      “Now, for the first time, when a marijuana lobbyist calls a member of Congress, they get asked for money, not hung up on…”

      There it is. We’ve arrived. But we still have to show the (corrupt) pols that we have even more moxie. And in politics, moxie = money.

      Now is the time to select your favorite reform group and start donating to it.

      Here’s an idea: most folks are cash-strapped, these days, but if every reform-minded individual gave just $4.20 every month for a year, less than what they pay for a meal at a fast-food place, with the scores of millions of us, the reform organizations can build a war-chest that the pols will both slaver over…and be pee-their-pants afraid of honking off.

      We can’t leave this to the Uber-Wealthy donators who’ve been a very large part of the reason why we’ve gotten so far. It’s our turn to step up to the plate.

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