What Price Sobriety? Atheist Prisoner Challenges Mandatory Religious Program

A California prisoner, Barry A. Hazle Jr., 40, is challenging a condition of his release from prison after a year on drug possession: mandatory drug treatment. It is not the drug treatment idea that bothers Hazle, it is the religiosity of the program. Hazle is an atheist and would like a program that does not require his commitment to both sobriety and God.

The computer technician has repeatedly objected to the 12-step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. He wants to be clean. He just doesn’t want to be saved.

He may have a point. It is not clear how the state can compel such participation – anymore than it can compel regular church going. The state may have an obligation to find non-religious alternative.

For the full story, click here and here.

28 thoughts on “What Price Sobriety? Atheist Prisoner Challenges Mandatory Religious Program”

  1. CroMag:

    “The Major Pharmacuticals and Organized Crime.”
    **************

    Care to differentiate the groups. Betcha can’t!!

  2. Cro Magnum Man:

    “My intention however was refering to the notion of the unConstitutionality of the Federal War on Drugs. As we see in the 9th Amendment, its clear that things such as this were meant to be dealt with on the state level, at least how I read it.”

    Actually, an analysis of the Ninth Amendment necessarily leads back to an examination of the fundamental social compact existing at both the state and fed levels. THERE you’ll find that the very foundation of our republic is founded upon the distinction between alienable and inalienable rights.

    “AS usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to.”

    “Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself.”

    Quick Translation: When the government exercises power over an inalienable right of the individual, THAT’S TYRANNY; on a state or federal level.

    The argument is a tad more complex, but it is solid.

    A few more items as food for thought:

    The constitution does not confer rights, it restricts power. (See Federalist 84)

    The constitution contains no provision for legislating or prosecuting federal drug laws; that was the result of a quiet segue from the Harrison Tax Act of 1914.

    Prof. Charles Whitebread: “It was called the Harrison Tax Act. You know, the drafters of the Harrison Act said very clearly on the floor of Congress what it was they wanted to achieve. They had two goals. They wanted to regulate the medical use of these drugs and they wanted to criminalize the non-medical use of these drugs. They had one problem. Look at the date — 1914. 1914 was probably the high water mark of the constitutional doctrine we today call “states’ rights” and, therefore, it was widely thought Congress did not have the power, number one, to regulate a particular profession, and number two, that Congress did not have the power to pass what was, and is still known, as a general criminal law. That’s why there were so few Federal Crimes until very recently.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm

    Drug laws have quite the dubious pedigree.

  3. In fact, the 9th Amendment was one of the Amendments included in my citing of the Bill of Rights.

    My intention however was refering to the notion of the unConstitutionality of the Federal War on Drugs. As we see in the 9th Amendment, its clear that things such as this were meant to be dealt with on the state level, at least how I read it.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    One of the rights “retained by the people” undoubtedly is our pre-existing right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, as outlined in our Declaration of Independence.

    This would have been a “retained right” at the time of the writing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, therefore, there being no Constitutional call for a war on any consumables that I can find, it seems to me a retained right is the pursuit of happiness, which when subjected to the old adage of “my right to swing ends where your nose begins”, certainly includes that which one chooses to consume into ones body.

    It seems to me therefore that a federal war against drugs would be unConstitutional, and therefore such dealings should be regulated at the state level, based on popular vote of the people. At the state level you will find states, concerned with budgets, will quickly begin to relax and remove laws if this sort, especially if prompted by a new “get tough on crime” Federal bill that was actually designed to get tough on crime. This bill would target Organized Crime, and would be designed to financially cripple the criminal syndicates and put real criminals in jail while freeing up tax dollars to do real good towards making our streets safe.

    William F Buckley was a vocal proponent of this approach, and he railed against the establishment and government for their idiotic war on drugs. And that was 30 years ago.

    He predicted it would free up the police agencies to go after real crime, balance the budget by emptying the prisons of non violent drug related offenders and pumping millions back into the coffers normally spent on enforcement efforts that ultimately fail, and he predicted that it would create new tax revenue as well as help subsidize the American farmer, who even back in 1980 was struggling.

    But no one listened to him, because unfortunately evolution in the United States is still doing its thing. I figure when everyone in this country believes in evolution, then evolution will have done its thing, and people who “create” the problems this country faces, like those who support the fools errand that is the war on drugs, will have been successfully weeded from the gene pool.

    😐

    Of course, that prediction doesn’t factor in the baby making capabilities of the Sarah Palins of our fine land.

  4. BTW, the Ninth Amendment, albeit as a tautology, necessarily protects the individual from the government exercising any power over a “duty of virtue.”

  5. “All duties are either duties of right, that is, juridical duties (officia juris), or duties of virtue, that is, ethical duties (officia virtutis s. ethica). Juridical duties are such as may be promulgated by external legislation; ethical duties are those for which such legislation is not possible. The reason why the latter cannot be properly made the subject of external legislation is because they relate to an end or final purpose, which is itself, at the same time, embraced in these duties, and which it is a duty for the individual to have as such. But no external legislation can cause any one to adopt a particular intention, or to propose to himself a certain purpose; for this depends upon an internal condition or act of the mind itself. However, external actions conducive to such a mental condition may be commanded, without its being implied that the individual will of necessity make them an end to himself.”

    (Immanuel Kant, “Introduction To The Metaphysic Of Morals”)

  6. Mespo:

    “I agree the “War on Drugs” is nonsensical, ineffective, and at odds with our core principles of personal freedom and choice. It does serve one interest group however, and that is the die hard conservatives who are hell bent to stop anyone from having any fun. I call them neo-Puritans. Funny their name sakes were a religious cult too, like our evangelical brothers. It is all based on fear like so much of conservatism and frankly, religion.”

    John Locke:

    “We have already proved that the care of souls does not belong to the magistrate. Not a magisterial care, I mean (if I may so call it), which consists in prescribing by laws and compelling by punishments. But a charitable care, which consists in teaching, admonishing, and persuading, cannot be denied unto any man. The care, therefore, of every man’s soul belongs unto himself and is to be left unto himself. But what if he neglect the care of his soul? I answer: What if he neglect the care of his health or of his estate, which things are nearlier related to the government of the magistrate than the other? Will the magistrate provide by an express law that such a one shall not become poor or sick? Laws provide, as much as is possible, that the goods and health of subjects be not injured by the fraud and violence of others; they do not guard them from the negligence or ill-husbandry of the possessors themselves. No man can be forced to be rich or healthful whether he will or no. Nay, God Himself will not save men against their wills. Let us suppose, however, that some prince were desirous to force his subjects to accumulate riches, or to preserve the health and strength of their bodies. Shall it be provided by law that they must consult none but Roman physicians, and shall everyone be bound to live according to their prescriptions? What, shall no potion, no broth, be taken, but what is prepared either in the Vatican, suppose, or in a Geneva shop?”

    (John Locke, “A Letter Concerning Toleration”)

  7. But which part of what I just wrote does that address?

    Does it address the fact that you are supporting Organized crime by continuing the unConstitutional “war” against it and all other organic drugs?

    Does it address the fact that a key player in funding the war on drugs are the major Pharmacuticals, who regularly produce a whole new batch of dangerous, addictive drugs that kill, cripple and addict tens of millions of Americans annualy?

    Does it address the issues of personal rights, freedoms, as outlined in our Constitution, Bill Of Rights (first 10 Amendments) and our Supreme Court cases, like Roe vs Wade?

    Or does it just make you feel better about deciding for the rest of the country what they should or should not do with their own bodies?

  8. CMM,

    I have always supported the concept of medical marijuana prescribed by a licensed physician.

  9. mespo727272
    1, October 6, 2008 at 4:38 pm
    CroMag:

    I agree the “War on Drugs” is nonsensical, ineffective, and at odds with our core principles of personal freedom and choice. It does serve one interest group however, and that is the die hard conservatives who are hell bent to stop anyone from having any fun.

    Ha ha, agreed.

    There is however two other groups left out of your equation, whose interests are served by the war on drugs.

    1. The Major Pharmacutical Companies

    2. Organized Crime

    Its a well known fact that William F Buckley brought out back in the early 80’s, that Organized crime would literally be “bankrupt” were the US government to legalize drug usage of drugs like Mariguania, Hashish, Cocaine, etc. Sales revenues from these and other drugs support the bulk of their criminal enterprises and the legalization of them, would overnight literally cripple their cash flow.

    Additionally, its a well known fact that the Major Pharmacuticals have worked to suppress not only legalization of naturally occuring drugs like Mariguania, but knowledge of the health effects and curative powers of them, like Mariguanas ability to control Glaucoma, or cure depression. These major drug manufacturers would rather sell their cornucopia of untested crap on the general population, using us as human guinea pigs to identify side effects of their garbage.

    They sell us drugs, legally, to do everything from supposedly releiving depression to making our penises erect. These drugs seldom provide the promised results, (which is why theres a new one out everyyear in every category) and they routinely cause much more harm than they were intended to cure. We see the ads for them one year, and the next year we see the ads from attorneys asking for signatures on a class action suit, because the stupid drug killed or crippled half the people who used it.

    Yet this is pushed to us, courtesy our federal government.

    At the end of the day, when the serious examiner evalutes the facts, its clear that the “War on Drugs” is a fools errand, and those who fight it are blindly serving not hometown American values, like they think, but instead are serving their real taskmasters.

    The Major Pharmacuticals and Organized Crime.

  10. “Drunks are sloppy, and tend to be stupid. At least when they’re drunk. And I don’t like drunks. They’re ignorant, violent and a hazard to all around them.”
    *******************

    That danger only applies when the Republicans get them elected President.

  11. CroMag:

    I agree the “War on Drugs” is nonsensical, ineffective, and at odds with our core principles of personal freedom and choice. It does serve one interest group however, and that is the die hard conservatives who are hell bent to stop anyone from having any fun. I call them neo-Puritans. Funny their name sakes were a religious cult too, like our evangelical brothers. It is all based on fear like so much of conservatism and frankly, religion.

  12. We talk a lot in this blog about stamping out persecution and prejudice. We go after it all.

    Anyone who’s prejudice over race, religion, sexual preference, are regularly chastised here.

    Yet there is currently in this country, a prejudice against a group of people who are hounded, beaten, arrested and thrown into prison, taking all their possesions, ruining their lives, and often, killing them. Those people are the literally hundred million or so people in this country, who chose to use moderate drugs like mariguania or hashish.

    We call them druggys and we commit all manner of evil against them in the name of our own perceived superiority.

  13. Alcohol is 1000 times more destructive to both the mind, the body AND the family environment when compared to simple hashish or mariguana, yet we endorse that regularly. Even our Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, is out there selling the booze.

    Even Hilary Clinton was selling it, and she was pushing the hard stuff.

    Sorry former LEO, but its a confused and archaic mind that can conclude that a person who uses mild plants and herbs that grow naturally on the earth which produce sedative like qualities, should be thrown into a steel cage like an animal for it, while simultaneously accepting the consumption of the poison that is alcohol, which destroys more lives, damages more bodies and brains, than any of the natural type opiates and sedative like plants and herbs that were provided naturally by the earth.

    I don’t mind saying that I did try, and use pot back in the 70’s and I did it recreationally for several years before deciding to quit, not because I thought it was bad mind you, but because of a girl, who like you, thought it was evil or something. I never did go back to it, but thats mostly because its not my nature. I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, and I like being clear in both thought, and action. I don’t drink booze at all (although I enjoy joking about it) and I don’t associate with people that do.

    Drunks are sloppy, and tend to be stupid. At least when they’re drunk. And I don’t like drunks. They’re ignorant, violent and a hazard to all around them. Alcohol IS dangerous, and invariably people who use it regularly beyond a single glass or two, suffer, yet I’d never think of denying anyones right to consume it.

    Its unfortunate you cannot likewise tolerate the rights of other humans to consume what they chose to into their own bodies, especially when it has absolutely nothing to do with you or your life.

    If I ever did decide to try pot or hashish again, I’d be forced to leave the country, so that I could do it in a more erudite environment, like Holland, where people who think like you don’t infringe on the rights of others to live their lives without the meddling of the leftovers from the Temperance Society who feel everyone should march to their tune.

    You know, it wasn’t until after his death, that Ann Druyan relased to the world the information that the world renowned Dr. Carl Sagan, astronomer, physicist, and star and author of the acclaimed series “COSMOS”, was a regular user of mariguana. He wanted to be open about it, but was afraid of the witch hunt mentality in this country over it, fueled on by people who think like you.

    It is sad that great men like that, plus the millions of Americans who use it everyday, for recreational or health reasons, must do so in hiding and in fear, because of the narrow minded selfish demands of a few. I’m glad I don’t need such things in my life, but if I did, I’d not want to have to do it in hiding because of the ignorance and selfishness, of a few self righteous people.

  14. You asked 4 questions:

    1) Really! I drank alcohol until about age 22 and then quit cold turkey.

    2) I adamantly support Roe v. Wade and never want to see it overturned. I would only support a candidate for high office who vowed to let the ruling stand.

    3) Prohibition failed, miserably.

    4) Your body is your choice, until your actions harm others and break societal law.

    Arresting someone who is violating established and accepted law is not part of the ‘war on drugs’. Depriving habitual drug users/distributers of freedom is protecting the balance of society from people who would make the choice to take illegal drugs and then harm innocent people through the myriad ways drug use adversely affects society. Some examples are financial losses to families and communities, the spread of communicable diseases, lost productivity, domestic abuse, ad infinitum….

    People often make negligent choices and if they habitually ‘repeat’ negligent illegal choices then they deserve to lose their freedom until they are capable of accepting their problem, getting help, with government’s assistance, if needed, and then abiding by acceptable rules, regulations, laws, and social decorum.

    The ‘war on drugs’ has been a miserable failure, and very similar to Prohibition. Reiteratively, arresting a drug user for violating a valid law on the books is not equivalent to the ‘war on drugs’ but rather ‘a war’ on that individual criminal at that time.

  15. Former Federal LEO
    1, October 6, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I have never experimented with illegal drugs. Additionally, I am for stiff penalties for habitual violators, period!

    Really?

    So how do you feel about “Roe vs. Wade”?

    How did Prohibition work out in your estimation?

    Is your philosophy instead of “my body my choice”, “your body, my choice”?

    The war on drugs is a fools errand, and fools support it.

  16. I have never experimented with illegal drugs. Additionally, I am for stiff penalties for habitual violators, period!

    However, listening to that religious nonsense would at least “drive me to drinkin’”

    “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot….Rod…..Lincoln!”
    (Johnny Bond, 1959)

    Note: I am dropping the “g’s” such as with drinking, etc. out of respect for the language spoken by our ‘lovely’ next Vice President of the United States: Sarah Louise Heath Palin.

  17. This should make sense even to the most fundamental of Christians. Why? Simply do as they would. Ask what would Jesus do? I’m thinking he’d tell the guy, “You need help, brother. If you don’t like my message, there’s a guy over there who can help and not mention me once.” Point him in the right direction and wish him well. I’ve read the Bible. Jesus was a mensch. Glad it was filed. However, I think raff may be optimistic that monetary damages will knock sense into state officials (or any official for that matter). It’s not their personal money they lose as a general rule. It’s the collective ours. Unless elected officials, they rarely see repercussions.

    Please note the name change in process. Although still voting for Obama, his vote on the bailout compels me to change my screen name. I am, to say the least, deeply disappointed. And Kucinich-sama doesn’t rhyme.

  18. CMM,
    You are absolutely right that this individual should not be forced to listen to religious instruction as part of his sentence. I do not see how this can be considered constitutional. I am glad that the individual has filed suit. I am not so sure about the need for money damages, but if that is what it takes to knock some sense in to the state officials, so be it.

  19. Mr Hazle is absolutely correct and has every right to a treatment program that doesn’t force religious doctrine on him that he doesn’t want to hear. This is typical of the old soup kitchens whose price for a bowl of soup was listening to the preacher talk for an hour.

    People who do well in these AA type meetings are usually highly religious to begin with, or at least susceptable to religious influence.

    Our courts should have no authority to compell religious indocrination in exchange for freedom from incarceration.

    This case is a prime example of how mingling church with government, like Bush’s “Faith Based Initiatives” programs, are just bad medicine. People say, “what could go wrong?”… well, thats what can go wrong.

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