I’m Torn on This One

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

On the one hand, my default position would be that no one should lose her job, her reputation, or her freedom over marijuana. I’d also imagine most people would be sympathetic to someone who recently lost a spouse in a car accident. It would also appear that in this case, the police found the pot after entering this particular woman’s home illegally.

On the other hand . . . according to the source in the story, if this had happened to your average resident of Tennessee, they at the very least would be subject to a criminal investigation.

But there was no investigation. Which is likely because this woman was—and still is—the director of the Tennessee state agency “whose mission is to eradicate marijuana.”

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55 Responses to “I’m Torn on This One”

  1. #1 |  Mykeru | 

    But cops always have the best dope.

  2. #2 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    If there ever was a rule of law in this country, it disappeared a long time ago. Laws are laws for some people and not others. Some people violate the law and pay the price, others violate the law and nothing happens. Then those who are charged with upholding the law violate the very law they are charged to uphold, and we give them a pass.


  3. #3 |  Deoxy | 

    The rules one espouses for enforcement against the populace are the rules one should be held to. This goes double for BAD rules, double for those actually enforcing them, and double for those in charge of enforcing them.

    Yes, all three of those would stack in this case.

  4. #4 |  Mykeru | 

    Jack Dempsey,

    I guess the moral of this story, like the Iraq war, renditions, banking crisis, mortgage fraud, telecom violations of FISA (etc, etc and more etc), is “don’t get caught being little people”.

    I feel a new national motto coming on.

  5. #5 |  Highway | 

    It’s sad and depressing to think this, but how much of the looking the other way is also because she’s a woman in a high position in state government?

  6. #6 |  Mike T | 

    Noblesse oblige needs to be resurrected as a social and legal code. It would do wonders for making people like this rethink the wisdom of hypocrisy that involves a badge and gun.

  7. #7 |  Mike | 

    We wouldn’t be sympathetic if the head of the DEA suddenly needed high-dose opioid therapy and found that she couldn’t get a doctor to prescribe her enough painkillers. Same thing here.

  8. #8 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Prison for thee, but not for MEEEEEEEEE!!!!

  9. #9 |  Bob | 

    How did the cops get into the house? Break in? What part about “Illegal search” wasn’t clear to them?

    Any investigation would be a sham, as any evidence collected from such a blatantly illegal search would be tossed out.

    Other than that, though. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t call for the decriminalization of pot, then complain when someone ISN’T charged or investigated. The fact that she’s apparently a hypocrite on the subject shouldn’t matter.

    I read this and I see “Woman not charged when pot found in her home.” And I say “Good! That’s going in the right direction.”

  10. #10 |  Tom Sullivan | 

    You just can’t make this stuff up…

  11. #11 |  Radley Balko | 

    You can’t call for the decriminalization of pot, then complain when someone ISN’T charged or investigated.

    I’m sympathetic to this position. But the people who enforce immoral laws and policies should also be subject to them. It often takes a few members of the political class–or someone close to them–getting screwed over by bad laws before we start to see change.

  12. #12 |  Chris Rhodes | 


    I too would like no stupid laws to exist, but exempting the powerful from stupid laws but not everyone else seems like quite a slippery slope, yes?

    And even absent the legality of the substance in question, how does she not lose her job over this? That’s like a nanny-state bureaucrat charged with reducing child obesity being caught manning an ice cream truck. Even if it’s not illegal, you’d still expect them to get fired in short order. I guess that’s why we have a Secretary of Treasury who cheated on his taxes.

  13. #13 |  CyniCAl | 

    This notion of ignoring hypocrisy by a State agent whose job is to enforce an immoral law is an interesting one. I don’t think it holds water. Certainly when a televangelist is caught with his pants down, he pays the price.

    Then again, it is logically and morally sound (anti-violent) to forgive someone for violating a malum prohibitum law no matter who they are. I would be more sympathetic if the person in question were not a State agent, i.e. someone who engages in systemic violence by choice. A public admission (repentance) of the immorality of being a State agent would go a long way, and since that will not be forthcoming, then I say fuck ’em all.

    Let’s work on relieving the burden of the non-State underclass before we start shedding a tear for those who willfully engage in violence.

  14. #14 |  Difster | 

    I’m not torn on this at all. I’m all for using any trick in the book to avoid prosecuting regular people. But people charged with enforcing these stupid laws should get the maximum sentencing when they break the unjust rules they are charged with upholding.

    So lock her up. I wouldn’t feel a bit bad about it.

  15. #15 |  Bob | 

    By not investigating her, the message is very clear: “Not even WE think these laws should be enforced. As such, you probably shouldn’t either.”

    The effect of this on the psyche of average people will be, to however small a degree, to reduce the conviction that drug laws “are a good idea”. Thus hastening the process of legalization.

    A direct metaphor is telling your kids not to do something, then doing it in front of them. Hypocritical behavior is a powerful programming force. Human beings are not rational actors, they think emotionally and then justify those decisions through biased interpretations of whatever they see and hear. It takes continuous counter programming to eventually sway that bias.

    If they REALLY wanted to put out the message “Drugs are really bad!” They should immediately frog walk her into a prison cell. By handling it this way, they are adding to the sum total of anti-drug law programming that competes with pro-drug law emotional bias.

  16. #16 |  Sinchy | 

    I’m curious about the notion that if police knock on a door and no one answers the default is “we needed to break in to make sure everything is ok”

  17. #17 |  CyniCAl | 

    This all falls under the general header “professional courtesy.”

    State agents can and do extend professional courtesy to each other all the time with infinitesimal effect on the general status of legislation or law enforcement.

    Anyone thinking that the extension of professional courtesy will hasten the demise of malum prohibitum laws is deluded. State agents are a privileged class and will always apply a different set of rules to their own.

    #15 | Bob — “Human beings are not rational actors, they think emotionally and then justify those decisions through biased interpretations of whatever they see and hear.”

    Yes (bias) and no (not all thought is emotion). I find that absolute statements such as yours, Bob, are almost always false. A simple qualifier such as “most of the time” goes a long way towards making one’s argument more airtight.

  18. #18 |  Highway | 

    Bob @#9

    Other than that, though. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t call for the decriminalization of pot, then complain when someone ISN’T charged or investigated. The fact that she’s apparently a hypocrite on the subject shouldn’t matter.

    I read this and I see “Woman not charged when pot found in her home.” And I say “Good! That’s going in the right direction.”

    I think this doesn’t apply when the goal of not prosecuting or investigating a particular individual is specifically to prevent erosion of the immoral government power. She’s not being investigated or prosecuted because it would make the agency look bad. Therefore, she turns from a sympathetic individual who gets lucky to a symbol of state power exempt from state laws.

  19. #19 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    MY default position is that nobody whose job is to hammer at a “sin” should get any slack if they get caught in that particular “sin”. If she was caught committing serial adultery I would argue that it’s none of our goddamned business. Similarly, a Catholic priest caught with a stash of Panama Red; who cares? She gets caught with weed? The Priest has an affaire? They should minimally be canned for ostentatious stupidity.

  20. #20 |  BamBam | 

    the blog entry title sounds like a line from a porn movie …
    Jeopardy re-enactment
    Alex Trebek: The female actress said “I’m torn on this one”
    Contestant: What is a line from the movie “Long Dong Silver”

  21. #21 |  dave smith | 

    This just illustrates how insidious and pervasive drugs are in our society. If a noble drug warrior cannot keep drugs out of her own house, how can any of us? The lesson from this story is that we need to double, no triple, down on enforcement. It is the only way, and it is for our own good.

  22. #22 |  Mario | 

    Radley, let me solve your conundrum. Gross hypocrisy by a government official is an aggravating circumstance. She should have had the book thrown at her.

  23. #23 |  Randy | 

    There’s no investigation because the evidence was obtained without a search warrant. The LEO’s entered her home without a warrant and there were no circumstances that justified their entry into her home. If charges where pressed, her lawyer would petition to have the evidence tossed and a judge would likely comply. No illegal plant material equals no evidence equals no case. It’s likely that simple.

    If the report is true, it just shows that some government flunkies know what readers here know, that the WOD is a waste. However, they will happily engage in the WOD farce if there is a paycheck in it.

    I know how you feel, Radley. There’s a part of me that wishes she would have to face the medicine she and her cohorts demand others face. She won’t as the police screwed up. But no matter, until she comes out and denounces the WOD, she is nothing but a hypocrite afaic.

  24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’m not torn one little bit. But then, I’m rarely torn when bad things happen to government officials who have adopted as their mission in life the infliction of misery and destruction on ordinary people.

    And I’m pretty damn sure that doesn’t make me a hypocrite.

  25. #25 |  (B)oscoH | 

    With apologies to her late husband…

    The Devil went to Tennessee. He was looking for some weed to smoke.
    And he was way behind screwing with the world. He needed to play a joke.
    So he found this famous keyboardist, for this legendary country band.
    His wife was in charge of eradicating ganja. Here’s where he’d make his stand.
    Duh… Duh… Duh…!!!

    He said, “Taz, I gotta smoke some weed, and I know you’ve got a dealer.”
    “Yeah, Devil,” Taz said ironically, “get on the back on my three wheeler.”
    And they drove that off-road vehicle cutting through the forest like a knife,
    And the Taz told the Devil, “Hey Devil, you cannot tell my wife.”
    Duh… Duh… Duh…!!!

    (to be continued)

  26. #26 |  Marty | 

    just like they have different rules for us, I have different rules for them. Fuck her. She can join us after she’s in the joint and maybe she can work for prison reform, too.

  27. #27 |  CB | 

    I’m not torn at all. Busting the police state’s Hypocrites’ asses is central in defending oneself from it and ending the terror of the state!

  28. #28 |  (B)oscoH | 

    Tazzie you ride like thunder so you can score us some hash.
    We’ll get a brick, it’ll make you sick, the Devils got plenty of cash.
    You think there’s a bet, but it’s really a joke. You’ll forget your name is Joel.
    Cuz when you die, the Devil will smoke your bowl.
    (fiddle interlude)

    Back at the house, he stashed away what little he held in his hand.
    And got in his car on I-41, he had to catch up with the band.
    As his car left the road and crashed on the side, he was reflecting on his life,
    And the final thought that Tazzie had was that the Devil just f*cked his wife.
    Duh… Duh… Duh…!!!

    Back at the house, the cops showed up, and searched without just cause,
    They found Taz’s stash under the bed wrapped up in a little gauze.
    His wife as the head of ABC couldn’t let nobody toke.
    So Danielle Elks just covered up the punchline to the Devil’s joke.
    (fiddle finish)

  29. #29 |  Russ 2000 | 

    How can you torn on hypocritical bureaucrats? She is reaping what she has sown.

  30. #30 |  Ayuh | 

    It is always wrong and illegal to enforce an unjust law. Having said that, take her house and imprison her. I’m sure her druggie husband rode in her car while in possession, so please take her car.

  31. #31 |  terrence | 

    The article says the ossifers found the back door OPEN, so they went in ti ensure that all was well, it was not a break in, no damage, etc.

  32. #32 |  W | 

    She may be able to shield herself from criminal investigations, but only if she paid the drug tax. TN legislature is guilty of a huge list of stupid and morally bankrupt things, but taxing illegal drugs ranks near the top.

  33. #33 |  Eric | 

    ***It often takes a few members of the political class–or someone close to them–getting screwed over by bad laws before we start to see change***

    This is the key. As long as connected people feel comfortable that they won’t actually suffer the consequences of getting busted, they can feel comfortable with harsh anti-drug laws. And each time someone like this gets off with no trouble, that notion is reinforced. The only way we will be rid of these laws is when everyone gets (unfairly) treated in the same way.

  34. #34 |  Ted S. | 

    @Bob #9:

    While I oppose laws against prostitution, it gave me a great sense of schadenfreude when Wicked Eliot Spitzer was forced from office for cavorting with a prostitute.

    Of course, Wicked Eliot didn’t get prosecuted — he got a job on the now-cancelled CNN show Parker Client Nine. The woman who ran the prostitution ring, however, not being a member of the Government Class like Wicked Eliot, did get prosecuted.

  35. #35 |  Rich | 

    I love how the reporters fail to mention the blatant violation of the law and pretend that the police have every right to enter homes without warrants with no exigent circumstances. NO names. No names of the commanding officers in charge of discipline.No questions at all as to how the officers who blatantly broke the law were disciplined, for pure incompetence, if not willful violation of state and federal law. Just the accepted fact that the police can do anything they dam well want to, and the PRESS will go right along with it. No questions asked, because the press is a bunch of sniveling cuntdrops.

  36. #36 |  JdL | 

    “don’t get caught being little people”.

    I like that! Now, in addition to the crime of “Driving while black”, we can add the crime, “Driving while little.”

  37. #37 |  MH | 

    “It often takes a few members of the political class–or someone close to them–getting screwed over by bad laws before we start to see change.”

    What exactly is the evidence of this?

  38. #38 |  GT | 

    Torn? How can any sentient being experience anything but a full-body orgasm of epicaricacy?

    Incompetent (yeah right) search procedures; a “Drug Warrior”-ess and stupid fucking moralising “You need to live how I want you to” cunt brought to ground.

    Obviously we should all be outraged that this epitome of a Nanny-State preachy cunt didn’t actually get what she would have if she’d been an inner-urban black teen – the ‘Ooops…. bad search’ saw to that. (Seriously? How many articles have we seen where the results of bad searches have been admitted when it was just some ‘civilian’ in the dock?).

    So maybe you’re right – torn between laughing my ass off at this retarded bitch’s public humiliation, and mad as shit because she doesn’t get to experience the full gamut of inhumanity that the War on Drugs (that pays her rent) slams on its victims: incarcration in the horror show that is the US pre-trial remand system, then a slanted trial with massively asymmetric resources, then off to a pentientiary. Then when she gets out, her life’s totally fucked forever. SHE DESERVED THAT (not for the drugs, but for being a cog in the tyranny machine). Hell, it might have done her some good – she could have had a Conrad Black style Damascene conversion.

    I’m also mad as shit because fucking scum like this bitch don’t HAVE any humility, so they don’t actually experience humiliation… so on reflection my epicaricacy orgasm was for nothing. Doubtless she will simply feel she got her due as a member of the privileged caste.

  39. #39 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I liked it, Bosco.

  40. #40 |  H. Rearden | 

    One of the factors that brought about the reversal of Prohibition was that the hypocrisy became so obvious that it was impossible to maintain. The well connected could always get their drink with no threat of penalty. Not so for the ‘little people’.

  41. #41 |  EJF | 

    Wait, how is it the Alcohol Beverage Commision’s “mission to eradicate marijuana”?

  42. #42 |  jb | 

    By “door being open” we mean it was unlocked, so we let ourselves in. Hey, we knocked and no one answered!

  43. #43 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #17 CyniCAL: “State agents can and do extend professional courtesy to each other all the time with infinitesimal effect on the general status of legislation or law enforcement.”

    Yes they do. But there are others in our society–granted priveleges, authority and treated like “heroes”–that do the same. While working in the healthcare security field I have watched as nurses and physicians violate policies, laws and, in my opinion, human rights, only to receive a slap on the wrist (if that). They ignore parking policies, they verbally abuse co-workers, they respond to difficult patients (drunks usually) by escalating the situation then playing the victim, they hold people against their will when they may not have legal reason to do so. Sometimes they steal drugs intended for patients, perhaps exacerbating the discomfort those patients are feeling. Real nice, huh. But you see, they are “angels” and they have stressful job. Sound familiar. What I’m getting at is that physicians, and now nurses, have a level of professional arrogance similar to police. And you can quote me on that one.

    And what about management. Ah management. They are masters of covering for one another. My my, if it weren’t for the managers, shit wouldn’t get done in private organizations. Wage slaves like me are incidental. We could be replaced by robots. If we had any brains (read: connections and the ability to deep throat) we would be managers for christ’s sake. This, I’m afraid is the attitude of many salaried types.

    For example, there is a security manager in my organization that has actually injured two employees while demonstrating wrist locks (I should mention that these were NOT training-related incidents and the manager did not have their consent). When I say injured I mean that these employees required significant medical treatment, including surgery. And this manager is still employed in my organization. Even though security personnel and others have advised HR of his lack of judgement multiple times. It’s good to be the king in a private organization too, CyniCAL.

    So yes, CyniCAL, state agents do extend professional courtesy to one another. But in my experience, other “special” people in our society are able to repeatedly get away with unethical and criminal acts because of who they are. Self-styled elites in my organization (and probably yours) protect one another from the accountability that, it seems, is only reserved for peons like me. And then they hire lackeys and yes men to make sure the party never ends.

    Though the state makes it easier for some to get away with their acts, the greater problem is privelege and egocentrism in our society. The state is just one piece of the puzzle. Removing the state won’t suddenly dissolve the “do you know who I am” mind set. You aren’t wrong, but I think your view is made myopic by your attachment to ideology. Anarchism is only a word. Words get in the way of authentic solidarity with fellow humans that are oppressed by multiple sources, not just the state.

  44. #44 |  Law Prof | 

    I’ve been lawyer for 40 years.

    It’s a well known Rule of the Street: Laws do not apply to those who enforce those laws on the rest of us. Not police, not prosecutors, not judges. Not even adjuncts who work in their offices. Certainly not their families.

    Police and DWI.
    Police and DV.
    Police and beatings in general.
    Police and speeding.

    Unless someone of “value” dies, the scene or evidence are always destroyed. Job #1 is to make certain that no investigation CAN be conducted.

  45. #45 |  CyniCAl | 

    I’m all about class warfare Helmut. You don’t have to preach to me. It’s just that I hold a special place in my heart for the State. It’s that violence thingy. As oppressive as corporations can be, and believe me I know that first hand as well, and I also know that America is fascist and has been for some time, the State itself will always be my primary target. But you are right, it’s more of a difference in degree than kind.

  46. #46 |  John C. Randolph | 

    If we had a functioning justice system, she wouldn’t be in jail for possession of marijuana, she’d be in jail for aggravated hypocrisy.


  47. #47 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    My kingdom for the e-mail address of this hypocritical piece of work.

  48. #48 |  30 year lawyer | 

    Dan Alsobrook, the DA who “cleared” her doesn’t like outside e-mail but this info is public.

    P.O. Box 580
    Charlotte, TN 37036
    Phone: (615) 789-5021
    Fax: (615) 789-5012

  49. #49 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    TED talk about problems with “non-lethal” weapons, and why the military shouldn’t have them.

  50. #50 |  perlhaqr | 

    Bury her under the jail.

    Sorry, I’m all for marijuana legalisation, but it’s not legal yet, and this woman’s job is enforcing that bullshit on others. Make her pay the cost she has imposed on so many others.

  51. #51 |  JOR | 

    #43, Perfectly reasonable points. The state itself is as much an effect of privilege as a cause of it, and so it stands to reason that there are other forms of privilege. While the state may help enable these other forms of privilege, the state is not usually necessary for their existence and they’re worth objecting to in their own right. That’s why anti-statism, at its most coherent, is only a part of a deeper anarchism, and anarchism at its best is part of a broader libertarianism.

  52. #52 |  MH | 

    Without the violence of state-enforcement, “privilege” and “egocentrism” are fairly toothless, and while objectionable, they are part and parcel of the human experience. State power by contrast is a specific evil that can be opposed for specific reasons, not requiring a “New Libertarian Man.”

  53. #53 |  JOR | 

    Systematic violent enforcement of privilege predates the existence of states. And states don’t just pop up out of nowhere. They are the result and ongoing process of systematic violence and the widespread beliefs justifying it, not a floating, inhuman magical construct causing all systematic violence.

  54. #54 |  MH | 

    True, libertarianism opposes all forms of aggressive violence, not just that from the state. Didn’t mean to imply otherwise. But libertarianism is not directly concerned with the ethics of physicians, nurses, and managers (inasmuch as they don’t use force or fraud), as discussed in Helmut’s comment that you referenced. Libertarianism can be viable if it restrains itself to specific ideas that could be realistically accomplished. It becomes a utopian vision if it requires broadly changing human nature. In short, I don’t want people to be jerks, but I don’t want my philosophy to depend on no one ever being a jerk.

  55. #55 |  JOR | 

    Systematic violence is as much a result of privilege as a cause of it. Standing against one requires standing against the other. To the extent that one trivializes or makes excuses for one, one will in the fullness of time trivialize or make excuses for the other.

    Appeals to supposedly immutable traits of human nature are almost always naive or question-begging. Some would say libertarianism is already a “utopian vision” just by opposing aggressive violence, because there’s nothing more human or natural than violent domination and extortion, etc.

    Nothing and everything can be ‘realistically accomplished’, depending on how you mean that. My philosophy doesn’t depend on no one ever being a jerk any more than it does on no one ever being a murderer. It only depends on recognizing those things, confronting them. The world will most likely never be perfect; when one shitty thing passes, human ingenuity will no doubt conjure new shitty things to take its place. There will be no end of history, libertarian or otherwise, only constant effort and striving. Until we get hit by an asteroid or something.