Sunday, July 11, 2010

Prohibition Really Is A Success

I’ve noticed that prohibitionists never like to talk about the effectiveness of the current drug war. Sure, from time to time they bring the press in and show them a big pile of drugs that were seized. And they talk about things like street value, the number of people arrested, and how long they worked and how much money they spent getting ahold of those drugs and the people who possessed them. And I suppose you could say this is their way of showing off their victory in a major battle. But though they may win a fair number of battles, and brag to no end about it, they never really talk about the war. You know, things like the impact of their victories on drug availability, or price, or use. And who can blame them? Because in reality, the battles they win really are pretty few and far between. Skirmishes really. If you look at the big picture, the war as a whole is not going their way at all. Which is not something to brag about.

But I think I’ve figured out a way for the prohibitionists to show the world indisputable evidence of success in their war. And it’s really just a matter of spin. All the drug warriors need to do is redefine their objectives. In other words, if what you are doing is inconsistent with your intentions, and you don’t want to change what you’re doing, then change your intentions. In the drug warrior’s case, they don’t even really have to change their intentions. They just have to admit to them. Isn’t that always the first step?

The drug warriors just need to admit that the purpose of their current prohibitionist drug policy has nothing whatsoever to do with preventing people from using or abusing drugs. It’s not about public health or safety. It’s not about fighting crime, or protecting us from ourselves, or any of that malarky. That’s just their story for public consumption. Kind of like that bachelor uncle that is just neat, or artistic, or sensitive. He’s just waiting for the right woman. I can understand why the Drug Czar refuses to use the term “harm reduction.” Prohibition doesn’t and can’t prevent any harm associated with drug abuse. And it clearly can't stop people from using drugs. If any of these things are really their intention, then it’s plain to see that the war was lost long ago.

So why don’t they just come out of their closet of denial and admit the real purpose of the war. The truth will set them free. The only purpose and, unfortunately, outcome of their ongoing war on drugs is to punish people for using drugs. Drugs are bad, therefore people who use drugs are bad. They need to be punished for their badness. It’s all about defining a moral standard, then declaring that anyone who doesn't adhere to that standard is a criminal. See? Doesn’t that feel better?

Not only that, but now all of a sudden, the war on drugs can be legitimately described as hugely successful. I’d say that, by this criterion, its success is beyond even the wildest dreams of Richard Nixon, the man who first declared the war. Our government has succeeded in punishing more people for using drugs than anyone ever thought humanly possible. We have the largest prison population, not only in the world, but in the history of the world. If our intent is to punish, we couldn’t be more successful. That’s something to brag about!

Now I usually don’t like to give the bad guys (i.e., the prohibitionists) any help. But I’m feeling generous this fine day. So this one’s on me. Consider it some free ammunition in winning the hearts and minds of the people on whom you’ve declared war. Or at the very least, as a way to get more money to carry on your war. You’re welcome.

No comments: