Toleration requires fewer body bags than rage. — James Bovard
One, Two, Three, Four; I Don't Want Your Stinking War
by L. Neil Smith
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
In declaring "war on drugs", America declared war on itself, not because recreational drugs are an especially valued or indispensable part of our national culture (they're not) but because you can't declare war on any Ninth Amendment right without declaring war on all of them -- and along with them, on every other individual right under the first ten Amendments to the Constitution. -- Alexander Hope, Looking Forward (From Hope, forthcoming soon, by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith)
To start this on the right foot, I'll say it plainly: I don't like drugs.
I don't want to use drugs, I don't want my wife to use drugs, I don't want my daughter to use drugs, I don't like having to deal or even converse with people who are using drugs. Nero Wolfe preferred "eyes at a level"; I prefer brains at a level, meaning in good working order.
To put it another way, my personal drugs of choice are alcohol and caffeine, sometimes taken separately, sometimes together. I smoked as much tobacco as I could and enjoyed it thoroughly before I decided to quit.
Some folks might claim that this makes me the perfect advocate for an end to the government's infantile war on drugs. Rest assured, I don't believe it myself, any more than I believed the flunkies of a certain presidential candidate a few years ago when they claimed that the fact that he refused to have a gun in his house made him the perfect advocate for Second Amendment Rights. If you won't walk the walk, you'd damn well better establish your credentials some other way.
I don't hold my opinions for no reason. I used some drugs in my youth. I smoked marijuana -- and inhaled. At a coffee house (no, not Starbuck's, this was something else, long gone with the dinosaurs), I once drank some tea into which tetrahydracannabinol had been sneaked by a character who later became one of the FBI's Most Wanted. I tried dexadrine -- next time I want to feel like that I'll wash a bottle of No-Doz down with a dozen cups of espresso. I even tried hashish: it looked exactly like the little cubes of freeze-dried tubifex worms I fed my swordtails and black mollies, and I didn't find out until it was too late that it had been laced with opium. That was a strange experience and it ended with yours truly kneeling at the porcelain altar just as if I'd had six or nine martinis and a big green chili burrito.
Coleridge was a jerk.
All that was literally decades ago (the statute of limitations expired before most of those reading this were born) and it was no trouble at all never to do it again. I detested the way cannabis screwed my mind up for three or four days after I'd smoked it. I've always been a writer, one way or another, and what I've striven for is clarity. These days I tell high school and college classes I address to go ahead and use all the drugs they want. Writing is a tough job, and the less competition I have, the better. For some reason, I don't get invited to address too many high school and college classes any more.
Nevertheless (it won't surprise anyone who knows me) I am bitterly opposed to the government's infantile war on drugs as I am opposed to almost nothing else it does to us while claiming to be doing it for us.
There isn't a single life in this country (and many other places) it hasn't altered dramatically and for the worse. It has destroyed the Bill of Rights and with it the frayed remnants of the American Dream. It's an open question just now whether the damage it's done can ever heal.
Every little thing Americans say or do or think or feel, every cent they spend and everything they buy, everywhere they go and everyone they meet, every line they write is monitored today by some violently officious subhuman garden slug who couldn't get a real job if this were a free country, because a truly free country would be technically advanced enough to have toilets and cesspools that clean themselves.
The drug war attracts that sort, it feeds them on the flesh of our children, it nurtures them with the tatters of our hopes, it empowers them with our blood, it encourages them to have picnics together and interbreed. They would have been Nazis or fascisti or Iron Guard in the 30s and 40s. They would have been Ku Klux Klan in the 20s or 50s. They enjoy terrifying and hurting and killing people. It is their sex. Anyone familiar with the Bill of Rights knows that there's a technical name for drug warriors of every stripe, at every level of government: criminals.
There isn't any part of government, from the city dogcatcher to the Oval Office that hasn't been tainted by the drug war. Anyone who tries to do a decent job of keeping the peace -- the occasional honest cop, the even rarer honest judge -- hates, loathes, and despises the drug warriors and the way that they and their symbionts, the drug manufacturers and distributors, have corrupted a system the American people once hoped would eventually produce something that looks like justice.
The media, too, are full of it. Every commercial break seems to contain at least one death-threat from some "public service" group or another. The hairspray set chatter cheerfully as some poor idiot is run to the earth beneath their helicopters' cameras. "Reality" and cops shows drip with the pus of it. Immense fortunes, millions of jobs, and more political and military power than the world has ever seen amassed in one place before depend for their existence on drug prohibition and the way it takes a five cent agricultural product and artificially raises its price to hundreds or thousands of dollars a spoonful.
My friend, science fiction and horror author F. Paul Wilson once wrote a novel (Deep As The Marrow) that made the point (among others) that, even if an American president wanted to end the war on drugs, it would make him the immediate target for assassination from a dozen different directions.
So what are we to do?
The war on drugs violates the provisions of several parts of the Constitution. It is illegal, and, as I say, those conducting it are criminals. But let's exercise the same restraint with them that we'd have them exercise with their victims. The president I mentioned could reduce his risk of being assassinated by drug warriors by enlisting them in a new -- and Constitutional -- effort. They'd all become part of a new Bill of Rights Enforcement Administration and turn their attentions on the politicians and bureaucrats instead of decent Americans.
Then repeal drug prohibition. And no, don't tax drugs -- that keeps the price up. Instead, let them fall to their pre-prohibition prices and see what happens to the empires based on inflated drug prices.
As to the terrible damage that drugs supposedly do to society, in the first place, it isn't one percent of the damage that drug laws have done. And in the second place, there is no such thing as society. There are only individuals. Let anyone who wishes to destroy himself with drugs go right ahead, the sooner the better. Yes, you sick, miserable, hapless, disgusting, walking TV tear ducts, even the children. You can't help them by trying to exempt them from Natural Selection.
The rest of us -- and our progeny -- will be better off for it.
Reprinted from The Libertarian Enterprise for Number 121, May 14, 2001
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