Pubdate: Tue, 09 May 2006
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2006 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Greg Sagan
Bookmark: (Mexico)


"What you cannot enforce, do not command."

- - Sophocles

Psssst. Iraq isn't America's only dysfunctional war.

Remember the "war on poverty"? We called a truce because poverty was
winning. Aside from a few renegades and numbskulls, we've agreed to a
cease fire in place.

The latest war news comes from Mexico - which isn't really the enemy
but which harbors and cloaks him - and from the circumstances of Rush

Mexico snuck right up on legalizing small quantities of drugs for
individuals before President Vicente Fox pulled the plug.

I guess someone finally explained to him the concept of "reverse
illegal immigration" in the same sentence with "addiction" and turned

But for a moment, it looked as though Mexico was going to win "the
freedom war," which would have made the version of freedom we're
selling around the world a cheaper and more tawdry reflection of our
reality. Damn good thing Mr. Fox snuffed that one without our having
to ask.

And what was Mexico going to legalize? Pot, sure. And any society that
can tolerate tequila and mezcal certainly can cope with cocaine, speed
and psilocybin.

Personally, I draw the line at phencyclidine and heroin, but Mexico
didn't. In short, it was going to uncork the pharmacopeia and sell it
to the del Nortes at border prices.

If you think about this a minute, you will see that it is an
extraordinary initiative. With one little act, you vastly increase
tourism from your closest wealthy neighbor, who will spend hard
currency in your country to get what is rabidly illegal in his own.

You recognize the effects of demand on the market. You capture the
market from the gringos. You get to trumpet a greater political
freedom than America can boast, and without having to resort to the
kind of hypocrisy so central to our own. And you get to pass special
laws for dealing with anyone coming into Mexico illegally from America
just to get legally high.

What a treasure trove! What wonderful ironies to be exploited at our
own expense. President Fox spared Mexico from reaping the rewards for
such geopolitical finesse, but what the people did once they can do

Mr. Limbaugh finally received justice for his abuse of prescription
painkillers. He pays a $30,000 fine, he does 18 months' probation with
random drug testing, and he forfeits his right to carry a gun.

Limbaugh, you may recall, was turned in by his housekeeper for
acquiring as many as 2,000 prescription pills a month. (Some reports
put it as high as 3,000 a month.)

I don't listen to Limbaugh's radio broadcast, but I have seen some of
his quotes in print, and he strikes me as someone who favors a harsher
form of justice for "drug addicts" than he received.

I will be looking for reports that he has succumbed to principle and
either insists on turning over all his assets to the government,
demands incarceration, or both.

That is, unless he prefers to defend another principle.

I would like to see, and hear, Limbaugh speak out in favor not of
conservative Republican social orthodoxy but in favor of compassion. I
would like him to acknowledge that the illegality of what he was doing
played absolutely no role in deterring him.

I would like Limbaugh to stand up and say that to a personality that
is capable of addiction, the reason for the addiction is always valid.

And I would like to see everyone else back away from hurling "drug
addict" at someone just because we don't like what he says.

Limbaugh also represents the ideal of justice from the perspective of
one who can actually afford all its best features. For those who must
accept "justice lite," the penalties appear to be more draconian.

But together these two episodes provide for us an unavoidable lesson
in social policy.

The lesson for America is to wake up and smell the peyote. Our "war on
drugs" isn't working, and it isn't working just as well today as it
hasn't been working all along.

Making Americans with addictions the "enemy" in a "war" is not only
unnecessary, not only ineffective, not only expensive, not only
futile, not only cruel, and not only endless. It is also a lie.

When we look into the faces of those we would feed into the maw of the
penal justice system because they depend on chemicals to function, it
would be good for us all to see our own faces reflected there.

It could be us soon enough.
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