By Arthur Black, Special to Courier-Islander
I love the concept of the tipping point – the idea that there can be a single moment in time when one last critical molecule of resistance crumbles and the whole damn mountainside comes down. Egypt recently found its political tipping point. Rosa Parks was a tipping point for racial discrimination in America. That first third-period Russian goal against our Canadian Juniors (cruising, at the time, to an easy, predicted 3-0 victory) was a sports tipping point. The Russians poured in four more unanswered goals to trounce the Canucks and take the title.
I believe another tipping point was reached last month in Missoula County, Montana.
A kid by the name of Touray Cornell faced a felony charge: possession of an illegal substance punishable by serious prison time. The substance: marijuana, found by a police raid on his home. The amount: 1/16th of an ounce.
One-sixteenth of an ounce equals less than two grams. Too little to roll in a cigarette paper. You could be carrying 1/16th of an ounce of pot around in your pant cuff right now and not even know it. But Touray Cornell was charged and he was going down, just as soon as Dusty Deschamps, District Judge for Missoula County could select a jury.
Er…small problem. When each prospective juror learned what the case was about and how much ‘drug’ was involved, they refused to serve. Juror after juror told the judge they would refuse to convict anyone over such a miniscule amount of pot. Twenty-seven prospective jurors were polled; 22 of them said that not only would they not convict, but the whole farce was “a waste of taxpayer money.” “It’s a mutiny,” wailed the District Attorney.
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