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Alex Teach Image
Alex Teach Image
Arguing over the “interwebs.” Wow. So rarely is humility better illustrated than when you partake in such a dispute … yet here I am. But I must say this much: I like to argue, and it’s much better on gas than going to a neutral location across town to have your discussion, so I’m “OK” with it. That, and I lack humility in general, so why not get a little muddy so long as the other pig likes it, too?
The dispute was over how to handle certain misdemeanor crimes and I was drawn in anticipating the usual “Marijuana is Harmless and a Waste of Resources” bit. It turned out not to be about “the weed” at all, so all the better. But I never expected it turn into an all-nighter about stupidity, because that’s the course I took it when it was stated unequivocally that taking someone to jail for public intoxication was a waste of resources when they could be, instead, taken to a room and restrained, medicated and observed.
(Before I get too far, let me point out that this person is a regular reader of this column and will therefore read this bit too and be quite annoyed, but (a) I have no intention of naming them, and (b) they did what most people do on “The Facebooks” when they realized they’ve had a public argument that is completely full of holes and “deleted” the entire bit, making it pretty darn hard to trace back to them. They will be annoyed at this, yes, but it’s on them to pop up and show their hand, so my conscious is at least 96 percent clear in this case.)
Anyway … Their view contended that it was citable, that they could be issued a summons and simply taken to a hospital and monitored instead, thus reducing unnecessary arrests.
Sounds simple, no?
Now in the State of Tennessee, outside of a voting booth or a city council meeting (apparently), you cannot ask someone who is intoxicated or otherwise impaired to read and make an informed decision about their legal rights. Period. (Specifically, you cannot ask a “drunk person” to sign a legal contract. Most places and people recognize this.) That made taking the “it was not necessary to jail them” bit right off the table, but being a reasonable person, I ignored that for the sake of argument.
I countered, instead, that were they not so intoxicated, they wouldn’t need arrest in the first place, so if I were having to take them anywhere as a result, why would it be a hospital instead of jail? Never mind that citing someone under the influence was illegal, how is it reasonable to assume you are saving resources by taking them to a hospital room, tying them down and putting drugs in their arms with needles to calm them and paying someone qualified to do so to “observe them?”
Put even more succinctly, how can “taking someone to the drunk tank” seem more unreasonable than “taking someone to a hospital, tying them up and drugging them?” If I’m the bad guy here, why is it I have the issue with drugging folks instead of letting them sleep it off?
Another way of putting it is that we have too many unnecessary arrests, but do we have too many unoccupied hospital rooms and an abundance of nurses, too? Taking up a hospital room is more reasonable than putting them in the pokey (also staffed by nurses)?
I realize that this somehow makes me a conservative, racist, Nazi wife-beater, but for once I’m having trouble grasping the “how” in this instance. Can someone make the case for me? Complete the argument without deletion, keep it going? How am I so far off base here that I’m the bad guy for not wanting to tie up and drug people?
Am I wrong here? Your thoughts are welcome (as is, apparently, Sodium Pentothal at the drop of a hat.) Even the most unconstitional and pro-socialist response is welcome.