John Stossel Takes on the Drug War

  John Stossel Takes on the Drug War

Posted by CN Staff on July 30, 2002 at 11:59:01 PT
By Deroy Murdock 
Source: National Review 

ABC News correspondent John Stossel once again exposes the cost, folly, and failure of big government. He somehow always manages to do that. This time, his fat and lumbering target is the War on Drugs, a 30-year-old project that can show amazingly little for the billions of taxpayer dollars it has incinerated and the millions of nonviolent offenders it has incarcerated.Airing tonight at 10:00 P.M. Eastern, 9:00 P.M. Central time, War on Drugs, A War On Ourselves spends an hour asking if government efforts to stamp out drug use are even worse than the drugs themselves. 
Stossel largely avoids the libertarian argument (which I embrace) that adults should have the cognitive liberty to alter their minds in whatever way they choose, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others or endanger them by, say, driving while stoned.In fact, Stossel repeatedly says, "There's no question that drugs hurt people." He also shows highly unglamorous footage of sketchy-looking addicts injecting heroin between the tattoos on their arms and smoking crack in venues that clearly are not Malibu beach houses.Still, Stossel's question remains: "Doesn't the drug war hurt far more?" Apparently so.For starters, consider the highly visible hands that police use to fight this war. Stossel presents numerous shots of SWAT teams in Kevlar suits screaming as they batter down front doors in residential drug raids. He shows Detroit police seizing a drug suspect's house. Before putting it on the market and enjoying the revenues from its sale, cops hurl the home's TV set into a Dumpster and splinter its furniture with sledgehammers. Treating such private property with respect, apparently, is simply too much trouble.Stossel shows us 50 Detroit cops who arrest several dozen people in a sting operation. Most of the police's victims tried to purchase less than $25 worth of pot each.In 2000, according to the FBI, there were 734,498 marijuana-related arrests, 88 percent of them for mere possession. Stossel reports that drug-related arrests and federal antidrug spending both have increased nearly 50 percent in the last ten years while the number of users has remained the same. "We have flatlined," admits Drug Enforcement Agency director Asa Hutchinson.Stossel nicely juxtaposes two pieces of footage. In one, Academy Award-nominated actor, Robert Downey Jr., is sentenced to prison for illegal drug abuse. Meanwhile, Betty Ford goes home after undergoing medical rehabilitation for alcohol abuse. Why no jail time for the former First Lady? Was she any less self-destructive than Downey appeared to be?Detroit police chief Jerry Oliver bravely goes on camera to explain how all of this handcuffing and imprisonment diverts law-enforcement resources from worthier pursuits. "Up to three quarters of our budget somehow can be traced back to fighting this War on Drugs," he says."If we did not have this drug war going on, we could spend more time going after robbers and rapists and burglars and murderers. That's what we really should be geared up to do."Of course, some cops have cashed in on this war. We see an April 24, 1999 surveillance tape of a crooked San Antonio police officer collecting a $3,000 bribe for delivering what he thought was 20 pounds of cocaine. One dealer says he made $20,000 per week with police assistance. "The cops are just another gang," he says.Overseas, the War on Drugs has so elevated profits that new cocaine labs arise more quickly than U.S. and South American forces can destroy them. Coca plantations that have been shuttered in Bolivia simply shift to Colombia. When Colombian police killed cocaine bigwig Pablo Escobar on December 2, 1993, his death was supposed to drain the coke vial once and for all. Then the Cali cartel took over. Yet others stepped forward when their leaders were arrested. The local FARC narco-terrorists, meanwhile, are so fond of kidnapping and homicide that Colombia's president-elect has chosen to relax in Europe until his August inauguration.Searching for a better way, Stossel travels to Europe where governments across the continent are relaxing drug laws. England, Spain, and Switzerland have decreased penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Portugal has decriminalized all drugs.Holland, most famously, allows so-called "coffee shops" to offer consumers marijuana buds, joints, clumps of hashish, cannabis-laced baked goods and even psychoactive chocolates. These establishments — -as I discovered on an early June visit to clean, scenic, and friendly Amsterdam — are not sequestered in nasty parts of town. On the contrary, coffee shops thrive beside elegant restaurants and exclusive boutiques. One coffee shop on a fashionable thoroughfare called Nieuwezijds Voorburgwalsits just two blocks from the Royal Palace and directly across the street from a local police precinct. As its smiling patrons inhale and listen to electronic music, no one outside seems to care, or even notice.Stossel missed Amsterdam's new "smart shops" that sell high-energy nutritional supplements, "herbal ecstasy" and crush-proof plastic boxes that contain individual servings of fresh, moist-to-the-touch psilocybin cubensisor "magic mushrooms." These attractive, brightly-lit establishments also operate legally and in the open.By bringing soft drugs, at least, into the sunshine, the Netherlands apparently has made such substances boring to their youth. While 38 percent of American adolescents have tried marijuana, Stossel says, just 20 percent of Dutch teens have done so.One only can hope that Stossel's tough journalism finally will knock some sense into federal officials. Since the Constitution does not delegate to Washington the power to control psychoactive substances, the 10th Amendment holds that such powers should be "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Why not let all 50 states experiment with a variety of drug policies, ranging from the status quo in some places to the Dutch decriminalization model in others and even Portuguese-style legalization in yet others?Even better, why not follow the Ninth Amendment's instruction that "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people?" Just because the Constitution does not explicitly recognize a right for adults to get baked (just as there is no specific right to eat high-fat potato chips), that alone does not obviate such a freedom. Government should bear the burden of proving that a compelling public purpose trumps the basic human liberty to get inebriated.John Stossel interviews someone who makes this case in a way that should confound any drug warrior: "There is no risk to the population when a person sits in their living room at the end of a long day's work and lights up a joint," says a professional, 30-something woman in a black suit, and pressed, white blouse."But it makes you stupid," Stossel replies. "It makes you lazy.""I don't think I'm stupid, and I don't think I'm lazy," she confidently continues. "I'm a responsible adult. I'm an attorney. I pay my taxes. I live a good, clean life. And if I feel like smoking a joint when I feel like it, that's my business."Complete Title: Wasted Resources: John Stossel Takes on the Drug War Mr. Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service. Source: National Review (US) Author: Deroy MurdockPublished: July 30, 2002 Copyright: 2002 National Review Contact: letters Website: Related Article:Just Say No: Government’s War on Drugs Fails

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Comment #31 posted by FoM on August 01, 2002 at 14:30:17 PT

A Project of the Libertarian Party
For additional information:
Marc Brandl, DWTF Rep.
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 237
E-Mail: StoptheDrugWar
=================================Don't let ABC regret running John Stossel's anti-Drug War piece!Many of you likely heard about or watched John Stossel's provocative segment, "The War on Drugs: A War on Ourselves?" which aired on ABC on Tuesday night. The segment featured credible sources talking at length about the need to end the War on Drugs, focusing on the idea that drug prohibition causes more problems than drugs themselves ever could.Seeing a segment like this run on major-network broadcast TV was an almost unparalleled breakthrough for the drug reform movement - and the drug warriors knew it.And now they're trying to make ABC regret it - something we need your help to stop from happening.Drug warriors know what a threat pieces like John Stossel's will be to their power if allowed to continue, so they've begun applying heat to ABC, from the very top, for even running this piece.We need you to let ABC know that running a segment like Stossel's is not just safe, but is encouraged by members of the public. If you have just a few minutes, you can minimize this window, write and mail a letter to the President of ABC News, and help ensure that the breakthrough success we just witnessed continues in mainstream American media.You should write a physical letter because this is such an important effort - and because the drug warriors are asking all of their supporters to write real letters. Because E-mails can be replicated and sent so quickly, they bear much less weight in the eyes of their recipients than a physical letter, which requires a few more moments of time and effort.Please, take those few moments right when you finish this E-mail and send a letter to:David Westin, President, ABC News
47 W 66th St.
New York, NY 10023Simply use your letter to let Mr. Westin know that you appreciated John Stossel's segment, and would love to see more like it in the future on ABC. Check out the bottom of this E-mail for a sample letter. If you missed the segment, you can check out: see what Stossel had to say about the failed War on Drugs.Don't let the drug warriors take this achievement away from us, right when it's gaining the most momentum. Take just a few minutes and write this letter. Again, the address:David Westin, President, ABC News
47 W 66th St.
New York, NY 10023Thank you.Sincerely,Marc Brandl
Drug War Task Force Rep.
Libertarian Party
(202) 333-0008, ext. 237
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Comment #30 posted by FoM on August 01, 2002 at 11:31:44 PT

John Stossel's Special Now On Line
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Comment #29 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on July 31, 2002 at 05:21:15 PT

Asa admits helping fund Terrorists
Actually bragged their effort "increse the risk" to the traffickers.What determines potential profit on investments, Asa.....risk? Certainly a man with asa nice a suit as Asa has understands this.And he dared tel the truth about the Netherlands..backed up and made sure to run over the ridiculous "unmitigated disater" allegations of McCaffery. 5 point for that alone.I am still euphoric over Phil's awesome program.I hear, different places, people really rag on Stossel, for reasons I can't refer to now - I can't remember.What I noticed was a plain, concrete style, as if "donahue" was for us "higher functioning sorts" and Stossel was making the rather complex subject pallatable to the less "intellectually demanding." (the mainstream TV public)He speaks slow and clear, he repeats the salient point several times. It could be argued Stossel wanted people to really understand what was going on.He did seem to have to reiterate that "drugs are bad" everytime they returned form a commercial break. We need to get over that tendency.The last 2 weeks on TV have been good for the movement
 Asa Hutchinson on Crossfire
 Hutchinson on Donahue
 McCaffery, Nofziger, Leno, and Rogers on Donahue
 Stossels fine showI'd be looking for some perturbed feedback from the Asa and the gang soon!
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Comment #28 posted by Sam Adams on July 30, 2002 at 22:51:41 PT

Magnum PI
I'm really impressed. By far the best TV piece I've ever seen on any aspect of the drug war. I'm so used to seeing trash like Geraldo and that "Scud Stud" imbecile on TV news, I'm still in shock.Hmmmmm, ABC is really making a statement here. I'd like to be optimistic and think that maybe we're approaching a turning point. Maybe with all the corporate scandal, and the arrogance of the Bush administration's blatant corruption and power-grabbing, maybe there will be a general reaction in the opposite direction. Maybe people (ahem....the MEDIA, perhaps) will start waking up to the lies and hypocrisy that surround us in American culture. It would sure be nice if mainstream media came out of hibernation.
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Comment #27 posted by freedom fighter on July 30, 2002 at 21:58:50 PT

Just several highlites!
Notice FARC soliders carrying America made weapons? I sure do as well the Colombia soliders. When Stossel asked cops in New York, if she would rather arrest these peaceful people or the terrorists, this cop said, " I rather arrest the peaceful people than be chasing the terrorists." And dear sweet ASSa, he even admitted that cocaine is such a profitable biz!And never before in the United States's history, have there be a real Police Chief that is not retired yet facing the camera, and that goes for the Judge. These people have been doing their jobs and they know. And that priest! All of them are not retired. Noticed all that drug users?? From potheads to smackheads, did any of them went insanely crazy and start whacking someone's head? Oh yes, I did, right out of the Reefer Madness movie. But, did anyone else? Noticed what "anti-drug warriors" doing... Seems to me, they are the one who are insane. They are ready to pop someone's head. Heck, it's a hard hitting show. Someone ought to start making tapes out of it and spread the word. It's not about John Stossel's show. Really, it's about making war on ourselves!ff
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Comment #26 posted by Shai Schwan on July 30, 2002 at 21:45:49 PT:

send your responses to the honchos
If you want to see more TV like John Stossel's 'war on ourselves' let the folks at abcnews know how you feel. I don't think they read the chat areas, which are fun to read but useless for sending responses to the corporate types that might actually do something. So try this link instead,
abcnews service
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Comment #25 posted by Ethan Russo MD on July 30, 2002 at 21:16:09 PT:

The show was extremely well done. I would love to see them follow up with another on clinical cannabis.
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Comment #24 posted by overtoke on July 30, 2002 at 20:35:01 PT:

Stossel Rocks
Excellent Show. We win.In the past 2 nights I've seen more TRUTH on Prime TV than I've ever seen. (Especially in the past 10 years.)
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Comment #23 posted by st1r_dude on July 30, 2002 at 20:27:49 PT

satisfaction, finally
yes, it's so nice to see intelligent journalism at work concerning this topic...just finished watching john stossel's report on abc - excellent...presented the facts, and asked the right questions to the drug warriors...watching asa with his responses reminded me of kids that have to keep saying over and over: "i believe in santa, i believe in santa" (isn't that sweet - not when it's the drug czar ruining good people's lives) highlight for me - when stossel interviewed the working cops: "isn't this a waste of your time? shouldn't you be chasing terrorists ?" the cops gave the typical no brainer response: " i don't make the laws, i enforce them" (and they love breaking down those doors, i'm sure)...the walls are coming the idiots out of office, and keep up the good work...st1r
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Comment #22 posted by puff_tuff on July 30, 2002 at 20:26:35 PT

Three cheers
Awesome show, a must see!Three cheers to ABC and John Stossel!That rumble you just heard was a large chunk of the wall breakin' primetime....ya gotta love it!
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on July 30, 2002 at 20:15:24 PT

Don't Miss John Stossel
I don't want to say too much because I know some people because of a different time zone haven't seen the program yet. It was unbelievable. I'll leave it at that for now but I hope no one misses it.
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Comment #20 posted by overtoke on July 30, 2002 at 18:43:58 PT:

You have to listen closely to the words people use when trying to debate.2 Million People a year are arrested for Pot.To which a prohibitionist would reply with numbers about FEDERAL Prison.There is a big difference. The DEA (according to their stats) arrests a small number of people for pot.Assa Hutchinson is the worst at doing this. He has about 4 sentences he uses in response any 1 of 10,000 legalization arguments. (He's truly a dumb man. So is McCaffrey for that matter. Anyone who thinks that the WOD is good, or successful in anyway, and at the same time ignore all the harm, globally, that is occuring every single day because of the WOD, ignore the fact that the Mass Media and Corrupting government of the United States has literally dictated to the world on how to handle 'drug' users.)Good day.
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on July 30, 2002 at 16:57:09 PT

Here are the Transcripts for Phil Donahue
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on July 30, 2002 at 16:36:44 PT

Good to see you again!BGreen I have the copyright information set up and I keep checking the transcript page but it isn't up yet. As soon as I see it is up I will post the transcripts.
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Comment #17 posted by MDG on July 30, 2002 at 16:28:47 PT

At last, an actual day off...
I hope all here are doing well. It's interesting to note how much actual "news" is missed when one doesn't have time to check CNews for a month! I missed some interesting articles and comments...and a few fireworks. In the thread back a couple days about the missing children and "the chip", I have to agree with the observers that it's no coincidence that we're hearing about kidnappings like crazy.
My most recent experience with this type of corporo-legislative hysteria was as simple as not being able to refill a propane tank on the fourth of July. A couple other people were turned away from the filling station because we didn't have this new "safety device" which was an auto-shut off valve. Instead, we had to go buy one, or most likely, a new tank. The reasons cited for the new legislation (which undoubtedly caused a profit spike for the producers/lobbyists) were, of course, "safety". I did a quick internet search for statistics on propane tank injuries/deaths per year and found that gas grills cause less than half of the 6000 fires (how big/small?) and injuries of all outdoor grills. Not to mention, it was listed that five (yes, FIVE) people are killed by barbecue accidents, and the deaths weren't attributed to gas grills. It would appear that gas grills are actually safer than briquettes, but gosh, there's this new safety device that sure would sell like hot-cakes if the government forced you to buy it! When will we hear "Gosh, there's this new safety device that sure would help keep kids safe (a'la "drugs off the street") if we just mandate that everyone gets one!" They already force parents to provide helmets for bicycling kids, so why not "the chip"? I'd wager the device would just ensure that more children are killed because of the increased chance of being tracked (if they end up being GPS-type), leading their kidnappers to kill them and dump the body. It might even be worse to hear of the devices being forcibly removed by kidnappers on live children, sort of like that scene in "Total Recall" with Arnold dragging the tracking device out of his skull, through the nose.
Anyway, it's nice to read CNews again.
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Comment #16 posted by BGreen on July 30, 2002 at 16:28:18 PT

More than 200 kg
dang, I know that "more" was in there some place. LOL
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Comment #15 posted by BGreen on July 30, 2002 at 16:26:53 PT

Transcript for Donahue?
Something McCaffrey said has really been bothering me. He said people serving time for marijuana in federal prison had to have possessed than 200 kilograms. A kilogram is approximately 2.2 pounds, so that puts 200 kg at about 440 pounds.That just doesn't sound logical.BTW, is it just coincidence that the suggested alternative for "McCaffrey" in my spell check is "McCarthy?"
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on July 30, 2002 at 16:23:07 PT

That's cool. We saw Sawyer Brown years ago. We went to a National Video Convention that was held in Kentucky and they were the group they had for us and they put on a nice show. Have fun!
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Comment #13 posted by BGreen on July 30, 2002 at 16:15:03 PT

I'll be recording it
I'm going to see Sawyer Brown in concert.
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Comment #12 posted by E_Johnson on July 30, 2002 at 16:01:43 PT

Medical marijuana needs no recount
Our voters have never been on the fence.Why can't the Democrats hear that?Maybe they went deaf crying so loudly over Florida...
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on July 30, 2002 at 15:59:59 PT

I know I want to see the Stossel special. I've seen enough on the miners. I'm really glad they are ok. I'm sure others feel that way too. PS: We cut down a few small trees and my satellite strength way over doubled. We didn't need to cut down any big trees. I'm glad about that. Thought I'd mention it. I didn't like the way it kept cutting out but that has stopped now. Thank goodness.
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Comment #10 posted by E_Johnson on July 30, 2002 at 15:55:43 PT

I still think Gore deserved to lose
He gave a Nazi-type salute to a Drug Free America at the convention while his wife was confessing to all the women's magazines that she needs to consume a mind-altering substance every day so that she can live her own life.He's a former daily potsmoker who takes such a hard line on marijuana that he made Bush look liberal during the campaign.If the laws of karma work at all in the world, his loss was just exactly what he deserved.And we can think of the Florida situation as the karma police coming to arrest the whole Democratic Party!
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Comment #9 posted by BGreen on July 30, 2002 at 15:45:37 PT

NBC has all 9 trapped miners on opposite this
I've got a feeling a lot of the viewers will be watching that instead of this important show.
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Comment #8 posted by p4me on July 30, 2002 at 15:19:22 PT

Thanks kaptainemo, but you cannot get through
Thanks kaptain for the pot-tv link to the Donahue show. I watch pot-tv every M,W,&F. I went to the Donahue link- - happy for the gifts the internet provides and got a message I had never gotten before. Their servers are overloaded. Anyway at about 6PM ET there were 250 views of this show. This is a lot even if had been up 24 hours. Monday's show with the Kubby's has 854 views and Friday's show has 1373 views. Even these high numbers amaze me. pot-tv has really made some gains in the last couple of months.Man am I happy I get to see this show.Starve the economy and have a thrifty meal.1,2 
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Comment #7 posted by p4me on July 30, 2002 at 14:53:03 PT community chat
Here is the link to the chat regarding tonight's show: the last 10 minutes they have put up about 30 comments. They are flying in and one person even commented that he had never seen one issue so one-sided. I only read a couple of support for a continued war on some drugs. One hard ass thought they are just not tough enough. It is the one comment I suggest reading because it shows the thinking pattern of the hard liners:,2
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Comment #6 posted by SpaceCat on July 30, 2002 at 14:45:10 PT

But they MEANT well
I don't know, Doc Z- I think you're actually running down Tony and Darrin by comparing them to Bush rather than the other way around. As I recall, both of them were adamant that the girls not use their powers at all, and if they did use them to help out it was at the end of the episode to correct all the trouble they caused by using their powers in the first place (especially Jeannie)!I can think if another magical being from fiction that fits the whole Bush/Halliburton thing- Faust. 
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Comment #5 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on July 30, 2002 at 13:20:55 PT

Florida Recount Funded by Enron/Halliburton
JULY 30: If George W. Bush were cast as a TV sitcom character he would have to be modeled after ad man Darrin of Bewitched or Astronaut Roger of I Dream of Jeannie - a hapless fellow whose success hinges almost entirely on the extraordinary powers of others. And so it was when the presidency hung by a thread in Florida during the last election. A contentious recount was underway and the genies that had gotten Bush so far assembled en masse to assure his victory over Al Gore. Only now are those last-minute efforts fully becoming known. According to papers filed with the IRS on July 15, nearly $14 million magically poured into the Bush/Cheney Florida recount effort - four times the amount raised by the Gore/Lieberman camp.The money flowed in so fast, and in such enormous chunks, that Bush campaign officials - unaccustomed to Bush's perennial good fortune - were dumbfounded. "I think we were a little bit stunned by the amount we received," Benjamin Ginsberg, a Bush attorney for the recount, told USA Today.According to IRS documents, the Bush campaign took in $13.8 million, most in large contributions. Listed among those large contributors were Bush and Cheney's two most reliable genies - Enron and Halliburton. [snip] - link below."suprise! suprise! suprise!" - G.Pyle, circa 1955
Bush's Magical Mystery Tour
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on July 30, 2002 at 13:12:44 PT:

POT-TV has the Donahue program on Stream
Go here for the Donahue program:
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on July 30, 2002 at 12:42:50 PT

No wonder Asa never goes there
These establishments ? -as I discovered on an early June visit to clean, scenic, and friendly Amsterdam ? are not sequestered in nasty parts of town.When Asa Hutchinson takes the press through Amsterdam, the nasty parts of town are number one on his agenda.He must be a randy sort to always end up in the red light district.Hey Asa -- heard of that guy named Van Gogh? You can also find Vermeer and good old Rembrandt in Amsterdam. Heard of the Old Masters?He'd rather hang out in the parts of town where the art on the wall is early Sodomy and late Fellatio.
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Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo MD on July 30, 2002 at 12:10:33 PT:

Let's Be Reasonable
As with the woman at the end of this column, if we present calm logic and truth against the hysteria and destructiveness of the Prohibitionists, the message will carry itself to acceptance.
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Comment #1 posted by Windminstrel on July 30, 2002 at 12:06:41 PT

yet another crack in the wall
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