By Matthew Rothschild on June 06, 2013

The ACLU put out a devastating report this week that shows how racially biased our judicial system, and how crazy the war on drugs is.

The ACLU studied marijuana arrest records by race between 2001 and 2010 and found that blacks are almost 4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though blacks and whites use marijuana at comparable rates.

In Wisconsin, blacks are arrested at more than 6 times the rates of whites for possession of pot.

Here's a pop quiz: How many more times is a black person likely to be arrested for pot possession than a white person in America?

This level of racist law enforcement is astonishing, or at least it should be. But the ACLU's data is actually in keeping with other studies over the last decade that show how biased our system is, not only in arrests, but also in prosecutions, and in sentencing. I suppose if you're a black man in America, these statistics are not astonishing at all, for the war on drugs has become, in large part, a war on black males, stunting their career options and life chances.

It's also a huge waste of resources. In 2010 alone, there were 889,000 marijuana arrests around the country -- and 780,000 of them were just for possession. That year, states spent more than three-and-a-half billion dollars enforcing the laws against possessing pot.

The ACLU says, "It's time to end the failed war on marijuana" and it's time to" legalize possession."

It's long past time.

And let's face it: We do not have equal justice under the law in America.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Stop the Trial of Bradley Manning.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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