Meth Lab Video Fearmongering 

TV program pits neighbors against each other in government's crackdown on illicit drug factories

June 2, 2002, Rocky Mountain News

by David Kopel

Government television stations (e.g., cable Channel 8 on many systems) all over the metro area are repeatedly running a half-hour special, "Metro Voices: The Rising Threat of Meth Labs." Produced by the "Greater Metro Telecommunications Consortium" (a government agency) and hosted by Larry Blunt of News4, the program uses government money to terrify viewers about the alleged need for more government power. Even worse, the program frantically encourages neighbors to inform against their neighbors for engaging in innocent activities.

One segment features Cmdr. Lori Moriarty, North Metro Drug Task Force -- recently famous for attempting to search the customer records of the Tattered Cover Bookstore. After a set-up by Blunt, Moriarty lists some reasons for neighbors to call the police about potential meth labs: "They might see that their neighbor at 3 o'clock in the morning is out smoking on the back patio, because they don't want to smoke within the house because they might blow it up."

Meth lab operators might smoke outdoors late at night, but so do vast numbers of other people -- such as smokers whose spouses or children object to the lingering smell of indoor cigarette smoke.

Again and again and again during the program, Blunt urges viewers to turn in their neighbors for allegedly suspicious things such as having stains on the carpet (which actually is more likely a sign of children or of plumbing problems than of meth production).

Nowhere does the video quote skeptics, and nowhere does anyone in the video suggest caution before calling down a "dynamic entry" on one's neighbors because they smoke outside and have messy children.

Shame on government television for setting neighbor against neighbor -- and kudos to Ari Armstrong, whose Colorado Freedom Report Web site ( ) first exposed the problem.

The Rocky Mountain News (May 23) accurately reported a story that appeared in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, claiming that Colorado's obesity rate is skyrocketing. But what readers should recognize is that JAMA has spent the last two decades being transformed into an organ of political correctness and the nanny state.

In 1998, the National Institutes of Health changed the definition of "obesity" in an absurdly overbroad way; by the federal definition 59 percent of the 1997 Green Bay Packers, who won the NFC Championship, were "obese." The federal "obesity" definition ignores the fact that different people have different body types; in other words a person who is 6 feet 4 inches tall, has huge bones, is heavily-muscled, and has little body fat is not "obese" even though he weighs the same as someone the same height who never exercises, and who has little muscle but huge amounts of fat. The government definition of "obesity" now includes people in peak physical condition.

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo has been making a big deal about Mexican government incursions into U.S. territory. According to Tancredo, there have been dozens of incidents in which the Mexican army or police illegally crossed the border into the United States -- sometimes in pursuit of drug smugglers, and sometimes protecting the smugglers.

A Web site dedicated to keeping an eye on The Washington Post ( ) notes that the Post has ignored the story, while The Washington Times (May 13, 23), The Dallas Morning News (May 4), television's The O'Reilly Factor, and The Arizona Republic (May 21) have paid attention. Here in Colorado, The Denver Post has covered the issue with five articles. The News, though, has ignored the story completely. Tancredo's Web site ( ) offers updates about the continuing violations of U.S. sovereignty.

A study funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation provided data about Colorado's high school dropout rate, and called for more state intervention and spending to reduce drop-outs. The News report on this story (May 23) followed the Casey Foundation's lead, and quoted only sources who thought that the dropout rate proved the need for more state intervention.

The Post, in contrast, took the story further, by interviewing persons who offered varying perspectives. For example, Colorado Education Commissioner Bill Moloney pointed out that many people leave high school for legitimate personal reasons, and this decision is not always a bad thing.

Speaking from personal experience, some dropouts interviewed by the Post made the same point.

The Post (May 27) repeated the factoid that there are 5 million Muslims in the United States. But in fact, numbers in this range amount, at best, to guestimates by groups interested in promoting large figures. More scientific analysis from the National Opinion Research Center and the American Religious Identification Survey suggest there are about 1.7 or 1.8 million Muslims. ( ).

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