« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Common Sense Outlawed in Indiana

morons give common sense a beat down

Being a moron should be a disqualification for a wide range of occupations. I think we can all agree that having morons as physicians is a bad thing. But morons are perfectly capable holding down useful employment, take for instance actors, sportscasters, and Keith Olbermann. It would seem that as a society we’ve determined that you can be both a moron and a politician without undercutting the republic to any great extent.

I’d like to add two additional occupations to the banned list: law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Now our system of government can only survive morons in those positions if chance doesn’t intervene and we end up with morons holding both those positions in the same jurisdiction. If you want a case study in what happens when you run afoul of a moron cluster, look no farther Vermillion County, Indiana.

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing.

“This is a very traumatic experience,” Harpold said.

Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

Point six grams. If Ms. Harpold had continued on this crime spree for a year she would have accumulated 30 grams, just a bit over an ounce, of illegal pseudophedrine, which is so illegal it’s sold legally over the counter at pharmacies all across Indiana. Thankfully, the county sheriff, Bob Spence, and the county prosecutor, Nina Alexander, were able to nip this developing drug lord in the bud and bring her career of criminality to a quick close.

Inarguably, meth is bad. I don’t think anyone, even fans of legalized drug use, disagrees with that premise. And the laws passed in the past few years limiting the legal purchase of cold medicines containing pseudophedrine serve a legitimate need. When rural Oklahoma convenience stores are selling tens of thousands of doses of cold medicine each week, logic tells you that something not quite kosher is going on.

The law, however, is not well served when a combination of Inspector Javert and Inspector Clouseau set out on an jihad to literally interpret a particular law.

Let’s start with the misuse of resources.

[Sheriff Bob Spence] explained that the process leading to Harpold’s arrest involved an officer checking area pharmacy purchase records, and coming up with about 40 purchases that violated the law.

Unless crime has been eradicated in Vermillion County, one would think that the sheriff’s department has other tasks it could be reasonably carrying out other than collecting pharmacy sales receipts, adding them up, and going all the way to the bottom of the list. How many purchases of potentially illegal cold medicine took place in the county? Who was the mathematical whiz entrusted with plotting all the purchases on a timeline and toting up the grams of pseudophedrine?

How about a lack of freakin common sense or sense of proportionality?

Harpold said she did go talk to the prosecutor about the situation, and Alexander offered her the deferral program, in which Harpold is required to pay the court costs, abide by all laws and not be arrested for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, the class-C misdemeanor will be erased from her record.

Alexander said she is working with Harpold about the charge, but the prosecutor asserts that Harpold did break the law with her purchases and is being held accountable.

Even stipulating the righteousness of the law, there has to be a sense of proportion in its enforcement if from no other standpoint than to simply demonstrate sanity. The reaction Harpold’s purchase generated from the criminal justice system (motto: there is no system, there is no justice, but it is criminal) is simply lunacy. You literally break the law when you go 66 in a 65. I’d be willing to bet good money that speeding laws aren’t usually enforced like that.

Now that she’s been arrested, Sheriff Bob has sympathy for her.

“If there’s any way we can help her, we will,” Spence said.

Probably a bit late for that, Sheriff. She’s been arrested and publicly humiliated.

And, of course, when one set of morons gets caught up in its self constructed web of imbecility, you know another moron in training is going to weigh in.

And Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel, who recently renewed efforts to track pseudoephedrine sales in the Wabash Valley, understands Harpold’s arrest is embarrassing for her.

“Sometimes mistakes happen,” Marvel said. “It’s unfortunate. But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect.

No, Sheriff Marvel, there is a difference between a “mistake” and “premeditation.” A “mistake” would be arresting the wrong person. And what happened here wasn’t “for the good of everyone,” it was for the good of one sheriff’s department and one prosecutors office.

Do I really believe Spence and Alexander are diagnosable as morons? No. I believe they are a couple of bureaucrats who have set out to scab arrest statistics in order to make a case for more resources for their offices. Not much happens in a county the size of Vermillion County, Indiana and if you can turn it, on paper, into the Costco of meth production you’re sure to get a lot more money. To do this they have devoted time and effort to analyzing even minute purchases to make arrests. There is no doubt this is a conscious strategy because otherwise any responsible prosecutor would have decided that arresting a grandmother for purchasing 0.6 grams over the legal limit was idiocy.

What this kind on nonsense does in the long run is it discredits the law and it discredits the hard working non-morons in law enforcement and prosecutors offices nationwide.

We don’t know or care what party Sheriff Spence and Nina Alexander belong to we do know they owe the nation as well as Ms. Harpold an apology

Get Alerts