Chowderheads and jaywalkers
October 4, 2006
As soon as people start talking about drugs, they sound as if they’ve been getting high themselves.And with an election for sheriff coming up, the lame-brained rhetoric on the subject of drugs has become truly annoying.Realizing that I’ve left myself open to an easy and immediate attack, I’d like to make the following declaration:I may be a lame-brain, but I am not high.Now can we move on? Thank you.The man challenging Bob Braudis for the office of Pitkin County sheriff is claiming that Braudis is lax in enforcing the drug laws. The challenger’s supporters have been chiming in with comments along the lines of, “Law enforcement officers are obligated to support all the laws – even ones they don’t agree with. They don’t get to choose which ones they feel like enforcing.”That sounds pretty righteous – but it’s hogwash.Every law enforcement officer constantly makes decisions about which laws to enforce. They have to.There are, for example, laws against jaywalking. We don’t see much of a crackdown on that, do we? Aspen is filled with flagrant jaywalkers. I see them all the time – and I see police officers standing by and not doing a thing to enforce the law.Do you want your law officers hassling jaywalkers or drunken drivers? Pick one.No, I’m not suggesting that all drug use is the equivalent of jaywalking. But neither is all drug use the equivalent of first-degree murder.As always, we need to stop, take a deep breath (no, not with our lips glued to a bong) and think.Marijuana is the drug equivalent of jaywalking: not recommended for young children and, beyond that, not really dangerous unless you combine it with other lame-brain behavior.OK. Now let’s move it up a notch.Cocaine.The infamous Peruvian marching powder is the drug equivalent of speeding: If you’re not paying close attention, it can be quite dangerous, even life-threatening, and it is absolutely reprehensible in a school zone.And, after that, I think we can draw a nice clean line.Aspen is full of jaywalkers and speeders, just as it’s full of dope smokers and cocaine fiends (sorry, I just had to use that phrase). And as long as we pay attention and keep all of it – dope, coke, speeding and jaywalking – well outside the school zones, I think we’ll be doing just fine.Meanwhile, on the other side of the line, there are drunken drivers, rapists and other violent criminals of all kinds – and drugs like heroin, crack and meth.And what we need is a sheriff who knows the difference between jaywalking and methamphetamine. Between driving 60 mph on the four-lane and smoking crack.Bob Braudis is that sheriff. He has a brain, and he’s not afraid to use it.And, finally, I really can’t resist mentioning the egregious chowderhead who said, “All you liberals need to realize that the sheriff ignoring the drug laws is exactly the same – exactly the same – as President Bush ignoring the laws on wiretapping.”I half expected him to follow that by saying, “Have you ever looked at your hand? I mean, really looked at your hand? Far out!”Anyway, in case you hadn’t noticed, George Bush authorized – and may have even directly ordered – the warrantless wiretapping on the grounds of national security.The equivalent would be Sheriff Braudis ordering his deputies to do a couple of lines of cocaine before they go out on patrol … on the grounds that we need them to stay alert on duty.And, by the way, yes, cocaine sales in Aspen are “part of an international drug-smuggling ring.” That’s because they don’t make the stuff in this country. Maybe they would, if it were legal … but that’s a topic for another day.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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