Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Facebook "Conversation"

This is a "conversation" I had with someone I don't know.  The original poster was a family member of mine. I'm using initials for all the participants (I'm SR), although it ended up being just a couple of us.  The quotes around "conversation" are for a reason.  It it is clear to me that we were not talking the same language; I was honestly trying to communicate (and, yeah, okay, I was a bit snarky at times), but he just kept repeating the same points.

Am I wrong?  Was he really trying to say what he thought, or was he simply Othering the targets of his disgust?  Please comment ... this is not the first time I've engaged in this kind of debate, and really I'd like to know if I am doing the same thing (just repeating my points), or if this is just another case of frustration in the face of the usual conservative "got mine, screw you" mindset.

By the way, I will admit that I hate, hate, hate "Repost this if you agree/repost or you're not really a Christian"/repost for whatever reason", and I never ever repost.  I'm a terrible person; so sue me.

If nothing else, I hope you enjoy the exchange. Nothing like a little debate to get the brain cells firing.

Original post:  Thank you Florida and Kentucky!!!! They are the first states that will require drug testing when applying for welfare. Some people are crying this is unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It's OK to drug test the people who work for their money but not those who don't??!! Re-post if you want all states to do this...I want our state to do this for sure!!


SR:  It is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and the Supreme Court precedents against invasion of privacy by the government (and btw, there are rules about which employers can drug test and which can't). Sorry, you'll have to find some other way to harass the poor.

GM1:  Re: Susan, Harass the poor? are you one of those dope smokin, baby making deadbeats taking advantage of the government?

GM2:  Susan must be a dope smokin, baby making deadbeats taking advantage of the government? i understand people need help from time to time but if you can't pass a drug test then you don't deserve any money from the people that work and have to be able to pass a drug test!

DW:  as long as they aren't punishing these innocent children who rely on welfare, it's not their fault they were born to people who use drugs and can't provide for them. as much as we agree that people shouldn't make babies they can't take care of, often people with less resources also have less access to birth control or are less likely to even use it.

SR:  What these laws do is presume that a person is guilty and must prove themselves innocent, which is the opposite of how most laws work. Would YOU like the cops to break down your door and arrest you, and then have to prove you're innocent of whatever they're accusing you of? No? Why should the fact that you have a job (I'm assuming that you have one, Gary and Glenn) protect you from this kind of harassment?

SR:  And I'm one of those value-people-more-than-mon​ey, hard-working, live-and-let-live hippies. If it makes you feel better, you can tell yourself that *your* tax money is going to fund the war machine and riot cops. I prefer to think that *my* tax money is going to feel poor children and provide help to those who need it. There - feel better?

GM1:  well if they are doing drugs then maybe their children belong with someone who is better fit to take care of them. if they are unemployed and on welfare more than likely the money from welfare is being used to buy drugs instead of feeding thier chikdren!

SR:  Are your life and choices open to scrutiny? After all, you are the recipient of others' tax dollars in some way (roads, schools, infrastructure, tax breaks... you know, those things that make up civilization). Would you be quietly compliant if The Government or your boss (or anyone else) chose to riffle through your life and judge your choices in order to send your kids to public schools? Would you be happy about mandatory alcohol testing to see if you have a beer at night in order to keep your job? It's easy to get self-righteous about other people making choices you do not, but a whole lot harder to be at the receiving end of judgment, isn't it? People on assistance get a lot of abuse for the little help they get, and most would rather be self-sufficient. Advocating to make it even more difficult and degrading does nothing but make you look like a money-above-all-else scrooge. Where's your humanity... or at least your empathy?

GM1:  I have no empathy for people choosing illegal drugs over taking care of their children. I don't do anything that would put my job in jeopardy and if you have children you shouldn't be doing anything that would put your kids in jeopardy. I seriously doubt these people are hiring a babysitter while they smoke pot or shoot up or whatever else they may be doing. the kids are the ones that suffer for the parents stupidity.

SR:  You're missing my point. These laws aren't aiming to protect children; they're criminalizing being poor by harassing someone receiving assistance. In the rest of the world, you're innocent until proven guilty - the police have to have probable cause for a search and seizure (which is what drug testing is). These laws assume that a person is guilty FIRST, which is unconstitutional. You assume that everyone on assistance is guilty of a crime (drugs, welfare fraud) just because they are poor. From what you've written, you think that everyone who requires assistance is a criminal and is a negligent parent by default. That is, in my opinion, a pretty sick way of looking at the world. By those standards, I know quite a few job-holding criminals - where's your outcry to drug-test them? Or would you call that an invasion of privacy, strictly on the basis of where their money comes from?

GM1:  You are missing the point of the drug testing. it's letting you know that if you want to receive assistance you can't be abusing drugs. it isn't that hard to understand. just like if I want to have a decent job I can't be abusing drugs. if you test positive I am sure they will give you the opportunity to clean yourself up, it isn't unconstitutional it's just smart.

SR:  We're obviously talking at cross purposes here. I'm talking about constitutionality, human rights, and dignity; you're talking about holding people accountable, which is fine as long as you're not doing it from a position of power (ie, "I can make you get a drug test, but no one has the right to judge my choices").  Once again, I'd like you to remember that by your logic, anyone can force you to submit to a drug test because in some way you receive government benefits.  Be honest - you'd throw a fit, wouldn't you?

SR:  Your position is that people on assistance are by default abusing their children ("I have no empathy for people choosing illegal drugs over taking care of their children.").  You don't know that a particular person is abusing drugs, you don't know if they're not taking care of their children, you're just assuming that because they are poor they are by definition criminal and negligent.  How about drug-testing those who appear to be doing those things (just like in the rest of society)?  THAT'S my point.


That ended up being the last of it; I think we both got tired and walked away.  I can't see how it'd end any other way... neither of us was going to change the other's mind.  'Tis a shame.

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