Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jun 2006
Source: Western Standard (Canada)
Section: Pg 32
Copyright: 2006 Western Standard
Author: Pierre Lemieux
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


Journalist H.L. Menken characterized Puritanism as "the haunting fear 
that someone, somewhere, may be happy." Why the busybodies' own 
happiness at knowing that others are unhappy is deemed morally 
superior is an interesting paradox.

Whether some drugs help or hinder happiness should be for each 
individual to decide for himself. Nineteenth-century economist and 
philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, "Over himself, over his own body 
and mind, the individual is sovereign." Who are the statocrats to 
decide that alcohol, tobacco, this or that drug, sex, or whatever, is 
good or bad for me, and to arrest me if I don't agree?

On May 8, the American DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and the RCMP met 
in Montreal to conspire in the so-called "war on drugs."

But not all cops are bad. On the same day, Law Enforcement Against 
Prohibition (, an association of some 2,000 active or 
retired cops, held a counter-symposium in Montreal. LEAP wants an end 
to the war on drugs, which it believes is a failure. It has had a 
high cost, in terms of money (US$69 billion a year in the U. S., 
according to LEAP). But also in terms of lost liberties: young lives 
broken by criminal records, prisons overflowing with drug offenders, 
people who steal or become prostitutes to buy artificially expensive 
drugs, street violence generated by warring black-market dealers, 
searches, surveillance, border controls, RICO, money laundering laws 
and so on, and so forth.

However difficult it is to believe now, drugs were not always 
illegal. In England, until the 1950s, heroin was not only legal, but 
considered a medication. In the late 19th century, Winston 
Churchill's nanny wrote to him, when he was attending boarding 
school, "have you tried the heroin I got you--get a bottle of 
Elliman's embrocation & rub your face when you go to bed & tie your 
sock up over your face . . . try it and I am sure it will do you 
good" (quoted in Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, London: 
Heinemann, 1991, p. 27). The U.S. government started the repression 
in 1914 with the criminalization of non-medical uses of heroin and 
cocaine. Marijuana was totally banned by Congress in 1970, and 
Richard Nixon launched the "war on drugs" two years later. Other 
countries followed, often bullied by the American government.

That this coercive paternalism, hiding the natural trend of the state 
to grow and oppress, was espoused and fuelled by Ronald Reagan tells 
much about the confusion of our times. While the left crushes the 
liberties it does not approve of, such as private property rights and 
freedom of contract, the right attacks other liberties, such as the 
right to consume drugs or have kinky sex. James Otteson, a 
philosopher at the University of Alabama, tells me that, in his 
state, it is illegal to use a dildo for sexual purposes (as opposed, 
I assume, for example, to stirring the family soup). Once in power, 
each adds its own layer of police controls, and individual liberty 
gets thinner with every session of parliament.

Fortunately, there is resistance. In the case of drugs, LEAP is the 
vanguard. Meet John Gayder, an active policeman from southern Ontario 
and LEAP board member, who came to the Montreal counter-symposium "as 
a private citizen." John is a muscular, intense 39-year-old, with a 
shaved head, Mohawk style. He looks like a jack-booted thug from the 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but impressions 
are often deceptive. He has clear, straight, honest eyes, and fights 
for ending the war on drugs, and for our liberties in general.

Like other LEAP members, Gayder claims that "a large number" of his 
police colleagues share his opinion on the war on drugs, and that 
"the majority . . . know something is wrong." The number of Canadian 
cops who are members of LEAP is less than five, but, he says, that's 
mainly because the organization has not yet done much publicity here. 
Although his own employer does not encourage his LEAP activities, it 
hasn't tried to discourage him either.

Another panellist at the counter-symposium was Jerry Cameron, a 
retired American police chief. "The war on drugs," he said, "is 
really a war on people." Among the other participants was Lionel 
Prevost, a retired Surete du Quebec cop.

With men like John Gayder and his colleagues at LEAP, there is some 
hope for the future of our liberties.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman