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December 5, 2007 - East Texas Review (TX)

OpEd: Drugs, The Other Stupid War

By William A. Collins

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Blacks with drugs, Do make me gloat; 'Cause once in jail, They'll never vote.

Every country relishes its own destructive obsessions. Japan, for example, craves whale meat; France tortures geese to improve the flavor of their livers; Zimbabwe and Myanmar just torture people; certain African nations genitally mutilate little girls to prevent them from later enjoying sex. Thoughtful, that. And Saudi Arabia doesn't let women drive, cleverly keeping them at home to do the work.

In this country we prohibit drugs. Just this year our governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed hopeless pain sufferers to smoke marijuana when all else fails. Still, even if she'd signed it, the feds could have come in and pinched patients, docs, growers, and anyone else actually involved in treatment.

But as ridiculous as this prohibition of pot for pain may seem, the prohibition of pot for pleasure is worse. It's much more discriminatory than the old prohibition of booze. That bummer was enforced by raiding speakeasies, generally frequented by whites. Saner heads eventually prevailed and Prohibition was sent to dry out in the archives.

Drug laws are more insidious; they aim purposely at blacks. Selective enforcement is targeted to minority neighborhoods, and long mandatory sentences are common. These make sure that non-whites populate our prisons out of all proportion to their percentage in the population.

There are even heavily-used laws adding additional years in jail for drug possession merely because one was near a school, housing project and senior center. Guess who lives in those neighborhoods. One such alleged dealer in our town just had these Jim Crow charges thrown at him the other day. He's 19. By-bye, Baby.

The beauty of this system is that vast numbers of non-whites become felons, and felons can't vote. Not while in jail and often not for a long time thereafter. In some states, never. Since most of these "criminals" are poor, they harbor a natural tendency to vote Democratic on those rare occasions when they actually possess the franchise.

Thus the continued existence of overbearing drug laws is the best thing to happen to the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan. Maybe Abraham Lincoln.

Consequently Republicans prosecute the War on Drugs with religious ferocity. Anyone proposing rational discussion is tagged as "soft on drugs," and these days, as "aiding terrorism." No epithet is off the table.

The police are mired in the conflict too. Their departments collect forfeitures, often cars and cash, which were used in drug dealing. All this makes for a powerful integrated lobby. Not to mention the prison guards and prison builders.

Of course it's all stupid. Addicts are better treated as patients, just like alcoholics, rather than as crooks. Connecticut's and America's jails brim over with these mandatory sentences, often forcing some real bad guys to be released prematurely to make room. The cost in taxes is huge too.

All this just so shameless politicians can stay in office by raising hysteria and suppressing the minority vote.

Opposing this mania, San Francisco, no stranger to addicts, is eyeing a new tack. Well, new at least in the U.S. Eight other countries do it already. The scheme is to offer the serious heroin addict a clean safe room and a clean safe needle.

In Europe they even offer clean safe heroin. No cops, no HIV, no Hep-3, no charge, no questions; but medical care and treatment upon request.

You'll be astonished to learn that in such dens of iniquity overseas, crime is down, health is up, and drug usage has declined. Such a plan has little future in this country however.

But a lot of those mangy addicts, when treated like people instead of maggots, tend to hike up their britches, find part time jobs, shoot up less often, and worst of all, vote.

Not in our blessed country they won't, by God!

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