Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Seven Years in an Egyptian Prison for Doing Your Job

Seven years in an Egyptian prison for doing your job? That's what three Al Jazeera journalists received for “crimes” they committed back in December 2013 for covering the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the legally elected President of Egypt and the head of the Muslim Brotherhood. To date, journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have been imprisoned for over 200 days for creating international outrage. The prosecution accused these men of spreading false reports and colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Seems that its very dangerous to be a journalist and report what is happening if the wrong side wins. The U.S. State Department has worked diligently to free the men to no avail.

Interesting isn't it? We're quick to criticize other nations for abuse of governmental power, yet we're slow to look at our own government.

Today hundreds of thousands of Americans sit rotting in jail for growing, selling or using a plant that is legal in some form in 23 states. Incarcerating these otherwise law-abiding citizens destroys lives, ruins families and costs billions, all in a futile attempt to prevent people from using a plant that our own President admits to having used large quantities of in his youth.

It seems that in the war on drugs, many of the "soldiers" are "deserting" since those 23 states have legalized cannabis in some form. It is “high time” that we surrender totally, admit defeat and free these prisoners of war so these poor souls who have been wasting away in prison can begin rebuilding their lives. President Obama could start this today by pardoning all non-violent offenders who have been convicted of selling, growing or possessing cannabis. 

From a thinking standpoint, this is an excellent example of Frog Theory. As Mark Twain noted, if you put a frog in a pan of hot water, he immediately jumps out. But if you put him in a pan of tepid water and slowly turn the heat up, he stays there until he's boiled. This is why so many people are outraged about the Al Jazeera journalists (who were suddenly incarcerated), but sanguine about the war on drugs, where the government has slowly turned the heat up over the years (many drugs that are now illegal were legal 100 years ago).

On a personal note, I want to be clear that I do not use marijuana. I do not permit my children to use it and I do not endorse its recreational use. I simply feel it is incredibly destructive and wasteful for our government to try to prevent its use. As a nation, the United States incarcerates 25 percent of the prisoners in the world, while we have only about five percent of the world's population. Even China has fewer prisoners than we do. Many of these prisoners are there solely for crimes related to possession, use or distribution of marijuana.
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posted by Bob Fischer at

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