Sagan: Drug War is Going To Burn Us All 

Sagan: Drug War is Going To Burn Us All 
Posted by FoM on May 06, 2001 at 09:58:42 PT
By Greg Sagan
Source: Amarillo Globe-News 
Fire. It's dangerous. It's beautiful. It is fearful in its potential. It is useful. Employed in a case of arson it can do enormous harm to property; it can kill people in a hideous way. Society has come to grips with fire. In spite of the horrendous danger it represents, almost every home has it, almost anyone can make it. We start early teaching our children about it - how to create it, how to use it wisely, what the dangers are. 
We build fire stations and we train firefighters to deal with fires that exceed our control, either by accident or design. Our laws and technology for containing fire stop short of eliminating it.Fire is available to everyone, including those who would use it to do harm. When we were considering the Bill of Rights, no one ever mentioned, much less argued, the right to make and use fire. Even by the time Europeans settled America, fire was a resource, a tool for humanity the benefits of which far outweighed the dangers. It was such a common artifact of society that our forefathers would probably have concluded it was too obvious a freedom to enshrine.It didn't have to be this way. We might have heeded a segment of society that saw fire as evil. After all, even the Bible refers to hell as a place of fire. (Of course, our Bible is the product of a desert people. The Norse version of hell is freezing cold.) Fire being an evil in the world, fire being something that could be abused with terrible effect, fire being the weapon of choice for wicked people, we might have made war on it. We might have:* Confiscated all petroleum and its derivative products.* Burned what we confiscated, or converted it to the use of the state.* Prohibited the private possession or production of any fire-making substances - on pain of long imprisonment and loss of all tangible assets.* Tested children on arrival at school to see if they had any "fire stuff" on them and chastised them ardently for every perceived abuse.As we all know, though, that is not the path we took with fire.For myself, I am happier knowing that I cannot be stopped and searched for the presence of, say, flints. Or small bits of paper. Or lint. Which, if discovered, can have me jailed and impoverished.For the city of Lockney, I believe we might all benefit from asking ourselves if we shouldn't be satisfied with the resolution of the school drug testing program. After all, we have stopped doing something intrusive and unprincipled to a group of our own young about whom we have every reason to believe the best.But the Lockney case brings us to a more important focal point -- the question of whether we should commit ourselves politically to stamping out the dangers we individually embrace.Drug testing in schools proceeds from an array of false assumptions: that "drugs" can captivate people against their will, that children will do what is wrong if they aren't forced to do what's right, that the innocent have nothing to hide, that the state possesses superior wisdom about what is best for each of us.Drug testing instead establishes the idea that we are free only as long as we don't act like it, that we owe it to the state to prove we haven't done anything wrong, that "prior restraint" is a valid judicial doctrine in a free country.Lockney brought this issue into specific relief. The state views any lack of cooperation as an admission of guilt, and the general public is content to throw "them" to the wolves as long as "we" are left alone.But we consistently overlook the fact that the arguments and tactics we apply to combating drugs can be applied to every expression of free will.Drugs are with us in our society. "Good" ones, "bad" ones, street and prescription, natural and synthetic, expensive and cheap. Every one of us will either:* Learn how to deal with them, or Die.Society must permit this route to learning. We don't make our children responsible with fire by denying them access to it. We all know that sometime they are going to leave the protection of our rules and find out some things for themselves. We all know that they may be good and trustworthy or dastardly and unreliable with the gift of fire, that they will probably experiment with it and do some stupid things while they are learning, that it may kill them.So maybe it's time we stopped trying to club ourselves into a prone and virtuous submission over drugs. Maybe it's time we stopped treating our children like they were undiscovered felons, started treating substance abuse as the symptom it is instead of as the root of all evil. Maybe we ought to reverse the trend toward personal tolerance and collective responsibility.Maybe the lesson of Lockney is to treat drugs like we treat fire.Manage the heat, use the light.Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)Author: Greg Sagan Published: Sunday, May 6, 2001Copyright: 2001 Amarillo Globe-NewsContact: letters amarillonet.comWebsite: Articles:Court Rulings Signal a Shift on Random Drug Tests Rejects School Drug Testing
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on May 07, 2001 at 12:27:09 PT:
The logic Jorma refers to is properly syllogistic, and it works like this:All birds are black;That cockatoo is a bird;Therefore, that cockatoo is black.The bird is white as snow, except of it's beak. But by the rules of syllogisms, it is black.Or, more to the point:Everything about the Drug War is good;Innocent children murdered by trigger happy police is part of the DrugWar;Therefore, these murders of children were good.Of course, the DrugWarriors will screech in indignation and say that I am committing an reductio ad absurdum by condensing an enormously complex concept into a simpleminded phrase.I say: If the shoe fits, buddy... It never had to be complex to begin with. Prohibition = formation of black market = enormous profits = violent criminal activity = eventual governmental crackdown, and ratcheting up the speed of the cycle, as well as its' expansion. Real simple. Predictable. Provable by historical precedent throughout human history. Yet such things escape the minds of antis. Bless their pointy little heads.
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Comment #4 posted by jorma nash on May 06, 2001 at 23:23:15 PT
Drug War Logic
what a great article, i encourage everyone to drop this paper a is a wonderful example of exposing what i refer to as "Drug War Logic"by which i mean logic that is plainly ridiculous,except when applied to the Drug War, in which case it Must be accepted as gospel, or Else.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~another example i've seen goes something like:being overweight is supposed to kill five timesas many people as 'illegal' where is the War on Fat that is five times more viciousthen the War on Drugs?you know, mandatory weigh-in tests to get a job,mandatory minimums five times as long?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~another angle that i personally haven't seen that i've been working on:(although i'm sure i'm not the first to think of it....)Drug War Logic: if you want to know what drug use is really like,you can't ask people who have actually had experience taking drugs,since their objectivity has been forever ruined by the act.i wonder if these same people, if they want, say, investment advice,make sure they don't talk to anyone who actually has invested before,since their objectivity has been forever ruined by the act.or if they want to know what riding a sailboat is like,avoid anyone who ever has been sailing,since their objectivity has been forever ruined by the act.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~this article very eloquently touches on the assumptionsthat cause Drug War Logic to persist:"...that "drugs" can captivate people against their will, that children will do what is wrong if they aren't forced to do what's right..."Prohibitionists sometimes look for logical-sounding reasons to justify their hatred,but they don't really need anything so crude as Reason.they simply *know* Drugs are Evil. Stop trying to confuse the Public with "facts."
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on May 06, 2001 at 19:59:55 PT
I Thank God for cannabis.
I need to thank God for fire. Years ago alters had fire! People in their homes had alters and they had fire. To the Indians their pipe was thought of as a portable alter, And it had Fire! Thank you Father for the gifts of cannabis and fire. You know us and what we need and before we ask it is already waiting for us, like all else you have given. Thank you for Greg Sagan for bringing this to our attention.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on May 06, 2001 at 19:51:51 PT
I like this.
This is a good refreshing perspective of the issue. And Lindy, thank you for your words. I presently have a 4 & 7 year old set of kids, and your [4 or 5], will help get this work going ( I thought I had time, but I see your example and thank you agin...).
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Comment #1 posted by Lindy on May 06, 2001 at 12:11:55 PT:
Mr. Sagan, I would like to see this BRILLIANT article sent to every parent in America,if not the world!! I was raised by "inner city" parents, and was taught the dangers of drugs at a very early age [4 or 5!]. And even though I was exposed to drugs at every level throughout my life, I never imbibed to the point of getting burned. I just couldn't. It had been instilled in my sub-conscious, just as "HOT" "DON'T TOUCH" "HURT!". Only because of those early teachings, given to me with love, did I escape the life-destroying perils of drug addiction and alcoholism,which I have painfully witnessed befall countless friends and loved ones.We can only hope our nation will come to the realization that love, compassion and the truth is the only light to shed on this dark dismal drug war. Only then will we have a chance to teach the children "not to play with fire". It's their only chance. 
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