Stopping Power, First Responder

In Tennessee last week, among all the fire-and-brimstone billboards, one huge anti-drug sign remains in my memory.

The biggest message was in all capital letters, in a ragged-edged typeface):

METH DESTROYS FAMILIES

Ok, yes, I can certainly believe that, it's a terrible problem. Maybe as devastating as alcoholism to family stability. Then at the bottom of the billboard, stretched across the length of the sign:

Cook, and lose your kids. New laws. No escape.

Oh. It wasn't a warning, it was a threat. More earnest police-state message than the usual billboards showing off a well-funded formation of stern faced, just-multicultural-enough cops, looking right all of us little perps. We are safe under their gaze. They are sufficiently militarized to meet any threat, and sufficiently empowered to predict any transgression. Stopping power. First responder.

But maybe you're too tweaked out to catch the subtleties. Maybe your moral character is weak enough that a crippling addiction is ruining your life. For those folks, they make the billboards stripped of subtext. These are our rules, these are our children. Good luck getting clean.