First off, Billiam, it's good to know that you agree with me on 90% of what I've been saying.
Second, it would seem that your biggest issue you have with my personal opinions isn't that I'm actually wrong, but rather that you don't like my attitude toward armed agents of the state. As I was telling you earlier, we do have several inherent rights. The right to not have your feelings hurt isn't one of them. Perhaps this is that 10% we disagree on? I'll assume it is, and if so, it renders the rest of that rambling to be a mass of moot points. I'll explain my utter disdain for the Law Enforcement community at large later on, so keep reading.
I'll begin tonight's rant by asking a variation of that age-old philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods when no one is around to hear it. Obviously, I am a firm believer in modern science, and as an amateur musician, I know a few things about what creates sound. Yes, it's going to make a sound. The more important question to ask is not whether it makes a sound, but rather, DOES IT MATTER IF IT MAKES A SOUND, IF NO ONE IS THERE TO HEAR IT?
Will it change any living person's life if there is a hellacious ruckus caused by a 98-year old oak tree falling to the forest floor, if there's not a single living person around to hear it? Obviously not.
Moving right along...you've stated that you like to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, because you "ride to be free". You've stated that drug use doesn't only affect the user, but also those who are affected by it via seeing a loved one fall into the abyss of addiction. A seatbelt is known to have saved many a life in a car accident, and this was the reason given to us by our legislature for making it an arrestable offense to drive without wearing one.
I barely knew your grandfather, because he died in a motorcycle accident due to massive head injury, when I was still a boy. He wasn't wearing a helmet. I've seen what it did to his family, most notably my father (your grandfather's youngest, and arguably his closest, brother) and my grandmother. I was there when my father watched the man count out those hundred dollar bills at our kitchen table when he bought my father's Harley. I've seen how my grandmother (your great-grandmother) still gets choked up when she hears "Amazing Grace". And yet, you like to ride without a helmet, because YOU ENJOY DOING SO. And you know what? Even though I ride with a helmet every time I get on a bike, I support your right to ride without one, even though you may be injured in a motorcycle accident as a result of SOMEONE ELSE. I also know that you can be involved in a motorcycle accident as a result of someone else's carelessness, because it happened to me...and you can ask my father about how he was freaking out when he had to come and get me, because even though he knew I was alright, he didn't want my grandmother to know about it.
My little brother was addicted to cocaine before he was legally old enough to buy his first pack of cigarettes. Because of his age, lack of education, and addiction running his life, he was unable to get a decent job of any sort...and cocaine habits can get expensive, from what I hear. As a result, he occasionally broke into random buildings to fund his habits. Because one of those buildings was a garage attached to a home, his theft of a chainsaw constitutes "Burglary of a Habitation". Due to his prior criminal record, he's likely going to be sentenced to the rest of his life behind bars. My mother's oldest son died in a car accident two weeks after his 21st birthday, and her youngest is likely to die in prison. He's 5'6", weighs 145lbs, and is 21 years old. You don't need to tell me how drug addiction affects those around you, because I know.
Seat belts save many lives every day, in car accidents all over the world...and yet, the average American motorist is unlikely to ever be involved in a life-threatening car accident throughout his entire life. Even though my brother was wearing a seat belt, and was killed when the truck rolled over and crushed the life from him, his fiance wasn't wearing hers...she was ejected from the vehicle, and was walking around when the paramedics arrived. Still, I know that my chances of survival from a serious car accident are much greater when wearing a seat belt than when not wearing one...so I wear one every single time I hit the road.
A law against not wearing a seat belt isn't what prompts me to wear one, it's knowledge that it might save my life that makes me strap that belt around my waist and shoulder every time that Oldsmobile backs out of my driveway. On the same note, the knowledge that protective gear such as an armored jacket, steel-toed boots, gloves, and a helmet will save life and limb in the event of a motorcycle accident are what prompts me to put them on when I ride a bike...and, in the fall of 2006, this was proven when I crashed a motorcycle on Interstate 10 at 60mph and limped away with nothing more than a bruised hip and some skinned knees. There are two major differences between seat belts in a car, and helmets when riding, that I'd like to point out here. First, you are statistically far more likely to survive a car accident without a seat belt, than you are to survive a motorcycle accident without wearing a helmet. Second, for all the "life-saving" that our legislature is so fond of, they felt the need to make it a crime to not wear a seat belt...but allowed the riding of motorcycles without helmets to remain perfectly legal.
I don't disagree with seat belt laws on this basis, however. I am merely pointing out the hypocrisy in our government. I should have the right to DECIDE on my own whether to wear a seat belt in my own car, wear a helmet while riding my own motorcycle, or smoke a bowl of meth in my own living room. Not wearing a helmet can kill you, as your grandfather has shown us. Not wearing a seat belt can also kill you, as so many people who die daily in American car accidents have also shown us. Using illicit substances can kill a man from overdose, or lead him to commit crimes that will land him in prison...and both of these outcomes can be absolutely traumatic for that man's family.
Even still, it is estimated that the MAJORITY of adult Americans today have tried an illicit substance at least once in their lives. Yes, even if it was just a puff off a doobie when you were 17, it was still an illicit substance that can (and, most probably, will) get you arrested. Interestingly enough, however, the MAJORITY of adult Americans are NOT in jail, dead, or engaged in criminal activities today...so, while it may be true that using drugs may possibly lead to death or prison, it cannot be said that it WILL lead to death or prison. My little brother tried cocaine in high school, and it lead him to things that will likely cause him to die in a 6'x8' cage. Barrack Obama tried cocaine in high school, and got elected to the office of The President of the United States of America.
Every man, woman, and child in America today should know that using drugs is bad for your body and your mind. When I was in kindergarten, the most visible "public awareness" message being taught to the younger children in our high schools was "Don't Talk to Strangers"...presumably, to protect them from those chomos you keep talking about. Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign went full-swing about the time I entered the first grade, and all of a sudden that slogan was everywhere...from packs of bubblegum to our school-issued textbook covers. Unless you've been living in a cave in rural Montana for the past twenty-five years, you should be fully aware that "Crack is Whack". "Don't do drugs, m'kay?". "Just Say No!". You get the idea. All of us do.
And yet, all the education in the world couldn't stop the usage of drugs in America. Just last year, in West Columbia, TX, there was a POLICE DETECTIVE who was using cocaine. Not just cocaine that he was illicitly purchasing, but also cocaine that he was stealing from the police department's evidence lockup. His discharge from the department was due to his inability to account for cocaine he had signed out, but his criminal charges stem from pawning stolen items in his own name and being traced back to him. This man had personally arrested countless felons, some for drug offenses and some for crimes of violence against actual people. As a result of his illegal actions, every pending case he worked on was considered "tainted" and dismissed by the District Attorney because she understood there was no way to put this man in front a jury and even attempt to win against any defense attorney smarter than a bucket of hair.
The fact that our penal code proscribes punishments for violations of law is proof positive that outlawing something does not prevent it.
The only way to get a person to "act right" is by teaching him that acting "wrong" is immoral. If this is being attempted via legislation and cops, it's far too late for that. A person's childhood is the appropriate time to be doing this. If a person wants to "act wrong" after being raised properly, there's not a law in the world that will stop him from doing so...you and I both know this from personal experience.
Furthermore, we have the simple fact that my definition of "wrong" and your definition of "wrong" may be completely different. Jewish people think it's immoral to eat pork. I eat bacon almost daily, as a Numero Dos con Queso from Jovi's taco stand down the street from my store consists of bacon, egg, potato, and cheese. Thankfully, the minority's opinion of what is "immoral" in this state doesn't constitute state law. Unfortunately, the majority's opinion does. Up until less than a decade ago (when Lawrence v. Texas was heard by SCOTUS in 2003), "sodomy" (read: buttsecks, hummers, et cetera) were illegal in the state of Texas. Not because it was a danger to society at large, but because gay men like penises that don't belong to them, and the majority of Texans thought this was IMMORAL.
The sodomy law in Texas was written in a manner that banned only homosexual sodomy...but several states (Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisianna, Michigan, Mississipi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia) had outlawed ALL sodomist acts between consenting adults. Even if you were married to her at the time. In Michigan, prior to a court decision, you could be sentenced to prison for the rest of your life for munching your wife's muff twice and getting convicted of doing so. Just the things that took place on my honeymoon could have potentially imprisoned myself and my ex-wife for decades in some states.
Sodomy laws are, of course, an extreme example...and one not likely to be prosecuted, except in the most bizarre of circumstances (as happened in Lawrence v. Texas, when cops executing a search warrant found a couple of homos gettin' jiggy, instead of the large cache of dope in the next-door neighbor's apartment). This doesn't change the fact that every state in the union has laws that affect absolutely no one but the person involved, unless other POTENTIAL circumstances arise...and, as a result of wearing a badge, a policeman is authorized by the state and REQUIRED AS A CONDITION OF HIS EMPLOYMENT to enforce every single one of these laws that deny individual freedoms to others and serve no real purpose except revenue generation.
In many cases, a policeman will actually use these laws restricting personal liberty to initiate an otherwise unlawful contact with a person in hopes of arresting for a more serious crime (known as a "pretext stop", declared lawful by SCOTUS in Whren v. United States). Also in many cases, an officer will UNLAWFULLY ALLEGE the violation of these laws to initiate an otherwise unlawful contact with a person in hopes of arresting for a more serious crime (declared unlawful in Whren v. United States).
Regardless, neither one of these circumstances would have presented themselves if our legal system did not proscribe punishments for "crimes" that have no victim. Many police officers will make up a story about how you "weren't wearing a seatbelt" to initiate an otherwise unlawful contact in hopes of finding evidence of a more serious crime.
I know for a fact that I was wearing a seatbelt on Aug. 26, 2006, when I got pulled over for not wearing it...because I had to unbuckle the damned thing before I pull my license out of wallet, which was in my right rear pocket. Regardless, I should have never been pulled over for it in the first place, because my alleged failure to wear one wouldn't harm another living soul...and wouldn't even hurt me personally unless I were involved in a serious auto accident in which a seat belt could have saved my life or health. Yet, it was still used as a reason to pull me over that night, which resulted in my arrest for the crime of DWI (which was, in fact, dismissed before I even stepped in front of a judge...but does carry a minimum of $3000 paid directly to the arresting agency upon conviction, if you ever want to drive again in Texas).
My point is this: our state penal code, our family code, and our traffic code are all slammed full of laws and ordinances that do absolutely nothing but remove freedom and finances from those who violate these codes. They serve no demonstrable positive purpose in our society, other than pretending to enforce morality or safety, even when violations of these laws harm no one but the perpetrator and/or other consenting adult participants...if they harm anyone at all.
A police officer WILL fall into one of the two following categories:
A) He understands individual freedom, and knows that his employment as a police officer in the United States of America WILL require him, as a condition of his employment, to violate the individual freedoms of others.
B) He doesn't understand anything about freedom, period.
If he falls into category "A", he's a fascist...and as a result, is deserving of my utter contempt.
If he falls into category "B", he's borderline retarded...and doesn't need to be anywhere near a gun, and especially the authority to use one on another human being.
Does this clear things up for you, Billiam?