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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The crippling need to regulate

A 12-year-old girl is stabbed at 2:20am on Saturday night outside a nightclub in downtown Toronto that was holding some kind of all-ages event. According to at least one Toronto city councillor, it was illegal for her to have been there:

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti… told CTV yesterday the parents of the stabbing victim should be charged under the provincial Child and Family Services Act, which requires children under 16 to be supervised by a parent when out between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.

And yet Mammoliti and other councillors nevertheless want to address this massive city-wide problem, as represented by this one isolated incident, by instituting a curfew. In other words, they want to turn back time and make it super-duper illegal for the 12-year-old victim to have been at the club. If I know them, they'll probably arrive at a final proposal that all children under 13 be off the streets by 2:19am.

"I'm from the old school," said councillor Frances Nunziata. "A 12- and 13-year-old should be home in bed sleeping at that hour." Blech — go ahead and try to argue with that! I take some comfort in the idea that municipal politics is sort of a coarse filter that stops people of limited to non-existent intellect from gaining control of more important elected positions. But accepting that City Hall wishes to reach back into the mists of time and pluck one person from the unfortunate Saturday night situation, why on Earth are these councillors zeroing in on the 12-year-old girl who was stabbed? The 12-year-old girl who stabbed her seems like a much more logical target, and no one has to invent some jackass new law to deal with her.

(Cross-posted to Tart Cider.)

Posted by Chris Selley on March 28, 2006 | Permalink


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You did say this was all in Toronto?

So ... what do expect from pigs but grunts.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-03-28 6:14:23 PM

The victim is white. The perp is black. Why isn't this a hate crime?

Posted by: DJ | 2006-03-28 6:42:27 PM

Does anything in Toronto - or Ontario - work properly, aside from the ability to extort money from non-Ontarians?

Posted by: Scott | 2006-03-28 6:49:12 PM

Actually, a new law probably would have to made to deal with the stabber as well as the stabbee.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act might not include 12 year olds, or maybe it's those under 12.

'It takes a village to raise a child' - if the stupid parents refuse to do it! Going 'clubbing' at 12 years old is ludicrous but if parents can be held accountable for their kids actions then it's fine - make'm pay Court costs etc.

Posted by: infidel | 2006-03-28 6:55:40 PM

Mayor Miller loves this sort of thing - he can dump tons of cash into social welfare organizations that will primarily work to get him re-elected so he'll keep giving them cash. Along the way these groups might put out a 'stop the violence' pamphlet or sing kum-bay-yah.

Posted by: infidel | 2006-03-28 6:59:02 PM

Source on the victim's skin colour, DJ?

Posted by: Chris Selley | 2006-03-28 6:59:19 PM

If Miller is re-elected, then the people of Toronto have signed their city's death warrant. The guy is an IDIOT! When will you people learn your lesson!

Posted by: Scott | 2006-03-28 7:03:02 PM

Grunting pigs I tell you.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-03-28 7:14:14 PM

The war on drugs is being financed by us, both sides; we pay the police and courts while our children with our money, at times, support the dealers who support the rich in the world. The harder we fight the higher the cost of the drugs, making them even more attractive and the greater the pressure on our youth to join or form gangs to get their share. As with Alcohol let’s abolish Prohibition and take this battle for money out of the gangs. Because if we don’t more children will die. Haven’t you seen the decrease in respect shown by most people towards each other that’s a sign that our communities are falling a part. Does the law keep you from using crystal meth? Does it stop our kids from using it? Why do kids say that it’s easier to buy drugs then beer or smokes? Maybe it’s because the people selling them are licensed and don’t want to lose it because of some kid?

More and more people Police, Judges, Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers and Christian groups all calling for and end to prohibition. Return the problem back to the medical community where it can be properly treated. The money and lives saved will help in the rebuilding and healing of our communities.

The US spends 69 billion a year and drugs have gone up in quality down in price, they’ve also become easier to find.

So if you’re in the exterminator business and after a few years the house you’ve been working at has more bugs then when you started plus they’re harder to kill, do you keep doing the same thing?

Posted by: ed | 2006-03-28 8:00:58 PM

Even if you end prohibition .. there will still be under the table dealers with better or cheaper drugs.

There will still be those who will prostitute for drugs or with drugs. There are the poor and homeless who continue to steal and kill to get money for drugs.

Plus can you imagine the opportunity for corruption if our govenments got into the hard street drug business.

I have to tell you .. when you think this through there is no really good answer to rampent drug use in a highly advanced society in DECLINE!!

The only way to make people do or not do something is make it worth their while. If they feel they have no worth and are too far gone to come back ... to bad .. .that's life.

For the rest of them ... how about death for dealing hard drugs. How about five years for using hard drugs.

It's gotta be cheaper to build and run prisons than hospitals and drug centers etc etc. Not to mention the cost of the war on drugs itself.

Lot of careers were built on this phoney war.

While we are at we could take a lot pimps out back and get rid of them too. Legal brothels would work without drugs and pimps. Commone sense tells me that.

There a lot of problems we have now that can be solved by simply getting tough!!

Posted by: Duke | 2006-03-29 9:26:00 AM

Society is unravelling like a cheap sweater. Is the girl's age or that of the perp really germane?

What is needed are more laws. Yeah, thats the ticket. More laws and the government should throw some money around too.

I think they should pass a law against stabbing people. That should help.

Maybe reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged should be compulsory. The pure blinding logic will make everyone moral.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-03-29 9:50:00 AM

A Cops Story

Sometimes people in law enforcement will hear it whispered that I'm a former cop who favors decriminalization of marijuana laws, and they'll approach me the way they might a traitor or snitch. So let me set the record straight.

Yes, I was a cop for 34 years, the last six of which I spent as chief of Seattle's police department.

But no, I don't favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropic’s, mushrooms and LSD.

Decriminalization, as my colleagues in the drug-reform movement hasten to inform me, takes the crime out of using drugs but continues to classify possession and use as a public offense, punishable by fines.

I've never understood why adults shouldn't enjoy the same right to use verboten drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and water.

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use -- not an oxymoron in my dictionary -- as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

As a cop, I bore witness to the multiple lunacies of the "war on drugs." Lasting far longer than any other of our national conflicts, the drug war has been prosecuted with equal vigor by Republican and Democratic administrations, with one president after another -- Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush -- delivering sanctimonious sermons, squandering vast sums of taxpayer money and cheerleading law enforcers from the safety of the sidelines.

It's not a stretch to conclude that our Draconian approach to drug use is the most injurious domestic policy since slavery. Want to cut back on prison overcrowding and save a bundle on the construction of new facilities? Open the doors let the nonviolent drug offenders go. The huge increases in federal and state prison populations during the 1980s and '90s (from 139 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 482 per 100,000 in 2003) were mainly for drug convictions. In 1980, 580,900 Americans were arrested on drug charges, by 2003, that figure had ballooned to 1,678,200. We're making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined. Feel safer?

I've witnessed the devastating effects of open-air drug markets in residential neighborhoods: children recruited as runners, mules and lookouts; drug dealers and innocent citizens shot dead in firefights between rival traffickers bent on protecting or expanding their markets; dedicated narcotics officers tortured and killed in the line of duty; prisons filled with nonviolent drug offenders; and drug-related foreign policies that foster political instability, wreak health and environmental disasters, and make life even tougher for indigenous subsistence farmers in places such as Latin America and Afghanistan. All because we like our drugs -- and can't have them without breaking the law.

As an illicit commodity, drugs cost and generate extravagant sums of (laundered, untaxed) money, a powerful magnet for character-challenged police officers.

Although small in numbers of offenders, there isn't a major police force -- the Los Angeles Police Department included -- that has escaped the problem: cops, sworn to uphold the law, seizing and converting drugs to their own use, planting dope on suspects, robbing and extorting pushers, taking up dealing themselves, intimidating or murdering witnesses.

In declaring a war on drugs, we've declared war on our fellow citizens. War requires "hostiles" -- enemies we can demonize, fear and loathe. This unfortunate categorization of millions of our citizens justifies treating them as dope fiends, less than human. That grants political license to ban the exchange or purchase of clean needles or to withhold methadone from heroin addicts motivated to kick the addiction.

President Bush has even said no to medical marijuana. Why would he want to "coddle" the enemy? Even if the enemy is a suffering AIDS or cancer patient for whom marijuana promises palliative, if not therapeutic, powers.

As a nation, we're long overdue for a soul-searching, coldly analytical look at both the "drug scene" and the drug war. Such candor would reveal the futility of our current policies, exposing the embarrassingly meager return on our massive enforcement investment (about $69 billion a year, according to Jack Cole, founder and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

How would "regulated legalization" work? It would:

. Permit private companies to compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, package and peddle drugs.

. Create a new federal regulatory agency (with no apologies to libertarians or paleo-conservatives).

. Set and enforce standards of sanitation, potency and purity.

. Ban advertising.

. Impose (with congressional approval) taxes, fees and fines to be used for drug-abuse prevention and treatment and to cover the costs of administering the new regulatory agency.

. Police the industry much as alcoholic-beverage-control agencies keep a watch on bars and liquor stores at the state level. Such reforms would in no way excuse drug users who commit crimes: driving while impaired, providing drugs to minors, stealing an iPod, assaulting one's spouse, abusing one's child. The message is simple. Get loaded, commit a crime, do the time.

These reforms would yield major reductions in a host of predatory street crimes, a disproportionate number of which are committed by users who resort to stealing in order to support their addiction.

Regulated legalization would soon dry up most stockpiles of currently illicit drugs -- substances of uneven, often questionable quality ( including "bunk," i.e., fakes such as oregano, gypsum, baking powder or even poisons passed off as the genuine article ). It would extract from today's drug dealing the obscene profits that attract the needy and the greedy and fuel armed violence. And it would put most of those certifiably frightening crystal meth labs out of business once and for all.

Combined with treatment, education and other public-health programs for drug abusers, regulated legalization would make your city or town an infinitely healthier place to live and raise a family.

It would make being a cop a much safer occupation, and it would lead to greater police accountability and improved morale and job satisfaction.

But wouldn't regulated legalization lead to more users and, more to the point, drug abusers? Probably, though no one knows for sure -- our leaders are too timid even to broach the subject in polite circles, much less to experiment with new policy models. My own prediction? We'd see modest increases in use, negligible increases in abuse.

The demand for illicit drugs is as strong as the nation's thirst for bootleg booze during Prohibition. It's a demand that simply will not dry up. Whether to find God, heighten sex, relieve pain, drown one's sorrows or simply feel good, people throughout the millenniums have turned to mood- and mind-altering substances.

They're not about to stop, no matter what their government says or does. It's time to accept drug use as a right of adult Americans, treat drug abuse as a public-health problem and end the madness of an unwinnable war.

Posted by: ed | 2006-03-29 5:44:23 PM

If thats whatyou think about civic politics Chris then how do explain Jack Layton and Olivia Chow???

Civic governments and the politics practiced at that level are a breeding ground for useless and incompetent political hacks. In cities like Toronto the same people who support these fools on the local level will vote for them at senior levels too.

Mamolitti, Nunziata, Miller and all will keep the stupidity level at maximum because the citizens LET THEM!

And YES the parents are responsible for their children....lot of good that does now!

Posted by: PGP | 2006-03-29 6:36:21 PM

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