Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is Your Family Safe?

Julian Critchley makes a good point about the unlikelihood that the war on drugs will ever be called off. Unfortunately, anyone calling for drug legalization finds themselves put in the unenviable position of having to argue that society should accept that there will be some drug deaths that carry the government's imprimatur. Of course, there will still be drug deaths if drugs remain illegal, and there would probably be less of them if we took a harm management strategy; however, drug legalization means that we officially accept the reality that some people will kill themselves with drugs, just as we now accept that they will kill themselves with cigarettes, booze, guns, or cars. Would you want to be the politician to push for that?

Instead, we get in this position with programs like the war on drugs, or the homeland security regime, where every time it seems as if things aren't working, we have to "get tougher" with more laws, more cops, and more hassle. Hitting the alarm clock with our fist isn't making it run any better, so let's use a hammer! Once we've gotten tougher in some way, it's nearly impossible to go back- do you want to be the one to argue that the homeland security measures have been a tremendous, irrational overreaction that has done very little good and made public life considerably more difficult? Maybe that's right, but try arguing with your older relatives that we should cut down on the CYA security measures, even if it means that some psycho might kill someone, somewhere, in the future. Sure, that's going to happen anyway- we'll never be completely safe. But owning up to that reality takes a certain "toughness" that most people simply don't have.

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