Several lawsuits have recently been filed challenging the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Here’s my response to this article:
The long-serving and only libertarian sheriff in the US Bill Masters is a hard act to follow, and as usual he is inspiring and concise in that interview. I also sympathize with the sheriffs who are frustrated with the conflicted legal environment they operate in. The standard policeman’s “Blue Book” listing a subset of the criminal laws they are expected to enforce is hundreds of pages long. There are so many laws now that nearly any activity can be prosecuted. That is why I go by “Sheriff of Love”, because there are too many conflicting laws to enforce. Simpler guiding principles are needed. Mine is love: I want you to be well, I want the environment to be well, and I want it for myself too. This is why I oppose prosecuting victimless crimes: no one is injured so no one should be injured (punished by the state). Like these sheriffs I would also challenge the laws I find immoral or illogical, but I would do it by refusing to enforce them, and make their authors sue me. There are too many bad laws to challenge on an individual basis.
Sheriff of Love
The City of Boulder has a law requiring everyone to shovel the snow on the sidewalk in front of their house, enforced by the city police with an escalating series of fines. It recently came up in the news, here is my response:
I do not believe this is an appropriate use of police or state violence. Such laws and enforcement activities underlie the problems revealed in the Ferguson protests. This can easily be assertained by a brief visit to the Boulder County jail, which is just as overcrowded with minorities and mentally ill as any jail in the nation. At the very least snow enforcement officers should be armed with snow shovels, not guns.
There are many alternatives to punishment which will be more effective at clearing sidewalks:
- talk to your neighbors. Perhaps they are unaware of their social obligation, out of town, physically disabled, or like my college neighbors simply lack a shovel. I am happy to lend them mine, and shovel for the neighbors who can’t.
- The city of Boulder could remove laws requiring a license to shovel snow for pay. There are plenty of young people able and willing to do such work, but current regulations make it too expensive and difficult to be worthwhile.
- Shovel it yourself. Then it’s done and it probably didn’t take any longer than a call to the police. They’ve got better things to do.
Love, not Punishment http://sheriffoflove.com/
There was a followup article to the November 4th election in the July 8, 2014 edition of Boulder’s Daily Camera, which was pitched and sort of is “What’s Next for the Sheriff of Love”. With only 0.15% of the vote, will I run again? What kind of campaign will it be? What’s the point? Let me tell ya.
I see things that need to be done, and I am capable and willing to do them: end the drug war, scale back police militarization, restore the balance of justice between the big and the small, heal both victims and perpetrators. But it doesn’t have to be me to do this, and I certainly can’t do these things on my own. So I will continue to build awareness for the possibility and necessity of these ideas. As before I will insert myself into local issues and present love-based solutions to the topic on hand.