Friday, February 3, 2012
As The Cookie Crumbles: Abusive
Earlier today I was led to recall and reread a piece I wrote on my "Well-Armed Lamb" blog back in 2007 (Oct. 31, precisely). The following is a slightly amended version of it.
At some campaign event (in 2007), Senator (and incipient Presidential candidate; now the head lobbyist for the MPAA) Chris Dodd, had candidly addressed the issue of marijuana decriminalization more candidly, and more honestly than is usual in these--and those-- increasingly censorious times. Dodd described how criminalizing marijuana use filled the prisons, clogged the judicial system, and severely sanctioned a behavior that is less toxic than at least one, and probably many "legal" drugs.
God knows Dodd's remarks were an island of sanity in a torrent of craziness where marijuana is concerned. But I am very skeptical that any sanity can or shall attend further discussions of decriminalization for a number of reasons. Mainly, because it supports a whole culture of socially repressive measures and has engendered an industry of massive power and proportions.
Too Many Jobs! Too Much Pork! Too Much POWER! Too much MONEY! Depends On TheWarOnDrugs (TWOD) to imagine that those who benefit, profit, and prosper because of it will voluntarily or willingly surrender their perqs.
Like its younger sibling, GWOT (the Global War On Terror), TheWarOnDrugs (TWOD) is an amazingly useful program. It is endlessly self-sustaining and self-enriching. It has bottomless political support. It has been instrumental in forging links between local police departments and the Pentagon. It invokes the mythology of invasion and border security, and gins up the proletarian paranoia to a fever pitch, such that some bloated crackkker in a border county in Arizona is running for Sherif on a platform of mining the border-fences...
Moreover, it is a staple in the repression of people of color: pot busts put a blot on your record in the "serious" universe. One way to keep 'undesirables' out of the work place is to disqualify 'em from the get-go, nest pas? It doesn't matter HOW you test, it's WHO you test. Pot convictions can disqualify a person from voting. Very useful for disenfranchising potentially disruptive voters.
The prison guards' union in California has prevented reform of the 'three-strikes' and 'mandatory sentencing' laws--the victims of which are overwhelmingly drug(and mainly pot)related charges--ferociously lobbying state lawmakers to defeat them because it would mean a loss of jobs if the reforms passed and fewer people were incarcerated, necessitating fewer guards to manage them.
California also has chosen to build prisons instead of universities. Which is suggestive of the the trajectory of anticipated social mobility and utility for the foreseeable future.
Thom Hartmann frequently repeats the statistic that there are nearly a MILLION home invasions every year by police, the MAJORITY of which are prompted by nothing more sinister than the report of a family-crop or a family quarrel.
Enforcement agencies, police forces, and municipalities prosper from the appropriation and resale of "drug-related" property.
The drug-testing industry has only really gotten off the ground in the last decade or so, but it already constitutes a huge, wealthy factor in TWOD, when every kid in America who wants to participate in sports must submit to tests in which the primary object is to discover marijuana and steroid use.
I admire Dodd for his candor, and abominate the others for their caution. But likely as not, TWOD will endure as long as the GWOT...
And my opinion hasn't changed. (A late addition: Recently, a litigator-turned-legal-scholar, Michelle Alexander, at (the) Ohio State, published a book on "The New Jim Crow." In it she captured the true dimensions of the problem I had barely hinted at: the use of the war on drugs as a tool of repression especially aimed at black men. A virtually fail-safe expedient to disempower and marginalize the whole black community by mass encarceration of the men, along with the social stigma which attended those punishments.
I heard Michelle Alexander one night recently sustain and repulse a fairly hostile interview, on UCTV, mebbe. It's a compelling argument...We can discuss it at the beach...