Vice Squad
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Vice Policy Commentary You Shouldn't Miss

(1) Drug WarRant explains what bad laws are, and how one should behave in their presence. Shades of Thoreau, who in Civil Disobedience asked "Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?" His answer was that if the injustice of the law "is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law." But earlier in the same essay, Thoreau also noted the habit of subservience to the state:
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others, as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders, serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it [footnote omitted].
(2) OK, got carried away on that bad law theme. Last One Speaks updates the ongoing horrors at a "drug rehabilitation" center in Yekaterinburg, Russia. I didn't know it was still operating; if it is, they have been at this sadism for at least three years now. It's a private group, and ostensibly the "patients" have consented to the torture. [Incidentally, Yekaterinburg, known as Sverdlovsk during the Soviet period, is where Boris Yeltsin lived prior to his move to Moscow. It is also known for being the place where the last czar and his family were murdered. (The last czar, that is, not counting, well, the later ones.)]

(3) Last One Speaks also brings us word about the poker craze among our nation's youth. I have been suggesting blogging as a poker alternative, with few takers.

(4) We have not yet mentioned the tragic death of a quadriplegic while in custody in Washington, DC; he had been convicted of marijuana possession. He was given a ten-day jail sentence, but he only ended up serving half of it. He needed a ventilator while sleeping, it seems, but he wasn't provided one. D'Alliance has been particularly assiduous in keeping us informed as the details concerning the inmate's death emerge.

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