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Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and Reefer Madness

Gnome Takes Axe to Drug War Reform

All this stuff still haunts us, despite having elected a black president -- or as backlash because we elected a black president. It’s symbolically interesting that when President Donald Trump and his allies had a terrible week that he raced off to speak to his base at Jerry Falwell’s university in a Virginia city called Lynch-burg. As everybody knows, Lynchburg, Virginia, was named for John Lynch who ran a ferry service over the James River back in the olden days. But in the loose-cannon Age of Trump, anything can have symbolic weight; it doesn’t have to be true. To flee Washington D.C. to hold a friendly rally of his white working class base in a town called Lynchburg? It would be like a beleaguered President Bernie Sanders fleeing D.C. to hold a rally in Stalingrad. I know; Stalingrad doesn’t exist anymore. But, again, this is the Age of Trump, and we need to get used to baseball bats of symbolic meaning.

So consider this little allegory. A cute little gnome named Jeff arrives in town with a very big axe with plans to put the kabosh on a public works campaign focused on cleaning up dysfunctional communities; the campaign involves rehabilitating rundown buildings and lots, the planting of grasses and flowers and lovely white-blossomed dogwood trees along dreary and decay-plagued boulevards. This gnome is a friend of those in high places holding the keys to the national treasury. He passionately wants to stop this campaign and the reform ideas associated with it because they were conceived and developed by a coven of Godless communists, felons and fairies. Our God-fearing little gnome hates these people, especially the fairies. (Gnomes are jealous of other magical creatures.) So he outs the squeeze on the funds from the treasury, whips out his axe and eagerly chops down all the beautiful trees; he even contracts for a stump grinder to destroy their root systems.

Then what happens? As one might expect, neglect and blight return with a vengeance. A window of hope and possibility for the local residents has been closed. People outside the area are encouraged not to give a damn about the people on the blighted street, since they're all criminals anyway. Their stories are quashed at every opportunity; instead, they’re demonized and the worst sorts of things are said about them. The deeply rooted American institution of selective enforcement (what police and jurists like to call official discretion, or who gets "the book" thrown at 'em) reverts to past modes of operation. Stigma and defamation rule. Demoralization grows. Love and forgiveness are discouraged; hate and vengeance are encouraged. Soon, this translates into an effective state of war between us and them. Crime and violence increase, and authorities start aggressively looking for criminals, treating them harshly when they find them. You might say it’s akin to the famous broken windows theory of policing; you might call this the broken spirit theory of policing.

story | by Dr. Radut