A Not-So-Quick Rant on the Drug War in America
I watched Obama's acceptance speech last night and I thought it was wonderful. The best I have ever seen. Just now, I started thinking about a few things. How about a brief, and I do mean brief, moral discussion? About the drug war? Please, please, let there be some law and order types to sign on and discuss this.
I am opposed to the drug war. I believe that it has been a waste and that we are, essentially, punishing a vice crime that hurts very few. Obama, possibly the next President of the United States, has used cocaine. (Had he been caught in the wrong place doing exactly what he has admitted doing, we wouldn't be talking about him being the President of the U.S., we'd be talking about him being a resident of a penal institution.) He admitted that he had a problem with it. So has Rush Limbaugh, icon of the right. Oxycontin was Rush's drug of choice, but that's just a different version of a similar drug. Oxycontin is called "hillbilly heroin" because it is a cheap, pharma version of heroin. Similar effects and all that. Bill Clinton used marijuana, but he stuck to the lie that he never inhaled. Billionaire Henry Nicholas III, the promoter of the evil tough-on-crime Prop. 6 and 9 on the ballot in November has a video that was pulled from YouTube where he is using cocaine - he even admitted that it was him in the video.
There are people in prison doing larger and larger amounts of time, sometimes even 25-life or more, for possessing tiny amounts of these drugs. The punishments for meth and ectasy are set to increase more and more, primarily because "bad things happen when people do drugs" and "people should control their bad habits." Okay, then why did Rush Limbaugh beat his rap? Why is he still on the air espousing his "personal responsibility" crap? Who listens to him? What IDIOT thinks that he has ANY moral authority to talk about ANYTHING crime-related when he "beat the system," when he constantly claimed that drug users should be "just shot?" (He said it - if not that exactly, pretty close.) I want Obama to win, but how does he have the moral authority to talk about drug sentencing, when he was once a drug user himself. Note: I have ZERO faith that if McCain were elected he would do ANYTHING to change federal (or influence State) drug laws for the good (e.g.more compassion, less prison) - Republicans have run on tough on crime for a long time now.
How do people constantly justify not even talking about the drug war and its failure? How can we keep people in prison for decades, and keep imprisoning them, when people we know are addicted to drugs? Where is the disconnect here? Perhaps it is time to treat this as a war. In the Civil War, Sherman's strategy was to tear the heart from the Confederacy - burn everything on the way to Atlanta, burn the fields, and there will be no more resistance. When Germany invaded the USSR in WWII, Stalin's strategy was to burn everything when retreating, leaving nothing behind. Brutal strategies, but they worked. In war, you can afford to use scorched earth as a viable strategy, because everything is called for in war.
Well how about it, conservatives? Let's just make it automatic prison for all drug offenses, regardless of what they are, no treatment, no nothing. And let's start with YOUR CHILDREN if they get addicted to drugs. Your friends. Your precious Limbaugh. Henry Nicholas III. That conservative preacher that "went astray" with a male hooker and meth in his hotel room. How about house-to-house searches to get every last speck of drugs from our communities? How do you think it will it feel when your communities are devastated, like those of the poor have become? When your kids cannot get student loans or jobs because they had a drug conviction? Perhaps that is the only answer to these "tough on crime" types who refuse to admit that drug abuse is an addiction.
By the way, I am not of the opinion that someone who commits crimes while high should be "forgiven" or get a pass somehow. Commit a crime, whether high or not, and you face punishment. But I don't see prison, or jail for that matter, as an answer. Drugs are an escape and so many people use them. And when safe drugs aren't present, they MAKE UNSAFE ONES. People who cannot get a job, who do not see their future abuse drugs. People who have nothing to care about abuse drugs. Jail and prison don't change this.
But I suppose the real point is, WHY AREN'T WE HAVING THIS DEBATE? Why do the "tough on crime" types always win and prevent even the mere discussion of substance abuse laws reform? Why do we keep pouring billions and billions and billions of our hard-earned tax money into a failed prison system without even debating whether we should be punishing this conduct in the first place.
The exact same argument goes for prostitution, by the way. I am a liberal and damned proud of it, but there are far too many liberals in this state who constantly join with conservatives and everyone else to pass dumber and crueler laws, imprisoning more and more people. I have a pretty strong libertarian streak in me. I have children I love very much, and I don't want them to become junkies or prostitutes, but the best way to ensure they become good citizens is not to pass more stupid, cruel and expensive laws, but to make sure they have a better education, and the people around them have a reason to get up in the morning (like for, you know, a job). It is hard to respect a criminal justice system that we have built to breed disrespect.
I had to get that off my chest. The hypocrisy of our criminal justice system, and how it treats the poor and the despised, has been killing me lately. Whew - I feel better now.
The Guest PD Blogger