Friday, August 29, 2008

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.

Dennis Wilkins
The Guest PD Blogger


Anonymous said...

Your instincts are right on, but follow through, if I may suggest. Obama is not the answer. Ron Paul was the answer. He would have ended the drug war. He would have pardoned every non-violent prohibition violator, released them all from prison, sellers included.
If you are serious about your "libertarian streak," do not praise Obama. For one example, he voted to renew the FISA Act, including immunity for the telephone companies. Obama cannot be trusted to restore civil liberties or to protect constitutional rights. His speech, although well-delivered, vibed big goverment, big brother. As a deputy public defender, I won't compromise for the lesser evil (which, relative to McWar, Obama certainly is). I support Ron Paul for President.
BH (Los Angeles)

PD Dude said...

Problem with this is, BH, that I, for one, am not a single issue voter. I'm not going to reflexively vote in favor of the first candidate that comes along and says he's opposed to the drug war. I'm quite sure that there are great members of the KKK who believe that. If David Duke had that as a plank in his run for office, it wouldn't get me on board his campaign.

There are, essentially, 2 strains of libertarianism: the strain that is relatively liberal, in line with the Democratic party, but not necessarily so great (from the Libertarian point of view) on things like economics, seeing a societal goal in economics legislation for things such as health care, for instance.

Then there is a more conservative strain that is great for "economic liberty" or the 2nd Amendment, but they still have no problem jumping in your bedroom or your parties.

I'd fall more in line with the liberal libertarian view, which is to say take hands off the economy to the extent possible, but recognize that there are societal interests for things such as helmet laws, or requiring auto insurance, or civil rights legislation.

My problem with Ron Paul is that, while good on some issues, he comes from the clearly Confederate wing of the Libertarian party. He's cut his teeth with Libertarian views on things like rolling back civil rights legislation and other uniquely Southern piques with the federal government. His motives are very important to me when you consider that he's running for more than president of a drug policy, and when you hear him talking about how wrong it was for the North to go to war with the South in the Civil War, you realize he's fighting very old battles, and that he, and many of his core supporters, would probably have no problem if independant contractors (not the government - perish that thought) still went about the south swinging black people from the lower braches of trees to ensure no organized federal activity in those areas.

So, no, drug war or not, I'm not going to go back on so many other important things that I think this country stands for to support one particularly nutty person in his quest for the presidency, just because I think he's right on just one (but one admittedly big) issue.

Thank you for the input!

Anonymous said...

Helmet and mandatory auto insurance are tyrannical, unjuust laws, unbecomming a free People. The pursuit of happiness encompasses letting the wind blow back your hair, astride the chrome and steel she rides. Mandatory auto insurance -- scrap that, and, while we're at it, lower the drinking age to 18.

But I'll concede, as you point out, that Ron Paul is not an optimal libertarian. I have some reservations about him. Still, a suboptimal libertarian would have been infinitely superior to the statist, authoritarian, and paternalistic Obama and McWar.

I would go on to explain why, despite some fallabilities, Ron Paul is (was) the best candidate, but I must work on a non statutory motion to dismiss some 12021, subdivision (c)(1), counts, misdemeanant in possession of a firearm. Thanks to the justices whom Obama would not have appointed, I might be able to invoke the Second Amendment to keep someone out of prison.

BH (Los Angeles)

PD Dude said...

Just think of all of the other things those justices (exception of Scalia on 2 issues) are doing to totally screw up the rest of your life. Ever heard of Harmless Error? :)

Imagine having had an Obama appointing 4 more Brennans over the last 20 years, what a great country we'd live in right now.

PD Dude said...

BTW - Nice Neil Young reference. I'm doubting he's feeling so much less free because our tyrannical society insists that we have to cover our heads and not become basket case wards of the state just by having a small traffic accident. Anyways, don't want to wear a helmet, you don't have to, just don't use the public roads and you're all good.

Same with insurance. There's no law you have to have insurance. Drive to your heart's content throughout your private property and do it how you wish.

And by all means, forget lowering the drinking age, they should abolish it like those socialist Europeans have.

Anonymous said...

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I have experienced some of these side effects-
mild dependency and constipation

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Kim Adam