Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jan 2000
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company
Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: Ray Aldridge


In her column about the White House deal encouraging network TV programs to
include anti-drug messages, Marjorie Williams writes: "Drug use, you may
have heard, is frowned on these days; lately it is one of the few
uncontested zones in our perennial culture wars" [op-ed, Jan. 21].

This appears to be a particularly smarmy restatement of the principle that
if the many agree to the persecution of the few, then it's okay, and any
means used in that persecution are also okay.

But of course, her statement isn't true. Our national preoccupation with
suppressing drug use has made us first among nations in the prison-industry
sweepstakes, has resulted in the disenfranchisement of minorities and has
contributed to social chaos at home and abroad. The propaganda in question
contributes to this messy state of affairs in many ways. It demonizes drug
users at the same time that it makes illegal drugs seem far more
interesting than they actually are.

Finally, her assumption that only liberals are outraged is proof of her own
narrow vision. Conservatives are just as upset, if they've considered the
matter carefully. What in principle would keep the government from pursuing
the same tactics when promoting other agendas, such as abortion rights or
gun control?

Ray Aldridge
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