Proposition 36 and the Right's Misinformation



    The Rabid Right has a long history of using isolated instances to attack public policies that they are opposed to while ignoring far more important issues.  Ronald Reagan had to have his cohorts trick a woman into applying for welfare assistance multiple times so that he and his right wing administration could hold her up as some sort of "Welfare Queen" example of their now discredited claim of wide spread welfare cheating.  Daddy Bush had to have his people trick a crack dealer into selling drugs to an undercover officer in the park across the street from the White House to "prove" that drugs were the scourge that he and his minions kept proclaiming them to be - but couldn't create the statistics to back their claims up.

    On Nov. 7, 2000 (you remember that election - the one where the moron's owners overthrew the American electoral system?) California passed Prop. 36 by a 61% vote margin.  According to its proponents, Prop. 36, also known as The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, allows first- and second-time, non-violent, simple drug possession offenders the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment instead of incarceration.  Prop. 36 was backed by many organizations, politicians, and individuals and studies show that over the first five years, the $121 million budget will save over $1.2 billion in incarceration costs.

    To say the least, any law that allows any American caught up in the War On Americans Who Use the Wrong Drugs to escape years of hard time in prison isn't supported by the Rabid Right and their owners in the prison industry.  The fact that this proposition passed with such a large majority didn't make it any easier to swallow for those who want to punish anyone violating their warped moral codes.

    The Rabid Right knows that any public support for drug treatment or even legalization can easily be reversed through the one art that they have honed ever since they tricked America into believing that Ronald Reagan had an IQ above room temperature; propaganda.  The first thing that needs to be done is, of course, to highlight any isolated instance that appears to indict the law's effects on the public.  Of course, this cannot be seen as coming from the Rabid Right but must be aired by their proxies in the corporate media.  That way they can seem above the fray and need only cite the reports as if the stories come from independent sources.

    The Right is already beginning to use their media to create the impression that Prop. 36 is a failure through the propaganda of individual occasions standing in for widespread trends.

    The Daily News, a truly right wing newspaper that fawns over Republicans while pretending to be fair by attacking anything from the left, recently ran an article titled "Rehab law kept driver in crash free from jail".  The story tells of a 33 year old man, Troy Lee Shaw, who ran a red light and crashed into a car, killing a mother and seriously injuring her young son.  The police stated that Shaw, arrested at the scene for vehicular manslaughter, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the accident.

    The story repeats the fact more than twice that Shaw had been enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program due to a July 13 arrest for possession of a controlled substance and was placed on three years' probation.  As an apparent sop to reality, the story's last two paragraphs details another fatality in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol.

    Nevertheless, the obvious slant of the report was intended to discredit the drug rehab efforts because one participant caused an accident that took an innocent life.  The thousands of other participants in the rehabilitation program are damned by inference.

    Gentle readers, pointing at one failure to question the effects of a program that is truly the only intelligent recourse to prison is just another right wing ploy.  Any effort to close the program down using this type of propaganda will be wrong and costly in terms of human lives and futures.

    Instead, let's look at the reality of a drug that causes far more injuries and deaths than all other drugs combined - alcohol.  Here are a few sobering statistics that show that alcohol, not drugs, is the drug that poses the greatest danger to society.

    In one study, 32% of suspended second-time DWI offenders and 61% of third-time offenders received violations or crash citations on their records during their suspensions.

    Of the 14.6 million arrests for criminal infractions in 1994, driving under the influence was the offense most often cited among adults.

    In 1997, an estimated 513,200 offenders were on probation or in jail or prison for driving while intoxicated by alcohol.

    In 1999 one out of nine intoxicated drivers in fatal crashes have had a prior DWI conviction within the past three years.

    About a third of all drivers arrested for DWI are repeat offenders.

    Alcohol has become a part of society's daily noise.  It is advertised at every sporting event and sponsors many major events.  Ads for alcohol are aired around the clock.  NBC TV has even agreed to air ads for hard liquor for the first time in decades.  Alcohol provides literally billions in advertising revenue to every form of media that is viewed by Americans.    

    The fact of the matter is clear; alcohol is far more dangerous to society than any other drug.  It kills more people through disease and physical destruction than all other drugs combined.  It is the direct cause for an average of over 35% of all traffic accidents in the United States.  Alcohol is directly responsible for many if not most cases of spousal abuse and child abuse and well as sexual abuse.  Alcohol destroys families and careers.

    Nevertheless, the corporate media doesn't wish you to think about all that, of course, because any truth about alcohol can only result in less ad dollars for the "liberal" media.  Mustn't think naughty thoughts about such a rich source of revenue, now shall we?  Also, one must accept the fact that those who attempt to legislate morality are far more likely to abuse alcohol than any other drug (at least any other drug they will admit to).

    We must all stay very alert to this insidious and ruthless form of propaganda.  We must remember that we will never learn anything of substance about any topic near and dear to the sluts in the suites but will be bludgeoned with half truths and misinformation about issues that the Rabid Right wishes the public to focus on.  We must not discuss dead Afghan children nor Iraqi children nor tens of thousands of deaths directly linked to alcohol abuse.  Instead, let's all focus on one man whose stupidity and weaknesses caused the death of another in a horrible but isolated incident.  Let's all go back to the dark and malicious days when people who use the wrong drugs are imprisoned while those who use the right drugs are elected to Congress or rule Corporate America from their suites high above the dirty denizens of the nation.



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