Breaking The Law
LATER EDIT: Now archived here.
Breaking the Law, Breaking the Law
Welcome to my first post here at the Art of the Possible, which does not run criminal background checks on new bloggers before letting them start. Even if it did I’d be fine, because I never got caught any of the thousand or so times I violated state and federal drug-n-alcohol laws during my misspent youth. It’s perfectly acceptable for post-Boomer Americans with no arrest record to say “Smoking illicit cigarettes, drinking before age 21 … yep, I did it all back in the day.” Even the government says it: Barack Obama used booze, pot and cocaine as early as high school; Sarah Palin smoked marijuana when it was legal in her state of Alaska but still a federal crime; the FBI lets former pot smokers join the agency and arrest current pot smokers. Drug crimes won’t hurt your professional or legal reputation the way other crimes do (so long as you never get arrested).
For example: you’ll never see an FBI agent, executive branch candidate or new blogger here say “As a youngster I: was a recreational arsonist/ held up a few liquor stores/ sexually assaulted some people/ murdered several hookers” without shattering all hope of respectability. When the likes of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and me admit our history of drug-related federal crimes, we don’t expect folks to think any less of us because we know we only ever broke the laws nobody cares about (so long as you never get arrested).
Drug crimes aren’t the only ones tainting – or rather, not tainting – the reputations of candidates and their families this election season. The Classically Liberal blog points out a subtle hypocrisy surrounding the warm greeting Arizona Senator (and Republican presidential candidate) John McCain gave to Levi Johnston, the teenaged babydaddy of Bristol Palin and future father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild:
What would have happened had the young couple in question engaged in youthful sexuality in Arizona? There the young man would become both a “father-to-be” and a felon at the same time. Any sexual act by an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old is a felony in Arizona, even if the girl’s mother is running for vice president of the United States.
Despite its legal status in other times and places, Levi’s achievement of babydaddy status, like Sarah Palin’s marijuana use, is not/was not illegal in Alaska. And if anyone asked McCain if his home-state versions of Johnston should be investigated for statutory rape, it would be considered an unfair question. Similar charges of rudeness would stick to any journalist who asked Barack Obama or Sarah Palin if they themselves should be charged and arrested for the federal crimes they admitted committing, because everybody knows it’s ridiculous to think less of people who got intoxicated in their youth (so long as they never got arrested).
Nor will you find police launching a criminal investigation into claims that certain online photos depict Bristol Palin violating teen-drinking laws. It would be insane if they did; such an investigation would do nothing to advance the cause of justice. Besides: certain teenage pregnancies notwithstanding, everybody knows people can drink alcohol, smoke pot and still turn out all right.
So long as they never get arrested.