Eyeing the Cracks in the System

2 Nov

by Roger White

Before we get started, life travelers, let me begin by saying I neither condone nor condemn drug and/or alcohol use by my fellow man and woman and other people, nor would I presume to impose my morals and standards for good, decent living upon any of you heathens. I mean, folks. What you do to raise your balloon is your own business, as long as it doesn’t put me or mine in the hospital. And as long as you’re not too loud. I’m getting up there, ya know. I need my beauty sleep.

Furthermore, in our class discussion today, let it be known that any and all alcohol and/or drug use by minors is absolutely illegal, forbidden, and frowned upon and will not be tolerated by this faculty. You youngsters don’t get to have any of that kind of fun until you’re old enough to know how cockeyed it all is. I mean, why do we say drugs and alcohol anyway? Hello? Booze is the most dangerous drug The Big Guy ever gave us. I know, I know, it’s all about politics and finance and the fact that somebody down the line in America had his bets on ethanol futures over hemp futures.

All I’ll say about that was better opined by the British Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs in 2002: “Cannabis differs from alcohol … in one major respect. It does not seem to increase risk-taking behavior. This means that cannabis rarely contributes to violence either to others or to oneself, whereas alcohol use is a major factor in deliberate self-harm, domestic accidents and violence.”

Hey, before you rev up the poison pens, I didn’t say it, some upper-crust British guy with a top hat, cane, and handlebar mustache said it. And who was it, Robin Williams, who said if gangs preferred pot exclusively over booze that about the worst thing you’d get would be drive-by pillow fights? That would be nice.

Anyway, class is almost half over and I haven’t even gotten to the lesson plan. I always get sidetracked by some wise guy in the front row who asks a question he knows will get me rolling in the wrong direction. I see your hand up again, Ian, and I’m not taking the bait.

No, my point for today’s session was about the reduction of jail sentences originally imposed on crack cocaine offenders across the country. Did you hear about this? Federal judges are reviewing the prison sentences of folks jailed on crack possession charges and are retroactively reducing their sentences. And I am retroactively ticked off.

 

I’m not ticked off at the reduction of the sentences. I’m ticked at the sentences in the first place – and at the fact that most of us are just now hearing about this. You want to talk about the unfairness of the system? Brother, here is the prime example. It seems that when crack cocaine hit the streets and became the rage among drug users in the 1980s and ’90s, Congress got on its high horse (so to speak) and handed down criminal penalties for crack use as much as 100 times stiffer than penalties for use of cocaine in its powder form.

Now, I understand that this nasty stuff was ruining people’s lives and something needed to be done, but let’s break this down. What’s the diff, you may say, between crack and cocaine, anyway? The diff is, dear reader, that it was mostly poor folks who got swept up in the crack wave because crack was far less expensive and much easier to get than coke. So you had poor people – and if you want to read that as inner-city black folks, then go ahead – being slammed with 30-, 40-, and 50-year sentences for having a few rocks’ worth of escape from despair. While you had your rich people – and if you want to read that as suburban, gated-community white folks, then go ahead – getting off with sentences that were a mere fraction of those given to crack users because they could afford the powder instead of the rock.

Call me a BHL if you must (Bleeding Heart etc.), but imagine being pulled over by the cops for having one too many Bud Lights and getting tossed in the slammer, while down the road Executive Eddie gets only a warning for being tanked on his Chimay Ale. Your lawyer then explains to you if you’d blown .08 on Chimay instead of Bud you wouldn’t be in the pokey because of the new Sliding Sloshed Scale Law handed down by Congress.

Or you could liken it to paying $4.19 a gallon to fill up your Pinto instead of $3.59 if only you owned a Porsche or a Ferrari. Or a Beemer, even. I’ll give ya one more just for the threesome: It’s like being slapped with a five-year sentence for being caught red-handed (and, I guess, red other things) with an ugly hooker as opposed to getting off with a year’s probation for being in the company of an elegant, beautiful “escort.” “Oh, you’re a hooker? I just thought I was doing great with you.” Rest in peace, Sir Dudley.

 

Now, let me circle back. I know the bell rang, but stay right where you are. Again, I neither condone nor condemn. I merely cajole. And sometimes canoodle. And canuck. I’m here merely to point out life’s little inequities. Yes, this will be on the test. Yes, it will be multiple choice. All right, all right, get the hell out of here.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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5 Responses to “Eyeing the Cracks in the System”

  1. bestbathroombooks November 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Wait a second, Roger. You’re not telling me life’s not fair, are you? I refuse to believe it!
    Thanks for the cajole.
    Les

    • oldspouse November 4, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      and take a canuck with you, while yer at it, Les. How’s sunny CA?

  2. Ingrid Caldwell November 7, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Roger for president!

  3. Margie November 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Seems like a lot of resources get used up in the War on Drugs, when Natural Selection might be far more effective.

  4. Fiboni August 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Sadly the world isn’t fair and most people are very judgemental if you have any argument about drugs that doesnt fit the main stream opinion. Even if it actually makes a lot of sense.

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