There was a column in today’s Seattle Times complaining about people smoking marijuana in public. The author was offended because he was being forced to accept the second-hand smoke (is it just me, or is that one of the clumsiest phrases ever invented?) from joints in an area where puffing on a Camel a year ago could buy you a one-way ticket to Siberia. (OK, Wenatchee. Picky, picky.) He reports the police enforcing the law, which is pretty restrictive concerning cannabis pollution, are asking people to “voluntarily obey the law.” He goes on to hope the next time he gets stopped for a traffic violation he’ll be asked to voluntarily not speed or what-have-you ever again, cross-my-heart.

This is an interesting place to live. A few years ago there was a stink about grand theft auto. It was said (note to self: If you don’t have a law degree, stay as vague as possible) that anyone who boosted a car and got caught was let off with a warning because, if he/she (note to self: You live here, idiot – gender nonspecific or else) they hadn’t been arrested for the same thing before, it was a first offense. This was applied without reference to the occasional rap sheet that stretched from here to there and back. If your car ended up in a chop shop and the non-resale parts ended up dumped on a sidewalk, you could get hit with a littering fine, but the guy who took it may or may not have an official warning to never steal another car forever and ever. Can you imagine the terror? Whose? Yours, you nasty litterbug? Or the (as ever, penitent) thief?

Does it matter?

Not in Seattle. We are Westerners, pioneers, those who chased the setting sun in the eternal hope of finding a land where we could live free and unfettered. It is our lot today – our destiny as the most civil of civilizations – to accede to the law. Nevertheless, we must forever acknowledge the overarching law of laws: “If it messes with my fun, stick it.” Now that we sturdy settlers have run out of land to steal from the Indians, we’re being forced to push each other out of the way. Here in Seattle we think one way to do that is invent selective enforcement of the law. Blame that on the fact that Seattle leads the nation in book sales. Unfortunately, it’s all apparently fantasy or other forms of fiction. History seems insignificant here. If it did, perhaps more people would reflect on the fact that we’ve had selective enforcement of the law for generations. The law was the Constitution of the United States. The selective aspect led us to Jim Crow and the Seattle attacks on “The Celestials,” or Chinese.

But that’s a ridiculous comparison. Right? And it was a long time ago. Right? Light up, lighten up, light out.

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