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Zero Tolerance Nets Another Slimebag

What if we had zero tolerance for laws that have a lot of ugly side effects? Like busting an amazing teacher in front of her kids… for finding a couple Xanax pills… in a suspicion-less search of her car.

Herrick, 59, has taught at Roberts for 17 years. Parents describe her as “inspirational,” “talented” and “loving.”

She comes to work early so kids can finish projects they didn’t have time to complete in class. So many kids wanted to join her after-school art club that it had to be restricted to fifth-graders. More than one parent tells how she dropped by a student’s house, bearing art books that she thought might be of interest.

She’s a ferocious doubles tennis player, nationally ranked, so fanatical about her game that she hesitated a year before taking cholesterol meds that her doctor prescribed.

In 1995 and 1999, Herrick was Roberts’ teacher of the year. For 2005-06, she was teacher of the year for HISD’s entire Central District. And in 2009, she was busted.

In the middle of a class, police escorted her from her classroom. After she unlocked her car, police found a baggie with two Xanax pills.

Herrick said she has no idea how the pills got into her car, which other people in her family drive.

But no matter. She was hauled away from the school she loves in the back of a squad car and charged with possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. If convicted of that third-degree felony, she could serve two to 10 years in prison.

Even though she’s passed the drug test and a lie detector test, she’s out of the classroom for the time being. As Pete Guither writes, “It’s, you know, for the kids.

What if she does have a Xanax problem? Having teachers like this lady, personal habits and all, is what builds kids that never need to try drugs. How about the experience of watching your favorite teacher taken to jail? or growing up a paramilitary police state?

New Think of the Children argument

Daniel Rodriguez said there’s no such thing as a healthy discussion about legalizing drugs because young people take their cues from adult conversation.

“There are things I believe should not be open for discussion, and this is one of them,” he said. [El Paso Newspaper Tree]

Thank goodness we now have more excuses to stifle discussion on a subject. It’s not even laws that might send messages to children (kids read statutes), but even discussion of them (kids watch C-Span).

El Paso (right across the border from this catastrophe) has been the center of the drug prohibition debate when their city council unanimously voted to add a few words to a resolution asking for, among other things, an “honest open national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics.” But a request for debate in a city publication was evidently too radical, as state representatives swooped down to threaten the city’s future for federal funding.

Our real Message to Children about drugs?

Being an adult means drinking alcohol.

Youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television has risen by 38% since the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth began monitoring this exposure in 2001. From 2001 to 2007, the number of alcohol advertisements seen in a year by the average television-watching 12-to-20-year-old increased from 216 to 301. In 2007, approximately one out of every five alcohol advertisements was placed on programming that youth ages 12 to 20 were more likely per capita to see than adults of the legal drinking age. Almost all of these placements were on cable television, where distilled spirits companies in particular have dramatically increased their alcohol advertising in the past seven years.

Did you know alcohol advertising is one of those “self-regulated” industries? It was news to me. No bother, I’m sure with alcohol companies regulating what messages are sent to kids, we’re well on our way to a drug-free culture.

Effective Drug Warrior Posturing 101

When a policy doesn’t work no matter how many dollars and officers you throw at it, how do you keep the lights on and the citizens engaged?

Well, histrionics, demonization, war propagandizing, and hysteria have worked wonders in the past. Let’s listen to the President of the Philippines give them a shot:

… she ordered an “all-out war, an unyielding and unrelenting war against illegal drugs and their devil merchants.”

This is a great start. With “unrelenting” in there you make it clear the policy can never be altered. With so many people critical of the war, you can’t have people thinking they can just end it!

“A country awash with illegal drugs is a country compromised, its law-and-order institutions tainted and corrupted.” … “No other criminal activity does a better and faster job of tearing apart the social and security fabric of a nation than the trade of illegal drugs”

Good use of fear mongering with a dose of hysteria.

… calling on her fellow Filipinos “not to allow this menace to spread its tentacles, ruin our youth, and gnaw on the integrity of our law-enforcement institutions and our judicial systems.”

Tentacles, integrity-gnawing teeth; you’ve clearly got a demon. There’s no time for studying policy efficacy. Get a gun.

… she declared the all-out war because “governments that delay action against illegal drugs, or regard it as a routine police matter, do so at their own peril.”

Wow, blaming other governments for the failure and issuing veiled threats. She must have studied how we talk to Canada anytime they mention wanting to decriminalize marijuana.

The country’s anti-drugs agency, however, has branded the report [citing alarming use statistics] “unfair,” and said there were some errors in the data which were made as the basis of the report.

She didn’t address this, but here’s a suggestion: “In war you don’t waste time checking errors. Now get out there and do the same thing you’ve been doing for years, but this time really do it! One other thing: we can’t win a war without supporting the troops so we’ll be needing more tax dollars.”

Oustanding job overall, though she did fail to attack the credibility of policy opponents. If short on time, “they’re all stoners” is useful, but our outgoing drug czar John Walters recently offered this more nuanced technique:

Many of these [medical marijuana proponents] care little for the actual suffering and pain of others, but are instead using it to advance their own pro-drug agenda. [link]

Drug policy reformers are both pro-drugs and don’t care about people’s suffering. That’s a pro move.

No Imagination Means No Change

“I don’t mind adopting a policy that seems strange to you if the result of it is going to make society improved…”
– William F. Buckley Jr. re: drug legalization

When drug policy reformers say “legalization”, it strikes fear into persons who have only experienced and imagined society under the effects of modern drug prohibitions. Most cannot picture a world where drug addicts were not safely locked away, criminalized, marginalized and cordoned toward the poor areas of our country. Those who cannot afford to escape those neighborhoods have never known a time when drugs were not so expensive that addicts must rob to afford them; when gangs did not violently compete on their streets for the drug market; when pushers did not offer a free taste to their children or entice them into the trade with easy money; when a large number of their fathers weren’t incarcerated or weren’t trying to find work with a criminal record; when police did not look upon them without suspicion.

None of us have known our southern border without the constant rush of harmful substances into the country, nor the reverse flow of billions of dollars and weapons into the hands of cartels that murder ruthlessly. None of us have seen peace south of our border; the existence of the coca plant seems to guarantee endless killing.

More prisoners; more violence; more harmful drugs; more spreading of infectious disease; more dangerous areas; more damage of foreign lands and peoples; fewer civil liberties; less respect for law enforcement; more assurances from our leaders that “our drug policy is a success”; more promises and goals of a drug-free world; more dire warnings that any alternative would certainly lead to the destruction of society.

Has it always been like this? This is how the world has worked as long as I’ve been alive, so this is surely its most natural and stable state, and how it must continue. After all, I’m told the alternative is unimaginable:

“It is hard to imagine an aspect of American life that would be enriched by millions of new cocaine, heroin or marijuana users.”
– John Walters re: drug legalization

Perhaps our ancestors could survive without a War on Drugs, but humanity simply no longer has the necessary skills to survive in such a free world; we would surely collapse into Mr. Walters’ imagined chaos. We can no longer educate our children that some legal activities are dangerous; we need our government to protect us from ourselves no matter the cost.

Please do not waste any time imagining a different world; our drug czars have done this and it didn’t look good. Definitely do not bother with the fascinating history of our drug laws, or how other civilized countries are having success reducing harm. These countries may save “lives” and money, but they are breaking our treaties.

Mankind is still capable of monstrocity

If you’ve fooled yourself that this is not true, you need only to check yesterday’s New York Times to sober up. In cultures where women still have little value, for at least a dozen years some men have thrown acid on the faces of women, and are rarely punished. In a recent case, girls with the audacity to seek an education were attacked.

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: they are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.

Since 1994, Ms. Bukhari has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.

The follow up has a few solutions.

More Drug War Victims Pile Up

Our War on Drugs has turned Mexico into a real war zone. Five more dead in Tijuana; 685 in one city in the last year; young men in rival cartels are gunned down, tortured, mutilated, beheaded, found in mass graves. Those who can afford to have left town, while the rest of the city lives in terror and economic disaster since Americans will no longer step foot there. Continue reading  

Learning from the Free Market

When government regulation is completely removed from the picture, business thrives, and one industry has a particularly impressive success story. Its products are produced where costs are low and sold elsewhere with monumental margins. In fact these extraordinary profits help this industry overcome enormous hurdles of distribution; not even incredibly powerful organizations with endless supplies of arms, money and influence can prevent them from shipping on time to happy consumers all over the world. Without the interference of external regulations limiting product design, the resulting products are so effective that customer demand is virtually limitless.

The industry is, of course, the illegal drug market. Thanks to much of the world’s head-in-the-sand policies of prohibition, the resulting black market is free to act with brutal efficiency with no regard for human life. Nixon’s War on Drugs is a collosal failure in every respect, with the only mark of “success” being the criminalization of an enormous percentage of the population. Drug use is up in every age group and deadlier drugs are more commonplace. It’s easier for high schoolers to get marijuana than cigarettes or beer.

Just as the free market gives the illegal drug industry a huge advantage over all our efforts to reduce usage, a free market with reasonable regulation, or, indeed, no market (via direct governmental distribution), is the only solution to this epidemic. Many people throughout society have publicly recognized this to be true, and the evidence is overwhelmingly supportive, so what’s stopping us from wiping out this problem today?

You. And me. Reasonable people that recognize drug use as a public health issue rather than a criminal act; people that pretend there’s nothing that can be done about these laws and continue to quietly support politicians who tow these failing policies out of fear or ignorance.

What’s clear is that it’s ineffective to support third party candidates at the presidential level, as true candidate discourse at this level is long dead. We need to concentrate our efforts on letting Democrats and Republicans know that we recognize the absurdity and will  support dramatic reform on this issue. We also need to better inform the public about the harm directly caused by prohibition and the wisdom displayed in the 21st Amendment.

I linked to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition yesterday. You absolutely must read long-time narcotics officer Jack Cole’s story of his participation in the War on Drugs from 1969 to 1984, and its effect on everyone involved. It’s long, so at some point I may try to present this more succinctly.

Why the harping on this issue?

The more I learn about prohibition, the more I see it as an endless hidden war waged on ourselves due to policies we pretend don’t exist. It drags down the entire economy by moving wealth into the hands of kingpins and squandering tax dollars on enforcement, confinement, ER visits, and endless recidivism (thanks to our permanent labeling of suffering and innocent people as criminals). It allows the existence of international criminal organizations to feed demand and cause harm on a global scale.

I don’t see any other issue with such obvious signs of failure and such a clear path towards success.

A faulty argument for policing morality

Recently the Gainesville PD conducted a prostitution sting that busted a particularly vile couple who solicited sex in front of the woman’s six year old son. In addition to the prostitution charge, the woman was rightfully charged with child abuse. I heard about this on the radio, and the report included a quote, I’m guessing from GPD, stating that (I’m paraphrasing) “this shows that prostitution isn’t a victimless crime.”

Continue reading  

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