Friday, September 30, 2005

Just Say...What?

For anyone who might have doubted the racist nature of America's War on Drugs...William Bennett, who served as the "drug czar" for the George Bush Sr. administration from 1989-1990 is refusing to apologize for racist remarks he made on a syndicated radio talk show. On Wednesday, Bennett told a caller: "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could - if that were your sole purpose - you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

CNN reports that as of last night, Bennett was defending his remarks. Bennett also served Ronald Reagan's administration as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1981-1985, and as the secretary of education from 1985-1988.

Yes, these are the kind of people who have made their living directing policy that imprisons people for ingesting government unapproved substances.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I Asked You Not To Tell Me That, 99!

I feel like a part of me is now gone. Goodbye 86.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My Side Of The Fence

Okay, back to my side of the fence with my real views on drug prohibition. Without writing a dissertation, I want to discuss how The War on Drugs is irrational, unconstitutional, racist and immoral. (You asked for it, Vegas!).

Drug prohibition is completely irrational. It simply doesn’t make sense to spend $40 billion dollars per year on surveillance, arrests, incarcerations and bureaucratic drug warrior salaries while starving social programs that rehabilitate people with addiction problems. It is an absolute absurdity that we allow alcohol and nicotine, two of the most dangerous and addictive of all drugs, and we imprison users of marijuana and ecstasy. It’s also irrational to think that the War on Drugs keeps our children and neighborhoods safer. In 1933, when the prohibition of alcohol ceased, violent crime decreased sharply and immediately. This is because the illegality (i.e. scarceness) of alcohol made it a more valuable commodity, thereby creating an extremely lucrative black market. Just as alcohol prohibition gave us Al Capone and the Mafia, today’s drug war employs inner city gangs, international crime and terrorism organizations and corrupt police and politicians.

The War on Drugs is unconstitutional. The paranoia instigated by the drug warriors, has led to societal approval of major violations of our nation’s founding principles. Unconstitutional searches and seizures, wiretaps, entrapments and confiscations have been embraced as legitimate law-enforcement tools. During Reagan’s crusade against drugs in the 1980s, urine drug testing in the workplace became standard. Now, many Americans don’t even question this humiliating and invasive test of company loyalty. In 2003, Senator Joseph Biden (who happens to be a possible contender for the Democrats’ nominee for President in 2008), pushed the RAVE (Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy) Act through both houses of Congress. The RAVE Act was hidden in a legislative bill dealing with child abduction (the Amber Alert Bill), and passed with bi-partisan support. The RAVE Act essentially allows the government to prosecute business owners, should any of their customers use or sell illegal drugs on their property or at their event – even if the owners have taken steps to stop such activity. Benjamin Franklin once said something like, “those who would trade freedom for security, deserve neither freedom nor security.”

The War on Drugs is, and has always been, a war against minorities. The first anti-drug law passed in the United States was passed when, in 1875, the city of San Francisco (ironically enough) passed a law that made smoking opium illegal. Middle class, Euro-Americans had been taking opium in a liquid form for some time, but when local newspapers started running reports of white women being lured into Chinese opium dens and turned into sexual slaves, legislative action was taken. Not surprisingly, the use of liquid opium continued to be legal…but smoking opium, as the Chinese immigrants did, was outlawed. Cocaine was made illegal in 1914, because lawmakers believed testimony from Dr. Christopher Koch who said that “most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” In 1937, marijuana became illegal as fears that its use was spreading from Mexicans to white American youths, and that something needed to be done. Currently, though most drug offenders are European-American, African-Americans are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of European-Americans. Much of this racial disparity is due to sentencing guidelines in which possession of five grams of crack nets the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine.

That’s enough drug war rant for tonight. I’m tired and fresh out of crack. The last part of this trilogy will address the immorality of the War on Drugs, from a personal experience perspective.
I know you’re waiting with baited breath...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hofzinser's Blogger Challenge - Round Two

Better late than never, right?A couple of weeks ago Hof pronounced yet another great Blogger Challenge. He warned that this one was a “doozy,” and well, that was a bit understated. Briefly stated the challenge was to “Think of an issue you believe in strongly. An issue that means a lot to you which also has many opponents… Create a post that argues for the other side. Don't be coy, don't be silly and don't be snarky. Take the challenge and really present an argument against your side in the issue.” Hof offered a long list of possible topics. I wrestled around with a few of them, and decided that “the other side” of most of the ones I was interested in could simply be written as “because Jesus said so.” I ended up choosing to argue in support of the War on Drugs, which in reality, I am passionately against. It was really difficult to keep the OkaSnark under wraps, but here goes...

The War on Drugs is a worthy and necessary government policy in order to protect children and support family stability, lower crime rates, and promote a moral American lifestyle. Our efforts to rid our society of recreational drugs should be increased – not abandoned. The current policy has helped reduce overall drug abuse. Without penalties for selling and using illegal substances, drug use would increase and become normalized. As is the case in the Netherlands, where drug possession has been decriminalized and marijuana is sold openly in coffee shops.

Illegal drugs destabilize families and the economy. Daily news reports clearly show the damage that drug abuse inflicts on children and families. More often than not, drugs are the cause of domestic violence, child abuse and child neglect. Drug use also produces irresponsible behavior, which takes a toll both on families and the economy. Money spent on drugs is money not spent on housing, food and other necessities. Also, countless production hours are lost in the workplace because of absences and the general lack of motivation that comes with drug use. Lower production in the workplace damages the overall economy and society.

The government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, even from their own actions, and promote a moral society. Illegal drugs, such as marijuana and ecstasy, are dangerous and morally wrong. Mind-altering drugs distort reality and control is lost while intoxicated, often leading to violence and immoral sexual behavior. Drugs destroy the ability to judge right from wrong and exercise self-control.

Contrary to what drug proponents would have us believe, drug legalization would dramatically increase the crime rate. Anti-drug laws prevent many people from using harmful drugs, and penalties should remain in place as deterrence. A proper fear of authority is healthy for society. Studies have shown that countries with strong anti-drug laws have lower rates of drug abuse and crime, while countries that have adopted lax attitudes toward drug use have seen major increases in drug addiction and crime.

The American public has decided that the consequences of drug legalization would be unacceptable. Stiff penalties and international efforts are necessary to express society’s disapproval. The War on Drugs is being won, and we must stay the course.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Week After

My heart has been too heavy and my mind too muddled to write with any semblance of organization. I am so deeply sad for the people of the Gulf Coast who were left behind, and those whose lives will never, ever be the same again. It’s been over a week now and the reality of the anguish and suffering are just now displacing the initial shock of the images of a government obsessed with wealth and power abandoning its most vulnerable people.

“Sir, you aren't just telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn't have food and water until today, are you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?” – Paula Zahn, CNN News Anchor interviewing FEMA’s head, Michael Brown (September 1, 2005).

“The federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today – Michael Brown answering Paula Zahn, (September 1, 2005).

“Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.” – George W. Bush,
complimenting FEMA chief Mike Brown on his agency's response to Hurricane Katrina, (September 2, 2005).

“I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?” – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, (September 2, 2005).

“Our family is willing to help your family by coming to get you and letting you stay with us in our Pittsburgh home. We can accommodate one or two adults and up to four young children.” – Just one of hundreds of similar ads on Craigslist offering help (September 2, 2005).

“In America we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need.” – George W. Bush, (September 3, 2005).

“I open the television there's people still there waiting to be rescued and for me it's not acceptable. I know there's reasons for it. I'm sorry to say I'm being rude but I don't want to hear those reasons. You know, some people are stealing and they're making a big deal out of it. Oh, they're stealing 20 pair of jeans or they're stealing television sets. Who cares? They're not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of the people who do that they're so poor they've never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once. The main thing right now it's not the people who are stealing. It's the people who are left there and they're watching helicopters flying over their heads and they're praying. How come it's so easy to send planes in another country to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives?” – Celine Dion, (September 3, 2005). I'll (probably) never have another snarky thing to say about Celine.

“The palettes of food and water that have just been dropped at selected landing zones in the downtown area of New Orleans. It’s an outrage because all of those elements existed before people died for lack of them. There was water, there was food, and there were choppers to drop both. Why no one was able to combine them in an air drop is a cruel and criminal mystery of this dark chapter in our recent history. The words “failure of imagination” come to mind. The concept of an air drop of supplies was one we apparently introduced to the director of FEMA during a live interview on Nightly News on Thursday evening.” – Brian Williams, NBC News Anchor, (September 5, 2005).