OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Thursday, March 02, 2006 :::

The Difficult Case of Stephen Johnson

Richmond School Board member Stephen Johnson will resign his seat effective Monday after screeners at the airport discovered he had three joints mixed among a pack of cigarettes.

Johnson had already stepped down as the Board's chairman after someone leaked word that he had posted on a web site where some men troll for sex.

Johnson survived the first incident because people in his district on the Board came to his defense. Not this time.

And that's what makes this case hard.

On the one hand, Johnson the school board member was living a lie. As dutiful enlistees in the misbegotten War on Drugs, schools not only preach a firm anti-drug line, but enforce one on employees. That Johnson would support a policy by day and break it by night proved his undoing.

But what of Johnson the private citizen? If it is true, as he told the TD, that he has a "medical condition" warranting his possession of marijuana, should that not be given some consideration? This would be easier to decide if Johnson would expand on his medical need for the drug. My understanding (which is a bit rusty), is that some people use marijuana to ease the side effects of cancer and AIDS treatments, for glaucoma, and for chronic or debilitating pain. If Johnson suffers from one of these conditions, then I can understand the need and would hope he would use this occasion to educate people on the topic. But he has chosen not to do so.

This brings me to a larger, related question: does a public figure still have the right to a private life?

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/02/2006 4 comments


"You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man

"The graveyards are full of indespensable men" -- Charles de Gaulle

"Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favor? Well maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys. Nature started the fight for survival and now she wants to quit because she's losing. Well I say, hard cheese!" -- Montgomery Burns

"Don't pretend that you know me...cause I don't even know myself" -- The Who

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