Best two minutes on TV today

January 23, 2011
By

Occurs in the pilot episode of “Harry’s Law” starring Kathy Bates. To watch it, go to the NBC video and go to the 23:45 mark of the episode (I haven’t watched the whole episode yet, but if the rest of the show is anything like this, it should be pretty interesting).

Transcript isn’t the same without Kathy Bates’ fiery acting, but for those who can’t get NBC video, here’s my attempt… Kathy Bates plays Harriet Korn, a defense attorney, and in the pilot episode she defends a young black man named Malcolm on his third drug offense.

Prosecutor: I gotta say, Malcolm, as drug addicts go, you seem like such a swell kid. Swell kid. And you’re the victim. You had no choice but to buy the cocaine, am I right? Am I right?

Malcolm: I’m not the victim. I know that, sir.

Prosecutor: Oh, but there are victims here, aren’t there, Malcolm? See, here’s the thing about being a junkie. It’s expensive. It costs thousands of dollars a week to get a fix and the only way most drug addicts can swing that is by stealing and whose houses you think they break into? Whose cars get hijacked? Whose innocent children get killed in the crossfire of their turf wars?

Did it ever occur to you, Malcolm, that every time you buy cocaine you help fund a billion dollar illegal drug trade that is bringing this country to its knees — a drug trade that is killing innocent people…

Harriet Korn: [interrupting] It’s a billion dollar trade because it’s illegal…

Prosecutor: Objection…

Harriet Korn: Maybe we should decriminalize if your goal…

Prosecutor: Wait. Did you actually just say that? Did you actually just say that?

Harriet Korn: I believe I did. I believe I did.

Prosecutor: What, you wanna just pass drugs out on the street, is that…

Harriet Korn: That’s where they’re passed out now. At a thousand times the pharmaceutical cost…

Prosecutor: Move to strike…

Harriet Korn: … and if we legalized drugs, addicts would need less than two cents on the dollar to support their habit. They’d hardly have to break into homes or cars or…

Prosecutor: We have something we call values in this country…

Harriet Korn: And they coincide with saving the innocent lives you were carrying on about.

Prosecutor: You’re seriously saying we should legalize drugs…

Harriet Korn: Everybody commissioned to study the problem has said it…

Prosecutor: Who, everybody, who?…

Harriet Korn: If we legalize them, we treat the disease instead of punishing it away.

Prosecutor: Great! You wanna pass out needles, too?

Harriet Korn: Perhaps. If you’re against the spread of AIDS. Are you?

Prosecutor: If we were to legalize drugs…

Harriet Korn: We could neutralize the gangs; take the drug business out of the shadows…

Prosecutor: And do what? Celebrate it?

Harriet Korn: How about regulate it? Tax it?

Prosecutor: Yes, and then every liberal in America can just light up and say ‘Hallelujah! Legalized drugs!’

Harriet Korn: The idea was first raised by conservative Republicans.

Prosecutor: Oh please. When?

Harriet Korn: When the party had thinkers. Before it was hijacked by the likes of Rush Limbaugh…

Prosecutor: Here we go…

Harriet Korn: … a drug addict himself…

Prosecutor: Ancient history

Harriet Korn: … who somehow fared much better in our justice system. I wonder why.

Prosecutor: The race card. There it is.

Harriet Korn: Oh, if I wanted to play the race card, I’d talk about the disparity of sentencing…

Prosecutor: Objection!

Harriet Korn: … but I’m not doing that. I’m keeping it about one kid only. He’s sitting right there and he’s getting screwed.

Of course, such a dialogue could never really take place in a courtroom, yet it was beautiful to see.

Big thanks to David Boaz at Cato at Liberty, who has more on this, include a bit from the closing arguments.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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