Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jun 2000
Source: Times-Herald, The (CA)
Copyright: {year} The Times-Herald
Contact:  440 Curtola Parkway, Vallejo, CA 94590
Author: Ray Aldridge


I see you've published one of Drug Czar Barry R. McCaffrey's latest
defenses of the drug war status quo. Making fun of the general's
increasingly desperate rhetoric isn't exactly a tough job - it's on a
par with dynamiting fish in a barrel. But his foolish and destructive
assertions should not be allowed to pass unchallenged.

He said: "The so-called 'war on drugs' is a poor metaphor because it
creates an expectation of speedy victory. The metaphor of 'cancer' is
more appropriate. Like education, efforts against drug abuse must be
ongoing in every generation. By way of example, we don't close schools
- - claiming we lost the 'war on ignorance' - because history, science,
and math must be taught year after year."

Hey, as long as we're flinging goofy metaphors about, why don't we
fight the "war on ignorance" by throwing ignorant folks in jail, the
way we fight the "war on drugs" by throwing drug users in jail?

Speaking of ignorance, the general goes on to say: "Illegal drugs cost
our society 52,000 dead and $110 billion a year."

Where in the world does he get these figures? Apparently, he just
makes them up. He must have a vivid imagination indeed if he can claim
with a straight face that "Our country's anti-drug efforts have been
quite successful."

Right. Heroin deaths are at an all-time high, heroin and cocaine are
cheaper and more potent than ever before, every year seems to bring us
a new drug epidemic (this year it's methamphetamine and ecstasy) and
federal spending on the drug war is approaching 20 billion dollars. We
have a far greater percentage of our citizens in jail than any other
developed nation, and drug-related corruption has infected most of our

The Constitution is being gutted to facilitate the war on drugs, and
there's no end in sight.

Let's revisit the general's new favorite metaphor: drug abuse as a
social cancer. How many of us believe that the way to cure cancer is
to throw the sufferers in prison?

Ray Aldridge

Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.
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