Sagan: Drug War is Going To Burn Us All

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, May 8, 2001.

  1. Source: Amarillo Globe-News

    Fire. It's dangerous. It's beautiful. It is fearful in its potential. It is useful. Employed in a case of arson it can do enormous harm to property; it can kill people in a hideous way. Society has come to grips with fire.
    In spite of the horrendous danger it represents, almost every home has it, almost anyone can make it. We start early teaching our children about it - how to create it, how to use it wisely, what the dangers are.

    We build fire stations and we train firefighters to deal with fires that exceed our control, either by accident or design. Our laws and technology for containing fire stop short of eliminating it.

    Fire is available to everyone, including those who would use it to do harm. When we were considering the Bill of Rights, no one ever mentioned, much less argued, the right to make and use fire. Even by the time Europeans settled America, fire was a resource, a tool for humanity the benefits of which far outweighed the dangers. It was such a common artifact of society that our forefathers would probably have concluded it was too obvious a freedom to enshrine.

    It didn't have to be this way. We might have heeded a segment of society that saw fire as evil. After all, even the Bible refers to hell as a place of fire. (Of course, our Bible is the product of a desert people. The Norse version of hell is freezing cold.) Fire being an evil in the world, fire being something that could be abused with terrible effect, fire being the weapon of choice for wicked people, we might have made war on it. We might have:

    * Confiscated all petroleum and its derivative products.

    * Burned what we confiscated, or converted it to the use of the state.

    * Prohibited the private possession or production of any fire-making substances - on pain of long imprisonment and loss of all tangible assets.

    * Tested children on arrival at school to see if they had any "fire stuff" on them and chastised them ardently for every perceived abuse.

    As we all know, though, that is not the path we took with fire.

    For myself, I am happier knowing that I cannot be stopped and searched for the presence of, say, flints. Or small bits of paper. Or lint. Which, if discovered, can have me jailed and impoverished.

    For the city of Lockney, I believe we might all benefit from asking ourselves if we shouldn't be satisfied with the resolution of the school drug testing program. After all, we have stopped doing something intrusive and unprincipled to a group of our own young about whom we have every reason to believe the best.

    But the Lockney case brings us to a more important focal point -- the question of whether we should commit ourselves politically to stamping out the dangers we individually embrace.

    Drug testing in schools proceeds from an array of false assumptions: that "drugs" can captivate people against their will, that children will do what is wrong if they aren't forced to do what's right, that the innocent have nothing to hide, that the state possesses superior wisdom about what is best for each of us.

    Drug testing instead establishes the idea that we are free only as long as we don't act like it, that we owe it to the state to prove we haven't done anything wrong, that "prior restraint" is a valid judicial doctrine in a free country.

    Lockney brought this issue into specific relief. The state views any lack of cooperation as an admission of guilt, and the general public is content to throw "them" to the wolves as long as "we" are left alone.

    But we consistently overlook the fact that the arguments and tactics we apply to combating drugs can be applied to every expression of free will.

    Drugs are with us in our society. "Good" ones, "bad" ones, street and prescription, natural and synthetic, expensive and cheap. Every one of us will either:

    * Learn how to deal with them, or Die.

    Society must permit this route to learning. We don't make our children responsible with fire by denying them access to it. We all know that sometime they are going to leave the protection of our rules and find out some things for themselves. We all know that they may be good and trustworthy or dastardly and unreliable with the gift of fire, that they will probably experiment with it and do some stupid things while they are learning, that it may kill them.

    So maybe it's time we stopped trying to club ourselves into a prone and virtuous submission over drugs. Maybe it's time we stopped treating our children like they were undiscovered felons, started treating substance abuse as the symptom it is instead of as the root of all evil.

    Maybe we ought to reverse the trend toward personal tolerance and collective responsibility.

    Maybe the lesson of Lockney is to treat drugs like we treat fire.

    Manage the heat, use the light.

    Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
    Author: Greg Sagan
    Published: Sunday, May 6, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Amarillo Globe-News
    Contact: letters@amarillonet.com
    Website: http://amarillonet.com/
     
  2. Great words!! At first, I thought it was Carl Sagan. Oh well, still great words.
     
  3. I thought it was Carl also (until I just read your post)!
     
  4. i think all these articles are very well written but in all these articles i see the same arguements. like there isnt much to say about the drug war. there is a lot to say but i keep on hearin the same things. also these articles arnt going to have much effect cause the people who read the are already on our side or the drug war. and the people who dont share our views arnt going to read it. but at least there is some fighting going on. and i thank the writers to keep spirits alive while i dash them because im not feelin good. sorry
     
  5. Personal tolerance and collective responsibility?

    I think it should be the other way around: Personal responsibility and collective tolerance.

    Or just responsibility, and tolerance of those things that aren't any of our business.
     

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