Pubdate: Wed, 13 Oct 1999
Date: 10/13/1999
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Author: Lawrence Pratt

James Bovard's commentary (Opinion, Oct. 6) is aptly titled "We're
fighting the drug war on the wrong front."  But, it's not limited to
one front.

For starters, it's time to drop the term "drug war."  The "war"
mentality discourages dialogue, mediation and reason. It implies that
there exists an enemy that can only be defeated by force.   If that's
so, we are our own worst enemy.

The failure of the fight against drugs has lead to a militarization of
the nation's police force.  It has also contributed to the
criminalization of people whose current conduct is no more illegal
than those who engaged in liquor consumption during Prohibition.  This
criminalization has fallen largely along racial lines, aggravating the
damage to an entire generation of African-Americans.

It's time to accept the fact that a given percentage of the population
will always choose to engage in self-destructive behavior.  The best
options are to manage the situation as a social and medical issue,
with the hope of restricting such habits in future generations through
education and medical tratment.

The savings in money will be in the billions; the savings in human
potential will be priceless.

Lawrence Pratt
San Jose