More on Isaac Singletary


Police are now conceding that Singletary was completely innocent. The Jacksonville sheriff describes him in this article as an "honest citizen trying to do good."

Which means that two undercover officers trespassed onto Singletary's property. They then invited criminals onto his property to engage in criminal activity with them. Mr. Singletary, recognizing the trespassers as drug dealers, then properly demanded they leave. He brought a gun along to defend himself, not an unreasonable action, given the circumstances. For this, he was shot to death.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist visited Jacksonville yesterday , and when asked about Singletary's death, referred to the "challenges" of keeping a community safe.

No, governor. Singletary's death isn't a "challenge." It's the inevitable, predictable result of a stupid policy whereby politicians attempt to control people's lives. With guns.

In my previous post on Singletary's death, commenter "John" suggested that while Singletary's death was wrong and unnecessary, it wasn't directly related to the drug war. I couldn't disagree more. It is inextricably tied to the drug war. The police in Jacksonville were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing (save perhaps for the trespassing). They were arranging undercover buys, one of really only two ways to police consensual crimes like drug distribution (the other being the use of informants). They were confronted by a man with a weapon. They fired to defend themselves.

Barring further information that these officers fired too quickly or didn't attempt to announce themselves, this wasn't a case of police misconduct or excessive use of force. It was the direct result of government attempting to enforce a policy it has no business enforcing, and that it can't capably enforce without effecting tragedies like this one.

But Governor Crist is wrong, too. This wasn't a "challenge." Let's call Isaac Singletary's death what it is: collateral damage. Like collateral damage victims of military wars overseas, Singletary's a victim of living in close proximity to the government's intended target. In this case, drug dealers.

And like the civilian casualties of military wars, his death won't do a thing to cause the people who run this war to rethink their methods. Because for them, the ultimate goal is more important than the innocent lives they may take along the way. Like Governor Crist said, Singletary's death is really little more than a "challenge" on the way to a drug-free Florida. A few innocent bodies are the sacrifice we pay for the privilege of allowing the government to stop us from smoking pot.

The difference between a foreign war and the drug war, of course, is that in a foreign war, the goal is (usually) to defeat a foreign aggressor that poses a threat to U.S. security. In the drug war, it's to stop people from getting high.

His death itself is tragic enough. More depressing is that it doesn't appear to have made any newspaper outside the state of Florida (though it does appear to have made cable news). Which suggests that this kind of thing isn't even much of an outrage anymore. It's nearly routine.