Saturday, December 27, 2003

PROTECT AND SERVE?

(Welcome to all you Marcie Betts fans. Please stick around and check out some of my current work).

The armed invasion by domestic law enforcement at the Goose Creek high school is pretty old news but a new eight minute video narrated by the principal of the school has surfaced in the in-box.

The principal really creeps me out. He seems to enjoy watching those adolescents way too much. Then you see those students lying on the floor, they're so terrified, so stock-still they look dead and the armed cops milling around with dog rifling through their belongings while he narrates this violation, step by horrible step in this deadpan voice... It's absolutely chilling and that this outrage was perpetrated mainly on black and poor white students makes it all the more disturbing. I find it incredibly deceitful to cloak this act of racial discrimination under the guise of a drug interdiction effort.

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As is clear to anyone paying attention, the war on drugs is a class war. It's also a war on lifestyle choice but the neo-cons do not want to stop with just drugs. They're after alcohol, sexual orientation and any other manifestation of free will that doesn't fit the Southern Christian model.

Just ask Marcie Betts who was fired for posing naked in pictures that were taken and sold on the Internet prior to her being hired by the prison system.

Betts was fired from her job as a Maryland correctional officer in January, after she had sailed through the six-week training academy and the one-week gun training course. After only a week on the job, she was called into the warden's office at a state prison in Washington County and asked about 81 explicit photos her husband had taken of her, which had been bought for $300 by a Web site called BurningAngel.com -- a site that "I just thought . . . was really cool," she said. "It was real girls, not blond bombshells."

She was clearly qualified for the job and had high aspirations for her future.

"I had plans" for a career in corrections, she said. "I wanted to work for rank. I wanted to be one of the officers who work with dogs and do drug tests." She and her husband share their home with three dogs: Sidney, a blind boxer they saved from a breeder; Mugsy, a mutt they got at the pound; and Spike, a 4-year-old frolicsome Boston terrier.

So being a K-9 prison guard, she says, "would've been something really cool for me to work toward." Instead she's been out of work since January, waiting for the case to be resolved.


I haven't seen the photos but Marcie is heavily tattooed, including a large one of birds, cherries, a dagger and a skull across her chest, and I assume they were reasonably tasteful pictures of the ink work which would necessarily require her to be nude.

The correctional system is touting this as a safety issue but I might note that it was only male officers who spoke against Ms. Betts and they were the only ones that had actually seen the photos which were not widely circulated. They were reported as saying, 'She can't be seen as anything other than a sex object once she's been seen as nude.' It begs the question, seen as a sex object by whom?

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Doug Bandow,senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan had an excellent editorial in the National Review last week, asking, Where's the Compassion?

He sums up the current political status of drug policy, both internationally and domestically, so well that I post it tonight as a year end review of where we are in the battle over our plant. It was hard to pick one quote, (I urge to read it in full), so last word simply goes to the closing paragraph of this well researched piece.

But the drug laws are the real dangerous threats to public health and safety. The only way to protect the public is to guarantee the right of the sick to use marijuana and to stop jailing pot smokers who just want to get high. Nothing would be served by imprisoning Rush Limbaugh for his apparent legal transgressions, just as we all are poorer for the millions of people jailed in the government's misbegotten war on drugs over the years. We should treat drug use as a medical, moral, and spiritual issue -- not a criminal one.