Pubdate: Mon, 17 Dec 2007
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2007 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: David T. Johnson


Hawai'i has some of the lowest rates of criminal violence in the 
nation, homicide in the state has declined in recent years, the 
amount of methamphetamine seized by authorities is down (as is 
treatment for persons who use this pernicious drug), state and 
federal officials claim there has been a reduction in Hawai'i's "ice" 
problem and attribute that "success" to their own law enforcement 
efforts, and yet The Advertiser sees fit to publish a Page One 
article titled "State may see jump in drug violence" (Dec. 9).

Exhibit A for this article's "be afraid, be very afraid" message 
seems to be two killings that occurred seven years ago. In Alabama.

The same article quotes a local "expert" who claims "the drug 
industry is unregulated capitalism in its purist form."

But the truth is this: illicit drugs are very heavily regulated; the 
problem is not a lack of regulation, it is the content.

Finally, this article's subtitle panders to readers' insecurities 
when it declares, "Out-of-state groups could wage war over lucrative 
Hawai'i turf."

Rather than speculating about the remote possibility of a gang war at 
some indefinite point in the future - the likes of which has never 
happened in this state - may I suggest that The Advertiser spend some 
column inches examining a real war that has been going on for more 
than three decades, at tremendous human and financial cost, and with 
almost nothing to show for it?

The real war is the war on drugs, and it has been a colossal failure.

David T. Johnson

Associate professor of sociology, University of Hawai'i-Manoa
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