Drug Policy

New Hampshire's Thought Police

|

On Monday, Toby Iselin of Keene, New Hampshire, sent a short, polite email message to his state representative, Delmar Burridge, asking him to support a full legislative debate on a marijuana decriminalization bill that the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, on which Burridge serves, was scheduled to consider this week. "I know you are opposed to this bill," Iselin said, but "I hope you will consider passing it through committee so that all sides will have their chance to speak on it." Burridge responded with predictable prohibitionist bluster, starting with his account of how marijuana killed his brother (who "was smoking a joint before the crash") and moving on to the "family devastation," "severe burns," and "lots of blood and death"—apparently all marijuana-related—that he witnessed as a juvenile probation officer in Philadelphia during the 1970s. "I will vote no on this Bill," he said, "and have lots of very chilling stories to relate to the other committee members so it goes my way." Fair enough. But then Burridge closed his message with what sounds like a veiled threat: 

I am copying two members of the Keene Police Department in case you want to change your ways and act legal and save your friends.

You are very passionate in your beliefs and would make a great snitch.

Burridge evidently believes the police should take an interest in anyone who expresses support for drug policy reform. Talk about chilling.

Update: As jf and PoN helpfully note, the full text of the two messages can be found here and here (Iselin's blog).

[Thanks to NORML's Allen St. Pierre for the tip.]

Advertisement

NEXT: How Big a Rubber Stamp?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So much for the “live free or die” state.

  2. I wonder how Burridge would vote on decriminalizing alcohol. Family devastation, severe burns, blood, death, etc…it’s all there with alcohol.

  3. You are very passionate in your beliefs and would make a great snitch.

    I have a hard time believing that this was actually in the letter. Its just too ridiculous.

  4. Iselin should have replied, including the cc to the Keene cops, wishing Burridge well and saying that Burridge appears to have extensive personal and family involvement with illegal substances and perhaps Burridge would make a better snitch.

  5. Is the cure worse than the disease? Is the remedy worse than the problem? Are some politicians unthinking imbeciles? All good questions, I’d say.

  6. Nice website you have here. It’d be a shame if something . . . happened . . . to it.

  7. Toby has a blog, he covers it there:
    http://freekeene.com/2007/01/15/constituent-representation-in-keene/

    The letter continues:

    Suggest you change all your friends, be the designated driver when you are old enough to drink since you don’t drink. I will sign the Bill that keeps tobacco out of the bars when it come up in the house so you don’t get second hand smoke.

    I am copying two members of the Keene Police Department in case you want to change your ways and act legal and save your friends.

    You are very passionate in your beliefs and would make a great snitch. It is thrilling to dime on your so called friends.

  8. This sketch has become silly.
    Luigi: How many men you got here, colonel?
    Colonel: Oh, er … seven thousand infantry, six hundred artillery, and er, two divisions of paratroops.
    Luigi: Paratroops, Dino.
    Dino: Be a shame if someone was to set fire to them.
    Colonel: Set fire to them?
    Luigi: Fires happen, colonel.
    Dino: Things burn.
    Colonel: Look, what is all this about?
    Dino: My brother and I have got a little proposition for you colonel….

    PoN: I didn’t know Dave W. lived in Cow Hampshire…

  9. I for one welcome our Saudi overlords.

  10. As terrifying as this is, it almost makes sense in its own fucked-up way (for those dumb enough to believe the drug horror stories). If a man wrote his Congressman asking him to reconsider the laws against rape, for example, I don’t think there would be anything wrong with suggesting that the cops keep an eye on the guy who wants to make rape legal.

    The problem, of course, is that drug use does NOT compare to rape or other crimes, in that it’s not a case of a person causing harm to another. But jackasses like Burridge can’t figure that out. I don’t know if it’s because they believe drugs are truly that bad, or if they just operate under the default assumption that all laws are just and necessary, and so anyone who wants to repeal a law must have evil motivations.

  11. When I was in college in New Hampshire, the state legislature passed a law declaring persons under the age of 21 to be containers so drunk students could be charged under open container laws.

    NH is no libertarian paradise anymore (although one could do worse).

  12. I have a hard time believing that this was actually in the letter. Its just too ridiculous.

    Agreed.

  13. NH is no libertarian paradise anymore (although one could do worse).

    The question is, Could one do better?
    and the answer is very depressing…
    anyone care to buy a round for the bar?

  14. internal possesion now gets your driving privleges in NH revoked, even if you weren’t driving…

  15. “It is thrilling to dime on your so called friends.”
    What.
    The.
    Fuck?

  16. But then Burridge closed his message with what sounds like a veiled threat

    What exactly was “veiled” here? Didn’t Burridge just sic the cops on him for expressing his opinion?

    BTW, for those keeping score, Burridge is a Democrat.

  17. New Hampshire has a long and proud tradition of completely useless politicians, with former governor John Sununu being the most notorious example. I wish I could say that this guy was the exception, but after their whupping in the last election the Republicans came to the conclusion that they hadn’t been socailly conservative enough. The tradition of incompetence is alive and well in both major parties. I suspect there is a reason that ‘indpendent’ is the largest registered voting bloc in the state.

  18. Sounds like it is time for Toby Iselin to bring a libel suit against Burridge.

    That is the traditional remedy for this kind of thing.

    The compensatory damages would probably only be $1, but I think some punitives would be appropriate on this.

  19. This correspondence is an example of an elected representative actually going by his conscience rather than just taking it as a job and pleasing constituents.

  20. This correspondence is an example of an elected representative actually going by his conscience rather than just taking it as a job and pleasing constituents.

    If that’s the case, a simple “I’m sorry, but my conscience won’t allow to vote that way.” would have sufficed. This is an example of an elected representative being a condescending, holier than thou prick with no respect for differing viewpoints.

  21. Jennifer,

    Your point ignores the possibility that someone can oppose laws on principle rather than just for personal purposes. It also runs counter to the notion that petitioning the government for a redress of grievances is a basic constitutional (and human!) right that should not be interpreted as a confession to unlawfulness in a free society.

    Other than that, I agree with you! 🙂

  22. This should really be a big national story.

    Burridge deserves to lose his job.

    http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/vote-this-ass-clown-out/

    This deserves to be in all your letters to the editor, public pickets, call every radio and TV station in the state.

    For that matter, all the other states too.

    So far we have it on Liberty Loop and Digg.

    You can contact Burridge at

    Delmar D. Burridge
    DBurridge@ne.rr.com

    (603) 352-5363 or
    (603) 542-7744

  23. Another idea is to contact the House Ethics board in NH about this.

    One of the other writers at Keene Free Minds…

    “. I’ve also been trying to reach Executive Councilor Deb Pignatelli about Mr. Burridge’s conduct toward one of his constituents. Her office number is 603-888-5245”

  24. PoN: I didn’t know Dave W. lived in Cow Hampshire…

    I wish. If I did, I would be on the telephone right now.

  25. someone can oppose laws on principle rather than just for personal purposes.

    That’s because so many of our laws are completely unnecessary. (I can’t think of a non-psychotic principle on which to oppose the laws against rape or murder, both of which are laws even hardcore libertarians would consider just.) I was just pointing out that if someone truly believes that drugs are Teh Evil, or that drug use turns people into mindless criminal zombies, Burridge’s actions make a horrid kind of sense.

    That said, I fully agree with those who say the sonofabitch ought to lose his job over this.

  26. NH legislators are unpaid citizens.

    This letter from Burridge was totally accurate and true.

    NH legislators are very plain speaking when they write back about their beliefs.

    He assumed Toby was a ‘kid’ and treated him as such.

    And, it’s our REPUBLICANS that have kept NH the lowest taxed and freest state in the nation…for 84 years and this is an example of the DEMOCRAT havoc that is now being wreaked upon us by ignorant voters who fell for the hate message of the likes of idiots like Keith Olberman and various ‘Peace’ groups..

    All they really want is more taxation and stricter laws…and if that’s what you want, that is what you now will get with the facist Democrats.

  27. “thanks” _NH.

    Calm down, tho – you’ll still have enough money leftover to dress up like Mr. Rourke on Bukake Island.

    Now would you mind wiping the spittle you got on my keyboard.

  28. such a nasty note should be met with an incredible amount of scorn. unfortunately, unnecessarily nasty tones and accusations are the way dialogue is done today. his supporters will cheer him for being “plain spoken” or some other hokey b.s. i’m sorry, but being an asshole is not the same thing as speaking your mind or being upfront about your positions.

    “BTW, for those keeping score, Burridge is a Democrat.”

    huh? my god, score keeping is so sad.

  29. If a man wrote his Congressman asking him to reconsider the laws against rape, for example, I don’t think there would be anything wrong with suggesting that the cops keep an eye on the guy who wants to make rape legal.

    Depends on the law in question. Before it was overturned Texas used to have a law treating a consensual act of sodomy as “sexual assault.” And we have here on H&R discussed some of the excesses of sexual predator registration laws.

    Open discussion and debate never hurt any worthwhile law.

  30. I don’t think there would be anything wrong with suggesting that the cops keep an eye on the guy who wants to make rape legal.

    Wait what? This is why hysterical women should not be in charge of making decisions.

  31. Good point Larry. Remember the thread about the 17 year old convicted of having oral sex with a 15 year old. I think the more apt analogy are laws against incest. Totally unnecessary. Few people would go there law or no, and them that do don’t let the law stop em. It’s just a practically unenforceable punishment against people that give us the willies.

  32. _NH : can you enlighten us on this so-called “accurate and true”. Sounds like partisan defensiveness. Burridge is a jackass who forgets that power is drawn from the people, the people are not his subjects.

    In 1987, a congressional committee, while researching and compiling data in consideration of a bill for legalization of marijuana, requested a report from the NHS ( National Highway Safety). This report compiled the statistics from the period 1965 to 1985 ( twenty years ) in relation to accidents causing fatalities and incidences of use of marijuana involved in accidents. The AMAZING fact that was revealed by this study is that only ONE fatality was criminally attributed to use of marijuana, and the offender, during police interviews, admitted to also being under the influence of alcohol. Was this ONE fatality in WV? Was this ONE fatality the Sen.’s brother? Doubtful, but politicians aren’t truthful, are they?

  33. Open discussion and debate never hurt any worthwhile law.

    I agree; I’m just pointing out that, for those who believe all the horror stories about drugs, Burridge’s behavior has a certain internal consistency: drugs are bad, therefore drug users are bad, therefore those who want to legalize drugs are bad, therefore I should give the cops a heads-up about this bad, bad person in their midst.

  34. This legislator was probably replying to the following in the constituent’s letter:

    “NH has some of the most draconian legislation on marijuana, and hundreds of our friends and family members are being arrested for choosing to smoke instead of drink.”

    The brilliant solon must have thought, “ah, yes, friends and family using illegal drugs — the police should know about this!” But what about the word “hundreds,” which indicates that “friends and family members” is a fairly generic term. And, of course, if they’ve already been arrested, the salvific effect of the drug laws has presumably already been felt.

  35. …and this is an example of the DEMOCRAT havoc that is now being wreaked upon us by ignorant voters who fell for the hate message of the likes of idiots like Keith Olberman and various ‘Peace’ groups.
    ==============================
    Gotta love those “peace” activists with their HATE messages. Is Cindy Sheehan’s Klan outfit back from the cleaners yet? Because you know that’s what it’s all about, right?

  36. Lots of ideas on what to do about Burridge at

    http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/vote-this-ass-clown-out/

    In the comment section…add your ideas there too…

  37. Seems that Rep “Burridge” (which oddly enough rhymes with “Lack of Courage”) is unaware that according to actual voting results ranging from California in 1996 up through Nevada this past November, over 80% of YES votes for legalizing marijuana come from non-users of marijuana.

  38. This is your government on drug prohibition.

  39. His reply is not that hard to believe considering his beliefs to begin with. After all marijuana killed his brother, his brother had nothing to do with his death, the joint was steering the car so as to kill him. Typical blaming of something other than the person responsible for their actions. To make the driving argument is absurd when you know alcohol kills more people on our roads than any other drug by far.

    I wonder if he will tell the chilling story of the 82 year old woman in Atlanta being gunned down in her home. To me that is far far more chilling than his dumbass brother killing himself in a car accident. After all she was at home and they came in and killed her, he was out doing one of the most dangerous things people do daily, driving a car, he was smoking a joint while driving thus the joint is the murderer. Who exactly is it that murdered the elderly lady in Atlanta?

    Keep it up eventually all this talking out of their asses will have them turned inside out and everything the want to say to “chill,” us will be muffled, just the way we need it.

  40. I’ve posted a bunch of ideas about how folks who are outraged by Burridge’s actions can bring him to justice in the comment section here:

    http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/vote-this-ass-clown-out/

    There are about 650,000 blogs on wordpress and this post is ranked #30 on all of wordpress right now. The story at Homeland Stupidity is currently at 840 diggs and 88 comments.

    Some of the ideas we are discussing include media. In the comment section I posted a bunch of links to media lists, finding local blogs, letters to the editor, and so on.

    Your ideas as always are welcome – just post them in the comment section at the post referenced above, or grab the media list links and other ideas for whatever projects you are or will be working on.

    This should be NATIONAL news. With a little help from us we can propel it into the forefront of the national media, not just the blogs but print and broadcast too.

  41. Copy of an e-mail I sent to Rep. Burridge.
    Would love to hear points of view, pro or con.

    Rep. Burridge,
    Well, you certainly created a little excitement in cyber space, now didn’t you?
    Let me start by saying that personally I am not in favor of legalizing marijuana.
    Not for the reasons that you post in your response to Mr. Iselin, but because I fear that legalization would be cause for regulation, which equals more government involvement.
    I wonder if those pushing for legalization have thought out the ramifications?
    Once government gets involved, there will be age restrictions, sales licenses, or permits, an agency formed to regulate sales, and so on.
    Do supporters think that government will pass a bill legalizing marijuana, and people will be popping up on street corners selling pot?
    One need only take a look at the trouble hot dog vendors have in Keene!! Or the individual who posted signs offering free rides for people in need.
    I am in favor of government having less to do with our personal choices, and spending their time on more important issue.
    A fair way to fund education. Less expensive higher education. Affordable health care.
    Bringing our troops home from Iraq.

    The bottom line here is that among your constituency there are those in favor of, those opposed to, and others who just could care less about HB92.
    As will be the case in every bill you vote on.

    It is your obligation as our elected representative to put your ego, and opinion, aside and listen to all of us.
    Then incorporating your opinion, with an unbiased approach, decide how you should vote, in good faith, and good conscience, to represent the well being of the majority of us.

    To report a constituent to the police for asking you to support legislative action on his/her behalf, while posing no threat to anyone, is irresponsible representation at best.

    All though my political beliefs are more in line with what use to be Republican core values, I voted for Democrats in all but one case, during the last election.
    I did so because of my displeasure with the way our country is being run.
    I’m sick and tired of elected officials deciding what is best for me.
    I’m sick and tired of politicians changing laws and the constitution to meet their needs and support their personal agendas.
    From what I see, so far, of the Democrats elected to change all this, I wonder if we didn’t jump from the frying pan to the fire?

    Your’s is a difficult task at best!
    You are going to be right with some, wrong with others, on every decision you make while in office.
    When it is all said and done, I hope that you were right with the majority, most of the time.

    Sincerely,
    JR

  42. Thought has become a crime. Individuals expressing opinions in favor marijuana legalization or against the Iraq occupation are now viewed as heretics and the prime targets of a growing number of aspiring brown shirts. Although their motives are often be personal and business related, what is occurring in America has a close parallel to events that took place in Germany during the 1930’s.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.