Pubdate: Wed, 31 Mar 2004
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Terrace Standard
Author: Alan Randell


Dear Sir:

Re "Police insulted meth lab was close to detachment" (Terrace Standard,
March 17, 2004)

Please make some changes to the way you report drug busts.

Our political leaders tell us drugs are banned because they're harmful, but
that is clearly false because we do not ban two of our more harmful drugs -
alcohol or tobacco.

No, the purpose of banning some supposedly harmful recreational drugs and
not other harmful recreational drugs has nothing to do with protecting users
from harm.

Drug prohibition remains as it always was: a cynical, manipulative campaign
to entertain and distract the majority by persecuting an innocent minority.

Drug laws are not about drugs per se because drugs are inanimate objects
that have no power or social consequence until they are ingested.

Instead, drug scares are about the use of something by a group of people who
are already perceived by a ruling elite as some type of threat.

For example, it wasn't alcohol that drove the move toward Prohibition. It
was the behaviour and morality of what the dominant, middle-class Protestant
saw as the 'dangerous class' of urban, immigrant, working-class Catholics.

Similarly, it was the Chinese opium dens and the resultant racism, not the
widespread use of opiates among white, middle-class, middle-aged women, that
prompted the first drug laws.

Scapegoating of drugs is a way of blaming a drug or its alleged effects on
its users for a variety of social ills which usually have nothing to do with
the user or the drugs per se. In short, drugs are highly useful, functional
and beneficial scapegoats.

They provide a ruling class with fig leaves to place over the unsightly
social ills that are endemic to the social system over which they preside
and they give the general public a focus for blame in which a chemical
'bogeyman,' or the 'deviants' who ingest it, are the root cause for a wide
array of complex social problems.

Now, how should a conscientious newspaper editor report drug busts?

1. Include the comments of those, like me, who oppose these laws.

2. Include the comments of the victims, i.e. those arrested and their
families and friends as well as (with their permission of course)
information on where they went to school, who their parents are, who their
partners are, etc., etc. In short, personalize them.

3. Include the comments of the defending lawyer and not just the prosecuting

4. Ask the drug cops if they expect to be punished for enforcing prohibition
after we come to our senses and end it (or the courts do it for us) and some
sort of truth and reconciliation commission is set up to find out how we
went so wrong. The cops, of course, will bleat about having a duty to
enforce the law. Remind them about Adolph Eichmann who was hanged for doing
exactly that. Helping to enforce laws that are crimes against humanity is
surely itself a crime.

5. Include a summary of your editorial position, if any, on these laws.

If you and your media colleagues continue to suppress the voices of the
victims and otherwise depersonalize them, I fear our evil drug prohibition
laws will be with us for a thousand years.

It is time you began to serve the public instead of our venal drug cops and
gutless politicians.

Alan Randell 

Victoria, B.C.
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