Monday, May 10, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"This is our nation's drug enforcement in a nutshell. We started out by banning the things. And people kept taking them. So we made the punishments more draconian. But people kept selling them. So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders. Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better.

I don't know how anyone can watch that video, and think to themselves, "Yes, this is definitely worth it to rid the world of the scourge of excess pizza consumption and dopey, giggly conversations about cartoons." Short of multiple homicide, I'm having trouble coming up with anything that justifies that kind of police action. And you know, I doubt the police could either. But they weren't busy trying to figure out if they were maximizing the welfare of their larger society. They were, in that most terrifying of phrases, just doing their jobs.

And in the end, that is our shame, not theirs." -Megan McArdle, The Atlantic (the embedded link is mine).

This is the point I've been trying to make on this issue: that the War on Drugs has become more harmful to American society than the drugs it purports to be protecting us from in the first place. Contrary to what some short-sighted individuals on the right gleefully proclaim, using law enforcement to destroy the lives of otherwise law abiding citizens doesn't make this country a better place. And McArdle is correct when she says that the ultimate blame lies with us. Vote for politicians, district attorneys and sheriffs who advocate saner and less draconian drug policies. The War on Drugs has failed; America deserves better.



Leslie Parsley said...

I've seen that and it's so horrific I can't watch it again. While the parents shouldn't be smoking marijuana around their kids the real child negligence comes with the cops - for over reacting and shooting the dog in front of them. They will be traumatized for life on account of it and on account of watching their parents manhandled.

Anonymous said...

I was reading this article on the toilet yesterday and found myself thinking "Mexico should just legalize the drugs. That would really cripple the offendors." Then I got a few lines down when that same idea was echoed by Jorge Chabat.

I don't think America is as bad off as Juarez, so I don't know if this opinion crosses borders for me. Ultimately, though, I'm not sure if I have a real strong opinion on it.

magpie said...

"To protect and serve"?

The only time that kind of force is justified is if the suspects are known to be armed, likely to resist violently (as determined by police intelligence) and the quantity is commercial.
Either that piece of work wasn't done, or done badly.

Discharge of a firearm would require justification and - sorry - a yelping corgi doesn't cut it. Discharge one in the presence of a child without absolute necessity and you could kiss your career goodbye (in any decently run police department).

Why didn't the police just say "Good evening, we have a warrant to search the premises, please stay where one of our officers can see you while we conduct the search. Thank you. Oh, and we're going to need you to restrain your dogs." ?

JBW said...

Horror is a perfectly natural reaction, Leslie.

Whatever Mexico does one L, the American appetite for drugs will remain and this "war" will continue to destroy lives.

To answer your question magpie, the War on Drugs has artificially inflated the price of drugs to the point that they're big money, hence all the violence. Legalization is the only sane way to protect American citizens from these types of tactics.