Saturday, December 28, 2002

George writes:
You defend C.T. Sell as if he were a political prisoner. He threatened to kill some FBI agents. He is insane, and he is being given medicine for his own good. He is not competent to make medical decisions for himself.

The rationale for drugging is not that it is punishment for threatening to kill FBI agents, or even for his own good. Those arguments wouldn't fly. The feds want to drug him in order to suppress his (alleged) paranoid delusions for the duration of the trial.

Sell apparently made some intemperate remarks to some govt agents while being arrested. Most people probably would if they were about to be locked up without trial in a mental institution for 5 years. The judge who ordered the drugging did not take the threats seriously.

What is really strange is that the media has treated the Sell matter as racial. The NY Times said:
The case of Dr. Sell first came to national attention in early 2001 when John Ashcroft, formerly a senator from Missouri, was seeking confirmation as attorney general and there were reports that as senator, he had once met briefly with Thomas S. Bugel, a friend of Dr. Sell, who was asking the Missouri Congressional delegation to look into accusations Dr. Sell had been abused in prison.

Here is a Salon magazine attack on Ashcroft from Jan. 2001. It implies that Ashcroft is an extremist and a racist for listening to Sell's story for 10 minutes. The case has nothing to do with race. It is about drugging nonviolent defendants.

The crucial facts here are:

  • Sell has not been found guilty of anything.
  • Sell has been held 5 years without trial for financial irregularities
    that would have a maximum sentence of 3 years if convicted.
  • Sell has not been found to be a threat to himself or others.
  • The feds want to forcibly drug Sell because he allegedly has paranoid
    anti-govt delusions.

Drugging Sell would set a precedent that would allow the feds to forcibly drug other peaceful protesters.

Sell's US Supreme Court brief and some other links are here.

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