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Archive for Saturday, November 16, 2013

40 years ago: Kansas AG Vern Miller speaks to KU audience on ‘victimless crime’

November 16, 2013

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Nov. 16, 1973:

  • Kansas Attorney General Vern Miller encountered a mostly-polite young crowd at Kansas University this week as he addressed about 600 people in the Kansas Union Ballroom. Exchanges between Miller and audience members were "sometimes humorous, sometimes hostile," according to an article today. Heckling had been restricted to just a few students, but there were several occasions when the majority of the crowd loudly expressed their disagreement with him. Miller had been invited to KU by the sociology department, where introductory courses were studying so-called "victimless crimes." Miller refused to pronounce moral judgment on such crimes, saying that his duty was enforce all laws passed by the state legislature. "I've always said if you don't like the law, change it," Miller asserted. "When I took office I didn't have the luxury of deciding what laws to enforce." He went on to say that "victimless crimes" did not exist and that "if there's a crime, somewhere down the line you'll find someone affected by it." Five such crimes -- marijuana use, gambling, pornography, prostitution, and "private sexual acts between consenting adults" -- affected a community's economy and moral fiber if the law was not enforced, he said.
  • Houses in a three-block area east of Kansas University were to be inspected by the city in an extension of the minimum housing code enforcement program. Lawrence city commissioners had unanimously endorsed a proposal to inspect the area of mostly rental properties. It was stressed that the inspections should cover only "unsafe" situations.
  • As an aside during the weekly commission meeting, Lawrence City Commissioner Fred Pence offered a solution to the energy crisis and high heating bills. "If you'd bottled up all the hot air that has come out of Washington in the past few years it would warm us all," he remarked. City Attorney Milton P. Allen responded, "It chills a lot of people now."

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