We're At Turning Point in the War on Drugs

We're At Turning Point in the War on Drugs
Posted by FoM on August 08, 2000 at 06:59:53 PT
By Arianna Huffington 
Source: Arizona Daily Star
How long do you keep the lie going? This is the unstated question in the blossoming drug-war debate. Speaking last week at the shadow convention in Philadelphia, the Rev. Edwin Sanders of Nashville's Metropolitan Church was unequivocal in his answer: "This needs to be the time when we collectively raise our voices and say that this is the end." Sanders' speech was part of a breakthrough day in the drug-policy-reform movement. 
Speakers as varied as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of the biggest cheerleaders for the drug war in the 1980s, and GOP Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, the highest-ranking elected official ever to challenge our national drug policy, echoed Sanders' sentiment that the time has come to declare an end to a war that has destroyed far too many lives. In the audience, hundreds of parents, children and spouses of those incarcerated on non-violent drug charges held placards with the pictures and stories of their loved ones. "We have absolutely become numb to what's going on in this country," Gov. Johnson, a triathlete and teetotaler, told the Shadow Convention crowd. "The bottom line is, we need a new drug strategy." Because the fact is, we do know. We know what works - treatment. And we know what doesn't work - incarceration. About the only thing we don't know is how to convince our politicians of the truth of what almost everybody else now seems to know. But we're getting closer. Jesse Jackson knows. He railed against our "failed drug policy whose friendly fire is killing Americans rather than helping Americans - a policy whose unintended consequence is to build an ugly, shameful jail industrial complex, a policy driven by fear, race and greed." Pointing to the 75 percent recidivism rate of drug offenders, Jackson brought the crowd to its feet with his trademarked cadenced delivery: "They go into jail sicker and come out slicker and return quicker and around and around and around they go. . . . Because if you are young, poor, brown or black or don't have a lawyer, there is no category called youthful indiscretion." Drug-policy reform is moving from the fringes to the mainstream. And for every public figure who speaks out, dozens more are waiting in the wings until they consider it safe enough to say openly what they now dare say only privately. Two elected officials speaking out are Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif., now running for the Senate, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. In one of the unexpected alliances produced by the fight against the drug war, they have joined forces in favor of Proposition 36 - a major policy shift from incarceration to treatment. Campbell offered the shadow convention crowd a stinging bit of history from the drug war: "The street price of heroin and cocaine is less than one-fourth of what it was in 1981. The purity of heroin available on the street has increased more than fourfold since 1981. "Incarceration for drug arrests has risen tenfold since 1981. The number of drug-overdose deaths has increased more than fivefold since 1981. The proportion of high school seniors reporting that drugs are readily available has doubled since 1981. This is not victory. This is failure." Over at the Republican convention, Colin Powell, in the one bit of truth shining through the phony multicultural fog, made it clear that it was time to rethink America's drug-war policy, which has led to more than 2 million Americans behind bars: "It's time to stop building jails in America and get back to the task of building our children." It's a conclusion shared by an overwhelming majority of Americans: More than 70 percent are now in favor of treatment over incarceration for those convicted of non-violent drug charges. And the media - in a growing number of editorials, columns and news stories - have begun actually to shine a light on the drug war's casualties and call for new policies. Yet George W. Bush did not have one compassionate word to say on the subject beyond grandiloquently promising to "tear down that wall" that traps our citizens in "prison, addiction and despair." And you can bet that, come next week, Al Gore will be equally silent on the subject. Arianna Huffington's new book, "How to Overthrow the Government," is published by HarperCollins. This piece was distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.Contact: letters Published: August 8, 2000Copyright: 2000 Pulitzer Publishing Co. Related Articles & Web Sites:Shadow Conventions The Government Conventions 2000 News Board Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Articles On The Shadow Conventions: 
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Comment #11 posted by Dan B on August 08, 2000 at 22:09:09 PT:
Thanks, FoM. 
I'm getting ready to send it to Map Inc. now.I appreciate the "heads up."Thanks for keeping us informed.Dan B
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on August 08, 2000 at 21:06:36 PT
Me one more time
Hi Dan,Did you send a copy of your letter to MapInc.? I'm not sure where you are to send it but someone might know and post it. I didn't understand why you should send a letter to MapInc. that you send to a paper but I know now. I have a friend who submitted a short letter on the killing fields in Mexico to the Time Magazine I think it was and they changed the meaning of what she was trying to say and she contacted MapInc. and they got on it and they apologized to her. It is a way of making sure your words aren't twisted.Think about it and I wish I knew more but I hope this helps.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #9 posted by Dan B on August 08, 2000 at 20:47:33 PT:
Thanks, everyone.
I do have a tendency to get sucked in by these things, don't I? I'm glad we all have this forum in which to express our opinions. It is important that people have a right to dissent here, and I appreciate that we all have different approaches to this issue. For those who think I go too easy on the bad guys, please understand that underneath the calm, ingratiating exterior is a lot of anger about what is going on in the name of the war on drugs. I do respect your commitment and your fervor. I have the same fervor, but find that I am usually at my best when I keep it in check.Hey, I've gotten after people for not being rough enough on the bad guys, myself. Ask our good friend, Dr. Russo, whom I respect and admire. Please, though, try to stay away from personal attacks. Attack what is said if you must, but not the person saying it.Thanks, everyone, for your support, and thanks for your opinions.Incidentally, I sent the letter (with some minor amendations) to the Los Angeles Times. They may not publish it, but it would be interesting to see the response if they did.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 08, 2000 at 19:46:32 PT
Just Me
Hi everyone,I just want to say that I think all the people that post here have so much to offer. I like the diversity of the comments. We can't learn anything if we aren't shown a different way of looking at a situation. The most important thing to me is that we can be respectful of anothers opinion. We should try to think if we ever felt that way. I know how afraid I was the first time I posted on a board. I was a nervous wreck. As long as people debate an issue and don't resort to words that are just nasty we will have a great place to learn and grow. Thank you all once more.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #7 posted by observer on August 08, 2000 at 19:00:07 PT
Carrot Approach vs. Stick Approach
Just a thought, I do feel that we as a group need both side of rhetoric. Yes, I do too! :-)It is hard to decide on a single tone for this forum. Do we attempt to woo the Nalepkas of this world? Sometimes I just want to vent my "feelings" about the scapegoating and persecution of adults who use cannabis. I think others feel that way too. Still, sometimes the glass may be half full, and the critic in us still wants to cry against the wickedness of the empty half. Sometimes the oppressor can seem so calm, cool and collected as he steals, kills and destroys. Raising your voice against this (or anything not Oppressor-Approved) then becomes the sin. The first one to raise their voice loses the argument, and so on. But it depends on the forum, the context. What is appropriate for a man on a soap-box on the corner, may not make for an effective op-ed piece. What makes for a smashing editorial may make a lousy speech. What may make for a great speech to one group may be booed by another. And so on. Here, I would agree that there is room for both carrots, and sometimes verbal "sticks," too. 
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Comment #6 posted by freedom fighter on August 08, 2000 at 17:22:35 PT
Actually Dan B.
As a writer, you should feel real good that someone took notice of your writings! You do write well! To be honest, we need you! :) Just a thought, I do feel that we as a group need both side of rhetoric. \|/PS) Quote for today"I know you said you understand what I said, but I am not sure if you know what you heard is what I meant to say."
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Comment #5 posted by zion on August 08, 2000 at 16:36:49 PT
I too agree with your approach Dan B.
Arguments that appeal to reason are better in the long run, as they lift us up to a higher standard. I have read your responses for quite a while, Dan B., and find your rhetoric to be articulate and well researched. Please continue to keep a lid on emotion, militancy and vitriol. Though it is hard to control the anger that stems from the chronic injustices heaped upon everyone in this war on drug users, I agree that the best way to win converts to the cause is from the middle, not from an antagonistic polar opposite.And don't sweat the personal attacks that surface every now and then on CN. It's not worth taking it personally, you do a great job and don't need to defend yourself.-z
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Comment #4 posted by Dan B on August 08, 2000 at 14:16:53 PT:
Thanks, Kanabys.
I was about to launch into another tirade--thanks for stopping me. I'm glad I got the point across with that first message. I hate having to defend myself to people who obviously agree with my position. I guess that sort of thing comes with the territory, but it can be frustrating.Anyhow, I appreciate the kind words. Thank you.Peace,Dan B
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Comment #3 posted by Kanabys on August 08, 2000 at 14:08:14 PT
I agree, Dan B.
I wouldn't want to stoop to their level either. Idiots screams and yell. Intelligent people speak with feeling, common sense and keep their emotions in check. Keep up the good work. I'd be proud to fight with words by your side, even vastly overshadowed as I would be by you. By reading your responses, I have developed a great respect for your knowledge. Peace
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on August 08, 2000 at 13:35:58 PT:
Response to Lehder
With your approach to rhetoric, there is little wonder why the antis refuse to listen to people who believe that the war on drugs must be stopped. Do you really think that we will win this war all at once? Do you really believe that we will accomplish all of our goals overnight? Rhetoric is a tool to be used to our advantage. If we can someone with an established voice in this country, like Martin Sheen, to accept at least part of our message while freshly out of the drug warrior closet, we might have a chance at getting him to provide at least one more well-respected voice of reason. We will not win this war by being isolationist. We must recruit, and Martin Sheen has presented an excellent opportunity for recruitment. How do you recruit? Make the enemy feel like you understand his (or her) position, then get him when he's weak.I'm no fool, Lehder. I've been writing for a long time, and I know what I am doing. I know how to make the other side listen to me. Frankly, I don't think that Martin Sheen is a Neo-Nazi fascist who wants to terrorize all of America in the name of the "War on Drugs". I think he is misguided by his emotional investment in an issue he clearly misunderstands, and my letter is an attempt to draw attention to his misguided efforts. Frankly, you, along with Stephen (who at least had the guts to address me in the correct thread), are so steeped in your own militant subjectivity that you fail to see good rhetoric when you read it. Read between the lines, my friend. I am calling for an end to marijuana prohibition, and I am doing it in a way that might make him listen. One thing is certain; he will not be inclined to listen to misguided militants who think the only way to change a person's mind is to scream in his or her face.
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Comment #1 posted by Lehder on August 08, 2000 at 09:56:58 PT
soft on drug warriors
Dan B., what does drug reform have to do with a "long day" of "hard work", "wine", a "fine cigar" or being "American"?Most competent people find their work numbing and so long as a snipe-smoking anarchist doesn't spray La Copita in my face he can drink or smoke or think as he pleases. So far as respecting Sheen's time or his effort or his writing, well, when I hear twisted proselytizing like his I want to swallow a mess of buttons and puke and puke and puke just as all the dopers did in Young Guns.Martin, my heart goes out to you for your brilliant forced recovery, but the fact that your "heart breaks" for "addicts" who need your "help" does not qualify you to threaten others with confinement, deprivation of decent food and books, or physical and sexual abuse for not concurring with your starry-eyed, one-strike-and-your-out recovery pabulum. This type of compassionate conservatism, or whatever you're pushing, should be confronted, along with Dan's good points, with a due measure of contempt. Bullying ignorance is not to be respected.
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