The phrase “Let me be clear …” makes me cringe because what comes next is usually anything but clear. So, let me be transparent: I was at the rally on the high ground Jan. 6, supporting Gov. Paul LePage. I was asked to speak with a Maine Public Broadcasting reporter and tell why I support the governor. He didn’t get around to me, but had he asked, I’d have answered that I support the governor because the governor supports and represents me.

Six legislators unsuccessfully attempted to impeach LePage, purportedly because he interfered with House Speaker Mark Eves getting his job at Good Will-Hinckley. One legislator has even called the governor’s action a “crime.” Apparently the attorney general begs, ever so reluctantly, to disagree. I disagree as well.

As a taxpayer my concern is that we don’t have a “firewall” preventing any elected official from leaving office and taking a position at an institution receiving state funds. Setting aside the difficulty of enforcement, that same firewall should also prohibit former officials from “lobbying” for one (or two?) legislative sessions after they leave and make it an ethical breach for any sitting legislator to accept anything but public testimony from them. I would hope the impropriety of a legislator accepting a position at a publicly funded institution receiving funds approved while that legislator was in office needs no elaboration. I would also hope most adults are able to discern and deplore the true motive behind the impeachment thing and reject it as did the Democrat leadership, at least temporarily.

The governor was also attacked for his remarks about out-of-state drug dealers. We have never created a “language police,” and those who anoint themselves as such deserve nothing but rejection, isolation, and derision.

Drugs in Maine are a serious issue, and wasting ink, electrons, or breath attacking an expression does nothing to address that clear and pervasive danger. It’s hard to believe those attacking the governor are sincere about actually solving Maine’s drug problem.

The Guardian posted an article by Chris Arnade regarding drug addiction in East Buffalo. His same points would apply to South Chicago or West Baltimore or many communities in Maine. One of his points, that drug addiction in poor neighborhoods is treated as a crime while in wealthy neighborhoods it’s treated as a tragedy, may be mostly true, but the only purpose of making the point is to set up an argument that the remedy doesn’t begin with the individual addict but by instead with reengineering society. Like the eternal “comprehensive solution,” that approach is crafted to spend effort and money on social engineering projects that have much more to do with changing voting patterns than addressing real problems.

We often hear it said that poverty causes people to turn to drugs. I would argue that the abuse of drugs (and alcohol) drive people into poverty. The Guardian article says that drug users and drug dealers are openly conducting their business in poor neighborhoods and that the selling and the using is aggressively done “in your face.” In the wealthier neighborhoods, the selling and the using is done behind closed doors.

It’s unclear, given that truth, what the point is in bemoaning the greater numbers arrested in poor neighborhoods. On the other hand, it surely illustrates how society enables abuse when it accepts it and fails or refuses to hold the individuals accountable for their choices.

We cannot delegate the job to the police and the Department of Health and Human Services. The recovering addicts I’ve talked to, admittedly a minute sample, consistently say that jail and compulsory “treatment” regimes did nothing to change either their attitudes or their behaviors. Change didn’t come until they had what I once heard called a “SEE,” or Significant Emotional Event. Others call it reaching a personal “rock bottom,” but, whatever name is used, it marks the point the addict resolved to take control of their future.

Surely, those who bring drugs into Maine are despicable criminals deserving no mercy. Dealing with them is the role of law enforcement and the rest of us have a responsibility to report what we know about dealing.

It’s also up to us to give all the forgiveness, support, encouragement, and acceptance we can to those who have taken responsibility for recovery and recognize that we do nothing positive by enabling users and delaying the onset of their SEE.

Ken Frederic is a member of a group of concerned Maine residents who meet regularly to discuss issues of public interest and collaborate on a Maine Press Association award-winning column.


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