Pubdate: Sat, 20 May 2000
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2000 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Mike Cast and Kevin Fansler


Columns excoriating the excesses and selfishness of the so-called "boomer
generation," including Gregory Kane's "'Me first' generation inspired our
drug woes," (May 10) are becoming quite predictable.

Like many pundits who have critiqued this supposedly hedonistic generation,
Mr. Kane is himself a "boomer," so I presume that makes him feel qualified
to generalize and pass judgment.

As a fellow boomer, I have a somewhat different perspective. I recall going
to high school in the late 1960s and seeing several of my friends' older
brothers go off to Vietnam.

Some of them came back wounded - physically and emotionally - and some
became involved with drugs while over there.

Unlike the comparatively privileged sons of the middle class, most of the
male boomers in my working-class neighborhood faced the very real prospect
of getting drafted during the Vietnam war.

I remember the mixed feelings I had about registering for the draft shortly
after seeing the horrible photos of the My Lai massacre in Life magazine.

Some of us, who were too young to go or lucked out in having a high draft
number, did gravitate to the hippie/drug scene, but for most it was a
passing phase before we got work in a trade, joined the Army or did
something else to follow in the footsteps of our fathers.

I'm thankful the GI Bill gave me money to attend college, get an education
and make something better of my life. I'm also glad I am able to be a
productive citizen in a free nation that, despite its many warts, is still a
great nation.

My story isn't all that different from those of many of my contemporaries.
Most of us don't waste time these days in regret or self-flagellation.

We moved on and tried to learn from the past. And we think there should be a
statute of limitations on condemning an entire generation because of the bad
judgment we exhibited in our youth.

Besides, a number of my boomer friends are now donating money to charities,
doing volunteer work in their communities, running businesses and doing
their best to put children through college.

We don't buy the myth about us being the worst generation America ever

We leave those sweeping generalities to the chattering class of journalists
and self-important pundits.

Mike Cast, Edgewood


Gregory Kane misplaces the cause of our drug woes.

The baby boomers' behavior was in part a rational response to a changing

Increased drug use resulted from a combination of prosperity, more free
communication, a search for self-improvement and self-knowledge and a felt
need to rebel against an establishment that was using young people as cannon
fodder in the Vietnam war.

This increased drug use inspired a counter-revolution led by President Nixon
starting in the early 1970s. Funding for the "war on drugs" has increased
almost every year since.

Today, our prohibition policies are the primary cause of our drug woes.
Prohibition has generated a vigorous black market, which makes marijuana
more accessible to youth than alcohol.

And if the dealer is out of marijuana, he or she can suggest heroin or

Most baby boomers currently play only a bit part in this unfolding tragedy
and are more interested in their projected retirement benefits than in
dabbling in drugs.

Nevertheless, some baby boomers now find it politically expedient to
enthusiastically advocate more severe punishments for possession of drugs.

These particular boomers should not escape blame for fanning the flames of
the drug war

Kevin Fansler, Havre de Grace
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