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Ignorance is not a defence

February 20th, 2008

“It was a small amount. Back home I would not even get prosecuted.”

DJ Grooverider, Radio 1 Presenter, quoted in Radio 1 DJ jailed on drug charge [bbc.co.uk]

But your not back home. And ignorance if the law is not a defense. Even if I agree that Marijuana should be legal to posses and smoke, I still have to abide by the laws. I have to accept that if I am caught in violation of those laws I will be punished. This is especially important to remember when traveling as you are subject to the laws and punishment of the land. You don’t take your laws with you. As my passport says:

6. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. While in a foreign country, you are subject to it’s laws.

Yea; while in a foreign country, you are subject to it’s laws. I think most Americans should remember the case of Michael Fay [wikipedia.org] the American teenager who got caned in Singapore for theft and vandalism. I think Singapore made a mistake in reducing Fay’s sentence from 6 strokes to 4 when Clinton requested clemency, it sets a bad precedent. While citizens may protest the actions of other countries, governments need to uphold a higher principle. Governments can make statements and in some cases are right in seeking diplomatic action to prevent or to stop actions being taken by another government but the situation needs to pass a basic level to warrant the attention of an entire government. The caning of a single teenager who willfully broke the law and was sentenced under due course of the law should in no way be an issue for an entire government.

The case of DJ Grooverider falls below the threshold for government action in my opinion. The crime committed was illegal in both countries and while the British penal system may have regarded the crime as a minor offense not worth of jail time the crime was not committed in Brittan.

I don’t have any pity for DJ Grooverider. You do the crime, you do the time. Even if both the crime and time are dependent on where you are.

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