Reader Comment and Our Reply

Go To Letter 1: drugs
Go To Letter 2: race
Go To Letter 3: race
Go To Letter 4: Abraham Lincoln not for freedom?
Go To Letter 5: Why is this site against Bill Clinton?
Go To Letter 6: Is The Injustice Line not being scientific?


Letter 1:
Bill W. (billw@ptd.net) seems to disagree with the Injustice Line position on the decades-long War on Drugs. This is what he had to say:

Mr Lawrence; It appers to me that you condone the use of drugs, you must be aware of the astronomical costs involved with the illegal use of drugs in this country, to beperfectlt honest drug dealers (Black, White) or any other flavor should recieve the death penalty with no appeals if there are cut and dry circumstances.

Secondly this country has catered to minorities for a while and the sad part is the people that usually scream injustice are usually the racists and the true victims usually go unheard, and the white folks that were open minded are now becoming very resentful of minorities. What you really should address if poverty as the cause not race, for poor whites are treated just as poorly as poor blacks.

Sincerely,

Bill W.

This is our response. Do you have a response? Send it on in to ynot@earthlink.net

"Mr Lawrence; It appers to me that you condone the use of drugs,"

I certainly do.

Court of Appeals Judge Douglas Ginsberg was nominated for the US Supreme Court by President Reagan, and his past drug use was uncovered. He used drugs almost every day, and frequently delivered drugs to others. All he was able to achieve was being a Professor at Harvard University. Think of what a great job he could have gotten if he hadn't been getting high.

Now, the hypocritical Judge Ginsberg sits in judgment of others, approving imprisonment for people who have done no worse than he did.

"you must be aware of the astronomical costs involved with the illegal use of drugs in this country,"

Those who buy drugs voluntarily assume the cost of their purchases.

The other "costs" are in reality the cost of PROHIBITING drugs. We spend billions of dollars each year to arrest and prosecute those involved with drugs, and billions more to keep them locked up for years and years, and billions more to support their children whom they can no longer support because they are in prison.

Each year, over 100 times as many people die from using legal drugs as illegal drugs. There has NEVER been a person who died from an overdose of marijuana. Yet, marijuana is illegal, and deadly things like aspirin, alcohol, and red meat, all proven killers, are legal.

"to beperfectlt honest drug dealers (Black, White) or any other flavor should recieve the death penalty with no appeals if there are cut and dry circumstances."

You mean we should have killed Tim Allen, the famous comedian, star of tv's Home Improvement and the movie The Santa Clause? He was arrested for a drug dealing offense in Michigan carrying mandatory life in prison without parole, but was allowed to plead to a lesser "crime" because of his charming personality. He actually served a little over 2 years. Those without the charm are serving the life sentences.

Perhaps you mean we should execute Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and dozens of NBA basketball players, not to mention baseball, football, etc., who have all admitted involvement with drugs.

Do you like the music of Paul McCartney? He has committed enough drug crimes to be imprisoned for centuries.

In 1928, Etta Mae Miller of Michigan was sentenced to LIFE IN PRISON for possessing 2 pints of whiskey, an action which is now completely legal. I suppose if you had been around in 1928, you would be calling for her execution as well.

Yes, if we had only killed Tim Allen, then we would have no drugs in our society, instead of the present situation where anyone can buy drugs in any town in America with ease. It seems we have been spending these billions of dollars for nothing.

"Secondly this country has catered to minorities for a while and the sad part is the people that usually scream injustice are usually the racists and the true victims usually go unheard, and the white folks that were open minded are now becoming very resentful of minorities. What you really should address if poverty as the cause not race, for poor whites are treated just as poorly as poor blacks."

Evidently you did not read The Floyd Caldwell Story in The Injustice Line. He was clearly the victim of racist justice, and he has gone unheard.

Injustices to poor whites, such as Chester Schimberg, are also covered in The Injustice Line. My experience is that blacks are more likely (on a percentage basis) to be the victims of injustice, simply because the holders of government power are mostly white, but that the oppressive hand of big government frequently makes victims of people of all races.

Often, government is an equal opportunity injustice-maker, as when it murdered black and white citizens alike in Waco, Texas.

Rather than get resentful of the minorities who did not do you any injustice, you should get resentful of big government, which does you the injustice of robbing you of half your income day in and day out (in taxes).

"Sincerely,

Bill W."

Thank you for your comments.
Please visit The Injustice Line
http://home.earthlink.net/~ynot/

Jim Lawrence

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Letter 2:
Danny (Perdiccas@aol.com) writes about our page on blacks being incarcerated more than 8 times more than whites.

That may be true. But did they commit the crime or not. If so, was there and equal number of whites commiting crimes? Then what you are saying is that some black criminals should be let go or we should charge more whites for crimes to achieve racial balance. Something doesn't compute here.

Danny

This is our response. Do you have a response? Send it on in to ynot@earthlink.net

Of course you have a good point, but the problem is that we cannot get statistics on the number of crimes "committed" by black and white people, only the number of arrests and convictions. Similarly, we cannot get statistics on which of the convicted people are "guilty," since we can only have the opinion of the court system as to their guilt, and that opinion assumes guilt from the fact of conviction. Further, even if all convicted persons are guilty, that does not necessarily mean that their sentences are just or fair, or untouched by racism. Longer sentences for black people will make the prison system majority black even when arrests are not majority black.

Because black people tend to be poorer, and tend to live in inner cities more than white people, their activities are more exposed to the public, and more likely to be the subject of government intervention.

My experience in living in this society, including my experience as an attorney representing arrested people, and including my college days when I saw thousands upon thousands of white college students using and selling drugs without fear of arrest while black city residents by the thousands were being arrested for drug use, convinces me that white people are just as likely to use drugs as black people.

Regardless of what happens with other crimes, it is clear to me that black people are not 8 times as likely as white people to use drugs. It seems to me the record supports the conclusion that black people involved with drugs are more likely to be arrested, when arrested more likely to be convicted, and when convicted more likely to receive longer sentences. Further, black people are more likely to be the subject of frame-ups by officers who feel it is their duty to get "scumbags" (that is, anyone whom the officers are prejudiced against) by any means possible, including planting of evidence and lying about it. In Philadelphia, there is a major scandal going on where narcotics officers arrested for other offenses have admitted to hundreds of frame-ups of people for drugs. Now we see similar problems with frame-ups by the FBI lab, exposed by an employee. In Detroit, there is a smaller scandal where a member of the Homicide Squad complained that the head of Homicide directed her to lie and make up a statement by a murder suspect.

When we live in a society in which the heads of a major corporation are gross, blatant racists (as proven by their comments captured on tape), can it be that all of those lower down are prejudice-free? And, when we live in a society in which police officers routinely stretch the facts, and often simply make up facts, in order to get the person believed guilty or deserving of punishment, is it any surprise that poor people and black people would be on the receiving end of these injustices more than well-to-do people and white people? This is not to say that white people are never mistreated; they frequently are, and I have many stories of injustice to white people on my page.

Drug laws provide the perfect means for anyone to get rid of an enemy. You normally can't convict someone for murder without an actual murder having taken place. With drugs, the crime can be created at will by anyone with an axe to grind. In one recent case in Michigan, a man was convicted for drug sales to his ex-wife, based on her testimony alone.

One of my points is that the war on drugs has a disproportionate effect on the black community, one which demonizes people for conduct which should not be considered criminal, one which destroys employment possibilities for large numbers of people, and one which makes a growing number of children grow up without a stable 2 parent home.

Another point is that the more that black people are involved in the decision making process, both in law making and in law administration, the less likely it is that racism will have an effect on the incarceration process.

As you may have noted, in the article I do not propose any solution. I certainly do not think we should start releasing guilty black prisoners simply because they are black.

But what you do not seem to recognize is that racism, both overt and unconscious, actually does exist, and actually does affect governmental decisions. How else can I explain that an 18 year old white man tells me he was stopped by the police, they found marijuana, dumped it out and sent him on his way, when I see an 18 year old black man stopped by the police and prosecuted for his marijuana? How can I explain that blacks are often sentenced to death (not in Michigan, which has no death penalty) for killing of whites, but whites are almost never sentenced to death upon being convicted of killing blacks?

The mere fact that someone is convicted does not mean they are guilty. Look at The Floyd Caldwell Story on my web page. If that does not convince you that racism has caused innocent people to be convicted, then nothing will.

I do reject your tongue-in-cheek solution of incarcerating more white people. In fact, I believe we should lock up fewer people of all races, and we can do that handily be reducing the number of excuses to lock people up; that is, laws. We need fewer laws, fewer prisoners, fewer prisons. Ending the war on drugs would be the perfect place to start. When police start protecting us against real crime (that is, attacks upon individuals by others), we will have a much safer society.

I belong to the Libertarian party, which believes that we should drastically reduce the size of government to its proper limits. I reject the Republicans because so many of them believe that the government has a role in deciding things that I feel are none of the government's business. I do not care if one adult wants to spend the night in bed with another, and I continue not to care if they are both of the same sex. Yet, in many states (mine, and perhaps even yours), this is a major felony subjecting the individual to years of imprisonment, at enormous taxpayer expense.

I reject the Democrats for the same reason. I do not care if someone wants to smoke a cigarette or tell jokes at the expense of women. I do not care if Marge Schott wants to say ridiculous things about Hitler. More and more people are being hounded for their private decisions.

The war on drugs has been a 60 year nightmare, and all we have reaped from it is ruined lives, increased crime and tax dollars wasted. And, it is unjust. If Clinton and Gingrich do not belong in jail, why do all those other people belong in jail? In Michigan, you would get more time for handing someone a packet of cocaine than you would for poking out their eyes with a stick.

Both Democrats and Republicans have strongly supported the expensive, freedom-robbing war on drugs that increases crime, decreases personal security, and fills our prisons at enormous cost, that comes out of my tax dollars. Yet, a few Republicans, like William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and economist Milton Friedman, have had the guts to come forward and oppose this expensive folly. Read more of my web page to see more facts and argument about the war on drugs. It's at http://home.earthlink.net/~ynot/

Thank you for your comments. Feel free to comment again.
Please visit The Injustice Line
http://home.earthlink.net/~ynot/

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Letter 3:
Crystal (LawyerFla@aol.com) believes my rantings and lack of command of Standard English make me an obvious racist. This is what she or he had to say:

Your rantings alone, and lack of command of Standard English make it obvious to any reader that you are another bigoted racist and that you are prejudiced against the majority.

Your writings display a lack of understanding, or if you do indeed understand, a deliberate perversion of the facts, sentencing guidelines, judicial positions, etc. I, as a fellow lawyer,find this disheartening. Aren't we all Americans? Must we divide ourselves against one another, white against black, black against white?

I shall visit your site again, and exchange e-mail with you, at your leisure: LawyerFla@aol.com

Crystal

This is our response. Do you have a response? Send it on in to ynot@earthlink.net

"Your rantings alone, and lack of command of Standard English make it obvious to any reader that you are another bigoted racist and that you are prejudiced against the majority."

Thank you for your interesting comments. I do apologize for my lack of command of Standard English. I guess the University of Michigan Law School must have made a horrible mistake by graduating me cum laude (with honors).

I do question your conclusion that I am a "bigoted racist" and that I am "prejudiced against the majority." I do not believe that white people are more evil than black people. There are plenty of examples of good and evil among members of both races. For example, look at the African slave trade to America, where black despots enslaved people to sell to white sea captains. It was not "races" that committed those injustices, but individuals. Neither race can be very proud of the actions of certain members of their race. Yet, the majority of whites, as well as the majority of blacks, had no guilt at all with respect to slavery.

I also do not believe that it is more wrong to convict an innocent black person than to convict an innocent white person. Both are examples of what I want to combat. It is true that my lead story is about Floyd Caldwell, a black person. But do I not also have stories on the injustices done to Chester Schimberg, Julie Livermore and Ed Czuprynski, all white people? In many cases, I do not even know the race of the person whose story I present.

Perhaps what you object to is my citation to official statistics compiled by the US Census Bureau and the Michigan Department of Corrections. I suppose that, in your view, I could have proved my lack of racism by keeping those statistics a secret.

"Your writings display a lack of understanding, or if you do indeed understand, a deliberate perversion of the facts, sentencing guidelines, judicial positions, etc. I, as a fellow lawyer,find this disheartening."

If you would be so good as to tell me which facts I have perverted, I would be happy to answer that claim.

"Aren't we all Americans? Must we divide ourselves against one another, white against black, black against white?"

Actually, we are not all Americans. Many of us (the human race) are of other nationalities.

But to turn to your point, I believe that the legacy of slavery, and of post-slavery racism, is written across the face of every major city in America. When the US freed the slaves, it failed to compensate them, and failed to order the slaveowners to compensate them, for what had been taken from them. Rather than providing the slaves and their descendants with an equal place in society, our government and society deliberately held them down for decade after decade. That this was wrong is, in my view, indisputable. What is disputable is what can and should be done now to deal with the problem. But if you do not recognize that there is a problem, then I don't suppose you can have much interest in trying to find a solution.

Of course, solutions to problems can go awry. Consider America's history of welfare programs. These programs were enacted with the best of intentions, yet their unintended consequences have created more problems than they have solved. Simple good will can solve a lot more problems than another government program.

Are blacks ever prejudiced against whites? Of course they are. Do blacks ever take advantage of the existence of racism to justify their own wrongful conduct? Of course they do. If the black person is a judge, police officer, or other government official, and I have reliable information about his or her activities, I will be happy to print it. If you know of such a story, send it to me and possibly we can help correct what you apparently perceive as some sort of imbalance in our coverage.

I don't want to divide ourselves against one another. I want to bring us together. I want to have a society in which race truly does not matter. If you believe we are already there, then I believe you are uninformed. Remember Officer Mark Fuhrman, who wanted to round up black people and shoot them? What about the white Texaco executives caught on tape discussing their contempt for black people? Then there is Judge Andrea Ferarra of Detroit, who sat in judgment of white and black people, recently caught on tape disparaging "niggers." If you were black, would you want to be judged by Ferarra? If you are white, would you want to be judged by Farrakhan?

I would like our society to become more like Venezuela. I saw racial mixing at every level of society. When I told people that in my town there are places where only black people lived and places where only white people lived, they did not believe me. When I told people that in my town black people and white people usually talk differently, and that you can usually tell the race of a caller on the telephone simply by listening to the voice, they did not believe me. They said that in Venezuela, black people and white people talk exactly the same. I disagree with black people who see the need to maintain a separate language or dialect, because I believe it contributes to the problems that black people face in our society.

I do not believe that simply blaming whites is the answer to anything. Individuals should be blamed for their individual conduct when it is wrongful, and left alone when their individual conduct is not. I do fear the rapidly growing power of government, which is a threat to black and white people alike.

"I shall visit your site again, and exchange e-mail with you, at your leisure: LawyerFla@aol.com

Crystal"

I hope I have to some small degree reduced your contempt for me and for The Injustice Line. Perhaps our positions are not as far apart as they seem at first. E-mail me back, and we can see.

Jim Lawrence
ynot@earthlink.net

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Letter 4:
xx8xx@erols.com believes that using Abraham Lincoln as a symbol of freedom is wrong. This is what she or he had to say:

I strongly suggest that you remove Lincoln as your poster child for justice and individual rights. Anyone with even a mundane understanding of American History is aware that Lincoln was not the great emancipator nor the great liberatarian. Lincoln was a lawyer and a politician. He was a man. Admittedly he was a absolutely brilliant statesman and an extremely effective president, but this lionization of him as a Christ figure is blantantly dangerous.

Lincoln was instrumental in promoting the events that greatly reduced the individual rights of Americans. He diverted power from the states and enlarged the scope and size of the federal government. He promoted taxes to fund the Northern war machine. He routinely suspended habeous corpus and introduced military conscription to the United States. Worst of all he invaded a foreign nation, the Confederate States. Succession was perfectly legal. It is absolutely impossible to dispute otherwise. If it was illegal, then why did Lincoln support the succession of West Virginia from Virginia?

I am not promoting some right wing agenda. I am simply saying that laws should not be manipulated to support a current goal. In my opinion the Constitution should only be modified based on a direct referendum of the people. Believe me if the decision of war was put to a popular vote, the civil war would never have happened. Most immigrant factory workers in the North could not have cared less about slavery or the South. We can not look at history with a tainted view. We must only look at facts. History can not be distorted to promote the ideals of the present society, no matter how righteous we feel we are. The rise of the Nazi party should teach us the consequences of such mistakes.

This is our response. Do you have a response? Send it on in to ynot@earthlink.net

Thank you for your comments about our use of Lincoln on The Injustice Line.

If you look at http://home.earthlink.net/~ynot/Prohibit.html, you will see a quote from Lincoln roundly criticizing proposals for alcohol Prohibition. He was also, I understand, a very significant factor in the ending of slavery. He is also very recognizable to virtually every American. Those factors are the main reason I used him, along with the fact that I had convenient clip-art with his picture.

As you correctly note, freedom and democracy are not identical. Even if most people supported slavery, or prohibition, those policies would not be freedom, even if supported by popular vote.

The "legality" of secession is not an issue that interests me. Any crime committed by invading the south is tiny in comparison with the crime of slavery. In your criticism of Naziism, surely you do not mean to say that it would have been acceptable to murder the Jews in Germany, as long as German troops did not cross the border. Even if Hitler had not crossed any border, in my view invasion of Germany would have been justified to prevent mass murder, whether or not the invasion was "legal."

Legality is determined by those in power. That is why is is "legal" to imprison and kill people for bearing arms (David Koresh), and why it is "legal" for government to determine what people can eat, drink and smoke (drug prohibition, war on tobacco companies), and "legal" to convict people of crimes without a jury trial, and "legal" to punish people for crimes of which they have been acquitted. (See http://home.earthlink.net/~ynot/nojury.html). As far as I know, these "legal" atrocities are not the fault of Lincoln.

Even in wartime, the government of Lincoln was thousands of times smaller than the government of Reagan. Most permanent or long-term expansions of federal government power took place after Lincoln's term.

Yet, you are also right that Lincoln's use of conscription and high taxes makes him quite a bit less than a libertarian. He was only a man, only a politician, and I do not want to treat him as a Christ figure. I do not believe I did, but I understand your concern.

I am open to two suggestions. One is to balance the Lincoln opening with an essay by you explaining EXACTLY what actions Lincoln took that are subject to criticism. Judging by your e-mail, you should have no trouble finding specific examples. The other is to replace Lincoln with some other figure more devoted to liberty, of whom I can get a drawing or picture, who is recognizable to the general public. Perhaps you can think of one. Submit the name, a good quote from the individual, and perhaps attach a photo or drawing of the person.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Jim Lawrence
ynot@earthlink.net

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Letter 5:
Brenda H (khollis@seark.net) seems to wonder about our perceived anti-Clinton attitudes. This is what she had to say:

why are you so anti bill clinton . He is your president and you are a LAWYER, RIGHT.

Bill Clinton is the man and will always be the man. Monica, whitewater, marijuanna wont bring him down. He has done so much for this country. We dont need all these lawyers most people are guilty and should be punished.

Brenda H
The Brotherhood

This is our response. Do you have a response? Send it on in to ynot@earthlink.net

Dear Brenda H:

I am not against Bill Clinton, the person. I am only against the hypocrisy of Bill Clinton, the leader of Government.

He gets away with smoking pot, only to incarcerate millions for the same thing.

He protests the war in Vietnam, only to become a warmonger in Iraq.

He complains about invasions of his privacy, while presiding over a campaign of reducing the privacy rights of every American, and expanding government power. He wants it so you cannot send an e-mail in code, unless the Government already has the code. He has established a database of all employed persons. He has eliminated the privacy of your medical records.

Clinton as a youth cared about justice for the underdog. Now, he guts habeas corpus, the only way for many people to get justice.

I don't care if Clinton has sex on the side. I am against Starr for getting into it at all. It is not Clinton's sexual activities that are an outrage. It is his Governmental activities. We should not start respecting his privacy until he starts respecting ours.

If most people are guilty and should be punished, who will be the prison guards? When the majority of people become convicts without political rights, will we have democracy, or will we have a "citizen and slave" community similar to Rome before the fall.

Clinton is not monstrously evil. The few good things he has done as president are dwarfed by the horrible things he has done. In other words, he is human. But humans are not required to be hypocritical. He should reform, but at this point in his political career it is probably a bit late.

I hope that answers your question.

Jim Lawrence
ynot@earthlink.net

P.S. Clinton is, of course, not the only hypocrite. See The Rogues Gallery at http://home.earthlink.net/~ynot/DrugsCl.html.

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Letter 6:
James (jamesht@idt.net) believes we are being unscientific. This is what he had to say:

Hello,

It's just my opinion, well, no, really, it's closer to fact, that if you take four to ten examples of men who thrived while using drugs, it doesn't mean anything. No offense. The scientific method, the defining element in post-renaissance civilization, demands that a larger pool of subjects be used when trying to prove such a hypothesis.

The scientific method:

Come up with a good hypothesis. (A good hypothesis is any hypothesis which can be proven through experimentation.)

Test the hypothesis.

Draw conclusions. The end.

If you're trying to gain support for the legalization of drugs whether it's a good idea or not, then you're doing fine. If you're trying to convince people with a strong argument nstead of blind rhetoric, you're doing a bad job.

The question that I pose to you is this:

Is drug use detrimental to one's well-being?

(How do you know that?)

If so, or even if not, is it the place of government to pass laws restricting the use of drugs? Which drugs, under what conditions?

(And how do you know that?)

These are the really interesting, and tough, questions. It would be a lot more convincing if you included this kind of evidence in your argument.

All the best,

James

This is our response. Do you have a response? Send it on in to ynot@earthlink.net

Dear James:

Thank you for your comments.

1. Come up with a good hypothesis.

Prohibition of drugs causes immense harm to society, without making drugs unavailable to public, and is immoral.

2. Test the hypothesis.

Impose drug prohibition on what should be a free society, and watch the results. Begin experiment in 1937, and see results after 60 years. After 60 years of drug prohibition, we have millions of people imprisoned and burdened with criminal records. Drugs are readily available in every city in America. Prohibition causes shootouts in the streets. Violent criminals go free for informing on those involved with drugs. Colombia and Mexico become ungovernable homes of anarchy. Back home, drug war cannot keep drugs out of prisons, much less out of private homes. People incarcerated for savage 20, 30 or 40 year terms, or longer, for doing no more than president, vice-president, supreme court justices have done. Good people have lives ruined, while their children and families suffer.

3. Draw conclusions.

Prohibition of drugs causes immense harm to society, without making drugs unavailable to public, and is immoral.

The problem with your analysis is that it does not require the imprisoners to answer any questions, only those who promote freedom. It is the tyrant who must be called to task, not those who oppose the tyrant.

Your other question, and my answer:

A. Is drug use detrimental to one's well-being?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Driving cars causes tens of thousands of fatalities each year. Smoking marijuana causes none. Cocaine kills 1/36 as many people as alcohol.

Now, answer my questions:

A. Are arrest and imprisonment detrimental to one's well being?
B. Are high taxes detrimental to one's well-being?
C. Is a government intoxicated with power detrimental to one's well-being?
D. Is hypocrisy of government officials detrimental to one's well-being?
E. Is the practice of diverting police resources to combat people's bad habits instead of protecting citizens from attack detrimental to one's well-being?
F. Is a war that makes people fearful of police and government, instead of respectful towards them, detrimental to one's well being?
G. Are shootouts in the streets detrimental to one's well-being?
H. Are policies that result in ever-increasing levels of violence and government corruption detrimental to one's well being?

Jim Lawrence
ynot@earthlink.net

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