psalaman at POP.UKY.EDU
Tue Dec 23 10:53:01 PST 1997
In response to Mr. Weinberg's posting:
I appreciate your thoughtful response to my posting of yesterday. I
don't think you and I disagree on any important points, with the possible
exception of what AA is, that is, whether or not it's religion.
I mentioned in my posting that I can sympathize with people who are
subjected to parochial or chauvinist pressures, by which I mean pressures to
conform to the rituals and specific tenets of particular faiths, or even to
those of deistic traditions in general. Although you approach the issue
from the premise that AA is not a religion because it doesn't do those
things, I approach the issue from the premise that, whether AA is a religion
or not (and I think we should consider it so), the government doesn't
violate the Constitution unless it's overly pushy about participation in AA.
I also note that this is the position AA itself takes. I have read
much of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," and perhaps you have as well, and I
get the impression that AA does not want people to join because of their
boss, or their spouse, or their parents. I assume that would also apply to
a judge. I am also under the impression, however, from the meetings I
witnessed, that AA also doesn't mind if people's initial exposure to the
program is not perfectly voluntary. I once heard someone talk about a
"Johnson Intervention," which struck me as a swat team bust to get someone
into a 28-day program. The target of the bust may have appreciated it in
the long run, and I assume the busters wouldn't literally have kidnapped him
or her, but the maneuver was surely not purely voluntary.
What I mean by all this is that both AA and the probationary system
seem poised to tolerate a small amount of pressure on the second- or
third-time DUI offender, and I don't think that's so bad, as long as the
pressure relents after a while. I don't get the impression that you would
disagree with this point.
Finally, we have both referred to alternatives. I am vaguely aware
of Rational Recovery, but I don't know anything about its effectiveness. I
do know, however, that AA is free, ubiquitious, and comes in both low-brow
and high-brow flavors. I wonder if RR comes in a low-brow flavor.
Paul E. Salamanca
University of Kentucky
College of Law
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