In Impromptus today, I have a few notes on Seattle — about its go-go capitalism, for example. (There is more than flakiness in Seattle.) I have received several e-mails from Seattle — not from City Hall, but from residents. I would like to publish one of them. But first, some quoting — some quoting from my column:
On the streets of Seattle, there are almost as many beggars and vagrants as there are in San Francisco. Why is this? The welcoming of it, of course. But a lady I talk to also ventures another explanation: the relaxation of drug laws. People are strung out, lying there. Or they are reasonably awake, trying to get money for their next hit.
I don’t know. I do know this: People who are in favor of drug legalization tend to see no evil — no evil in consequence of legalization. And people who are against legalization probably see too much evil.
One more note from my column, before I get to the e-mail:
I understand, very well, the freedom arguments in favor of drug legalization. I have a wide libertarian streak. But let me tell you: Drug users are some of the least free people I have ever seen. They are in bondage.
Okay, the e-mailer from Seattle (who is a longtime and canny correspondent) says,
Giuliani governed New York on the “broken window” theory. Seattle is experimenting with the opposite. The city is littered with broken windows, so to speak.
I was one of those libertarian-leaning Washingtonians who voted to legalize pot a few years ago. I regret it. I don’t care if people smoke it in their homes or other places that aren’t public, but it has become very common to see it almost anywhere. I spend a lot of time in our beautiful parks and it’s really annoying to have to steer my kids away from the stoners. The initiative itself banned public pot-smoking, but the powers-that-be don’t care.
A while ago, a Seattle cop was disciplined (and pilloried publicly) because he was writing too many citations for public pot-smoking. That sent quite a message to his colleagues, I’m sure.
Recently, a local radio host reported that at an event (protest) dealing with the homeless, a junkie shot up heroin in sight of several officers. A reporter asked what they were going to do about it and they responded with something like, “It’s not a departmental priority.” I bet that the cops were frustrated by this, but when the city gets cops in trouble for enforcing drug laws, they will stop doing so.
I don’t take my kids to downtown Seattle parks much anymore and worry a bit about my wife working there. I could go on about the homeless tents, but I have some serious summer playing to do with my boys . . .
Serious summer playing with one’s boys. That is one of the things these months were made for.