Every now and then you do something, experience something or meet someone who reminds you what you stand for. This happened too me recently when I met a African-Swedish man who told me his story while rolling a cigarette.
As it turns out, this man (who I shall call ‘Dave’) had come over from Sweden with a friend, intending to buy a bus to live in, while travelling up and down the East Coast. As we’re talking, Dave tells me that he’d recently been busted in a nightclub with drugs that amounted to two bottles of acid, some mescaline and a bag of weed. The police had confiscated Dave’s passport, and he was waiting to sit trial in about Mid-January.
Normally, most would hear these details, tune out and say, ‘well he deserved whatever he gets…’ But let us delve a little deeper.
The police, bless their souls, are apparently doing their best to charge him with every offence possible. This includes both Trafficking and possession. As it turns out, Dave had already done one month in prison — most people, if they haven’t written him off already, will have now done so.
Dave goes on to tell me, sincerely, how much he doesn’t want to go back to prison. He explains that during his month-long stay, he was placed in a cell with a man who had killed two people. A murderer.
Then, to make matters worse, lawyers and police have been trying to tell him that he is an addict. He then points out an irony — there is more heroin and meth available on the inside than there was ever available to anyone on the outside. In Dave’s own words, ‘if you weren’t an addict going in, there’s a good chance you’ll be an addict coming out.’
Dave tells me that if this had happened in Europe, he’d probably just have been fined. But we in Australia seem to be a little more vindictive than our Old World counterparts.
The police require Dave to stay at a fixed location. He cannot live on the bus that he had paid a lot of money for. Instead he has to stay at a hostel. Additionally, Dave told me that he’s had to pay up to $10,000 in lawyers fees, and his parents have had to fly out from Sweden in order to sit at his trial.
I ask you, where is the real crime? For what purpose have we gone ruined Dave’s live? For wanting to alter his consciousness with chemical substances. The horror!
So let’s take a step back and assess the situation. You have a man, a foreigner, arrested and charged with possession and trafficking offences (where, depending on the amount you’re caught with, it is automatically assumed you were trying to sell them to people, even if you weren’t). If convicted, he is a criminal. An evil person on par with murderers and rapists. He will be put in prison and forced to associate with hardened criminals.
In essence, parliament has made a law forbidding a thing which has no, real, inherent criminality attached to it — people have been trying to alter their consciousness for centuries. Big whoop. Instead, for reasons such as ‘safeguarding the morals of the community’, ‘keeping our kids safe and free from drugs’, oh, and my personal favourite, ‘protecting the individual from themselves’, the Australian legal system looks set to lock Dave up, expose him to elements of criminality that Dave had no previous association with, as well as the hardest drugs in great quantities, for a long period of time. And people ask why so many convicted criminals ‘re-offend’.
Ask yourself, for a moment, is this just? Are you really happy with a person’s life being destroyed over something so ‘criminal’?
But then, ‘It is the law. He should have known and has to face the consequences. That’ll teach him.’