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None of Uncle Sam’s Business
Government slays the wrong dragons


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Deroy Murdock

So-called “D.C. madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey will not go down without a fight. She has shared her escort service’s phone records with ABC News and inspired the resignation of State Department foreign-aid chief Randall Tobias. He admitted to meeting Palfrey’s call girls — “to give me a massage” but, he insists, no sex.

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While Tobias’s wife must be steamed, why is this news? Indeed, if he were single, some might applaud Tobias for getting lucky. Meanwhile, Palfrey has hired Preston Burton, Monica Lewinsky’s former attorney, thus returning that notorious name to national prominence.

Palfrey has made headlines because she faces prostitution charges. Since money changed hands, what otherwise would be mutually assured seduction instead is, literally, a federal case.

This never should have happened. As in so many places where police and prosecutors poke their noses, this is something else that should be none of government’s damn business.

There is an argument for discouraging scantily clad streetwalkers from tarting up their surroundings. This is exactly why discreet escorts, like Palfrey’s, who perform on private property, are preferable to hookers on street corners.

Again, if Palfrey’s colleagues simply trolled Washington, D.C., swapping drinks and dinner for massages and more, no one would notice. So why, then, does trading cash for intimacy merit handcuffs and indictments?

If coercion or minors are involved, please call 911. Otherwise, police, prosecutors, judges, and juries have more urgent concerns than oppressing those who profit by comforting the lonely.

Prostitutes offer just one service adults should be free to enjoy without fear of arrest. So do psychics.

Philadelphia officials should have skipped their recent crackdown on spiritual advisers. The City of Brotherly Love turned Big Brotherly when police on April 24 began padlocking psychics’ and Tarot card readers’ shops. A previously un-enforced third-degree misdemeanor forbade anyone to “pretend for gain or lucre to tell fortunes or predict future events,” as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Before defense attorneys intervened, cops hammered these occult entrepreneurs, supposedly because they bamboozled clueless clients.

Really? In trying times, many Americans see their clergymen. Others consult bartenders, barbers, or bowling partners. So what if some Americans believe those who peer into crystal balls? Most folks steer away from seers, but if no one got frog-marched into a séance at gunpoint, Philadelphia authorities should have focused on those who faced gun muzzles, namely the 127 people fatally shot or otherwise killed through April 24, 17.6 percent more than the 108 killed through that date in 2006.

Speaking of dangerous thugs, thank God cops nabbed Barbara Jackson, a 71-year-old Bronx great grandmother. Jackson is a colorectal cancer survivor whose chemotherapy has crushed her appetite.

“My taste buds are gone, but the marijuana helps me get the food down,” she told the New York Daily News. “The marijuana has kept me alive. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t smoke.”

Undercover officers arrested her March 13 when she bought grass near her home. They whisked her to the 46th Precinct, fingerprinted her, and jailed her for five hours. Thankfully, Bronx prosecutors dropped charges after local journalists howled.

Despite claims by Jackson and others that marijuana keeps them breathing, drug warriors trivialize scientific evidence of marijuana’s health benefits. (The Drug Enforcement Administration cynically dismisses marijuana’s medical advantages while simultaneously forbidding marijuana research that might confirm such qualities.)

Again, so what?

It doesn’t matter whether marijuana clinically stimulates Jackson’s appetite. If it merely convinces her that she can eat, defeat cancer, and stay healthy, isn’t that splendid? Barbara Jackson is an American adult. Provided she does not drive under its sway, she should be free to choose marijuana to battle cancer, or at least serve as a placebo.

As Boston University’s Dr. David Felson explained on the April 30 NBC Nightly News, taking placebos “isn’t necessarily a scientifically valid approach, but it’s a clinically helpful approach.”

Rather than torment call girls, clairvoyants, and cancer patients, government officials should meditate on a few facts: Only half of black students graduate high school on time. Murder erased 16,692 Americans in 2005. Meanwhile, Islamofascists itch to hike that death toll a thousand-fold. Ignorance, homicide, and militant Islam concretely threaten this republic. Why don’t America’s hyperactive public servants go slay those dragons?



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