Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2009
Source: Bennington Banner (VT)
Copyright: 2009 by MediaNews Group, Inc.
Author: Kevin McDonald
Note: Kevin McDonald lives in Bennington.


We're far away from it here in the Northeast, but if you pay any
attention to national news you'll know that Mexico is rapidly falling
into chaos with drug gangs taking over. Murdering judges, policemen,
and their competitors; kidnapping their family members to intimidate
and coerce them. Where are the AK-47s and other weapons coming from?
The good ole US of A, thanks to the National Rifle Association and
weak-kneed politicians.

Sadly, I have to include President Obama in that last category. After
a recent meeting with the Mexican president, Mr. Obama spoke of the
tragedy in Mexico and of America's role in stoking it -- with our
demand for their drugs and as a supplier of guns. Yet he promised to
combat it by enforcing laws currently on the books, and said he would
not pursue a resurrection of the assault weapons ban that was rolled
back in 2004. He admitted that the politics of that was too tough.

I would have expected more from him. Despite the lobbying clout of the
NRA, I think most Americans realize that an assault weapons ban would
not hamper deer hunters, rabbit hunters, or folks who feel that they
need a gun to protect the homestead. In the wake of a spate of recent
multiple shootings -- policemen in Pittsburgh, immigrants in
Binghamton, and with the anniversaries this month of the Columbine and
Virginia Tech carnage as a reminder, you might expect to find a
wellspring of public support for more sanity in our gun laws.

But guns are only part of the equation in the Mexican tragedy. Demand
for drugs is the other part. These gangster wars are over control of
the drug exporting business. Fifteen years or so after NAFTA,
marijuana is Mexico's largest export to the U.S. Our demand for the
weed is fueling the descent into chaos there. That chaos is spilling
over into Arizona (Phoenix now has the highest kidnapping rate in the
country), Texas, New Mexico, and California.

The scourge of drugs has been a problem in the U.S. for a long time.
Decades ago it was less visible, more confined to the ghetto. Less
mainstream. Now it's everywhere. It hurts not only those who use, and
their families. It hurts society by breeding and feeding the criminal
element. Mexico is an extreme example. Locally, maybe it's an addict
breaking into your car to afford the next fix. But it touches us all.

Some, even conservatives (William F. Buckley, for example) have argued
for legalization of marijuana. They urge making it legal and taxable,
like alcohol. During Probibition, alcohol fueled mob violence for
control of that franchise, not unlike what we are seeing in Mexico (if
on a smaller scale). Arguing against legalization of pot because of
its detrimental effects is hard to do while alcohol is legal; and
misused, alcohol certainly causes ravages of its own.

But I'm not willing to go there yet. Maybe I've been brainwashed, but
I do think there's a difference between the two. In college I saw
habitual pot-heads totally lose any ambition. Yet, I also saw drunk
frat boys acting like jerks. And this area has had no shortage of
alcohol-related auto tragedies. So if alcohol is legal, should pot

Looking at the question pragmatically, is legal and controlled a
better solution than outlawed and lucrative for criminals? This at
least deserves an intelligent discussion.

In the meantime, if you're a user think about this: That bag you buy
has at least some small link to those Mexican gangsters, some small
connection to the judges and cops they murder. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake