Sunday, May 23, 2021

Time to right marijuana wrongs

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for April 28, 2021)

Once the marijuana rules have changed, everyone with marijuana charges on their record should get a clean slate. At least where marijuana is concerned. Then they need to be paid the restitution they are owed by those who harmed them.

People arrested or fined for a crime which is no longer a crime deserve a break. Those who were jailed over marijuana were wronged. Those who were fined need to be repaid the money which was taken under phony pretexts. All for a "crime" which, finally, after nearly one hundred years of false claims and shoddy justifications, is recognized as not actually wrong.

Would you still consider runaway slaves criminals, with a record, after slavery was abolished? False claims and shoddy justification were used to excuse that evil institution, too.

What you ingest has never been government's business. Pretending it is doesn't make it so. Punishing people for ignoring the arbitrary wishes of politicians is wrong. Those who do wrong-- even if someone else has told them to do it-- owe restitution to their victims. "I was only following orders" has never excused such behavior.

Something can't be wrong one day and not wrong the next, or OK one day and illegal the next; based only on the opinions of smug politicians. Situations like this are why I have no respect for legislation. This exposes the absurdity of the whole system.

It seems silly to keep punishing people for past marijuana offenses, which is what is happening if those offenses stay on their record.

Even if the arrested individuals did something which will still be technically illegal under the new rules, it's long past time to let prohibition go. It's no more sensible than the witch trials of the 1690s or the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s. Everyone who once "waged war on weed" looks as bad as those who came before them, and in the future may even look worse.

If you're going to insist on having police and government courts they need to focus only on those acts where someone's life, liberty, or property has been harmed. Beyond this is where any legitimacy ends. It's not a fuzzy gray area; it ends hard at that line. If they violate anyone's life, liberty, or property in the course of doing their jobs, they've become what they claim to be fighting. Prohibition is one example of them having done exactly this.

It's time to make it right.

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The consistency of liberty

Liberty is completely consistent. But those who decide to reject it won't see the consistency because they don't understand what they are seeing.

Years ago a good friend of mine made the argument that gravity isn't consistent. She said gravity works on Earth but not in space. She also claimed that airplanes are defying gravity when they fly. She thought this showed that gravity doesn't always work.

She was no dummy-- very smart and in her mid-80s.

I tried to explain that gravity is consistent everywhere (even though its strength varies from place to place in the Universe due to the uneven distribution of matter), but due to different conditions, it looks different in space than it does on Earth. 

I tried to explain that "zero gravity" in orbit is just the result of falling around the planet. A "downward" falling path that misses the ground and keeps going around. Orbiting wouldn't be possible without gravity. (Deep space would be a different situation.)

I tried to explain that without gravity, airplanes couldn't fly the way they do. Gravity holds the air to the planet so they can use it for lift and thrust.

She wouldn't have any of it. To her, it looked different under those different conditions and she didn't understand the physics behind it, so that was the end of it. Gravity was inconsistent and unreliable, in her view.

Those who don't (or won't) understand liberty are much the same. They see different situations, and imagine that it looks like liberty is different in those situations-- that it doesn't work in every circumstance. But that's only because they don't understand what they are looking at.

Is it possible to explain it to them? Maybe not, but it works the same regardless of whether they accept and understand it or not.


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