Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Don't "Just Say No", Ask "Why?" - America's War On Drugs Series Part II
Welcome to part II of America’s War on Drugs Series at the Liberal Mob. In Part I of this series, I talked about the word ‘schema’ and gave my definition of it based on a speech from Professor Harris-Perry that I recently read.
It seems like the slogan “Just Say No” was everywhere when I was growing up. Having been born in the early 80’s, I literally learned how to talk during the years when the “Just Say No” campaign was becoming a permanent part of the American consciousness.During my childhood years I was taught in school and at home that drugs were “bad”. I was taught that if I was ever offered drugs I was supposed to say “No” and walk away. I would submit that this is a failed approach. There is no point of using a drug prevention approaches on children that don’t work on adults. Let me clarify one point. I am not advocating for not telling children they shouldn’t use illicit drugs. But by pretending that telling them to “Just Say No” means that they will never ever do drugs is unrealistic.
What I am trying to get at is, I am now an adult. I do not use heroin now nor did I use heroin as a child. I realized recently that my reasons for not using heroin as an adult are the same as they were when I was a kid. And it isn’t because someone told me to “Just Say No”. I don’t abstain from heroin because the government tells me to; I do it because I know heroin is dangerous and addictive. Rather than focusing on teaching children how “bad” drugs are, we should be talking to them about what happens to the people who abuse drugs.
Undoubtedly, people could debate endlessly about whether or not “drugs are bad” in the same sense that they could argue about whether or not “guns are bad”. By the way, it is mind boggling to me that a person who does NOT WANT gun laws would ever WANT drug laws. If guns themselves are not but “bad” unless they are “abused” by people then why isn’t that same standard applied to drugs? Most human beings I have met believe that it is completely impossible to eliminate violence. It would stand to reason then that these people should also realize that there is no way to eliminate drugs either. Teaching children to “Just Say No” to drugs and expect it to work is as silly as teaching children to “Just Say No” to guns expect them to be impervious to bullets.
The question of drugs is a constitutional question. Similar to the way guns is a constitutional question. I realize that most people think that the big difference is that the 2nd Amendment grants people the right to bear arms. But they are actually wrong. The second amendment doesn’t give you the right to do anything. It simply tells you one of the rights that cannot be taken away from you. There is a critical difference. The men who wrote the Constitution knew that people would inevitably always have sharp ideological divides on complicated issues. They knew this because they themselves had these divides with one another. When they wrote the Constitution they weren’t telling us what to think, they were telling us how to think. What I’m getting at is that just because the founders wanted us to be able to have firearms, if we so choose, does not mean that they want us to shoot each other. The question is not about whether drugs are “bad”. The question is whether we are going to deal with reasons why certain people abuse drugs and what happens to them if they do.
Part III - The History of the War on Drugs
Part IV - The War on Drugs and its effect on the Administration of Justice
Part V - Economic Impact of Drug Decriminalization