How not to be a state representative

In New Hampshire, when you call your state representative, you don’t speak to some staffer; you speak to the rep himself (or herself). If you e-mail your representative, he’s the one who writes the response. It’s very personal. And it’s very easy to keep a close watch on what these reps are doing.

Now we all know that politicians hold We the People in contempt, but it’s very rare that one admits it. Such an admission is political suicide. Indeed, it was with shock that I witnessed New Hampshire Rep. Delmar Burridge (D-Keene) commit political suicide in responding to a constituent’s e-mail.

Toby Iselin of Keene, who co-hosts a local television show, Keene Free Minds, wrote Rep. Burridge to encourage him to pass HB 92, a bill submitted this year that would decriminalize marijuana in the state, out of committee. The response he got back I can hardly describe. Read it for yourself.

    Dear Toby:

    My youngest brother Albert who I was very close to died from head injuries sustained when he wrecked his car in West Virginia. His wife walked away. He was a triple major in college; biology, philosophy, and psychology and was smoking a joint before the crash. It is all very vivid including the anguish my parents went through. This occurred in the 1970s and I still miss him. I began work as a juvenile probation officer in the poorest section in Philadelphia in 1969 and the above described experience pales to my on the job, eyeball to eyeball observation of family devastation I saw daily–..and these males were reefer users just like you–.saying the same dumb stuff just like you and they were not smart college smart. I saw lots of blood and death. Trust me, these campers were not soon going to be setting the world on fire. Some did suffer severe burns.

    Last night one of your buddies called me twice even asking me to be on his TV show. He was yelling and screaming and I hung up on him. You have to chill this guy out. I will say to you what I said to three different callers; I will vote no on this Bill and have lots of very chilling stories to relate to the other committee members so it goes my way.

    Suggest you change all your friends, be the designated driver when you are old enough to drink since you don’t drink. I will sign the Bill that keeps tobacco out of the bars when it come up in the house so you don’t get second hand smoke.

    I am copying two members of the Keene Police Department in case you want to change your ways and act legal and save your friends.

    You are very passionate in your beliefs and would make a great snitch. It is thrilling to dime on your so called friends.

    Be healthy and be well.

    Delmar D. Burridge

    (603) 352-5363 or
    (603) 542-7744

Toby explains: “I would just like to add that I never said that I don’t drink, and nowhere in the e-mail did I mention that I smoke marijuana. It seems that Representative Delmar Burridge is making assumptions without looking at any of the arguments or evidence.”

Arguments, evidence and reason mean nothing to someone acting purely from emotion. I have nothing but sympathy for Rep. Burridge’s loss, but I also recognize that he is acting from emotion, rather than reason, and that’s why we have a War on Drugs in the first place: because legislators are frequently unreasonable.

The state House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, of which Burridge is a member, will hear testimony from any member of the public this morning at 10:30 a.m. in room 204 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

One thought on “How not to be a state representative

  • January 18, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Here are some other ideas to put in your letters. It was on the MassCann Myspace Blog.


    “The citizen is exercizing his first amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government for a redress of greivances’to wit: he asks his Representative to forward a Bill on marijuana decriminalization from the C

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