The original is "Thou shallt not kill". In our time, however, we seem to be content to accept an amended version - "Thou shallt not kill, unless, of course, you think that you need to, or it's a guy from the group on the other side of town."
Meaningless death? Senseless death? Yeah, but only as "meaningless" and "senseless" have come to be viewed in a society inured to the every day facts of life lived under "the War on Drugs".
Two murder trials concluded in Utah last week clearly call into question our ability to be outraged at how we have let the significance of the question of life and death become minimized. Why limiting murder, under our collective drug war mindset, is just not as important as being members of a civilized society requires it to be.
It's like, irrespective of how we reached the point where we are now traveling down a road that no one really wants to be on, we refuse to try to figure out how to disengage the cruise control, how to end the journey.
The first case involved a gang related clash at a Kohls store, with the stabbing occuring in the mens room, and the "victim" dieing as he ran out the front door trying to catch the other guy to continue fighting. And, yes, the verdict was guilty of murder one (it turns out that "he disrespected me" is not sufficient to give rise to a claim of self defense). And no, there were no drugs directly involved in the immediate death. But why do we want gang on gang violence, when avoiding nearly all of it is no more complicated than ending prohibition?
While no one will now know all of the facts of that case, there are certain facts that have been proven to me beyond any doubt. Specifically, clearly, and irrefutably illegal drugs are the glue that binds modern gang life. While paying some kind of a debt to society for a boat load of pot, I maintained my sanity during 97 months of federal prison time by doing "jailhouse lawyering". The significance of this is that persons in with me who wanted early release (and all did) would bring me paperwork to look over. A never ending stream of paperwork, a veritable river of it by the end of that time period. Wow, do we have gangs in our society, and, by extension, in our prisons. And hundreds of the several thousand sets of paperwork that I reviewed (even only one per day over 97 months runs to nearly 3,000 cases/guys) showed gang involvement. There was some white punks on dope (the least organized in the place, actually), and the mexican hispanic contingent, and the Colombian colombians, and Miami Cubans, Mara Salvatrucha, Jamaican Posse, an entire rainbow of black street gangs (though many seemed almost relieved to be able to kick back and relax a bit for a few years), and, yeah, there was Mafia (true Mafia), and outlaw bikers that included everything from Hells Angels to Outlaws, etc.
Generalizations? Yeah, they're rightfully frowned upon. But there is one statement that I'll stand on, no doubts, no exceptions. I may well not have seen one of every gang during my time inside. Probably didn't. But one thing that I never saw was any organized group that could or did function entirely without the proceeds of dealing illegal drugs.
They all had to have drug money to be a group. Period.
So we legalize. And then we'll still have gangs, only some very small percentage of our current numbers. But we'll save how many thousand of lives now being lost to our current extreme levels of gang on gang violence. And why are so many of us willfully failing to admit that not doing so puts that blood on our own hands also?
And, yes, some of them will kill some of us even after legalization. But they're already doing that now.
The second case - I can't tell you how shocked I was when the jury brought in a veridict of not guilty on the murder count of a case against a confessed cop killer. When arrested the dude said that he shot her with a couple of rounds from an AK-47 as she was walking up to his car window after she had just pulled him over. The background is that there was some surrveillance of suspicious activity, and a decision to investigate what the defendant later confessed had been a meth sale in a place so far from nowhere that even one car being there was cause for note, and two meeting each other virtually unheard of.
And then for there to be those two, and two cop cars watching and one of the cops to be the sister of the dealer in one of the cars? Gods honest truth! But then what happened in the end makes even all of that look routine. Arrested brother debriefs. Driver/dealer debriefs and confesses. Two years time flys by in a flurry of death penalty case pre trial manuvering. Defendant escapes Capital Murder charges because his intelligence measures too low to qualify him to fry (Yeah, Utah still has Old Sparky, but we seem to use more firing squads than anything). Sometime in the middle of the mess, drug addict brother OD's and follows his sister off of the stage. And then we finally have the big one, the main event, and he of the under 70 IQ testifies at the trial in chief that it wasn't him. That brother shot sister, immediately breaking down in abject remorse, but literally screaming in desperation and pain that he had no choice.
Who knew? And no one prepared! And the jurors said "we had no choice".
But the rest of us have a clear choice. For my part, I don't ever want to see another police officer killed in a drug related shootout. How pointless is that? I mean, I've been labeled as "the enemy" by "Drug Warriors" and I'd still like to see us end the killing. I'm still willing to end prohibition and save their lives.
Because, really there is no other option that can possibly work. The numbers speak all of the truth, after fifty years, that any of this should need on this one!