Pat Robertson: "It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore."

Pat Robertson, America's longest-serving eschatological bigot and spiritual leader, took to the airwaves of the 700 Club last week and denounced the war on weed, as well as liberals, all of whom write laws in a "punitive spirit." Putting aside the fact that Robertson has, on occasion, invited God to smite people people of abominable politics and preferences, this time he is making (some) sense:

We here in America make up 5% of the world's population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners...

Every time the liberals pass a bill -- I don't care what it involves -- they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don't feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.

I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.
I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.

We've said, "we're 'conservative, we're tough on crime." That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars.

Think of California. California is spending more money on prisons than it spends on schools. There's something wrong about that equation.

We need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties.

Putting people in jail at huge expense to the population is insanity.

Folks, we've gotta do something about this. We've just got to change the laws. We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom. We have the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on the face of the Earth. That's a shocking statistic.

What is it we're doing that is different? What we're doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws -- there's this punitive spirit, the always want to punish people. 

It's time for change!

More and more prisons, more and more crime.  It's just shocking, especially this business about drug offenses.  It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore...You don't lock 'em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway.

That transcript comes from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Robertson's remarks are heartening, in that they show a change of heart; but of the many, many Americans behind bars for drug-related offenses, few of them are doing hard time simply for possession of pot. Manufacturing with intent to sell and distribution (for pot, at least), and possession of "harder" drugs are now the real life destroyers. Robertson's stance also fails to take into account that while incarceration is the worst thing that can happen to a pot user, it's not the only bad thing that can happen. Excessive fines, a marred permanent record, loss of employment opportunities, and asset forfeiture (for starters) are all negative externalities worth addressing. 

Robertson watchers and drug reformers will remember the first time Robertson said something along these lines, back in December of 2010. After the remarks made headlines, his handlers rushed to say that Robertson "did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana. He was advocating that our government revisit the severity of the existing laws.”

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  • AlmightyJB||

    So Pat's a stoner huh?

  • ||

    If it is so obvious Pat Robertson can figure it out, then how stupid must the drug warriors actually be?

    And yeah, I really think that SOCONs can be a real allies in the fight for prison and at least some drug reform. Go around to prison ministries and the people who are actually doing something to help those in prison. They are almost always SOCONS. I think a few of them are starting to get it that a just society doesn't lock up millions and millions of its members.

  • ||

    The drug warriors aren't stupid, John. They're venal. Big difference.

  • ||

    They really must be. Robertson is crazy about a lot of things. But even he is well meaning enough to see millions of people in prison for non violent crimes and think "we can't do this anymore". You have to be absolutely evil not to realize that.

  • sarcasmic||

    There are others who would say that the fact that drugs are still available shows that we haven't locked up enough people.

    For them drugs are a moral issue. A matter of right and wrong.

    Drugs are bad. Period. If you use them or sell them you are a bad person who deserves to be locked up. Period.

    If you substitute your own morality for what the lawgivers giveth, then you are not worthy of public trust.
    You are hereby banned from government employment, and if you are an elected official you shall be shunned.

  • ||

    There are others who would say that the fact that drugs are still available shows that we haven't locked up enough people.

    They are called suburban soccer moms and dads. We have to lock you up to protect our little snowflakes.

  • ||

    For them drugs are a moral issue. A matter of right and wrong.

    Which would be fine, if they didn't want to enforce their morality with jackboots, storm troopers, and prisons. That's the leap they have to stop making.

    And the funny thing is, there's plenty in Christianity that is opposed to criminalizing immorality. Not that most people let their religion stop them from doing what they want anyway, but still. . . .

  • Randy||

    And the funny thing is, there's plenty in Christianity that is opposed to criminalizing immorality.

    Exactly.

    Christians are supposed to lead others down the narrow path and not punish others for never getting on the path in the first place.

  • ||

    there's plenty in Christianity that is opposed to criminalizing immorality

    Yeah, I thought it was God's job to punish that stuff. With an explicit mention of man not turkerjerbs-ing God.

  • Randy||

    He took my jerb.....

  • ||

    ycsta

  • sarcasmic||

    I think a few of them are starting to get it that a just society doesn't lock up millions and millions of its members.

    And the rest of them figure you can't have a free society unless you lock up millions and millions of its members.

    Law and order requires it.

  • ||

    I don't see many liberals or libertarians for that matter actually helping people who have been caught up by the system. Most people are not real evangelicals. Their numbers are highly overrated. I think most of the real evangelicals will at least listen to the arguments against mass incarceration.

  • ||

    In spades.

  • ||

    The War on Drugs isn't about drugs. It's a war on Americans.

  • Thom||

    Exactly. The message is clear: do what we tell you, no matter how stupid, or we will lock you up.

    Our masters demand our obedience, and they will fight against us (endlessly if necessary) until they have it.

  • sarcasmic||

    There's another message in there as well.

    If you obey authority for authority's sake, then there is a chance that you will be rewarded with some power in the form of a government job.

    If you at any point in your life commit the thoughtcrime of using drugs, then you will NEVER be trusted with power.

  • ||

    If you at any point in your life commit the thoughtcrime of using drugs, then you will NEVER be trusted with power.

    Oh how I wish that were true.. then it would make sense.

  • ||

    it would make sense, and would've spared us the past 12years of Bush.

  • Thom||

    The aristocracy isn't bound by the same rules. We're talking about the serfs here.

  • sarcasmic||

    I meant be accepted into the military, law enforcement, or any other government job.

  • ?||

    Zomg. Military and le are full of drugs

    As far as the executive... our last three presidents?

  • ||

    Amen to that! Drugs are illegal because evil people are making a profit off of them, plain and simple. Everyone involved in the Police-Prison-Political Industrial Complex is an enemy of Americans everywhere.

  • Randy||

    I hope you are right about the SOCON's starting to catch on. I think some are starting to see the light here and there. Long way to go though.

    I do find it interesting that a lot of Christians don't want to live in a morally pluralistic culture/society when in fact the Golden Rule, one of the most important ideas to Christians, is the blueprint for them on how to live in a morally pluralistic world.

    For example, I wouldn't send myself to jail for smoking a doob, so I can't support sending others to jail for same. This is how the GR works, I think. Sadly, too many believers think it's their duty that "sin" is criminalized and sinners punished.

    If Christians had actually lived by the Golden Rule these past 2000 years, we wouldn't have had drug prohibition in the first place.

  • Joe||

    I don't get it either. I'm a Christian, and I'd like to think that one of the reasons I'm a libertarian is because I know that man can't be God, and that the state is an extension of man and often his worst desires. Apparently when Jesus says "turn the other cheek", some Christians think it's to talk into a phone receiver to the "authorities" and ruin the guy's life with a battery charge. Compassion means more than just charity.

  • ||

    Pat Robertson: Awesome Troll, or AWESOMEST Troll? You Decide.

  • ||

    Never thought of it that way. Both.

  • ||

    Didn't this same thing happen a couple of years ago?

    Then Pat back tracked on it a day later.

  • ||

    first time Robertson said something along these lines, back in December of 2010.

    Never mind...one day i will read the whole article before posting...but today is not that day.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Pat's leg pressing 2,000 lbs of truth right there.

  • kilroy||

    I look forward to Mr Robertson endorsing Ron Paul and Gary Johnson any minute now.

  • ||

    Did Robertson just find out he has some awful disease with symptoms which might be alleviated by teh DOPE?

  • ||

    No I think it just turned out that he actually has a heart somewhere. It is absolutely shocking.

  • kinnath||

    When he made the comment the first time in 2010, some political commentator was speculating that it was the result of his prison out-reach programs.

    You spend enough time trying to convince hardened criminals to turn to Jesus, then perhaps you recongnize that many of them should never have been in prison to start with.

  • ||

    I think that is exactly what happened.

  • ||

    Maybe a Christian converted to Christianity.

  • Randy||

    My sister changed her support for the WOD only after a prison was built in the school district where she taught. Exposure at school to the families of inmates housed nearby gave her a whole new perspective.

    That's what happened to Pat, most likely.

    And getting more prominent religious types like Pat to come around will certainly help hasten the end to the WOD. When it comes to changing course on issues like the WOD, a lot of Christians will only listen to other Christians who have a lot Christian "street cred". Libertarian arguements fall on deaf ears because, in the mind of many Christians, we are condoning EVIL.

  • Wha?||

    Nah, one of his grandchildren got busted.

  • ||

    We here in America make up 5% of the world's population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners...

    Also 25% of GDP and 25% of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Coincidence? Or does the US really have an incarceration-based economy.

  • Randy||

    Shhh....

    And don't talk about soylent green either.

  • Sku||

    That's possibly because a number of countries still just shoot their criminals in the back of the head.

  • Alan||

    A counterargument I hear frequently, and apart from some places in Africa just not true.

    China is widely considered to execute more persons than any other nation, and perhaps more than all other nations combined. They keep the numbers secret, but estimates range from about 2000 to 5000 annually, though perhaps as many as 10,000 in the recent past. Even at the highest estimate, it would take over two centuries of crimes for China to execute as many prisoners as now reside in American prisons, and China's population is more than five times as large as that of the United States.

    So it is clear - the large U.S. prison population is a result of the U.S. being a relatively unfree nation, not merely the result of other nations choosing execution rather than prison.

  • ||

    Every time the liberals pass a bill

    Yay TEAM DUMBFUCK!

  • ||

    He rips on conservatives too.

    We've said, "we're 'conservative, we're tough on crime." That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars.

    So he really isn't playing team ball here. He is actually telling the truth.

  • ||

    Of course, this is pretty similar to the rhetorical tact that Rep. Paul and his son the Senator take.

  • ||

    tack.

  • ||

    Thanks, JT. I was going to point that out, but thought it would be tactless.

  • ||

    And tacky. Heh.

  • ||

    The GOPers that do this shit ARE Liberals.

  • ||

    Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've found the next presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.

  • ||

    It is so crazy it just might work.

  • ||

    It's even crazier than Babar! It's pure LP goodness! Maybe Johnson as his VP?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Zombie C.S. Lewis.

  • ||

    Buy him off with Secretary of State.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Holy shit, this is going right onto Facebook:

    "How can this guy figure it out but Liberal Icon Barack Obama can't?"

  • ||

    What we're doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws -- there's this punitive spirit, the always want to punish people.

    Jeezis H Goatfucker. This degenerate pustule cannot even say something perfectly sensible without sounding like a monster.

    Die in a lake of fire, Patsy.

  • ||

    Are you being ironic? He is right.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    WTH is your problem lately? What was wrong with that now?

  • sarcasmic||

    I would say his career is soon to be in the shitter.

  • ||

    I bet not. I am telling you. The evangelicals are waking up to the fact that locking people up by the millions is not very Christian.

  • sarcasmic||

    But drugs are bad. They're bad I tell you. Bad.

    Bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD!

    Either you want to lock up drug users or you want children to use drugs.

    Those are your only two alternatives.

    Obviously Pat has lost his mind, and it is time to get him off the air.

  • ||

    That is not how they think. You are confusing generally areligous suburbanites with no kidding evangelicals. There is a difference.

  • sarcasmic||

    I grew up with a mother who watched his program every day and dragged me to church twice a week.

    I know a think or two about evangelicals.

  • sarcasmic||

    *thing*

  • ||

    So do I. I am still friends with lots of them. And I am telling you, they are not all like your mother.

  • sarcasmic||

    I hope you're right.

  • ||

    It is a small group but they are there.

  • Sku||

    Well, I know some evangelicals because I have been one and perhaps still am (I suppose it depends on who's writing the definitions). And I'm in favor of legalization of some drugs and decriminilization of most. I know as many evangelicals who feel that way as non-religious people. In fact, I probably know more evangelicals in favor of decriminilization than I do nominal Christians in favor of decriminalization. A number of evangelicals feel that the force of law is not always the best way to transform hearts and lives, and certainly not the most Christian way to do so. Evangelicals also seem to be serious about helping the poor and imprisoned, far, far more than nominal Christians are, and because they come into contact with such people more often than nominal Christians, they may have more opportunities to be moved by realities.

  • Sku||

    I should say "personally" helping the poor and imprisoned. Nominal Christians are happy to help them with their neighbor's tax money.

  • Alan||

    Agreed. Wheaton grad here. I know a thing or two about Evangelicals. Lots of dumb ones, but also some very intelligent and caring ones ... and over time the intelligent and caring ones can be quite influential.

    And no, I don't count Pat Robertson as one of these, but apparently he has been influenced by some of them - even if it's only self-preservation on his part to get out in front of the crowd.

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  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Patricia > White Indian.

  • ||

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  • ||

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  • ||

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  • ||

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  • ||

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  • Chupacabra||

    Needs moar bi-curious.

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  • ola||

    "...but of the many, many Americans behind bars for drug-related offenses, few of them are doing hard time simply for possession of pot."

    So what ass eyes. I've always wondered about the legalization argument regarding possession versus selling. Robertson seems to be on the edge of being pushed over into the full legalization side of the debate. He just needs a nudge to comprehend that to possess one must first acquire. Ergo sales. How can one be for decriminalization of possession but still for harsh penalties for sales? Only a big gov republican couldn't make the connection. Or as demonstrated recently, a big government socialist.

  • ||

    Even the blindest evangelical squirrel can occasionally find a nut.

    Also, this makes you wonder about other evangelists. Maybe Oral Roberts' 900 foot Jesus was inspired by a bit of God's finest green stuff.

  • ||

    turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws

    This right here.

    "We CONSERVATIVES never would have done this sort of thing. We don't obsess about punitive enforcement of our social beliefs, nosirree."

  • ||

    This right here.

    We've said, "we're 'conservative, we're tough on crime." That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars.

    He is saying conservatives are just as bad. Get over yourself Brooks.

  • Raston Bot||

    Pat drops a truth bomb every now and again. I saw him a few months ago preaching about how wives should not nag their husbands. For 15 full minutes. Seriously. I felt like he could see into my soul.

  • ||

    The few times I've watched the show he seems 95% logical to my mainstream Christian ears. The 5% crazy gets reported elsewhere until people assume that's all he is.

  • ||

    I was trying to reach you regarding the delivery of
    your $1,000 Walmart Gift Certificate #967-13522 offer

    That is so awesome; I was just sitting here wishing somebody would give me a grand to spend on .45 acp.

  • ||

    He is saying conservatives are just as bad. Get over yourself Brooks.

    Is he? Why did he feel it necessary to emphasize the evilness of "liberals" when he could have just said, WE have been pursuing these misguided laws for more than a generation?

    And, as for the other-

    Not gonna happen.

  • ||

    He didn't emphasize the liberals. He said conservatives support those same laws because they call themselves "law and order". You are just being paranoid.

    Get over it. Someone who generally sucks actually said something right for a change. Be happy and give credit where credit is due.

  • ||

    His comments about liberals are phrased in the sense of "them," whereas his comments about conservatives are phrased like "us."

    Because those phrasings and connotations are accurate, of course.

  • ||

    Besides, I missed the memo that said every time I bash a liberal I have to equally bash a conservative.

  • Randy||

    Give me your fax number and I'll get the memo over to you.... STAT!

  • ||

    To insulate himself against attacks from "his side?"

    Because he knows that liberals don't listen to him anyway, so he's trying to convince conservatives, who are his audience?

    It's not really different from why Ron Paul says similar things in GOP debates, or why Rand Paul uses similar rhetoric on his Twitter account.

    Not praiseworthy, but not shocking. Politics is a team sport.

  • Zeebs||

    I came for the alt text. I have disappoint.

  • Barack the Jaunty Future King||

    Why do we keep arresting people for drug possession?

    Because we can.

    Get used to it. Freedom is dead, people. And I'm gonna make it deader.

  • Robert||

    Notice that he wasn't talking about marijuana laws alone. Not even controlled substances alone. He referred to all laws that result in unwarranted and excessive imprisonment. So his remarks are actually a bigger deal than the headline and commenters here are making of it. How often does that happen at Hit & Run? How often does that happen on the entire Internet?

  • Lets Bring $$$ Back to America||

    Absolutely, locking up people for possession of marijuana should be stopped. it would indeed increase the crime rate and the number of criminals. Drug busts often trap young people in a flawed system that turns them into lifelong criminals.

  • ||

    'we just can't do it anymore' aaw shucks Pat! I guess it was fun while it lasted though. Let me guess, high conviction rates must be God punishing us again for gay marriage right? Oh no, thats 9-11, my B. Nobody should value what this bigot and charlatan has to say. Hopefully he can take a cue from his brother-in-hate Jerry Falwell, and f**king die.

  • Alan||

    I have heard from people who knew Falwell personally (and who were not crazy themselves) that Falwell was actually a genuinely decent and caring man. Just, you know, deluded and sort of crazy and all.

    There's a lot more of that among Evangelicals and Fundamentalists than you might believe, and once they collectively make up their mind to do something good you can not find better allies in that cause.

  • Matt||

    There was a great quote in Robertson's clip about the government not incarcerating the people we're "afraid" of like murderers and rapists (and rightly so), but instead going after people it's "angry at." I think that was a great articulation of the government's attitude toward people who don't tow the line for whatever reason, no matter how petty and stupid "the line" is. A very powerful insight on CBN's part.

  • ||

    Drug addiction is a medical issue like alchohol abuse and should be treated as such.Criminals are people who hurt others not themselves.

  • ||

    I can't tell if he's being loopy, or awesome. Hopefully awesome because I'm a big fan of that.

  • ||

    Sorry Pat - to blame this on liberals (who are not blameless in this area) is wrong, it is a lie or you havent read up on who creates punitive laws! I thank you for your position but please, dont try to bring liberal vs conservative into this - neithere are blameless, most, like yourself, are simply misinformed. Some, are outright liars.

  • x||

    ok then it's ok

  • ||

    Could we abolish welfare first, please?

  • ||

    Robertson is contradicting himself. First he blames liberals:

    "Every time the liberals pass a bill -- I don't care what it involves -- they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don't feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.... What is it we're doing that is different? What we're doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws -- there's this punitive spirit, the always want to punish people. "

    then republicans:

    "We've said, "we're 'conservative, we're tough on crime." That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars."

    I think he knows this is a repub thing but he's using liberals as the scapegoats to make his point about the severity of marijuana laws since he knows his audience can get behind lib bashing and will sympathize with his stance if they think of it as anti-liberal.

  • ralph lauren Hombres||

    President Obama's page on the social networking website Google+ has been inundated with messages in Chinese after Internet users in China found that local restrictions have been removed.
    http://www.polosralphlauren-espana.com/
    ralph lauren Hombres

  • Wintermute||

    Calling this man a "bigot" is negative and counterproductive to world peace and understanding.

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