The Politics Of The Drug "War"


Imagine a nation that wants to force you to cede control of your body to the government. Imagine a nation whose government wants to force you to behave in a manner which only the government can declare is acceptable and then mandates that prejudice through the use of punitive and unconstitutional legislation. Imagine that this nation tries to control your interactions with acquaintances. Imagine a nation that, without benefit of legal representation or dispute can seize both your material possessions as well as your bodily wastes. Imagine, also, that this government disregards or disparages as irrelevant the important national documents meant to insure your freedoms against these abuses of power. Imagine a government that ignores, hinders, restricts or outright bars independent scientific researchers from questioning the truth of the underlying facts on which these unconstitutional laws are based. Imagine a government that has given itself the freedom to search your home, your car, your family and your place of work needing only the reason that they "suspected" illegal activity or that you, without being aware of it, associated with a "suspected" criminal. Imagine a nation where a disease that kills and cripples hundreds of thousands of Americans is allowed to continue unabated even when measures that are proven effective in stemming the transmission of the disease is banned due to ideological and political and unfounded religious meanness. Finally, imagine a government that has given itself the right to steal all of your property and to sell it at auction in order to fund the same sort of law enforcement all over again in later cases.

I imagine that, right about now, you're feeling pretty happy that you don't live in such a fascist and dictatorial country, aren't you? You might be thinking that we fought war after war in order to keep our own freedoms as well as to extend those freedoms for all other people. Yup, feeling pretty proud to be an America, huh?!? Land of the brave, home of the free and all that kind of jingoistic mouse droppings?!?

Well, we aren't talking about other nations and other governments or other people. This is America, a land in the late and terminal stages of the complete loss of its freedoms and with a prognosis that indicates a complete suppression of all functions in regards to such important organs as its Constitution, its Bill of Rights and every other freedom of self that we were once guaranteed and once took for granted.

This argument may sound familiar to those who hold dearly and are constantly alert to dangers to their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. This same argument will sound familiar to those who fight daily to assure that women will always control their own bodies and that the government must stay out the woman's womb and room. It also will sound familiar to those who demand that the government have no say in who one chooses to love and live with and that the freedoms of those who do not conform to the narrow-minded bigotry of those who wish to impose their own form of morality on us all is basically a freedom from being inflicted with the religious views of anyone else and is provided for in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the complete and unassailable separation of church and state.

This same argument can be attached to so many, many areas where we have allowed our government to take our freedoms away completely or in part in hopes that some narrowly defined and impossible to achieve Nirvana can be reached. We have given up so much in return for so little in hopes that if only a few million more lives are ruined and citizens imprisoned and, well, if only we can continue to do the same thing over and over and over again long after reasonable people see the entire fiasco as a lost and far too expensive adventure, then we'll see that "light at the end of the tunnel" (deja vu' all over again).

The right to bear arms, the right to choose for women, the right to have access to timely and truthful information from our government and, here's where I'm about to lose a few of you, the right to ingest the drugs of our choice are all being restricted by a few fanatics with a loose grasp on the reality of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. These freedoms are being restricted not because of factual and open debate but because of loud, strident posturing by politicians who enact laws not because they help America to stay strong but because enacting them allows the politician to remain in office while appearing to "do something" about drugs. Remember, folks, you can't take away a freedom from another just because you don't agree with the usefulness of that freedom unless you are equally open to them taking away the freedoms that you take for granted, as well.

What is most stunning are the people in our highest levels of government who have seen the failure of the War On Americans Who Use The Wrong Drugs. Most amazing of all, they come from both sides of the aisles in Congress. Consider:

"[W]e have a national war on drugs which is a total failure, has not done any good, has done great harm ... [I]n the name of the drug war, we have sacrificed much, both in terms of money and our liberties, while failing to solve the problem." Rep. Ron Paul, MD (R - TX) in a speech to the House of Representatives on March 6, 1997.

"We have this 'lock them up and throw the key away' [attitude] for young people with small amounts of drugs when we should be rehabilitating them, have more prevention in our schools and in our community. We should be thinking about what we can do to reduce the cost of incarceration and ruining lives." Rep. Maxine Waters (D - CA) to the House of Representatives on Feb. 24, 1998.

In 1964, the United Nations proclaimed that it would eliminate all sources of cocaine, heroin and marijuana from the entire world in just 25 years. In 1989, that program proved to be a very expensive failure both in the loss of funds as well as in the lives ruined during those years. Did the UN look at the failure and opt to change their plan to one based more on reality and scientific findings and less on the political mood of the moment and of the minority? Of course not! It issued another plan that it maintains will now work in only 10 years. It is now 1999. Another failure but, this time, the whole thing was just ignored and not spoken of during any of this year's meetings.

In 1989, our very own President George "Read My Lips" Bush declared that he had a plan that would cut drug usage in America by 55% in just ten years! Oops, must have misspoke, must have lost that vision thing for a minute back then. Drug usage is, as usual, up in 1999 over 1989.

Oh, wait! Off in the distance. Here comes our national savior from our individual selves riding a donkey and waving a, a, what is it? Oh, a "Go Razorbacks!" cap. He'll have a plan that will really work, this time. I mean, shoot, this guy actually admits to having had smoke from that scourge "Mary Jane" in his mouth and, gosh almighty, he had the courage of his convictions to keep from inhaling! What's he got to say about all this? Yay! He promises to cut drug use in half in the next ten years. Rah! Rah! Three cheers for Billy Bob Joe Bubba Clinton! But, wait just a second. Aren't those ten years of his some of the same years that Bush was promising would show a drop in the use of drugs by 55% and the same years that the UN will be eliminating the problem all together?

Wait another minute there, pardner. All of you doubters and naysayers just stand aside. That great crime stopper, the man with a plan, that rather chubby little fellow who calls himself "Newt "The Anti-Toot" Gingrich", is riding into town on his elephant and wants to say his two bits. What's that? Why, goodness gracious, he promises to see Clinton's ten year plan and raise him by betting that his plan will succeed in only four years? Hooray!! Just four years until we can declare victory in a war that has gone on since the turn of the century and a war fought by various conservative governments since about the time of Christ? Where do I sign up? Finally, the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars that have been wasted in a losing cause and which destroyed the lives and futures of literally hundreds of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens is near its end?!?

But wait! Old Newt didn't even last those four years in Congress so what about his plan? Well, if you ask the Republican Party leaders today the answer is "HUH?!? Whazat?!?"

Look. I've got an idea. It worked in Vietnam and Haiti and Lebanon and Somalia so it should work this time, too. Let's all just declare victory, go home, rewrite some small portion of the history books so that we don't look quite so foolish and sheep-like and call it a day! This way, we can encourage the nation to actually debate how strong we need our drug laws to be and/or if we even need them in the first place without all of the name calling and reliance on anecdotes instead of facts. We can allow the scientific community to, freely and without restraints, do the necessary research into the safety or dangers of the various drugs and we can then go to our children as actual, thoughtful and intelligent adults and offer them real, fact based information completely unlike the emotional and dogmatic drivel that the group DARE and all of its local incarnations pretend is truth.

I can see it all now. The drug community can get someone like Woody Harrelson (spelled wrong, I'm sure but, you know, the guy from Cheers?), a recognizable celebrity and an admitted user of recreational substances, to meet with General Barry McCaffrey, Clinton's Drug Czar, on national, prime time television in front of the Library of Congress, the building that houses the symbols of our freedoms and our new future, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Then, with fireworks lighting the sky and an American flag proudly waving in the background, Woody could offer a marijuana leaf as a token of peace and McCaffrey could accept it in the name of the freedom loving people of America and the world, ala Lee and Grant at the close of that other rather sad episode in American history, the Civil War. Woody and the General could then take the leaf, place it gently in a peace pipe, a pipe made by hand in the tradition of the Native Americans who once lived and thrived on this land, and they could then smoke to peace and to the end of a war long lost and to the immediate release of all Americans jailed for the simple act of possessing an herb that the past "leaders" didn't understand or simply weren't smart enough to be able to cope with. The Marine Corps Band could be playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or some other nationalistic ditty, the notes growing in strength and power as larger and larger displays of fireworks blossom in the air above our reinvigorated capital. Everyone could return to their homes secure in the knowledge that America has finally won the hateful and disappointing War On Americans Who Use The Wrong Drugs by virtue of that simple but heartwarming event. Flowers will bloom, children will laugh and play and go to school (without the fear of the drug dealer's guns), families will be reunited, drug cartels will hang out "For Rent" signs on their mansions and the courts and cops will be freed to finally put their energies into actual crimes with actual victims. The media will grow ever richer as they absorb the billions of dollars spent to advertise the newly formed "Herb Factories" and sobriety clinics will crop up everywhere as more and more people discover that, yes, alcohol addiction is devastating but the leave of the cannabis sativa plant offers more bang for the buck and less drawbacks for the body and families of those who choose it over beer or whatever. The vast prison system will find itself nearly empty and could be turned into profitable mushroom farms. Better yet, the prisons could be filled by the politicians who take bribes(calling them contributions) and, in exchange, sell out the best interests of America and its people.

Oh, by the way. The lascivious desires of the government and all of the people who want so desperately to trash our freedoms in the name of their pet peeves are supposedly kept at bay through two of the most important passages of our Constitution. They mean little in these days of anti-drug mania first, last and forever. Nevertheless, for those who want to fight back and who want to take our freedoms seriously, once again, here are two very important weapons to found that battle on. You have my best wishes.

AMENDMENT IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

AMENDMENT V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

(1, 2, 3, 4)

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Copyright 5/11/99