Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Civilized Society

After spending much of my adult life as a computer programmer and manager in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, I moved to a more peaceful, rural existence in the Ozark Mountain foothills in northern Arkansas in the 1990s, near my parents who retired in the 1980s from Minnesota to Cherokee Village, Arkansas.

With no computer programming jobs in the region, I worked on the 2000 U.S. Census and later found employment as an adjunct instructor teaching computer courses at nearby Ozarka College in 2001 - 2006 and writing a weekly column for a couple of local newspapers in 2001 - 2007.

I wrote the following piece as a newspaper column in third week of June of 2003.

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An amphetamine is a stimulant drug, first marketed in the USA in 1930 as an over-the-counter inhaler to treat congestion called Benzedrine. Methamphetamine, marketed in 1940 by Burroughs Wellcome under the trade name of Methedrine, is a type of amphetamine where methyl is added to the formula.

Amphetamine and methamphetamine were both widely distributed to U.S. troops in World War II and the Korea War to help fight fatigue. There has been widespread usage of methamphetamine among truck drivers since the 1950s. Amphetamine-related drugs, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamine (Adderall, Dexedrine) and methamphetamine (Desoxyn), are commonly prescribed for children as young as age three.

The passage of the “U.S. Drug Abuse Regulation and Control Act of 1970” made it illegal to possess an amphetamine without a prescription, thereby protecting the monopoly of the corporate pharmaceutical industry.

Basically an amphetamine is a pep pill. It’s a stimulant that increases wakefulness, increases physical activity, decreases appetite, and causes euphoria.

Methamphetamine, also known as “speed,” has lots of drawbacks. It adversely affects the central nervous system and has many undesirable side effects including irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, intense paranoia, aggressiveness, diarrhea, excited speech, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, and even hallucinations. It’s also highly addictive and can cause permanent brain damage – a steep price to pay for a temporary energy boost.

As reported in The News in April 2001, Glen A. Williams, 49, of Mammoth Spring was tried before a jury in Fulton County for the following crimes:

  • Manufacture of a controlled substance, methamphetamine
  • Possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, methamphetamine
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

He was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 40 years for each of the first two offenses and 20 years for the third, to be served consecutively for a total of 100 years in prison.

In May 2002, William McFadden, 34, of Mammoth Spring (and Hardy) was arrested in Fulton County on the following charges:

  • Manufacture of a controlled substance, methamphetamine
  • Possession of a controlled substance with an intent to deliver, methamphetamine
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Felony possession of a firearm

As reported in The News on June 5, 2003, McFadden negotiated a plea agreement whereby he would pay $45,600 to Fulton County and agreed to reside as an in-patient at a drug rehab center for one year.

This stinks like a pile of dead carp.

The eighth amendment in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution reads: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

100 years in prison for illegally manufacturing prescription-required pep pills is clearly excessive -- 100 days would have been more appropriate.

A civilized society does not inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon its citizens.

On the other hand, a one-year stint in a rehab hotel for the same crime in the same jurisdiction, thanks to a “generous contribution” to the county, exceeds the bounds of hypocrisy.

When money buys justice, there is no justice.

And when there is no justice, there is no longer a civilized society.

Quote for the Day -- “In a free society, how can you commit a crime against yourself?” Jesse Ventura

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where freedom is never free.