Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 2005
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Arthur Williams


I was disheartened to read the editorial "City Council's welcomed ban
on the sale of crack pipe flower stems" (April 21). It stepped out of line
by claiming that "supporting a [crack] habit usually means turning to
violent crimes."

Research by the Department of Justice and others has repeatedly found
that the vast majority of criminal activity perpetuated by habitual
drug users is nonviolent. This is not to say that nonviolent crimes
don't exact a burdensome toll on society. However, the editorial
board's wording only encourages society's dehumanized view of
"dangerous, violent crack heads."

Similar misinformation has been propagated by WFMY's coverage of the
needle exchange issue. WFMY suggested the county was interested in
"distributing needles to drug users," when in fact the county is
discussing whether to establish highly accountable needle-exchange
programs, lauded by every established legal, medical and scientific
body to study them as effective at reducing disease (thus saving
money) without increasing drug activity.

When our media rely on such uninformed views, it has a direct effect
on public opinion and policy, often keeping needed treatment and
outreach services -- the most effective way to reduce the drug threat
- -- from ever being established.

Arthur Williams

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