Pubdate: Thu, 18 Apr 2002
Source: Westword (CO)
Contact:  2002 New Times
Author: Jack J. Woehr and Angel Shamaya
Note: Subtitles of letters combined for title


Blowing Smoke: I enjoyed your Best of Denver 2002 issue, with one 
exception. I have run for public office twice in opposition to the War on 
Drugs, but I still feel that for you to publicize the jerk selling 
nitrous-oxide cannisters over the counter is the height of 
irresponsibility. Kids can kill themselves with those sorts of things.

Inadvertently, you highlight the essential problem of the War on Drugs: If 
society reacts irrationally to the search for ecstatic experience, all 
choices available to young people seem equivalent. All choices are not 
equivalent, and I'm sure the Westword staff knows that as well as anyone 
else. Bad show, ladies and gentlemen.

Jack J. Woehr


Scary Tactics: David Holthouse deserves a journalism award for his article 
exposing the dark underbelly of Project Exile. As the co- founder of the 
Project Exile Condemnation Coalition, I am well-versed in this dangerous 
program, and Mr. Holthouse has left few stones unturned.

In the case of the woman convicted of the victimless crime of possessing a 
substance the government says you cannot put into your own body, anyone who 
believes she should be sent to prison for four years for merely posing with 
a gun is not a very balanced person. If a crime has no victim, there should 
never be an arrest, let alone a conviction followed by a firearms 
prohibition: Basic constitutional rights are too important to allow them to 
be stolen in the name of allegedly fighting crime.

One would think the NRA, of all groups, would know this. Instead, dozens of 
non-NRA gun-rights groups have had to form an alliance to help expose what 
the NRA will never tell you about this program. We have been collecting 
data to prove the points Mr. Holthouse made, in hopes of further educating 
otherwise intelligent gun owners, constitutionalists and other liberty 
advocates on all sides of the political spectrum, and Mr. Holthouse's 
studious, eloquent, balanced, fair and hard-hitting article is so effective 
he's just saved us untold time and energy.

Alcohol prohibition, like drug prohibition, was not only ineffective at 
ending access to the banned substance, but it increased crime in our 
society and expanded police powers outside constitutional bright lines. If 
someone slapped with a felony for alcohol possession during Prohibition had 
been "caught" with a firearm, would you also think several years in federal 
prison was a good idea? Of course not. But somehow, because the War on Some 
Drugs is involved and because governments and media conglomerates have done 
such a thorough job of demonizing this handful of banned substances, a 
startling number of people are willing to crucify nonviolent people, using 
guns as the convenient cross of choice.

It's difficult to find a sane, lawful person among us who opposes stiff 
prison sentences for truly violent criminals. Someone who harms another in 
violation of the law should stay in the pokey for quite some time. But 
someone who never harmed a flea is not the same as someone who stabbed a 
woman after raping her. Smoking marijuana recreationally just does not 
equate with assault with a deadly weapon. In a sane America, treating a 
writer of bad checks as harshly as a three-time armed robber should be 
struck down as unconstitutional via the Eighth Amendment's "cruel and 
unusual punishments" clause. Project Gulag is not sane. It's scary.

Thank you, Westword, for publishing this urgent and eye-opening article.

Angel Shamaya

Flagstaff, Arizona
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