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Pain or Prison

I have read Eric Snider's article on Richard Paey's battle with debilitating disease. His disease was caused by a traffic accident in which he was the innocent party. Subsequently, Mr. Paey has had to battle a Florida prosecution for drug trafficking due to his possession of a reasonable quantity of prescription drugs — a prosecution conducted with a persistence and energy that harmed an innocent man and his family and gave society nothing but an evil repute.

I find no redeeming value in this form of prosecution, specifically a victimless crime "committed," if there was an act of commission, by a wholly innocent man in the course of his pain management. It is an outrage that Mr. Paey was actually convicted of anything, and then, to add horror to outrage, sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. The only action Mr. Paey seemed actually to perform was to upset a prosecutor who wanted him to settle on a misdemeanor.

This case shows the evil of our war on drugs, the serious error of our laws and, regrettably, the foolishness of those we pay to enforce laws only more foolish than they. Please support any effort to release Mr. Paey and to recompense him for the suffering we've added to his already challenging life. Please campaign against victimless drug laws and overzealous, wrong-headed prosecutions.

Anastasia Hopkinson
Annapolis, Md.

"Mandatory Madness" is a wonderful article, straightforward, honest and touching.

Thank you.

Deborah Bordeaux M.D.
Florence, S.C.

I was especially pleased and impressed with the article by Eric Snider on Richard Paey's pitiful situation. My daughter is a chronic pain patient, so it is of special importance to me. The word needs to get out about how bad a job we are doing in helping our pain-suffering citizens in this country. The more you can publicize it, the better our justice system will have to become. Thank you so much.

Carol Morgan
Midland, Texas

I read your story with horrified interest and deep sadness. This is another situation (like Iraq) where the lack of "the n-word" — nuance — is causing great and unnecessary pain.

And on the subject of unnecessary pain, I was a bit puzzled at the omission of Rush Limbaugh's name in your article. I would think that the world's most prominent junkie should rate a mention, at least.

If you search Google for the two concepts "47 days" and "Limbaugh," you will come upon a tidy number of references to the 4,350 pills that his maid claims she got for him in a single 47-day period.

Without descending to simple math and crude estimating, it seems most likely to me that Mr. Limbaugh had a stash well over the 28-gram lock-him-up-and-throw-away-the-key limit at several times during his addiction(s). It may be that his current fears about government searches of his medical record are based, not on high-minded libertarian notions of privacy, but on a rational concern of a fate like your poor protagonist.

I would like to see you contact Mr. Limbaugh and get his comment on this story. Perhaps you might even enlist his assistance in undoing this grave injustice — with not a milligram of nuance required on his part.

David A. Coyle
Sarasota

Unfortunately in this day and age, people tend to worship institutions because of their power, not because of their scruples or track records. This is why many people believe it is OK for government to dictate to them how they should live their lives. They are perfectly happy calling themselves free while having to ask permission to do basic things like building additions to their own homes, purchasing the means to adequately defend themselves from criminals, and so forth.

The day that Americans allowed their government to tell them what they could or could not take into their own bodies was the day the land of the free became the land of the slaves. The Declaration of Independence was written, ironically enough, on hemp paper. It could not be printed thusly today thanks to an unholy alliance of cotton, petrochemical, lumber and post-prohibition bureaucratic interests, all under the guise that the nanny state "knows what's best for you."

The war on drugs is nothing more than a thinly veiled scam to rob the powerless of their wealth and their happiness in order to enrich the state and its controlling corporate masters. It's easy to forget about balancing budgets and providing quality services when the state only has to scare the dullards into a frenzy about a drug menace, then round up the weak, suck their incomes up with the judicial and probation process, then leave them destitute and more likely in need of a fix to alleviate their pain.

Making drugs illegal was designed to perpetuate a cycle of crime that regularly justifies the expansion of state power. Ayn Rand once said "You cannot rule honest men. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them." This sums up the drug wars to a T. The next time someone says the war on drugs is a good idea, ask them what part of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" they do not understand.

Ali Sugerman
St. Petersburg

One happy reader

Following and reviewing the last several issues of the paper strongly indicates to me that the paper's policy has wisely resumed its real and valid purpose.

I and several of my friends find joy in its renewed energy and rigor in exploring real people's issues. This kind of work also gives a forum that the quite bland and corporately oriented dailies fail at.

Good journalism is an important fundamental to an informed and debating populace.

—Francis D. Scheuer
Sarasota

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