Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Message

Every time you hear someone speaking out in favor of the war on drugs, they invariably mention one reason why this war can never end. They may discuss other valid and not-so-valid reasons to continue the war, and these reasons vary depending on the source. But it always seems to boil down to the single, bottom-line, most-important, fundamental reason why the war on drugs can never end: The Message.

If we decriminalize or, god forbid legalize, any or all drugs, what kind of message would that send to our children? Good question but, you know, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard any anti-drug crusader actually answer that question. (Perhaps it’s a rhetorical question?) So I’ll take it upon myself to answer for them, to put words into their allegedly drug-free mouths. The message that they believe it will send to our children is simply this: Drugs are OK.

But I think it’s more than that. And it’s not just children that might get the wrong message. I think they believe that by saying drugs are OK, that they will be condoning drug use. Even worse, they fear that people will infer from the message that the government is not only condoning, but actually encouraging people to use drugs. They seem to believe that the only thing stopping the vast majority of Americans from using and abusing drugs is the law. Without such a law, every man, woman, and child in the U.S. of A. would start abusing drugs. Not just the people that would use drugs in spite of the laws, but everyone. They won’t be able to help themselves. Without their government telling them what is bad for them, they have no way of knowing. If something is legal, people just can’t help doing it.

And you know what? I think they are absolutely right. I can’t speak for others, but I know that the law is the only thing stopping me from committing a variety of immoral acts. Without such laws in place, I would most certainly be totally out of control. Multiply that by 300 million, and you can see why our government is so worried. I mean, what if other victimless crimes involving only consenting adults were suddenly no longer crimes? Again, I can’t speak for everyone, but if prostitution were suddenly legal in my state, I’d probably be found in the company of hookers more often than not. Thank goodness the law is preventing me from engaging in such immoral behavior. Not that I’ve ever had any desire to engage the services of a prostitute, but who knows if I’d feel the same way if my government didn’t threaten to put me in jail for such behavior. The same is true for gambling. I don’t really enjoy gambling and never really had much interest in it. But maybe that’s because it’s illegal in most places. If it were to become legal in my state, I’d probably loose everything in a matter of days. You’d find me day and night in a casino, probably with a hooker by my side. And what about gay marriage? I’m not gay, but who knows what might happen if the government sent me a message that marrying someone of the same sex is OK. I’d probably be first in line for a marriage license. That is, if I could tear myself away from the hookers and black jack tables. And worst of all, just imagine if there were no seat belt laws. I can just see myself cruising along at high speed, my unused seat belt flapping in the breeze, my gay spouse by my side, a hooker in the back seat, all the while shooting craps. And I’m a reasonably responsible adult. It would surely be total anarchy.

Assuming that I’m your typical, average Joe, maybe the government has a point after all. If a behavior is not illegal and there is no threat of being labeled a criminal if you engage in it, what’s to stop people from doing it? You can’t count on people to have common sense or even to make reasonably intelligent decisions. That’s what the government is for. Sort of like a kindly Big Brother, watching out for our best interests and threatening to punish us if we get out of line. And the big brother analogy is very apt, since they use threats and intimidation to keep us on the straight and narrow. Anyone who’s ever had a real big brother knows how effective that approach is. Kind of makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that my government will always be there to tell me what is right and wrong, and to make me sorely regret ever doing anything that they’ve told me is wrong.

Oh, and since my government decided back in 1933 that alcohol is OK, I’ll be consuming that drug non-stop. Why? Because by making it legal, my government is encouraging me to use it. And because I know that my government wouldn’t ever let me do anything that might cause harm to come to me. Cheers!

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