Well, duh!


In November 2020, the voters of Oregon, by a 58% majority, passed the most liberal drug law in the nation, decriminalizing small amounts of hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.

It was supposed to work something like this: If the police catch someone with hard drugs, they get a citation and a fine. They are also told that if he or she were to call a provided phone number and get assessed for addiction, the fine and citation would go away. Even if they didn’t seek treatment.

A rousing success? Not hardly, according to a February 2024 article by npr.com.

In fact, the drug and addiction situation in Oregon has gotten worse. So worse, that last month, Oregon’s Governor, Tina Kotek, vowed to sign a bill that re-criminalizes drugs. But much damage has been done and some will never recover from it. The Seattle Times calls the decriminalization program “a disaster.” One study determined that drug overdose deaths were up significantly.

In 2019, before the relaxed drug law was voted in, 280 people in Oregon died of a drug overdose. But in 2022, 956 residents of Oregon died of a drug overdose. So, decriminalizing hard drugs leads to even more problem? Well, duh! Who didn’t see that coming? Fifty-eight percent of Oregon voters and their elected officials, that’s who.

Sometimes people ask, “How stupid can people be?” And then some folks apparently take it as a personal challenge. The same mind set is seen in cities where people who commit crimes are no longer kept in jail and prosecuted. And crimes soar! Well, duh!

Then there are the cities with strict gun control because, you know, if guns are illegal then criminals can’t get them. There are over 400 million legal (note that: “legal”) guns in the United States. Yet in major urban cities with the strictest gun laws, the criminals have loads of guns while the average citizen is denied the ability to protect themselves, their families, and their homes. The result? Well, it’s obvious.

Sometimes people agree to stupid things because they have no ability to critically think, or they have been told by others how to think, or they have never learned to think about the consequences of actions. On that last part about consequences, there are three questions to ask:

1) What could be the consequences of this action?

2) What could be the unforeseen consequences of this action?

3) What could be the unintended consequences of this action?

As Courtland Gentery, in the “Gray Man” novels has said, “Hope is not a strategy.” While 58% of the voters of Oregon may have hoped the results would be good and while they may have had good intentions, as Abbot Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1163 AD) is reported to have said. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” In any event, good intentions may make one feel better or morally superior, but the results really do matter.

The same type of mindset is true even in the church world. Tens of millions of dollars are spent on advertising, programs, flash, and gimmicks to draw people to church. Boards change pastors or hire fresh staff, or even build better buildings as a way of drawing people.

But studies have demonstrated that 85% of people who visit a church for the first time do so because someone in the church who they knew invited them to come. Eighty-five percent. So why are churches in America suffering from a loss of attendance? Just think about that for a minute. Got it? Well, duh!

As that great philosopher and philanthropist Forrest Gump once said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” The problem is that with such experiments like no prosecution, no bail, legalizing hard drugs, thinking that banning guns will end crime, and imagining that just hoping and praying will fill church pews is that real people who have real needs get left in the dirt, some wounded beyond repair.

When I was in high school, I ran the wrong assignment on a football play in practice. The result was not good. The coach pointed his finger at my forehead and poked me rather hard with it as he said, “Think!” Some folks could use a good poke in the forehead.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life). He may be contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.]


  1. My.02–Next up on “Nonsense by Progressives”, another familiar voice, suz! Both suz. and Vjax are well known for their shared “Claptrap By Jesus the Universal Christ”.

    Father Epps–So because those of us who disagree with you are stupid. Incapable of thinking. “Duh”, right?

    May I suggest we are indeed thinking; but thinking “outside of the box”. Or more to the point. “outside of YOUR box”. You are living quite comfortably in your tattered old box. The system has worked well for you.
    You are an elderly, white, middle-class, heterosexual Christian. You don’t drink alcoholic beverages (let alone struggle with drug addiction). Oregon’s change to the status quo must be incomprehensible to you.

    The law, it seems, was a new approach. An attempt to offer hope to users, not punishment. One that treated addiction as a disease, not a crime. One that offered a second chance for a new life, not further ruining one.

    And yes, your “I told you so!” response at its arguable failure stings. Perhaps the policy failed due to funding; or proper training; or the added complication of the COVID pandemic…but I applaud Oregon for thinking outside your comfortable “works-for-me” box and trying a more humane solution.

    I know, I know. I am one of those insufferable people who truly believe that justice AND mercy can co-exist. When dealing with drug abuse, refugees at our borders, police brutality/accountability, sensible gun control…

    The thing is, Fr. Epps, I never had a high-school coach poke me in the head and demand I, “Think!”. But both you and I have a God that daily touches our hearts and commands, “Love!”. I maintain that applies to all the political issues you addressed.

    But you know Jesus and me–“Stupid is as stupid does”.

    • Hey, soul sister, well said! You are always so kind and open-hearted — and I can’t help but be acerbic. Thank you, Suz, for reminding us all of the greatest commandment: LOVE.

      So I will say to .2¢ with love: you were right about fentanyl — possession of a small amount was indeed decriminalized under Measure 110, and yet Oregon’s fatal overdose rate did not increase to any greater extent than other states during the time from the passage of 110 until now according to the NYU/CDC’s study.

      And regarding 110, according to Forbes Magazine …
      “Some evidence suggests that the law itself was hampered by poor implementation—a joint investigation by Oregon Public Broadcasting and ProPublica earlier this year found state leaders failed to implement initiatives to connect those fined by law enforcement with services, and that training for law enforcement on their role in the process was lacking. A 2023 state audit on the measure suggested that funding was slow to roll out and that many of the required services for those struggling with abuse were not running at full capacity.”


      “Some lawmakers who voted against recriminalizing drugs feared it would bring a return to law enforcement tactics that overwhelmingly targeted Black men, according to the Associated Press, with Portland’s Democratic Sen. Lew Frederick concerned that bringing penalties ‘will attempt to use the same tactics of the past, and fail, only to reinforce the punishment narrative that has failed for 50 years.’ The Prison Policy Initiative argued against repealing decriminalization, noting the Oregon Health Authority had recorded a nearly 300% increase in people seeking addiction services since Measure 110 was enacted.”

      A 300% increase in people seeking help with addiction, and few or no recovery programs available to them. Ho-hum let’s recriminalize and put people suffering with addiction in jail instead.

      Measure 110 was an attempt to take a more nuanced look at drug abuse. As you say, Suz, “I am one of those insufferable people who truly believe that justice AND mercy can co-exist. When dealing with drug abuse, refugees at our borders, police brutality/accountability, sensible gun control…” This is what the “Well, duh!” crowd can never understand because they insist on black-or-white thinking. Sad.

  2. This column jumps around to many topics, but let’s start with Oregon. If Fr E had done cursory research on Measure 110, he would have discovered …

    • The plan included increased addiction services in lieu of locking people up for drug crimes, but because the program was implemented during the pandemic and its aftermath, the funding for those services didn’t materialize, so that part of the measure didn’t happen.
    • A major study by NYU, the Network for Public Health Law, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Measure 110 did NOT result in increased fatal overdoses in Oregon. Fatal overdose deaths shot up countrywide, but what did NOT happen is a higher increase in Oregon.
    • The fatal overdose rates across the country were doubtless caused by fentanyl, which is NOT on the list of drugs that were decriminalized by Measure 110 in OR.
    • One reason there weren’t MORE fatal overdoses in OR while 110 was in effect was that people felt safer to call emergency services in the event of an overdose because they knew they wouldn’t be penalized. It’s very likely 110 saved lives.
    • The repeal of Measure 110 or re-criminalization of drugs was driven by Oregon’s GOP: House Minority Leader Jeff Helfrich said Republicans “stood united and forced Democrats” to restore criminal penalties.

    So it was never about ending sentencing inequities, keeping people out of jail, and offering addiction services for the GOP. It was all a political football. Well, duh!

    Epps then moves on to gun control, because this is (somehow?) related to Oregon’s drug legalization efforts. He cites no sources or numbers but declares that in cities with the strictest gun laws, criminals have all the guns, decent people can’t defend their families, and “The result? Well, it’s obvious.”

    The result is not obvious at all. I couldn’t find city by city statistics, but there are comparisons of states based on the strength of their gun laws and the rate of gun deaths. And the results I found there seemed much more obvious to me:

    • California has the strongest gun laws in the nation, and one of the lowest gun death rates: 8.7 gun deaths per 100,000 people.
    • New York has the second strongest gun laws and also one of lowest gun death rates in the USA: 5.3 deaths per 100,000.
    •Georgia has weaker gun laws than 46 other states and one of the highest rates of gun deaths: 20 per 100,000. This is nearly 4 times that of New York and more than double that of California.

    So based on the evidence it seems obvious that strong gun laws = less gun deaths. Well, duh!

    Fr Epps then jumps to church attendance because (in his mind?) church attendance is linked with gun deaths and drug use? Well, I guess perhaps attending his church might make you want to abuse drugs or use a gun?

    He concludes …

    “So why are churches in America suffering from a loss of attendance? Just think about that for a minute. Got it? Well, duh!”

    This one, yes, I will grant: Epps, week by week here, presents us with good evidence of why people don’t want to attend churches led by old, conservative, white guys who love guns more than they love Jesus.

    Well, duh!

    • And here we have one of our frequent guests on “Nonsense by Progressives”, Jax, who today tries to pass untruths in defense of Oregon’s failed decriminalization of drugs, along with other ugliness.

      I can find no support in main stream media for most of Jax’s claims. Let’s start with her statement that “fatal overdose rates across the country were doubtless caused by fentanyl, which is NOT on the list of drugs that were decriminalized by Measure 110 in OR”. Wrong. Fentanyl was decriminalized, and people died.

      CNN directly contradicts Jax: “In 2020, Oregon voters moved to decriminalize various hard drugs – including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine – when Measure 110 was approved with 58.5% of the vote.” Oregon governor signs drug re-criminalization bill, reversing voter ballot measure CNN.com 4/1/2024

      The recriminalization bill makes “so-called personal use possession a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. It enables police to confiscate the drugs and crack down on their use on sidewalks and in parks. It also establishes ways for treatment to be offered as an alternative to criminal penalties …” Oregon governor signs bill recriminalizing hard drugs, completing liberal experiment’s U-turn Yahoo News 4/2/2024

      Hardly the “it was never about ending sentencing inequities, keeping people out of jail, and offering addiction services for the GOP. It was all a political football.” that Jax would have you believe.

      Jax also tries to tar Republicans as sponsors of the re-criminalization bill, but in reality “both Republicans and Democrats introduced legislation to roll back the controversial measure”. Yahoo News, as above.

      Jax then uses state gun death statistics to push her talking points, neglecting the obvious that most gun injuries and deaths occur in big cities. Other progressives use this red herring as well.

      Her conclusion that “strong gun laws = less gun deaths” would, if true, make Chicago, Washington DC and New York City peaceful little urban islands. Clearly false. Strict gun laws only impact those willing to follow the laws, which is not the population doing the gun crimes.

      Jax completely missed Fr Epps’ point about people who don’t attend church being much more likely to attend if they are invited in, instead attempting to mock him with some non-sequiturs about guns and church.

      And if she hasn’t already proven the point about progressive thinking and nastiness, Jax seals the deal with an outrageous ad hominem attack on Fr Epps as an “old, conservative white guy who loves guns more than Jesus”. She gets bonus progressive points for “hate” against the only age / race / gender combination that is encouraged to be targeted by liberals.

      We cannot afford to elect politicians who foist progressive experiments on its citizens like the drug decriminalization in Oregon. And Jax illustrates why we need to stop the woke garbage, and get back to basic tolerance, values and truths in our culture.

  3. Excellent commentary on the lack of common sense and logic that ails our nation. It is also seen in the feelings-based responses by many in these pages.

    I believe it is caused by the woke ideology that progressives are pushing in most corners of society. Men can become women, compete against women and use ladies’ bathrooms and locker rooms. 168 pronouns. Soft on crime and defund the police. Climate warriors. Take guns from the law-abiding to solve criminal gun use. “Trans Day” on Easter. Everything is “racist” / critical race theory / DEI / identity politics and victimhood. Open borders. Cancel culture, “microaggressions” and safe spaces. Kneeling for the anthem. Reparations. And on it goes . . .

    When objective truth is lost for “my truth”, we cease being able to think rationally and to communicate freely, instead going down the rabbit hole of intolerance, emotions and personal attacks.

    PS – I too messed up playing football – – everyone does. However, I don’t recall that my coaches’ words were limited to “Think!”