Friday, January 11, 2008

If a Westbound Train Leaves Denver at 3pm Traveling at 65 MPH....

I had to get this out of my head before I went to work, because if I wait, I'll forget about it, most likely. In the paper this morning, three articles that made me question what the cultural dynamic is up here in PoP.

The first: a state senator has drafted a bill that would ban smoking IN CARS, when children under the age of 16 are present. The Libertarian in me raised his hackles at this ridiculousness. Seat belts, helmets, you can't do this here, or that there. We are all used to this by now, but this is a bill too far. At least some of the senator's colleagues agree, but this was front page stuff, baby.

The second: another state senator wants to increase the penalty for possession of one ounce to one pound of marijuana. The fine would increase about 500%, and the miscreant would receive up to two years (I believe) in jail. For an ounce? REALLY? I don't like this idea, but what really makes this a head-scratcher is....

The third: another senator wants to decrease the amount of time a minor can be incarcerated for murder. In addition, the young ne'er-do-well would have to pay no bond for his/her bail. Uh-huh.

So let me get this straight: we want INCREASE drug penalties and DECREASE murder penalties. What, is it 1985?

Answer this disturbing word problem: a stoned 17 year old is smoking a cigarette in a car with her 10 year old brother. She has an ounce of pot in her purse. She has an accident that kills her brother. Which of the myriad laws that she has violated would she spend the most time serving a prison term for?

Please post your answer in the comments section.


comoprozac said...

1. I like the car rule. I get so tired of watching parents poison their children for a smoke. That same child comes to my class and has to get an asthma treatment before gym class.

2. Obviously, the senator pushing the pot law has never been a pot-head. Otherwise he would understand just how little an ounce of marijuana is.

3. I agree with the murder law as well. Let's focus on helping these kids change their lives as opposed to locking them up forever.

The Answer: It's a trick question. The girl was just returning from an out-of-state abortion without her parents' permission and will spend the rest of her life in federal prison...or fighting for our freedom in Iraq. Did I get it right?

La Fashionista said...

Wow, comoprozac, you nailed that so well that I have nothing to add other than to give you high marks for finesse and cleverness.

You know, if the 1970s had produced a similar law that had banned parents from smoking IN THEIR HOMES when children were present, I never would have developed a childhood appreciation for the smell of second-hand smoke (which I now find deplorable). I'm not kidding.

Of course, since my father was a state police officer, I have a feeling that law would not have applied to us. (This is one reason for my anti-authority, sometimes rule-breaking self.)

This is an interesting issue, put (probably overly) simplistically: At what point does the gubment intervene to protect children and vulnerable adults from the effects of second-hand smoke vs. allowing/protecting for individuals' (i.e., adults') personal freedom and choice?

And if such laws were enacted, how would they be enforced?

So consider this compelling word problem: An African-American male is driving his new Saab with his white partner and their two young children. When pulled over after "not coming to a full stop before merging into traffic", the officer insists that he also saw the man smoking and points to extinguished cigarette butts in the ashtray. Is the driver being targeted as a result of racial profiling, being in an inter-racial relationship, being gay, or being African-American and driving a Saab?