Hey, y'all leave my twin Leon alone. The sheriff's got enough problems without folks giving him a hard time for saying he wants to apply the law equally. (And no, y'all haven't been piling on so much here on the blog, but I keep reading the letters and so forth…)
That said, I find myself wondering: Is there a case here to prosecute? I mean, are there precedents that lead one to think this is a case worth pursuing?
The theory in favor of the sheriff going after Michael Phelps goes like this: A rich, white, international celebrity shouldn't skate for doing something that poor, obscure, black kids do time for. That sounds good. Equality before the law and all that.
But I wonder: How many of those poor, obscure, black kids were put away on the basis of the sheriff having heard that they smoked dope at some time in the past, accompanied by a photo that in and of itself is vague. If the alleged perp weren't admitting it, we wouldn't know that was him, or that he was actually smoking dope through that bong. (Before you scoff, I had a good friend in college — a boy from Clio, as it happens — who had shoulder-length hair, and who liked to use Zig-Zags to roll himself a joint made of pure pipe tobacco. If not for the sweet smell, no one would have believed that wasn't dope. But it wasn't. It takes all kinds to make a world, you know.)
If you make me pick a number, I'd say the number of guys doing time at the Alvin Glenn center, or in the state pen, who were put away on that sort of evidence would be approximately zero. Generally speaking, if you're not holding at the time of arrest, the cops don't bother, right? So how is this equality of the law, speaking in terms of way things actually work in the world?
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the prisons are full of people who were nailed when somebody posted a picture of them apparently toking on MySpace. I'd be quite interested to hear evidence to that effect.