Why no critical discussion on Brittney Griner's drug bust? {She's been released as of 2022-12-08}

I’m wondering why there is no substantive discussion within the media, or here frankly on Brittney’s responsibility for her arrest. It seems pretty clear (at least to me) though she broke Russian pot laws, got caught and was arrested. However one comes down on the pros and cons of pot and if it should be prosecuted in the U.S. or not, it generally seems like a bad idea to have pot in a country where it is illegal, with an oppressive government, and a dictator increasingly at odds with the U.S. If one reads the news, you’d think she got arrested for having a diet coke in her luggage.

And now, the U.S. government is getting involved, and will most likely have to release a convicted arms dealer to the Russians who is someone the west would rather keep in jail.

My question is why does Brittney seem to get a complete pass here, and within the media?

Nobody believes her arrest and treatment are justified and that she was probably targeted to be used in a trade for some Russian criminal and/or to stir up political trouble in the US and/or just to embarrass the US and make us waste resources while we are essentially at war with them in Ukraine.

So to answer your question, she is being given a pass instead of helping Russia attain their goals.

We’ve had discussion on it - the most critical went into (in the mod’s probably justified opinion) Pit territory and the OP didn’t want to reopen there.

Otherwise, it was discussed in the more general thread

Hope that helps @spifflog

Someone I know on Facebook shared a meme about how she should rot in jail, that’s what you get for breaking the law, etc. I know for a fact this person has intentionally brought Sudafed into Mexico, where it is illegal. Just saying.

You have more faith in the Russian criminal justice system, and the charges they allege than other people do, I guess.

“Laws for thee, not for me.” Also, probably, “it’s not illegal in the US, so who cares what Mexico thinks.”

That kind of mindless chauvinism is at least internally consistent.

Obviously Americans traveling in Russia ought to try and stay out of trouble. But Russia has their way of doing things, and we have ours. The interests of the US are in protecting our people. I don’t give a shit about Russia getting justice. Bring Americans home.

OK, so she had something that’s illegal in Russia. It’s illegal in the US, too. We only pretend that it’s legal here because the federal government has made the decision not to enforce that particular law.

How often is the anti-marijuana law enforced in Russia, against high-status Russian citizens? I suspect basically never. Which means that she wasn’t really arrested for possession of marijuana; she was arrested for being American. And that’s the sort of thing that any country takes exception to.

My concern is that the US is giving her special priority because she’s a WNBA celebrity. An ordinary no-name American in Russian prison would probably just rot there indefinitely.

The prisoner exchange includes the release of Paul Whelan who has been held in Russia for several years.

Is this true? Or would they be immediately booted from the country? I don’t know the answer - I’m genuinely asking.

She has been accused of something in Russia, and apparently once accused you are well advised to plead guilty otherwise a harsher sentence will probably be handed down. Given this, I would take any confessions on her part with a grain of salt

According to today’s New York Times:
“Russia has held Ms. Griner, 31, since mid-February, when she was arrested at a Moscow airport on charges involving hashish oil found in her luggage. She has pleaded guilty to the drug charges against her and said in a court appearance outside of Moscow on Wednesday that she accidentally packed a small amount of the cannabis-related substance, which she uses at the direction of a doctor to manage pain.”

  • This doesn’t sound like a forced confession. She’s arguing that there were mitigating circumstances (surely, if she wasn’t using hashish oil at all, her loved ones back in the U.S. would tell us).

  • Russia, like the U.S. or any other country, has the right to arrest people who break its drug laws. That said, 10 years in prison (as she may be facing) is an excessive enough sentence that the U.S. government is right to try to intervene on her behalf. There’s also the question of whether Russia is purposely treating and sentencing Griner so harshly in order to secure a prisoner swap – that would be highly unjustified.

So, yeah, I agree, Western coverage of this story has been lacking in nuance and context.

I guess that’s my issue. I think she should have made a better effort of “staying out of trouble.”

Do I think that she had the cannabis oil? Yes. Do I think the Russians are using that to their political advantage? Yes. But that makes two Americans that we’re in a bind over because they don’t personally care that pot’s illegal and frankly made a dumb and selfish decision to travel in Russia with it.

I don’t think she should be abandoned. But I’m surprised she’s become a cause celebre without any discussion that she (and he) brought this on her (and him) self.

…I don’t think you need to worry. I believe that every single thread started about Brittney Griner on these boards have been about how she (and he) brought this on her (and him) selves. 100%!!!

We aren’t going to forget about that any time soon!

If her celebrity should have no bearing on whether she gets out, her celebrity should also have no bearing on our joy when she does get out. IOW, her being famous* does not make her less worthy of being released.

*For varying levels of fame. Let’s face it: she is the most famous person associated with the WNBA and that is solely because of this issue. Let’s not oversell her Q score, everyone.

To you.

Yep, and I explained my reasoning.

You are free to believe what the Russian government tells you.

Although I am unfamiliar with Russian laws, my understanding is that the governments control the courts and over 99% of accused are found guilty. This does not foster international confidence in the proceedings, which have taken some time without much happening.

Given other current situations there is reason to believe the government is intentionally making more out of this than is warranted. I cannot say whether medical exemptions for certain drugs exist in Russia. The discussed sentences seem harsh enough to suggest possible government interest in thug diplomacy, as has been seen in other countries imprisoning North Americans for completely imagined or fairly trivial offences without proper process, in an attempt to gain leverage over unrelated matters. This sentence should be compared to usual sentences for Russian citizens to see if this is so.

This form of coercion not a trend that should be encouraged even if people should be more prudent. I do not know the specifics of the exemption - perhaps it was reasonable?

Realizing this, the press is sympathetic. A lot of basketball players are on teams in different countries, and one would think they know what is usually accepted. That knowledge is unhelpful if the process is mainly for show. What critical issues do you think are unreported?