Tag Archives: Drug War

Vice

31 Oct

I’d like to talk a little about Vice. I’m for it. Or, rather, I’m against being against it. The older I get the less persuaded I am that the laws intended (ostensibly) to rein in Drug Use, Alcoholism, Prostitution, and, Pornography do any good in any way commensurate with the harm that they cause.

And the thing is, there are people clamoring to add things to the list of Vices that say volumes about the impulse to control that motivates the Crusaders. People are Crusading against Genetically Modified food, against High Fructose Corn Syrup, against Sugar. A Crusade against Tobacco has been going on nearly as long as I’ve been alive. Some of these Crusades appear, for the moment, to have  some  basis in fact, but many of them are simply the prejudices of the Crusaders, which they want to impose on everybody.

Now, this is hardly new. Read just a little history and you are sure to encounter previous Morals Crusades; factory owners who forbade this and that, Prohibition, and so on. And, often, we take a very superior attitude toward these moralizing ancestors. And then go right out and do the same thing in the name of “The War On Drugs” or “The Obesity Epidemic”.

(Aside; how the hell can we have an Obesity Epidemic? An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of a communicable disease. Is that why the thin people are so hysterical? They think they’re being exposed to Fat Germs?)

In my Cranky opinion the difference between a Victorian Christian busybody pestering people about drink and church attendance and a Modern Secular busybody who wants to restrict what people eat is not visible to the naked eye. I can understand some genuine concern about Prostitutes and Drug Users, but the laws that are used to “Help” them don’t seem to achieve much good, and do appear to have all kinds of unpleasant fallout. The War On Drugs costs huge amounts of money, is the primary cause of most of the SWAT raids gone bad that you can read about on the internet, and attempts to ‘close loopholes’ that previously allowed people the authorities were “sure” were guilty have brought us “Asset Forfeiture”. And Asset Forfeiture is, frankly, the return of the Sheriff of Nottingham without the colorful Medieval costumes. I can accept that drugs like Cocaine, Heroin, and even Marijuana ruin lives. So does alcohol, but it only took us thirteen years to realize that banning that was a huge mistake. Why can’t we drop this idiotic “War? If legalizing everything is a mistake, we can always ban it again.

The current panic about “Human Trafficking” is simply a long discredited Victorian Witch Hunt being recycled by modern Feminists (look up “White Slavery”), and actually accomplishes little other than to place women accused of being prostitutes into the paws of people who absolutely will not listen to them, unless they stick to the Human Trafficking Hysteria script. Who does this actually help? Is it mean of me to suggest that the driving force behind it is a bunch of crabby women who are waking up to the realization that some men would rather pay for sex than put up with THEM?

As for Gambling, where do agents of the Law get the unmitigated gall to raid poker games when every state in the Union is running a Numbers Racket? That’s what a State Lottery really is, except that the traditional Mob run racket offered better odds and probably had more honest books.

Vice isn’t crime that one person visits on another. Vice is what we do to ourselves. It arguably isn’t good for us, but the history of Government attempts to stifle it isn’t impressive. In fact it’s often revolting.

The progress of civilization is seen in the degree to which the common man is able to tell all the people who want to order him about (for his own good) to climb a tree. Anti-Vice Crusades do not forward civilization.

Marijuana

21 Jan

I’ve smoked pot. I inhaled, that being the point of the exercise, which makes me smarter than a certain ex-president. I found the experience both mildly pleasant and mildly unpleasant. As a rule, I don’t like drugs that fuzz my thinking; hence my personal drugs of choice are caffeine and nicotine. I smoked weed occasionally, off and on, through my twenties, and then tapered off. For me, the downside, even discounting the illegality, was not matched by the benefit. But that’s me.

I think that Marijuana should be broadly legal for both medicinal and casual use.
Mind you, I don’t for an instant believe that pot is harmless. I don’t buy the “Legalizing marijuana and hemp would solve all our problems” propaganda any more than I buy the Hysteria from the Drug Warriors. I do believe, based on my own experience, that the active drugs in marijuana stay in your system longer than the effects of alcohol (to name another popular drug I don’t use much anymore). But several factors make me think that the laws against marijuana are, at best, a mistake.
The War on Drugs has had a huge cost in terms of our legal protections and civil liberties. The idea that serving an arrest warrant on a non-violent criminal involved knocking politely on his door and presenting legal paperwork has pretty much vanished. The spread of military style, or perhaps movie-military style, hostile entry tactics to small town police forces serving warrants for pretty much anything can be laid at the alter of the Drug War. If said war had ever, in its whole history, actually dried up the supply of illegal drugs for any length of time there might be an argument for it. Probably not an argument I agreed with, but an argument. I know of no such success. Furthermore, on a higher level than the fight against marijuana, the Drug War has bureaucrats and Drug Warriors second guessing doctors as regards the treatment of chronic pain, which all too often results in people being condemned to serious suffering. This is barbaric, and nothing associated with it escapes my contempt.
Moreover, historically America has not leaned toward pot use to a degree that presented a problem. During the run-up to Prohibition many States passed local “Dry” laws, and some of those states didn’t have laws against marijuana on the books. The major social drug use problem in such states remained drunkenness. Now, that may have changed, but I doubt it. I think that legalization, should it happen, would be followed by a brief boom in pot smoking, followed by a falling away as people returned to the drugs, like Bourbon, that they preferred.
One of the reasons that Prohibition failed so spectacularly was that brewing beer and distilling booze aren’t particularly hard or dangerous, so the practices were widespread. Consider, then, that while it is not considered “Native” to the United States, marijuana will happily grow most places in North America where people will actually live. Unlike crack, or meth, pot does not require monkeying around with dangerous explosives and unstable chemical reactions. Therefore, eradicating pot in a society where even a tiny segment is unwilling to give it up is a labor of Sisyphus.
On a more abstract level, I am generally opposed to movements by the State to save the Common People from themselves, for their own good. The history of such buttinskiiism is not pleasant, and it registers few successes. The constant badgering We The People get about our vices and our diets from those who hold themselves to be our Betters is a perpetual annoyance. Getting the Do Gooders to lay off pot wouldn’t be much, but it would be a start.
Aside; some years back my regular commute tended to coincide with the broadcast of a ‘Public Service’ announcement about how parents could tell if their teenage children were experimenting with drugs. The list was a long one and included such markers as tooth-grinding, mood swings, flushed face, changing friends, etc. I wondered at the time, and still wonder, if the writers of that spot were aware that they were describing adolescence.
If we can tone down the Drug War to the point that the nation’s police only rarely kick somebody’s door in at 2 am, that will be a victory. If we can explore some of the ‘benefits’ that pro-marijuana propagandists have promised us, and even some of them prove out, that will be a victory. But I think the clinching argument for legalizing marijuana is that if we do it, and it proves to be a mistake, we can change the law again. We, the citizens, are the ones who are supposed to run this country. The political class are a bunch of not very savory characters we have hired to do the scutwork for us. At the moment, the majority of people favor legalization of Pot, and a larger majority think that the States should decide and the Federal Government should butt out.  This seems to have a large number of the Political Class greatly worked up. It seems to me that they are afraid not so much that we are about to make a tragic mistake, but that we might decide to run things directly and dispense with their services.
Good.