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Posts Tagged ‘war on drugs’

If you’re in favour of the continued criminalisation of drugs, and you support law enforcement’s efforts to punish those people you’re defining as criminals, be aware of something.

People are doing what you want, in your name, on your mission, in a way that is cruel, unconscionable, vicious, and should make you feel ill.

A New Mexico woman claims she suffered for weeks after a Bernalillo County corrections officer strip-searched her and sprayed mace in her vagina.

Sadism” is exactly the right word, in fact.

This isn’t an unfortunate side effect of a necessary policy. This isn’t a tragic but unavoidable consequence of a general strategy which it’s important we maintain. And this sure as fuck isn’t an isolated incident.

This is just abuse. There’s not even a morally commendable goal being worked towards in unpalatable ways. If anything’s evil, this is.

Now, if you support drug criminalisation policies, you didn’t do this. You haven’t assaulted anyone. You didn’t ask for any police officers to sexually assault anyone on your behalf.

But you really should look into some ways of supporting the policies you want to see enacted, which won’t tacitly endorse the whimsical torture of the innocent.

Classroom discussion questions

1. Is it conceivable, even in theory, that a “war on drugs” might be effective in its goals without shit like this being commonplace?

2. How many individual instances of hard drug use do you think lead directly to physical effects more traumatic and unpleasant than being subjected to a forced anal probe or being pepper-sprayed in the vagina?

3. What the fuck is wrong with America, seriously, I mean, Jesus, you know?

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Jesus Christ the police are the fucking worst.

There is no sense to this. It helps nobody. It makes the world a worse place for everybody it affects.

Not a single individual has been helped or allowed to benefit from this. Not a single aspect of reality has been made lovelier or more conducive to joy or beauty.

People given authority and immunity and powers above those reserved for normal citizens, so that they can keep us “safe”, are going out of their way to actively cause us harm.

This is sad and depressing and heartbreaking and all of it is the direct result of the actions of representatives of the state, for whom there was no need and no justifiable motivation to do any of this, who are devoting massive amounts of their time and our money across the country in situations like this to making things worse and causing misery.

Holy shit do we ever not need to be doing this to each other.

via Reason

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I often remind myself, these days, of how recently it was that I generally bought into the Democrat/Republican good-guy/bad-guy narrative. Remembering that I meant well, and wasn’t simply being vindictive or a complete dumb-ass, is what stops me getting as cross as perhaps I should at a lot of people in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and others with whom I’m of a like mind on many things.

But look, people, progressives, sensible liberal types who want to help everyone and think that government is an important tool for doing that: you really need to look at the tribalism on your side of the aisle, as well as just denouncing it when you correctly spot it on the other.

Sometime in November, I tweeted something to the effect of:

“The wrong person won the election and now THE WORLD IS DOOMED!!1!” – crazy Republicans. Also most of you if the numbers had been a little different.

It’s not that the people who saw Obama’s re-election as the moment their country was lost to an Islamic socialist conspiracy aren’t comical. But the number of people with whom I share almost all my values, and yet who cheered Obama on and would have declared the US a complete lost cause if Romney had won, gave me an irony headache.

The idea that, because of the obvious stupidity and meanness of the American right, supporting the left means joining forces with progressive freedom fighters of tolerance and equality, is entirely misguided. You really need to realise that Obama is not your friend.

Before the recent US election, there was a lot of speculation on the left that the President would really start getting things done in his second term. Things he wanted to do, but which wouldn’t have been politically viable for him while he was still trying to get re-elected. This is troublesome for a number of reasons.

It surely indicates a catastrophically broken system, if you’re saying we can’t trust anything a President says or does in his first four years in office. That’s a long time for them to hold the most powerful political position in the world’s primary superpower, while having to prioritise their own popularity above the things they were elected to do.

Lawrence O’Donnell, a man who had hundreds of reasons to vote for Obama in November, made it clear that the President had “absolutely no intention of having that discussion” (about the war on drugs he totally plans to end) until he was re-elected. So if Obama thinks it’ll hurt his political career to talk honestly about his feelings on the important political issues facing the country, he’s just going to keep quiet until he’s in the clear.

That’s coming from someone firmly on Obama’s side. In the face of his failure to do what they want him to do, and act according to his own alleged conscience, their defence is to say “It’s okay, he’s just lying so people will vote for him”.

When it comes to that, you really need to ask why he’s worth defending at all.

Especially when it becomes apparent that he has no goddamn intention whatever of suddenly becoming the liberal Messiah everyone seemed to think he was four years ago. He’s not leading the way in some gloriously progressive, tolerant, loosening of insane drug laws and ushering in a new world of relaxed attitudes to personal use of enjoyable substances. He’s entirely failing to keep up with the pace of public opinion, and in fact is actively struggling against it.

Colorado and Washington both recently voted in favour of legalising recreational marijuana use. In Colorado, legal pot got more votes than Obama did. But the only news about his administration’s changing attitudes to the drug war implies that he’s considering efforts to step it up, and will be going out of his way to enforce federal laws to overrule these few democratic victories.

For some time now, Obama’s been stepping up harassment of even medical marijuana dispensaries, let alone people who just want to get high and have some fun and do things with their own bodies which they should be entitled to.

People such as himself. Obama’s own history of drug use is well recorded. He’s never been cagey about the fact that he smoked marijuana in his younger days, and stronger substances too. But, of course, he stopped, because he wanted to make something of himself someday, and he was concerned about the negative effects. He’d seen what regular use can do to people, how it can damage the intellect and blunt the senses. Drugs are bad, mm’kay.

What we’re supposed to take from that story is that drugs are a scourge which destroy people’s lives, and it’s just as well Obama overcame that temptation, so that now he can fight to stop others indulging in something so potentially damaging. What I actually take from it is that Obama used drugs when he was young, never got thrown in jail for it, made his own grown-up fucking decision to stop, and now he’s the goddamn President.

And now he doesn’t want other people to have the chance to make the same decision and take the same life path that he did. If he’d been subjected to the law which he’s now forcibly and expansively trying to implement, he’d have been a black kid with a criminal record for drug offences and a history of jail-time. Legally interfering with his life would have ruined it. Leaving him the hell alone let him become the most powerful man in the country.

Obama is not your friend, progressive liberal sensible nice people. He’s not the good guy. He’s not on your side. I’m not saying you should forget that Mitt Romney is appalling or that Republicans seem to say something new and moronic about rape or abortion on any given day that ends in a ‘Y’. But that doesn’t mean the other guy is the one you want. Don’t let the inane, two-team, pick-a-side mentality of US politics blind you to the fact that, if you’re in favour of cannabis decriminalisation, this President might be the worst in history on that metric. Stop fixating on the inanity of the Republicans who oppose him; look at the shit he’s actually pulling.

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– Depressingly, I don’t find it hard to believe that a Republican Congressman could be caught publicly praying for Obama’s death. However, given the exact Bible quote he was referring to, isn’t it entirely possible he was just hoping for the guy to lose an election?

– These statistics on drug-related killings in Mexico might be the scariest numbers I’ve seen all year.

Ex-gay therapy doesn’t work. Even the people running it apparently know that.

Hahahahahahaha Ben Stein hahahahahahaha.

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…make this much sense while still in office?

Jimmy Carter wants to call off the global drug war, and start introducing new policies which will actually reduce drug use, help people who are drug-dependent, and stop curtailing freedoms for vast numbers of people whose crimes essentially hurt nobody.

This is another of those issues where, ostensibly, all sides want the same thing; fewer people being damaged by harmful and addictive substances. But the supporters of the catastrophic “War on Drugs” are either too blinded by ideology to consider a more liberal approach, even if it’s demonstrably better at achieving what they want, or they’re being disingenuous when they express compassion, and really only want to see more people locked up, not helped.

(h/t Russell Blackford)

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– What’s at the centre intersection of this Venn diagram of silliness? Catholic doctors curing gays with homeopathy. What exactly do they plan to dilute?

– Pretty much everyone except politicians seems to understand by now that the war on drugs is a disaster. Maybe we should just put TV writers in charge and things might start getting better.

– Winner of the Nobel Prize for awesome Paul Krugman has been schooling dishonest Republicans in healthcare lately, which has been quite fun to watch. One, two, three, four.

– BREAKING NEWS. These women have FEET.

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The thing about drugs ARGH SCARY is that it’s difficult for a lot of people to have a sensible conversation about them.

They can be a genuine nightmare, after all. Becoming physically and psychologically dependent on heroin DEATH DOOM DESTRUCTION is no doubt a horrifying experience, and can lead to every single aspect of a person’s life crumbling if they don’t get help. And that’s not even the most insidious drug CRYSTAL METH WILL RAPE YOUR BRAIN widely available today.

And yet, many people seem unwilling to even think about drugs FLEE IN TERROR any further than the knee-jerk reaction that they must all be wiped out and obliterated utterly. But making decisions based on nothing more than the immediate, gut reaction and scary ideas that flash into people’s minds whenever drugs SAVE THE CHILDREN are mentioned might not be the most helpful strategy. They’ve been around for centuries; they’re unlikely to seize any more of a stranglehold over the planet if we take five minutes to think about what might actually work.

As always, it pays to be wary of fundamentalism. If eliminating the presence of drugs completely is the only acceptable course of action, you have to wonder why people are so convinced that this is necessarily a good thing in itself. There’s nothing intrinsic to any particular chemical compound to render its very existence unacceptable. It’s about their capacity to do things that are bad.

The war on drugs – if it’s not just a blind ideology that’s completely lost track of the effect it has on real people – should really be a war on drugs’ capacity to fuck you up.

And so if a campaign against drugs isn’t going to just barrel on with a zealous, zero-tolerance approach which completely disregards its results, it needs to pay attention to what strategies tend to reduce drug use, and what tend to exacerbate it.

Which is why it’s a shame that nobody in the UK or the US seems to be serious about doing that.

Possessing any drugs for personal use was decriminalised in Portugal nine years ago. Before then, drug use had been going up. Since then, it’s gone down.

There really does exist a middle ground between incarcerating half a million people for drug offences and replacing the Presidential inauguration with a cocaine party. It’s just not true that if you let your mind contemplate loosening your drug policy even for a second, waves of swarthy opium dealers will be battering down your door to haggle for your 8-year-old son’s pocket money.

You can make some changes, find some new ways to offer treatment, and keep some laws in place – as Portugal has done with trafficking – and things can get better. Teenagers will be less likely to start taking drugs if you dare to deviate from the accepted orthodoxy that all drugs are always terrible.

If you care, that is. But as Johann Hari excellently points out, some just seem to be set on raving manically against anything that sounds like it should fall into the category they’ve chosen to label MOST DEPLORABLE EVIL EVAR. The mephedrone fiasco is a fine example of the standard route that the discourse seems to take.

And if people are simply dead set against more effective campaigns on principle, because the most vitally important thing to them is that they’re not seen as being “soft” on the problem of drugs, then I can only conclude that they don’t really care how many people are taking drugs and killing themselves. If either harm reduction or respect for personal liberty was as high a priority as the perceived adherence to accepted dogma, they’d consider other options based on what works.

(The title is a Brass Eye reference, incidentally, partially explained here.)

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