Does Prohibitionist Steve Scalise Deserve Our Empathy?

The Attack on Steve Scalise is a Wake-up Call

Written by Jeff Siegel
Posted June 15, 2017

I was saddened to hear Congressman Steve Scalise was shot yesterday.

The conservative representative from Louisiana’s first district was doing nothing more that morning than getting in a little exercise and spending some time with his colleagues. We should all be so fortunate to have the opportunity to start out our days that way. But the truth is, most don’t.

Most folks in this country continue to struggle to just pay the bills. They struggle to understand why our government is so malnourished of morality and so fattened with greed and vitriol. They struggle to raise their kids in environments where something as simple as a walk to the park could end up with a call from the police to identify the body.

The world many Americans live in is one of distrust, anger, and frustration. It’s one of violence, poverty, and fear. And it’s one that has become a breeding ground for terrorists who choose death over dialogue.

Representative Scalise did not deserve to be shot by a man who couldn’t face his nemesis face-to-face, so he hid behind the safety of a rifle. In an effort to silence a congressman with whom he disagreed, he instead garnered a nation to show empathy and support for a man who probably deserves neither.

Understand, I don’t write these words to make light of the tragedy that unfolded yesterday. Instead, I write these words to highlight the tragedies that unfold every single day in this country due, in part, to people like Steve Scalise.

The Actions of a Tyrant

Like a handful of other misguided politicians, Steve Scalise is a prohibitionist and supports the continued war on drugs. A war that has cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion, and more importantly, has resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent people.

By fighting to maintain cannabis prohibition, Congressman Scalise has fought to ensure that our prisons remain filled with non-violent offenders, most of whom are people of color. He has fought to ensure that our tax dollars are spent persecuting the parents of sick children who need cannabis to battle the effects of epilepsy, and he has supported a prohibition that makes it very difficult for our men and women in uniform to get access to a form of medication that has been proven effective in fighting the effects of PTSD.

These are not the actions of an honorable person. These are the actions of, for lack of a better word, a tyrant.

Of course, while I have little respect for Congressman Scalise, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the fact that he was shot. In fact, it actually reinforces my belief that we must come together in this country to stop this senseless violence. Whether it’s a terrorist shooting a congressman on a baseball field or an attorney general who wants to escalate the war on drugs, all of us need to recognize the root causes of violence in our society and make a concerted effort to address them.

We know that the war on drugs has been the catalyst for much of the violence that continues to wreak havoc on our society today. And we know that ending the federal prohibition on cannabis could alleviate much of this violence. We know that ending the federal prohibition on cannabis may help alleviate the opioid epidemic that’s destroying the lives of so many people. We know that ending the federal prohibition on cannabis could strengthen local economies, and we know that ending the federal prohibition on cannabis would allow law enforcement to focus more time, money, and resources on real criminals – not black kids with dime bags and sick people that rely on cannabis to treat their illnesses.

I do hope Congressman Scalise recovers quickly, but I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to him getting back to work. We don’t need more politicians fueling the war on drugs. We need leaders who are willing to act in the best interests of all US citizens. Supporting the federal prohibition on cannabis is not in our best interests.