Pubdate: Thu, 21 Sep 2000
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Francisco Examiner
Author: C.M. Evans, Colin B. Corstorphine, Robert Sharpe
Note: All headlines but the first supplied by MAP


I read in The Examiner that Tom Campbell advocates the death penalty for 
anyone caught selling drugs to a child under 12 ("Rep. Campbell unveils 
radical drug proposal," Sept. 19). The article by Eric Brazil quotes 
Campbell as saying, "I propose the death penalty for an adult who 
intentionally sells heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine to a child under 
12." In some extreme cases, I do support the death penalty. But this 
proposal of Campbell's is such a monstrous concept that, quite frankly, it 
shows a certain amount of callousness toward human life.

Most of us realize the drug war has failed. The prisons are packed with 
people who will be imprisoned for many years for minor non-violent crimes.

We tried to get tough by imposing mandatory prison time for offenses 
involving small amounts of illegal drugs, and this policy is ruining us 

The greater tragedy is that whole generations of certain minority groups 
are locked away to rot, due to the draconian policies that have failed to 
win the war against drugs.

For what I have seen over the years, the war has been waged most strongly 
against the poor, the disenfranchised and people of color.

I also point out to Campbell that many leaders throughout history have 
argued that it is appropriate to kill people. Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot 
come to mind as individuals who advocated cleansing society of those they 
said should not be tolerated.

Today, repressive and backward countries like China, Afghanistan and Iran 

Fortunately, most of the rest of the world does not find this killing 
attitude tolerable. I do not want to live in a country that can be easily 
identified with or put in the same category as China, Afghanistan or Iran 
when it comes to public policy.

We live in a civil society, not in one where, if you break the law, you 
will likely forfeit your life -- or a hand or foot.

I hope the statement Campbell made is just rhetoric.

Though sometimes I disagree with certain positions he takes, I never 
imagined he'd be advocating a genocidal drug policy.

C.M. Evans
Mountain View

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Eric Brazil attempts to portray Tom Campbell as a newcomer who is saying 
crazy things to make up for a lack of points in the polls.

To those who pay attention to politics this (speech on drug policy) was not 
an unveiling.

We have been well aware of Campbell's views for some time.

Campbell will likely lose the election due to many factors including Sen. 
Dianne Feinstein's refusal to debate.

If you have a lead over an invisible opponent, why give him a chance to 
open his platform to a wider audience?

As for Feinstein's theory that we should focus on the supply side (in 
interdicting illegal drugs): Why not? It worked for Prohibition, didn't it!

After the aid package for Colombia creates a war, I hope that Campbell will 
give it another shot.

Maybe the public will remember that Feinstein voted for an aid package with 
"dogged oversight."

We all know what that means: American soldiers being set up as targets.

Colin B. Corstorphine
San Francisco

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Given the California prison guards union's traditionally generous campaign 
contributions, I'm not surprised that Sen. Dianne Feinstein prefers to 
continue riding the drug-war gravy train.

With any luck she'll be able to use drug hysteria to her advantage this 

The great thing about the drug war for the entrenched interests who depend 
on it is that it's unwinnable.

The policies Feinstein supports are proven failures, which accomplish 
little other than to enrich organized crime.

Her opponent, Rep. Tom Campbell, is one of the few politicians in this 
country who offer a viable alternative to the drug war. By registering 
hard-drug addicts and providing standardized doses in a treatment setting, 
public health problems like HIV associated with addiction could be eliminated.

If able to purchase drugs at cost instead of at inflated black market 
prices, addicts would no longer need to commit crimes to feed their habits. 
More important, organized crime would lose a lucrative client base. This 
would render illegal drug trafficking unprofitable, destroy the black 
market and thereby spare future generations the horror of addiction.

This harm-reduction plan may sound defeatist, but if destroying the black 
market and permanently protecting future generations from hard drugs is 
defeat, I for one am willing to surrender.

Californians who care about protecting their children from drugs would be 
wise to vote for Campbell. The counter-productive preaching has gone on 
long enough. It's time for a pragmatic drug policy.

Robert Sharpe
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
George Washington University Washington, D.C.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens