The "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" axiom offered by Shakespeare could be applied in a negative dictum to Senate Bill 45, a freedom-busting bill with a do-nothing-different amendment.
It remains what it's always been: an attack on Kentuckians' individual liberty. Unable to secure the votes to pass the original proposal, which makes cold, allergy and sinus products containing pseudoephedrine controlled substances requiring a prescription for purchase, its supporters are now floating what they label a compromise: exempt gel caps.
This new tactic by logically challenged politicians reveals the same intellectual denseness demonstrated all along in this fight. They believe keeping law-abiding citizens from purchasing Sudafed would somehow keep pseudoephedrine out of the hands of criminals who make the destructive drug methamphetamine.
This will do nothing to curb meth production in Kentucky. It could even do less by giving citizens a false sense of security that something effective was being done to stop the meth problem.
Disregard misleading statements by supporters who now claim meth cannot be easily manufactured by diverting pseudoephedrine from liquid or gel caps. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently ruled that liquid gels "can be readily extracted" to manufacture meth.
Those who favor these gung-ho laws with amendments that would make only cosmetic changes don't intentionally mislead; they are desperate. Bills curbing access to effective and needed medicines in the Ohio Valley — one of the most geographically allergic in the nation — have languished in both the House and Senate during much of the legislative session.
Ardent law-enforcement activists pound Frankfort's pavement, hoping lawmakers surrender to supporting this legislation in order to avoid the "pro-drug" or "anti-law enforcement" perception. But policymakers should keep in mind that these same activists can be found in Frankfort every couple of years, lobbying them with "pass this bill and we can win the drug war."
How's that worked out with the biggest drug problem in Kentucky: prescription drugs?
They remind me of Barney Fife — cracking down on Otis by taking away his privileges in the two-cell jail in Sheriff Andy Taylor's office in an attempt to keep the poor fella sober.
In their zeal, supporters have offered statements that simply cannot go unanswered. For example, they now claim Kentucky's border states are moving toward requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine products. It's simply not true.
Indiana and Tennessee are leaning toward using technology rather than legislation to block illegal sales. Missouri and Illinois already employ the same tracking system used in Kentucky to check current purchasers of these products at pharmacies.
This system not only assists law enforcement officers in finding, and shutting down, more meth operations, it's also stopping 10,000 grams monthly of potentially illegal sales of these products to "smurfers" — those paid to purchase the products by meth makers.
Current legislative proposals would actually deny law enforcement the use of this effective tool, due to privacy laws that kick in when a drug is labeled "a controlled substance."
Reasonable compromises have been floated, including blocking convicted meth offenders from purchasing pseudoephedrine without a prescription and further limiting the amount of — and expanding the time between — purchases allowed without a prescription.
Another would give pharmacists a greater role in determining who can purchase these medications without a prescription while increasing penalties for those who willingly sold the drug for wrong purposes.
Kentuckians concerned about their liberties should be suspicious that suddenly, these same folks — unwilling to compromise with proposals that would still allow citizens to buy whatever legal cold, allergy and sinus medicines they want while containing the meth problem — now say they could live with this proposal.
Of course, they could. It would give them what they have wanted all along: more control over the citizenry, despite the fact that it would drive up health-care costs, take away freedom and simply make criminals more determined to get ingredients needed to cook their vicious meth.
Losing the right to freely purchase legal, effective products like pseudoephedrine may not be a tragedy on the magnitude of Romeo and Juliet.
Combine it with other freedoms under assault, however, and it's enough to make liberty-loving Kentuckians allergic to those do-gooders using their positions in the statehouse and law-enforcement to help increase the totality of our liberty gone missing.