Eviction Case Dismissed Against Public Housing Resident

Indie writes: The civil eviction case against former public housing resident Joy Johnson has been dismissed, according to The Daily Progress. Johnson was evicted by the Charlottesville Public Housing Authority after drug raids at her public housing apartment resulted in the arrests of her two sons, who were not allowed to be on the property. Has Johson been given a raw deal, and should the public housing authority give her a second chance? Or was the housing authority’s decision fair and even-handed and she should be responsible for what goes on within her apartment?

77 Responses to “Eviction Case Dismissed Against Public Housing Resident”

  • Indie says:

    I just wanted to correct something technical in my submission: The judge said he "WILL" dismiss the case, but it actually hasn’t happened yet, if I am reading the story properly, because Johnson’s attorney apparently wouldn’t comment until it had been done………….

  • Jack says:

    In my opinion, Joy Johnson did get a raw deal. If she paid any rent due and took good physical care of the property, she is entitled to housing. Regardless of what her children may have chosen to ingest.

    I am baffled by the singling out of drug possession as grounds for a massive national campaign of discrimination. Despite the fact that most Americans have at some point in their lives used an illegal substance, we target drug users with the worst sort of malice possible. They are kicked out of their homes. They are refused in-state tuition and financial aid. They lose their drivers licenses (even if they did not drive under the influence). They are fired from their jobs. All of these things are not just done as a natural consequence of the effects of excessive drug use, but as a contrived, systematic expression of hate.

    We don’t subject violent criminals to these penalties. We don’t do this kind of thing to thieves, either. But for some reason, the worst of our society’s hate is directed at the law-breakers who pose the least threat to us.

    In regard to housing specifically, I fail to see how adding to homelessness will reduce the use or sale of drugs. To the contrary, excessive drug use and the violence that often accompanies any black market can only thrive under the desperate circumstances of homelessness.

  • Sympatico says:

    This is one place I part ways with Democrat liberals. Although I feel public policy is often beside the mark when it comes to choosing its battles and how vigorously it does so, drugs and drug use do pose a substantial “threat to us”. What happens if the drug addict is a school bus driver, for instance? Put your own horror story in here…

    A lessee must be held responsible for what happens within the leased dwelling because our rightful laws to protect citizens against a police state prohibit authorities from checking up in our homes and therefore being responsible for us. Someone MUST be held accountable and it is fair to make the lessee so IMO.

    Where I reconnect with Jack, though, is in the lack of consequential planning our government applies. It’s one thing to enforce laws, but then what? What happens after evictions to poor people? It’s the same stupidity concerning the debate over “living wages”. I fail to understand even how anyone could argue against living wages. If working full-time can’t pay for a meager existence, then how can we expect under-privileged folk to go to work?

  • Jim says:

    Setting aside the rationality of current drug laws,

    “Federal regulations give housing authorities wide latitude to immediately evict residents accused of criminal activity. The laws also state, however, that eviction should be treated as a last resort. “

    “Police have said drugs were found in both searches and a gun was recovered in one of them. “

    Give her some latitude on the first offense, but the second one? At what point does one reach the “last resort?”

    Why is it so hard for people to accept responsibility for their actions? She allowed her sons to be in her home (if not, she should have called the police herself) and she should be held accountable. One would think that she knew of the rules/laws that must be followed in order to maintain residency, and she chose not to abide by these laws.

    Perception is not reality. Reality is reality.

  • Guest says:

    Last I checked, guns were still legal. Hell, if I lived in a housing project, I’d be packin’ too.

    I give her points for loyalty. You’d have to be a real weak asshole to close your doors to your kids just because there’s some draconian law saying your family members have been blacklisted.

    Debating whether it was legal to kick her out of the house isn’t fun or useful. We know it was legal. The rationality of the law is what’s worth talking about.

    And definitely pay attention to the ‘accused’ part. It would be bad enough even if we were talking about being convicted, but this is just a matter of what some cop alleges without any due process.

  • harry says:

    "Why is is so hard for people to accept responsibility for their actions?"

    I suggest that the more important question that folks ought to be asking is why we permit our government to get away with the draconian evictions and property forteiture laws that have been instituted as part of the horribly misguided War on Drugs.

    Keep in mind that, as Jack pointed out, these punishments are imposed on third parties, based upon accusations made against others. No hearing. No trial. No evidence of complicity or guilt. No opportunity to defend yourself. These laws permit police authorities to confiscate people’s property and kick them out of their homes.

    Sorry, but that’s just not right. Not in America.

  • Sympatico says:

    Well, it is certainly imperfect. And we should indeed try to find a better solution. But by the same token, going through the courts to get anything accomplished is a total joke.

  • harry says:

    "Going through the courts to get anything accomplished is a total joke."

    Are you kidding? Our judicial system is the only thing that saves us from mob rule and totalitarianism.

  • Cecil says:

    "Setting aside the rationality of current drug laws"

    why should we do that? isn’t that the most important thing–to consider and then when necessary critique the rationality of all of our current laws? you seem to be advocating a sheep-like obedience to "current laws" no matter how wrong-headed or asinine they are.

    if she (and others who are evicted or threatened with eviction on these grounds) quietly "accepts responsibility for her actions," as you put it, then the law never gets thought about. if, however, she fights it, then that sparks a conversation about whether the law is just or even useful in achieving what it purports to achieve. that seems to me to be more important.

  • Sympatico says:

    Yeah, right.

    My score of criminal courts: 7/10

    My score of civil courts: 1/10

    Thank you for your time!

  • Jim says:

    Drug laws are Draconian. The War on Drugs is horribly wasteful and misdirected.

    Do not sign up to live in place where, if you are found with drugs or if you allow illegal activities to happen within your home you will be evicted.

    At some point, people have to be held accountable for their actions. She did receive a second chance, and she blew it!

    That said, they should have waited to begin the eviction process (or not) until after her sons were either convicted or found not guilty.

    “I give her points for loyalty. You’d have to be a real weak asshole to close your doors to your kids just because there’s some draconian law saying your family members have been blacklisted.”

    If this woman’s kids bring trouble into her home and jeopardize her well being and that of her law-abiding family (and they apparently do, and have), she ought to have the intestinal fortitude to tell her children to get lives of their own.

    Despite the arguments that drug laws are bad, if one decides to live somewhere with certain rules one has a responsibility to abide by said rules.

  • Waldo says:

    My score of criminal courts: 7/10
    My score of civil courts: 1/10

    Compared to what?

  • Indie says:

    Hasn’t she been living in C-ville public housing for, like, 5 years or much more? Public housing is designed to be transitional, to be a place where people having a rough time financially can have a temporary place to live until they get on their feet. I think the "rules" and "laws" governing public housing have been overlooked in the era of welfare reform. She seems to be intelligent and engaged… if she put as much effort into working her way up and out as much as she does relying on public assistance and fighting to stay in public housing, then she would be wildly successful.

  • Sympatico says:

    Compared to what?

    What do you mean?

    My comment was straightforward: I think criminal courts get a passing grade, as in like C+, B-, and civil courts are a complete failure, a mockery of justice. The judge in a civil court has complete and utter discretion. Heaven forbid your case does not match his/her personal beliefs. And no, there is no real-life recourse, as the appeals system in criminal court. And no, the judge is not just following the law, because the law can be – and is – widely interpreted.

    For instance, anyone that has witnessed divorce and custodial court battles can attest to the complete discretion of the circuit court judge. The judge, who’s affiliated with local institutions and establishments desires one thing and one thing alone: to be PC. Forget JUSTICE.

    Have you ever been to Traffic court? Or Circuit court involving Hospital Collections? Justice in civil court in the U.S. is a total joke. A judge in Charlottesville, Virginia may come up with a completely different result from a judge in San Francisco, California, or Bismarck, North Dakota. And not because of radically different state laws either!

  • Sympatico says:

    …then she would be wildly successful

    …says you. How do you know that? The fact that she needs to keep control of activities within her home is one thing, but from there to summarily judge her financial achievements (or lack thereof) is amazing!

  • Indie says:

    Apparently she doesn’t have any financial achievements–she has been living in public housing for a long, long time!! Which brings me back to my main point–that public housing is designed to be transitional and I don’t see her doing anything to "transition" herself outta there. She is able-bodied and obviously has her mental faculties together, so why is she STILL living there after all these years???

  • Hoo2LA says:

    At least in Virginia, the courts are not divided along such lines (though the codes are to a greater degree).

    The district courts handle traffic, lower level crimes, and civil cases involving not much money. There is a specialized "family" court (which does not include divorce or wills). Then, the circuit courts handle the big crimes, civil cases involving larger sums of money, equity (usually divorces and wills), and appeals from the other two courts (heard "de novo", I believe). I think that it is how the Virginia courts break down.

    Further, it seems that the right to appeal is just as strong in civil cases as in criminal cases. In my experience, the criminal in fact has much less likelihood of success on appeal than the civil litigant has (as determined by success rates on appeal).

    That said, civil appeal is certainly a costly and drawn-out process, one that encourages early settlement.

    In any case, I don’t particularly disagree with you and I perhaps see more fault in our court system than most, but I just wanted to get you to expand your distinction between civil and criminal.

  • Sympatico says:

    Hello? “financial achievements” was a non-critical way of saying ‘her income’.

    Who knows WHY she is STILL living there. Maybe the $6 an hour at McDonald’s can’t afford the $500 per month rent for a tiny apartment in a privately owned complex. Let’s implement “Living Wages” and then you can judge her lifestyle.

  • Cecil says:

    "Do not sign up to live in place where, if you are found with drugs or if you allow illegal activities to happen within your home you will be evicted."

    My problem with this statement is that it looks perfectly sensible on paper–too sensible, in fact. You talk about "signing up" to live in a place with these rules as if it were some la-la choice, "oh, where to live, where to live, so many options–oh, I guess I’ll go with the public housing, that’s what I really want."

    I would content that most folks living in public housing are incredibly far removed from anything resembling the kind of "choice" that you’re talking about. It’s not like there are other housing options competing for their business–quite the opposite, I would imagine. How many rental agencies won’t even accept Section 8, for example?

    I think it’s disingenous (at best) to say "it’s quite simple, it all comes down to what you choices you make." I think that’s a very easy position to take if you’re someone who has a variety of relatively palatable choices before them. I think that in this country, the poorer you get, your choices dwindle down to such a narrow range of options that it becomes ridiculous to tsk-tsk people for "choosing" to live in public housing (choosing it over what?), for example.

    "you’re right, if I wanted to have my drug-possessing sons come visit me in my home, I guess I should have chosen to build my own mansion in unincorporated Albemarle County, stupid me."

  • Cecil says:

    "Public housing is designed to be transitional"

    By designed, do you mean that’s what some people THINK it should be? Or do you mean that there’s actually some conscious and active effort to help people "get on their feet" while they live in public housing?

    I kinda doubt the latter, so I suspect that what you meant by "designed to be transitional" is "I start to think someone is really lazy and deserves what they get if they don’t get out of public housing in 5 years."

  • Sympatico says:

    We could get really technical here, and my legal knowledge will no doubt be quickly eclipsed by many people.

    However, my distinction between civil and criminal courts is when juries comprised of regular citizens are the ones that determine ultimate culpability.

    In civil courts such as Circuit, Family, Traffic, Small Claims, etc., the presiding judge is sole judge.

    And you are misleading about the appeals process and “Family” (also called “Juvenile”) courts. All it takes is for one party to state the need for a Circuit judge and Family court is no longer in play. Once a Circuit judge had judged, the next step is state supreme court, and trust me, unless you’re a [real big] bigwig, you ain’t even in the running.

  • Cecil says:

    Also, keep in mind that in March 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that “public housing tenants can be evicted for any illegal drug activity by household members or guests, even if they did not know about it.” Read about it here, if you want.

    To my mind, even more un-American: in what other contexts would we (or have we) endorsed the idea that you should be punished for something that you not merely didn’t intend to do but didn’t even KNOW you were doing?

  • Hoo2LA says:

    In general, I know that Circuit court judges are rarely overturned. I am sure that this is true in the context of a family or juvenile case in front of the circuit court.

    I just wanted to point out that, at least on paper, the appeals rights are about equal. In reality, as I am sure you would agree, the appeals process can be a murky mess.

    As a conclusion, I think that appeals for criminals, while almost always "available", are rarely heard beyond the simple rubber-stamping of the lower court’s ruling.

    In my humble opinion, if you lose at the outset, you are really in for a tough time, no matter what the case is.

  • Sympatico says:

    Yep, that’s my point.

    And I find it “Judge Roy Bean” unfair when there’s one guy making that initial determination, “at the outset”, as you say.

    The jury system is not perfect, but it is far mo’ beda than a single judge, who can sometimes be a complete screwball.

  • Indie says:

    "Hello?" I know what you meant by "financial achievements, but thanks anyway for being so PC and not going out on that limb and actually saying "income."

  • Sympatico says:

    Okay! And your point is…

  • Indie says:

    I’m saying that is what it IS, C-ville’s public housing is transitional. This is what I was told by a city councilor a while ago, but then again that individual could be wrong b/c clearly, there are some long-term residents there. However, if it isn’t designed to be transitional, ie. it is permanent housing for people who are low-income, then where is the incentive for people to go out and get their own place? I’m not saying she is "lazy," as you put it, although I imagine that probably is the case with some. And I’m sure there are many more who are busting their asses so they can move out of public housing. I just think it is mighty odd to put so much effort into trying to stay in public housing, when one could channel their efforts in better ways to afford better housing that they pay for themselves (ie. get a second job, or third, or go to school and improve your education, which she may be doing, I don’t know, I’m saying these are options). What should be happening is that the city should be encouraging the private market to build housing for the low-income. I know, it does not appear that is what they are doing now. They want middle income families. That is where the public’s pressure on them should come in.

    As a side note, I do remember a top employee in the C-ville Public Housing Authority saying that their job is to put themselves out of business, meaning they want to transition everyone out of public housing into homes of their own. And whatever tools they are referring to–better education, the living wage campaign, etc.–should be supported.

  • BetterLife says:

    Well, I am certain that her "children" were convicted felons and therefore breaking the law by possessing a firearm. It’s ok for liberal ass-holes to try to save the world by defending these punks, but until one of these CRIMINALS does something to your family you won’t see it. These people are criminals and make public housing what it is today. Liberals need to quit trying to make excuses for drug use and how terrible our society treats poor thugs by locking them up and get with the program. Deal harshly with drug use, possession and sales. Continue to evict the lease holders for these scumbags that still live with their mommy when they are in their 20’s and 30’s. Maybe then, public housing won’t be such a bad place to live. But to get to that point the judges and City officials need to be viligent in their investigations, arrests and evictions.

  • harry says:

    There is nothing that a drug-user, per se, can do to harm me or my family. Any harm that is caused by their drug use only harms the user.

    Any peripheral crimes (burglary, firearms violations, driving violations, etc.) are crimes in their own right and ought to be dealt with. But, the reality is that it’s the criminalization of drugs that leads to the peripheral crimes.

    Why do you feel the need to punish people who are already punishing themselves?

  • Lars says:

    I am certain that her “children” were convicted felons and therefore breaking the law by possessing a firearm

    How are you so certain, simply because someone is arrested for drug posession doesn’t mean it was fellony drug possession, the progress story doesn’t specify anything about their arrest or conviction.

    but until one of these CRIMINALS does something to your family you won’t see it

    So as soon as a human breaks the law for the first time, they’re forever branded a criminal, and as such are obligated to mutilate your family in their sleep? I didn’t realize that. Have you ever gotten a parking ticket? You broke the law, which is a crime, should I assume you’re about to jump in my window and rape and murder my family? YOU CRIMINAL! In reality they’re just people who broke the law in the past, they’re your brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and friends.

    These people are criminals and make public housing what it is today.

    “These people”? What do you mean? What people? OOOOOOHHHH you mean niggers! Next time be more clear.

    The reality of the situation is This poor woman was targeted because she spoke up for the residents. Do me a favor and knock on some doors in public housing, if you find ONE apartment without drugs in it, you’re about to be hit by lightning and win the lottery simultaniously. If they evicted everyone who’s apartment had drugs in it at one time or another there would be NO ONE in public housing. This is a case of selective prosecution, for political purposes. Thats exactly why the case is being dropped, because it is abundantly obvious she is being singled out for her political activity.

  • Sympatico says:

    As a political statement of U.S. current affairs, in this case the health care field, the movie John Q (starring the inimitable Denzel Washington) is tops. Until something happens to them personally, the average Joe Cool thinks everything is logical, well thought-out and ultimately, pretty fair. Work hard and the system will work hard for you.

    It does not. Not for everyone. Not every time. In fact, it works less and less (which is what concerns me).

  • will says:

    So I assume that you support dealing just as harshly with alcohol use, as it is statistically proven to lead to more crime (including violent crime!) than use of marijuana, LSD, ecstacy, hash, opium or mescalin, right?

  • will says:

    Well said!

  • mmike87 says:

    So, the court should look at your potential choices, and if they all suck, then you get a free ride to make whatever bad decision you desire with no accountability.


    Tag line for the left wing liberals –

    "Don’t worry, son, it’s not your fault."

  • Sympatiko says:

    That’s so true. Isn’t that so totally true? Sympatico is always right. We need to get rid of the bad courts and bring Justice back to the streets where it belongs just like the Sex Pistols said. No more bad judges or lawyers or doctors except for the nice nurse that smells like strawberries brings me jello on Tuesday she does.

  • Sympatiko says:

    YES! That is what I try to tell them here because really I am not sick like they say. Sympatico, you are always right and you know everything. I will vote for you and Denzel Washington to come here and be the President For Life.

    We need to aboloish the health care system in favor of a living wage because I am NOT being paid for my valuable time here in the day room. I am writting a very long letter to the judge asking for Sympatico to be my new lawyer who will get me the money that I am owed so that we can sue the President and have America overturned.

    Listen to what Sympatico says because he is right he is the ONLY person in the world who agrees with everything that I think which is how I KNOW that he is right.

  • harry says:

    As easy as it is to ascribe this so-called "lack of accountability" to left-wing liberals, I think that, at least when it comes to drug laws, it’s more of a libertarain view that’s being espoused here.

    That is, if drug use causes harm to a user, then that harm IS the accountability. What additional penalties does society need to impose? What’s the point of punishing somebody for harming themselves?

  • Indie says:

    Some drug users don’t know that they are harming themselves, they know that what they are doing is against the law, but who cares, it feels good. Others are not drug users, they are the pushers, who know that drugs harm, but they don’t care, they want to make some money. So nobody in these two equations should be punished?

  • Indie says:

    Well what you are talking about is the perfect society… utopia… as if that exists, where everything is always fair and everyone gets what they need when they need it.

    It does not. Not for everyone. Not every time. Etc., Etc., Etc.

    You have many opinions, but unfortunately, I don’t see you offering any solutions.

  • pinko says:

    Sorry man, but Sympatico is right. He usually is. I don’t believe for a minute that you’re drueling in a mental ward. Play nice. Fact is, healthcare needs to be reformed. If healthcare professionals were payed by the state instead of privately, everyone could get equal treatment. They make waaay too much money. Same goes for politicians.

  • harry says:

    Let’s start out by agreeing that as long as there are just laws they ought to be obeyed and violators ought to be sanctioned.

    My point is that there’s no need for the laws. Whether drug users know they are harming themselves or not, is irrelevant. If they don’t harm themselves (for example, with medical or occassional recreational use of marijuana), then, why should society care? What’s wrong with feeling good? If they do harm themselves (for example, with the inability to function fully or the anguish of addiction), there’s the punishment.

    With respect to the pushers, they only exist as "pushers" (rather than retailers, or drug stores, or "grow-your-own" farmers) because of the anti-drug laws. That’s a bit of a circular argument, in that that, if drug laws went away, so would pushers.

  • Indie says:

    Sorry–I just don’t get it. You’ll have to explain further or point me in the direction of an article or book that represents this position that you espouse.

    What specific laws are unjust? If narcotics-cocaine, etc.–were made legal, why do you think the pushers will just disappear? They wouldn’t, would they? They’d just be more affordable, right?

    Isn’t it someone’s choice to take drugs? Why shouldn’t society punish people that make a choice to take judgement-altering drugs? When a robber steals money from a bank and shots a teller, he has made a punishable choice that harmed others. Why isn’t this analogous to a drug user who, because, his mind and judgement is altered because they chose to take a drug, goes out, gets in their car, and kills someone?

  • Jim says:

    Drug users harm themselves and those around them. If they want to harm themselves fine, but they also induce fear through the actions that bring potential harmful individuals to their homes. Drug users who have and use guns are pontentially much more dangerous than non-drug using lawfully gun-possessing individuals.
    Rather than fight the system from within jail, it is more efficient to fight the system from within the confines of the system, as labyrinthian and frustrating as that may be. Getting evicted doesn’t do anyone any good.

    Taxpayers ultimately pay for their housing (and no, I am not going to play the race card as did someone else here.) Everybody has choices, and it is a choice to continue to reside in public housing.

    It is a choice to allow banned people into your home.

    Rather than risk eviction, isn’t it easier to abide by the rules they agreed to live under and keep a roof over their (and your families’) head?

  • Sympatico says:

    That’s just disingenuous. And typical. When faults are brought forth, first is attempted to discredit them. And if that doesn’t work (it often does), then a reverse criticism of Utopia is advanced.

    I have some solutions in mind that may work. I have brought some of them forth when relevant. Unfortunately, my potions are not very popular, as Lafe will confirm if he reads this.

  • Cecil says:

    please, please, please, show me the liberals and lefties who advocate that the way to deal with crime is to do NOTHING AT ALL to a poor or disadvantaged person who commits a crime–nothing at all, just let them go off merrily with no incarceration, no treatment, nothing at all. please produce evidence that there are liberals/lefties who actually advocate this. (note: evidence = writings, statements, etc. from actual people who believe this–further note, Rush Limbaugh’s claims don’t substantiate anything).

    the fictional scenario you describe is NOT the only logical outcome of the philsophical and moral position that free will is more an abstraction than a reality, that social and physical forces act on people in ways that limit their free will. one can believe that some people grow up with far fewer options than others and that those limited options make it more like that those people will make horrible decisions–but where the hell do you get the idea that that necessarily means those people aren’t accountable for their actions? I don’t know any liberals or lefties who hold that position–it seems to be something invented by right-wingers such as yourself.

  • Jim says:

    If you truly want a socialist health care state, Canada, Sweden and France surely will accept yet another freeloader.

    While we are at it, we should eliminate salaries and commission-based jobs and pay everybody some arbitrary amount completely unrelated to the value which he/she contributes to society.

    Seriously, we have the most advanced health care system, albeit seriously flawed in many ways, in the world for good reason – Capitalism and the human drive to advance and excel .

  • Cecil says:

    "In reality [criminals are] just people who broke the law in the past, they’re your brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers,sons, daughters, and friends."

    Thank you for making that point. Having that term for the general category, "criminals," makes it really easy to think of the inhabitants of that category as this completely Other category of people, utterly distinct from the categories "regular people" inhabit. As if there were a Venn diagram and normally all the categories share space and overlap but as soon as you enter the "criminal" category you leave all the other ones, and its as if you were never in those other categories to begin with, you were always just a criminal.

    I think this is partly why we have such unreasonably harsh, almost vindictive attitudes towards criminals.

  • harry says:

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but…

    If currently illegal drugs were made legal, "pushers" (i.e. those who sell those drugs on a black-market basis) would be replaced as primary purveyors by some more regulated distribution network, such as pharmacies.

    Yes, it is an individual’s choice to take drugs, but rather than asking why shouldn’t "society punish people that make a choice to take judgement-altering drugs", I’d turn the question around and ask why should they punish people. I think it’s better to assume people shouldn’t be punished unless there’s a good reason for it.

    When a robber steals money and shoots somebody, I agree; that’s a punishable choice that’s harmed others. But, where we disagree is that I contend that the use of drugs, even if they alter the users mind and judgement, does not, in and of itself, harm others. Driving while under the influence of drugs (or alcohol) does potentially harm others and that’s the punishable offense, in my consideration.

    If an individual wants to smoke pot in the privacy of their own home, listen to music and eat lots of ice cream, how does this injure you, me or anybody else? It just seems like a horrible application of a puritan ethic to think that if somebody’s having a good time, we ought to put a stop to it and punish them. What’s it to you?

  • Jim says:

    Are you advocating that she and her family should be evicted or that she should be allowed to stay?

    She was given a second chance and she chose not to abide by the rules/laws. Now, rather than accept the necessary consequences, she is fighting, which is her right.

    She is not entitled to housing simply. She must, like everybody else, earn it.

    In your view, what should happen to her?

  • Cecil says:

    "Why shouldn’t society punish people that make a choice to take judgement-altering drugs?"

    In that case, Indie, why don’t we punish people who make a choice to drink alcohol? To drink enough alcohol until they get drunk and their judgment is really really altered?

    "When a robber steals money from a bank and shots a teller, he has made a punishable choice that harmed others. Why isn’t this analogous to a drug user who, because, his mind and judgement is altered because they chose to take a drug, goes out, gets in their car, and kills someone?"

    And doesn’t the person who takes drugs, gets altered, drives their car, and kills someone, GET PUNISHED? Yes, it’s called vehicular homicide or negligent homicide or whatever he gets charged with. So, yes, we already DO punish people who hurt others as a result of their bad choices (unless, of course, those people are part of a limited-liability corporation, which basically means little to no responsibility for anyone…)

    It seems pretty simple to me–punish people for making choices that actually result in harming others, NOT for making choices that don’t result in harming others. If I drink until I’m drunk in my home by myself and don’t go out driving, that’s very different from getting drunk and going out driving. The latter is punishable–the former is not. The same thing holds for drug use. If I get stoned quietly at home with friends, what’s the big deal? and if I get stoned, go for a drive, and run over someone, then I get punished.

    And finally, "If narcotics-cocaine, etc.–were made legal, why do you think the pushers will just disappear?" They won’t disappear–they’ll get business suits, form a limited-liability corporation, and continue to push their products to anyone and everyone. Only "pushing" will be called marketing and they’ll get huge tax breaks. Oh, and there might end up being more control over the product if it’s legal, and it might be easier to deal with abusers of the product if the stigma of illegalization is removed.

  • trisha says:

    This sort of applies to Jim’s comment, too. I could get a bottle of cheap vodka, sit on my ass at home and get drunk. This is legal. I could sit at home on my ass and smoke pot. That’s illegal. But it’s six, and one half-dozen the other. If I’m drunk it is illegal for me to drive a car. Fine. Same would apply for being ‘stoned.’ If I were drunk (and a disturbed individual) I might find it amusing to knock down mailboxes, maybe rape someone, maybe commit a murder (with a gun, no less). Same for the drugs. And astonishingly, we already have laws against those activities. They are crimes committed against other people. Sitting at home on one’s ass is *not*. We even have horrible people in the world that don’t use substances and still do these terrible things. We have extremely mind-altering, inhibition reducing substances that are legal, and people commit crimes under their influence all the time. How is the substance someone is on relevant if they aren’t committing a crime? Include endangering others on that one… I’m all for drug-free CDL drivers, for example, and any situation you would expect sobriety in should naturally be the same for other drugs.

  • Cecil says:

    I think the law is a bad law. I don’t think that people should be punished for other people’s bad decisions. And I don’t see how, from a practical standpoint, the law really achieves laudable ends–it purports (I guess) to be a tool in reducing drug crime in public housing, but it seems to be another of those horrible laws that just drives the problem elsewhere, out of sight out of mind. People being evicted because their grandkids who deal drugs crash on their sofa, that leads to reduced drug crime in public housing? I’m sorry, I don’t see the connection there. Point me in the direction of studies that establish this link, anyone?

    Because I think the law is a bad law, Jim, I don’t think she should be evicted. Because I don’t think anyone should be evicted on these grounds.

  • trisha says:

    "Oh, and there might end up being more control over the product if it’s legal."

    Excellent point. Don’t think for a minute that the FDA wouldn’t be all over it.

  • Cecil says:

    "Seriously, we have the most advanced health care system, albeit seriously flawed in many ways, in the world for good reason – Capitalism and the human drive to advance and excel."

    I’d adjust that last sentence this way: "capitalism and the human drive to heap as much profit up around oneself as is possible, ideally enough to create a gigantic fortress impenetrable by all the people stepped on and left behind in the rush to profit."

    I mean, drive to excel? Capitalists aren’t artisans, for god’s sake. They aren’t monklike craftspeople who have overwhelming pride in the perfection of their product. If capitalist humans had a drive to _excel_, would the Ford Pinto ever have been created? No. Capitalism wants to move product, whatever the hell it is, as many as possible and with as large a margin as possible. And screw anyone who suggests that there might be other considerations that matter more.

    To sum up: excellence and profit are two different things.

  • Cecil says:

    Yes. Imagine if liquor were still illegal in this country. Naturally, that wouldn’t mean that liquor was unavailable–it would just mean that there was a totally uncontrolled (and thriving) black-market in liquor. People would be brewing up liquor secretly in their bathtubs, backyards, wherever. Some people might never clean their bathtubs, or sterilize their bottling equipment. Some nasty people might put stuff in their liquor that they really shouldn’t–harmful stuff. When you bought your black-market liquor, you’d be taking a huge risk that it might make you really sick or kill you.

    But we don’t have that trouble with liquor today, because it’s legal and the industry is controlled and monitored! so when I go to the ABC and buy myself a fine bottle of Maker’s Mark, I’m pretty damn sure that it’s only going to kill me if I’m dumb enough to chug the whole thing at once!

    Same could be true of illegal drugs, if people weren’t so stupid and vindictive about drug use.

  • Indie says:

    You keep referring to the use of marijuana as THE drug that people are using to "make themselves happy." What about cocaine? Do you think it is okay, so long as they are sitting in their house and not harming others, for someone to use cocaine or LSD? I guess you could care less, huh? Just as long as they are having a good time, right?

  • Sympatico says:

    You say: …we have the most advanced health care system

    The Iraqi military is saying they will prevail against the United States. Don’t you know? Every country in the world thinks it is the best in everything.

    I have personal long-term experience with four health-care systems, namely 5 years in England, 4 years in Germany, 21 years in France and over a decade in the U.S. The only one worse than the U.S. is England.

    As a self-employed individual, my healthcare plan is outrageously expensive and it restricts my freedom of choice. Who you calling a freeloader? I pay taxes, big time. But heaven forbid my employment should turn sour. In France, I can choose ANY doctor, hospital or clinic I wish and still be covered by the national healthcare system (ASSEDIC, SECU). Private clinics may not be 100% reimbursed, but it is open to all.

    When my wife broke her arm last year, we rushed her to the UVA emergency room. Well, she was in PAIN, but before they would even admit her, they needed insurance info and all. We were also unlucky as a gun-shot came in just before they were to bring her in to see the docs (to administer some pain relief). Well, they said that due to hospital policy because of law suits, the gun-wounded guy was to pass before us, even though there was apparently only one doc on duty. So she waited in agonizing pain for nearly 25 minutes before they brought her in.

    UVA is supposed to be tops, right? Well I have had many occasions in France, including motorcycle accident, sports related injuries and illnesses. They don’t keep you in the front until you can furnish proof of payment like they do here. In fact, there’s a national policy to come to the aid of ANY accident victim, regardless even of nationality!!! (They will bill you, no doubt, but they are prohibited BY LAW to refuse treatment).

    Now did you know that even though EVERYBODY is covered (dental and optometry too), but it costs substantially LESS per capita than in the U.S. In fact, it’s this statistic, the total spending on healthcare, that is most often used in the U.S. to suggest the system is the best (because it’s the most expensive). That’s bull-shit.

    Here are some of the reasons healthcare costs so much here:

    · The insurance middle-men are FOR PROFIT businesses

    · Hospitals COMPETE with each other. Not on costs or service or such, but on the availability of services (to increase revenue). For example, it is well-known CAT scanners are in over-supply in hospitals. Why? Because each hospital doesn’t want to relinquish revenues to another neighboring hospital, so it ‘invests’ in its own, even though it’ll be used at say 25% capacity. Have you ever wondered why those 2 x-rays at the emergency room cost $300???

    · Doctor fees are not regulated

    · Drug companies push product by schmoozing with clinics and doctors. For instance, I checked the billed cost of Tylenol many years ago when my first son was born: $10 per 2 pack!!!

    · Etc. I’m sure people with open minds can add a hundred other major reasons…

  • Indie says:

    I appreciate everyone’s responses and explanations…. I see the distinction you are making now….. however, I am not entirely convinced that making drugs legal would be the best thing for everyone. Can you point to a society that does this and it works (ie. where narcotics are legal)? I see the point that is made between alcohol and cocaine–both judgement-altering–one legal, the other isn’t. Since we already have one legal drug (alcohol) that some people abuse, leading many times to DUI and needless highway fatalities of innocent people, if we were to decriminalize, say cocaine, wouldn’t that just add to the population of people who don’t know any better, those that will get behind the wheel, for example, who will endanger the drivers?

  • Indie says:

    It’s pretty clear that you can’t handle anyone disagreeing with you or questioning your position without mocking someone. Kinda passive-aggressive… How’s this: You are right. You will always be right. You have all the answers and everyone else will never what it feels like to be as brilliant as you.

    Feel better?

  • trisha says:

    I totally get your concern, but the real problem is that there are a lot of people that lack good judgement. We can make knives illegal, but it won’t keep people from stabbing each other with pencils. The world sucks hard in some ways.

  • Cecil says:

    "if we were to decriminalize, say cocaine, wouldn’t that just add to the population of people who don’t know any better, those that will get behind the wheel, for example, who will endanger the drivers?"

    I don’t know that decriminalization would lead to an increase in users. Sure, there are undoubtedly some folks who might try coke if it were legal–new users, so to speak. But I don’t know that those #s of people are huge, though. So I don’t think it’s necessarily true that decriminalizing a drug would lead to such a huge surge in new users of that drug that all the benefits of legalization are neutralized.

    I think the risk of having slightly more coked-up irresponsible drivers on the road than we have now would have to be balanced against the benefits that would accrue from legalization. We might lose more people in roadway accidents caused by coked-up drivers; we might also lose fewer children to drive-by shootings caused by drug gang rivalries.

  • Cecil says:

    maybe you should present your own argument as to why it’s NOT okay for someone to sit in their house and take LSD, heroin, or cocaine and not harm anyone.

  • harry says:

    I do care. I hope people won’t avoid responsibility and hurt themselves physically, mentally or emotionally. I don’t wish drug abuse on anybody. I would and do advise anybody who cares about my opinion against it.

    But caring and advising doesn’t mean imposing criminal sanctions on people who harm nobody, or, at worst case, themselves. Sending folks to jail for drug use is wrong. Adults are entitled to make those sort of decisions for themselves and it’s none of my business.

  • Sympatico says:

    Although I find conservatives’ position, like Indie’s, disingenuous (on one side they’ll leave people on the streets because that’s their choice, supposedly, on the other hand, they won’t allow freedom of choice when it comes to drugs), I don’t buy the liberals’ here either.

    If Trish sat on her ass, at home, smoking pot, that’s one thing. But if she sat on her baby girl, smothering her to death, because she doesn’t know her nose from her ass (sorry, not Trish’s, but someone else) after p.a.r.t.y.i.n.g. with the homeys, then that is not acceptable behavior.

    Now I know you’re saying that it’s not the substance, but the usage of it that matters. And you are right. 35% of the time, maybe? But all too often, more so than with alcohol, shit happens when drugs are consumed. Am i right?

    How about some more of that famous American innovation? How about “pot parlors” or such? I dunno. If we could just drop the f**kin’ taboos and THINK freely about these things, maybe the world would be a better place.

  • Indie says:

    To be honest, I haven’t researched the debate on the war on drugs in great detail. This is why I am asking a lot of questions. I am an open-minded person. The only arguement I can come up with on the spot is to use this "alone in your house, not harming anyone else" idea. What if someone were at home and decided to slash their wrists. They aren’t harming anyone else are they? Sure their motive for doing it isn’t to "get happy," like a narcotic-user, but again, they aren’t doing anything harmful to anyone else, just themselves. Should we intervene? I would think that this "as long as they aren’t harming anyone else" excuse/agruement would apply here? Again, this probably isn’t a good comparison arguement, but it is all I can come up with on the spot…………

  • trisha says:

    And just for the record folks (since my disclosed rep is on the line here), my ass was purely hypothetical. And I *don’t* baby-sit. :)

  • Sympatico says:

    What? Why is it clear I can’t handle anyone disagreeing with me? Because I said you are being disingenuous?

    If you recall (hey, it’s right there online), YOU tried to mock me me saying I’m a Utopian, etc.

    COO COO. Reality check! Well, here’s more for you: YOU CAN’T TAKE THE TRUTH. Bye now!

  • Indie says:

    Hey! What can I say? You are right–again. Gosh I wish I could be right all the time like you.

  • harry says:

    I appreciate the questionning and consideration you’re giving to these questions.

    My response to your attempted suicide example would be to say that, yes, you should intervene. I should intervene. But, the police shouldn’t send the victim to jail for harming themselves.

    Likewise, if we come upon a comatose junkie, we should intervene. But, the key is that, in these cases, our intervention is to help a fellow human; not to punish.

  • BetterLife says:

    Dearest Lars,

    I appreciate your views on the criminal element and drug use. I don’t appreciate what you insinuated when I spoke of "these people". Let me be clear: All walks of life live in Public housing. These "people" that commit these drug offenses and weapon offenses give public housing the reputation it has today. I could give a damn what color you are but I do care that people terrorize our community by dealing drugs and shooting guns in these neighborhoods where many are just trying to get by – honestly. Look at where these murders take place in Charlottesville. At or not far from public housing. I don’t even know the families involved in this housing dispute and furthermore have no idea what shade their skin is. Lighten up. Don’t try to open up a can of worms by creating definitions for my statements.

    Have a great day!

  • BetterLife says:

    Because these low-lifes get all strung-out on drugs, then rob and steal to support their habits. Then they get the gov’t to give them a free ride by giving them assistance. The gov’t is a great big safety net to catch these losers when they fall. Some stay there forever letting the gov’t take care of them. Not all, but some.

  • Lars says:

    Ahh, clearly I was mistaken. Thats good to hear.

  • Lars says:

    "…smoking pot, that’s one thing. But if she sat on her baby girl, smothering her to death, because she doesn’t know her nose from her ass"

    Lets re-write that statement shall we?

    "…Smoking tobacco, that’s one thing, But if she sat on her baby girl, smothering her to death, because she doesn’t know her nose from her ass"

    Now that sounds completely ludacris. The idea, raised previously, that school bus drivers could be drug addicts and thus slaughter children is similarly obsurd. Have you ever seen a school bus driver who DIDN’T smoke cigarettes? But there is no mass school bus slaughter going on out there. Just because someone consumes a chemical (addictive or not) doesn’t mean that chemical will cause them to kill.

    "She" in this situation could have shot up cocaine and heroin, ate 100 doses of LSD, and then smoked a pound of marijuana, and she would STILL know her nose from her ass. This can be demonstrated empirically. There is no drug that will cause you to break with reality. You may hallucinate, but you wont mistake a baby for a chair. Both the baby and the chair will still be apparent to you, one looks like a baby, and one looks like a chair.

    If there were a drug that could make a baby look like a chair, I’d take it. But sadly, there is no such drug.

  • JizzMasterZero says:

    I have personal long-term experience with four health-care systems, namely 5 years in England, 4 years in Germany, 21 years in France and over a decade in the U.S.

    Please, before you spend another fraction of a decade in the U.S., go back to France and stay there. While you’re at it, take a shower, you greasy beyotch. I can smell you from here.

  • Sympatico says:

    1. Smoking around young children isn’t good for their health, you’re right

    2. Comparing perception altering drugs to cigarette smoking in terms of perception alteration is, well, not too bright

    3. You obviously have great experience with drugs, being so emphatic and all about the different types and what they all do. But you obviously have an angle, and that is to defend their usage at all costs, even when caring for a defenseless baby.

    There are certain things I don’t have to question myself. [Thank god, as I question everything else.] And one of these things is that recreational drugs diminish human capacities to handle reality and life around them. There is a loss of control. I used to be a heavy cigarette smoker because it gave me, to the contrary, an enhanced grasp of reality. They allowed me to think more clearly and were a companion to handle daily tasks. But I rejected them when my 5-year-old son asked me why I said they were “bad” for people but then I still smoked them anyway. Cold turkey. But recreational drugs, however, were NEVER an option. The loss of control and diminished real-life capacities are not nearly worth the “high” to me.

    That said, I do not oppose necessarily recreational drugs, and especially pain relieving drugs such as Marijuana in certain circumstances. This is a choice people should indeed be allowed to make for themselves under appropriate conditions. The problem, however, with not imposing certain strong restrictions on the place and circumstances is that precisely because their usage has perception altering effects, the users will not necessarily likely be able to control conditions.

    The solution? Well, it’s not going to be to the liking of either liberals or the conservatives. That’s why I doubt it would ever be implemented here. But I think the solution is to be found in other cultures, such as the Native American, the North African Maurs or the Swedish Viking traditions. The cultures maintain specific places where adult recreational activities are allowed. I think bordellos should be allowed and encouraged by the same token.

  • Sympatico says:

    and fukk you too ass-hole

  • Indie says:

    Would any of you who support decriminalizing currently illegal drugs want any of your family members using them? For example, would you want your father or daughter or what have you using cocaine, say every day, so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else?

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