Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Most Intelligent Statement By A U.N. Official—The Winner Is...

Drum roll, please... Antonio Maria Costa (Maria?), director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. And that statement, made at the recent U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in support of the ongoing war on drugs, is:

“Should humanity accept pedophilia, human trafficking or arms smuggling out of a naive sense of market inevitability or intractability? ”

So let me get this straight. A consenting adult, smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her own home is comparable to engaging in pedophilia, slavery, and/or arms smuggling? If we legalize one, we might just as well legalize them all? Is it just me, or this this guy a few cards short of a full deck? (Or maybe he’s high on drugs.) Is personal use of a recreational drug really such a serious “crime” as to be equated with some of the worst offenses known to mankind? To answer that, I think we need to take a look at exactly where recreational drug use fits on the “seriousness” scale of crimes. To better illustrate this scale, I’ve created this blog’s first-ever original graph.

The horizontal axis of this professional-looking graph represents the seriousness of a crime. I’ve taken the liberty of placing some common crimes in their approximate locations on the scale. You may disagree with the exact placement of these items, but I think you get the general idea. You might also notice that almost all of the “crimes” on this scale have something in common. They are considered crimes because they involve one person doing harm to another. And that harm doesn’t have to actually happen. For example, driving under the influence or speeding are crimes because those acts have the potential for doing harm to another person. And it’s generally true that the more harm caused, actual or potential, the more serious society considers that crime.

So where exactly does recreational drug use fit on this scale? I’ve separated that “crime” from the scale and surrounded it with question marks on the graph (pretty cool, eh?) because that is the $64,000 question recently under consideration by the U.N.: How serious of a crime is using recreational drugs? Apparently the director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime believes it should be located on the right half of the graph, somewhere between arms smuggling and pedophilia. Makes you wonder who this guy knew (or blew) to get his cushy U.N. job. I suspect he did not dazzle them with his intellect during the job interview. Unfortunately, among world leaders and policy makers, he is far from alone in his opinion. That’s why we are where we are today. And why it looks like the U.N. will decide to continue with its failed prohibitionist policies.  In other words, stick with the status quo.

Now me, I’d place personal use of recreational drugs somewhere to the left of speeding on the graph. Actually, I guess that would put it off the graph, and thus make it not a crime at all. But that’s just me. I can’t help but think of all the responsible recreational drug users I know, and can’t quite equate them with pedophiles or arms smugglers. And in case you didn’t realize it, I was using sarcasm in the title of this piece, as I am wont to do.

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