Shooting From All Directions in Drug War 

Shooting From All Directions in Drug War 
Posted by FoM on June 11, 2000 at 07:49:03 PT
By Dana Parsons
Source: Los Angeles Times
On one day in the paper last week, we ran a nice feature story on Orange County teens involved in an anti-drug program run by the Sheriff's Department. Many who read it may have felt hopeful about the proverbial war on drugs.   The next day, we ran a story on 20 Irvine High School students who'd been suspended for getting high the night of the prom. Five of the students were repeat offenders and will not be allowed to take part in graduation ceremonies. 
  Most people probably read that story and felt dispirited about the war on drugs. War is like that, especially the ones where the generals aren't quite sure what to do. One day the report from the front seems uplifting; the next day it's the same old, same old.   The one constant is that, as with all wars, casualties lie everywhere. The latest are the Irvine students--not to mention their parents and relatives--who after all these years won't be taking part in Graduation Night, one of life's milestones.   I feel sorry for the students, but I'm not picking up the cudgel for them. They knew there's a war going on out there, and they knew the rules of engagement: if you get caught, you'll face potentially dire consequences.   And that will be the case as long as the reflexive response to drug use is punishment. If drug use doesn't warrant automatic punishment, then a wider range of options is available for things like school infractions.   And that brings us to yet another drug-related event of last week.   Let's rephrase that. It was a fund-raiser in Newport Beach for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell.   The event drew a number of Orange County Republican donors, and even though Campbell is considered a moderate candidate, the room wasn't exactly filled with hippies.   Intelligent Debate May Yet Come:   So, some may have been surprised to hear from Arianna Huffington, a nationally syndicated columnist and former wife of California Senate candidate Michael Huffington.   She has been outspoken in her belief that the drug war, with its emphasis on punishment instead of treatment, is a waste of time and money. She urged Campbell, who also has spoken publicly about the need to change national drug policy, to make that one of the cornerstones of his campaign.   I know where he could probably find 20 student volunteers.   It's interesting that Campbell isn't afraid to speak on the issue, even in front of potential Republican donors.   For obvious reasons, it probably will take prominent Republicans to carry the ball on drug-policy reform. Democrats who argue the case will be dismissed as "peace and love" leftovers from the drug-loving '60s; no matter how much sense they make on the issue, too many people will tune them out.   But as people like Campbell do occasional solos for the expanding national chorus of voices, the issue may yet be debated intelligently.   More than 500 clergymen have formed a national group called Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy. The group has focused its attention on the criminal justice system's handling of drug users, at both the arrest and sentencing stages.   None of these efforts will come in time to rescue the local seniors who'll miss the ceremony with their class. I'd guess they rue their decision to go for the temporary high.   I sense that Irvine school officials didn't want to lower the boom on them, but rules are rules. And in a way, the students have simply added their names (however anonymously) to the ongoing debate over what to do with drug users in our society.   Even if the day comes when drug use is decriminalized, it'll still be against the rules at school functions.   But if the Huffingtons and Campbells of the world can convince society that drug use shouldn't automatically warrant criminal punishments, maybe school officials will be free to think of more creative sanctions for students.   But for now, as the Irvine students learned, this is still a war that takes no prisoners.   Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821 or by e-mail to: dana.parsons Published: June 11, 2000Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times Related Articles & Web Sites:Arianna Online Leaders For A More Just & Compassionate Drug Policy The Drug War's Unequal Justice Bust Spurs Action Tactics in War on Drugs
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on June 11, 2000 at 19:31:00 PT
Typically,Nemos' commentary is right on. No one really knows or cares what's going on.It has always been this way.Like the Salem witch trials.As soon as the upper crust,well off people started to be affected,,the insanity was finally realized. There are many paralells between the witch trials,and the WoDs,but that's another story. It's true,down in this area,(I'm 5 minutes from Irvine),,that many people are unaware of how things are,until their kids get busted....That's why it's surprising to see this article from the LA Times being mildly dissident.I think most people down here,and probably nationwide,are spoonfed by mainstream media,,which I believe is quite coercive,and manipulated.........JAH Shine on you all........dddd
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 11, 2000 at 12:08:50 PT
Right Again Kapt!
Hey Kaptinemo! Yet another good comment! Thanks and I agree!Peace, FoM!PS: Thanks for finding the links too!
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on June 11, 2000 at 11:10:52 PT:
When the Chil-drun become the enemy
Isn't it amazing how fast the Average American can do logical flip-flops that would inspire admiration from a Jesuit priest when it comes to drug policy... and their kids.Because, as most people here know, drug policy has always been about sub-cultural differences.... and the members of those sub-cultures. And particularly about why they wer *made* into subcultures. Blacks. Hispanics. Hippies. Libertarians. "Those people" as opposed to 'us'. Keep 'those people' down, keep 'those people' out, keep 'those people' in line, keep 'those people' ...away from our kids, because they might, by association, learn that history is not as they are taught it is in school, or that politics are not as nicely cut and dried, Anglo style, as their parents and society would have them believe. You have to have an excuse to keep 'those people', those marginalized members of our society, under control. And what better means than that of an implied, tacit moral sanction against them? A sanction which shows their supposed lack of moral fiber... because of supposed acceptance of drug usage?But when their kiddies have to spend a night in jail ... or worse, have their entire lives ruined becaused of a criminal record... for breaking laws specifically aimed at 'those people', then they start to rethink the wisdom of having such laws. This was what fueled the early decrim movement in the 70's, and as usual, history is repeating itself in the new millennium. Let's hope we get it right this time. 
The Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge.
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