Tag Archives: North Carolina

The War on Drugs is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, North Carolina Edition

Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) found at Chat...
Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) found at Chatsworth House, a large country house eight miles (13 km) north of Matlock in Derbyshire, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently this month’s crop of stabbings, armed robberies, rapes/molestations and teacher/student sex scandals in Catawba County, North Carolina aren’t enough to keep the sheriff’s department busy. Or maybe they just have too many deputies on the payroll. Something’s obviously out of balance: They have time to go after gardeners.

“A man was arrested after deputies found nearly an acre of opium poppy in a Catawba County field,” Charlotte’s WBTV News reports. “Deputies spent the day pulling plants and loading them into their trailers.” According to the Charlotte Observer,  the uniformed bandits also stole the victim’s pets and livestock.

Our fearless flower thieves estimate the value of their haul at an insane $500 million. That’s a goody from the American drug warriors’ bag of dirty tricks: Their guess is based on the total weight of the plants, not on the tiny amount of opium that might eventually have been extracted from each flower. They also love to do this with LSD, which is measured in micrograms, including the weight of the paper the chemical is embedded in. Bigger numbers make for harsher charges and more publicity. In reality, if those poppies were destined for the street market, the take would have been closer to half a million dollars than half a billion.

A few  other numbers to put this circus into perspective:

According to Statista, approved pharmaceuticals are a $446 billion per year industry in America, a country accounting, per CNBC for about 80% of global prescriptions of opiates. Call that particular market $20 billion per year.  And its giants don’t like competition.

Then there are the tens of billions of dollars in tax money spent every year on the “war on drugs,” which has over time become a make-work program to pad the budgets and payrolls of law enforcement at every level.

Meanwhile, as I note above, there are actual criminals committing actual crimes in Catawba County. But solving those crimes and busting those criminals isn’t nearly as sexy or lucrative as trampling a guy’s garden, seizing his other property, and talking smack about it on TV.

If you’re a taxpayer in Catawba County or anywhere else, you’re paying for this “drug bust” in two ways: Higher taxes and higher crime.  Every dime and every minute spent busting pot-smokers, heroin junkies and flower farmers is a dime taken out of your pocket and a minute spent making you less, not more, safe from real crime.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Government Should Give Us All a Break. A Bathroom Break, That Is.

English: A bathroom.
English: A bathroom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently government solved all of society’s real problems while I wasn’t looking. Woo hoo! Violent crime has been eradicated. The Islamist terror threat is no more. Poverty? Everyone’s a millionaire with a Rolls in the driveway. Heck, the Cubs may even win the pennant this year. At least I have to assume all that’s been taken care of. Otherwise the politicians wouldn’t have time to argue over who gets to use which bathroom. And that’s what they’re doing, soooo …

Charlotte, North Carolina’s city council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance requiring both public venues (e.g. government schools) and private businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities.

Then the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill overruling Charlotte’s and FORBIDDING both public venues and private businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities.

Even though the North Carolina bill seems to be economically suicidal — it’s already cost the state money and jobs, including 400 new jobs at a PayPal operations center that was going to be built in Charlotte and now won’t be — lawmakers in South Carolina and Tennessee are taking up similar legislation.

Because, you know, this has been such a burning social problem in the past.

Except that it hasn’t.

For all the hobgoblin talk about men in dresses sexually molesting our daughters at rest stops, I’ve been unable to find any public mention of that happening. If it has, it’s either been very rare or kept under wraps. And the latter seems unlikely given the paranoia even talking about it seems to bring out in people.

If you don’t think you’ve ever shared a bathroom with a transgender person before, consider this: Depending on which study you believe, somewhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 300 Americans are trans people. Now, think back over your life. All the school restrooms, highway rest stops, store bathrooms, concerts, ball games, and so on. Do you honestly think that over your life you’ve shared bathrooms with fewer than 300 people in all?

You’ve been sharing bathrooms with trans people your whole life, and you never noticed until some idiot fearmongering political hack brought it up because he thought he could scare you with it. Did it work?

This isn’t that complicated.

In  venues like government schools, politicians and their lackeys shouldn’t be allowed to peer up skirts and inside zippers like a bunch of pervs. Does your gender identity match the “M” or “F” on your birth certificate ? None of their business.

Businesses should be free to set whatever policies they like. If they want to keep their customers, they probably won’t get too nosy.

And as cultural changes do, this will all work itself out.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Don’t Look, Ethel! (Really — Just Don’t Look)

First, credit where credit is due:  Charlotte, North Carolina police haven’t arrested Gerard Leeper for standing naked in the doorway of his home in the city’s Cardinal Glen neighborhood. Yet.

Why? Because it’s not illegal to go naked on one’s own property in Charlotte. Yet. So, good call, Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD.

According to the Charlotte Observer, however, the CMPD is “trying to build a case against” Leeper and “will likely approach the legislature to recommend a stronger indecent exposure law.” They want it changed to cover things which can be seen from, not just in, “public spaces.”

That’s disturbing, for two reasons.

First, the job of the CMPD is to enforce the law, not to lobby the legislature.

Secondly, unless CMPD has solved all the real crimes in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, they shouldn’t even have time to worry about — let alone “try to build a case against” — some guy for standing around naked in his own house. Perhaps the county should look at cutting CMPD’s budget and manpower if it has spare resources to waste on this kind of non-problem.

But that’s the thing: Some of Leeper’s neighbors don’t consider it a non-problem. They complain that he stands naked in his doorway several times a week and has for a decade. They don’t like it. They don’t want to see it. They’ve had Home Owners Association meetings to discuss it. They’ve complained to Leeper. They’ve complained to the police.

And of course the police department — which answers to local politicians and taps the area’s taxpayers for its funding — hates telling local homeowners things they’d rather not hear. Thus the “case-building” and prospective politicking.

It seems to me that a ready answer to this “problem” can be found in the work of prominent American comedic singer/songwriter Ray Stevens. Specifically, in a line from his 1974 hit “The Streak.” In three simple words:

“Don’t look, Ethel!”

Yes, really. Just don’t look.

If you don’t want to see Gerard Leeper naked, don’t look at him.

If you can’t make yourself not look at him when you pass by his house, go out of your way to not pass by his house.

If you can’t avoid passing by his house, and can’t drag your eyes away from his occasional nakedness when you do, and just can’t stand what you see, move.

Yes, really. Move.

It’s not the government’s job to make sure you never, ever, ever see anything you don’t like, especially (although not only) when it’s on someone else’s private property. That’s YOUR job.

Leave the police out of it. Unless you see Sheb Wooley’s one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater. In that case, you should call 911 ASAP.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.