Slobodan Milosevic is in The Hague, which I believe translates from Belgian as Deep Shit. Meanwhile back in Kosovo the people still hate each other and many who were once termed Freedom Fighters are proving themselves to be mercenary thugs. I guess it's to be expected. If you were a high-minded revolutionary gone underground, and couldn't have a legal occupation, how do you make a lot of money to arm and feed the troops? You'd go into the black markets too. Usually it's drugs, often it's guns and in some places it's food and medicine. Pretty soon you aren't very high-minded anymore.
Strife is taken advantage of everywhere in the world. Ever see that Phillip Morris ad where they have some photogenic woman taking five tons of food to Macedonia? Of course you did, I hardly watch TV and I must've seen it six times already. It's everywhere. While I applaud Phillip Morris for their humanitarian gesture I have to hold my nose a bit while I do it. They probably spent more money filming the damn promo spot than they did on the food. I doubt if the spot was even shot on location, so they probably paid for actors, make-up people and rented a whole bunch of military vehicles. Then add to that the cost of buying all that TV time to tell you they were so bloody concerned. Suddenly food to the refugees has become the smallest expense on the list. How much difference did only five tons food make anyway? I'm sure it was all gone in a week. I've also heard lots of radio ads about the wonderful humanitarian works the PM folks are doing in the inner city. C'mon, isn't it obvious to everyone that this is just a vain effort by Big Tobacco to convince us they're really nice folks? Spare me the hype and just do it, if that's what you are really interested in.
In California the state indulges in lots of anti-tobacco ads, portraying their industry as a crocodile that's out to kill people. Well, if they feel that way why don't they just outlaw tobacco and be done with it?
That's pretty easy to answer, really. It's because everyone knows outlawing tobacco would create the worst black market since Prohibition. Phillip Morris and the other tobacco companies are just a medium shade of gray in comparison.
A few weeks ago Newsweek ran a My Turn, its guest opinion column, called "I'm Proof: The War On Drugs Is Working," written by a guy named Charles Van Deventer. What, we are winning the Drug War? News to me! He claimed that he had experimented with ecstasy, coke and other drugs but because they were illegal, which made them both difficult and dangerous to get, he had eventually quit. Therefore the Drug War is a good thing. Incredulous, I read the whole thing a couple times trying to find any shred of logic in his argument but to no avail. I think he got it exactly backwards.
He was the quintessential casual user, I'd say. He was never truly an addict; he got over his drug use BY HIMSELF. The worst things he did while high according to his article: 1) giggling for hours 2) dancing until dawn and 3) unexplainably crying while reading an article on a sports figure. He didn't cause any other problems like violence and/or a traffic accident while he was high. Is what he did worth the death penalty?
Yes, the death penalty. Thousands have DIED in the drug war to prevent people like Mr. Van Deventer from his recreation. Many of them weren't even drug users; they just got caught in the crossfire. This past spring there was another glaring example--remember when that CIA-trained unit in Colombia shot down those missionaries? There are a lot more examples closer to home, it's just that most don't even make headlines anymore. All to stop some giggling, dancing and crying.
I could write a similar story based on my own drug experiences. I'll call it "I'm Proof: The War On Drugs Is Unnecessary."
I did a little bit of coke, a little bit of LSD and a whole lot of pot back in my twenties. I had my fun, but I grew out of my drug use without causing society a lot of trouble. I was getting around on a bicycle mostly in those days so I didn't do anything too awfully foolish, like drinking and driving at least.
Make no mistake, drug use around the house or at a concert is one thing; doing them while driving is another. That is more than irresponsible. That is dangerous, period. One of the scariest moments of my life came when a very good friend of mine and I broke that rule. We were both dedicated stoners at the time, the late 70's, smoking joints six, maybe ten times across an average day. I was visiting him at his home in California and he suggested a day trip down to Big Sur, several hours' drive away. We set out and got loaded along the way. The part that scared me so much came just past Monterey where the Pacific Coast Highway transforms into a twisty snake on cliffs above the ocean. My friend was at the wheel when he pulled his scary stunt. He decided that he had to get the last couple hits of a joint. He had it in a clip but it was so short he couldn't light it easily, so he raised himself up on his seat--remember this is on a road full of turns and steep cliffs-and got his face up to the rearview mirror, cocking it so that he could see to light the roach with one eye and keep the other eye on the road!
I used to like getting high to make myself feel one with nature; I was amazed we didn't go careening off the road to become one with the ocean.
Maybe the really scary part was that my smoky-brained friend never seemed to realize that he was just asking for an accident to happen. Imagine trying to explain a crash resulting from that stunt, even a fender bender, to a police officer. I might have been writing this from jail! Anyway, he got away with it just like he'd done it dozens of times. He didn't even singe his mustache. I guess being so stoned already kept me from saying something to him. Like screaming "Quit smoking until we get to Big Sur; are you fucking crazy? A hit of the best pot in the world isn't worth taking a chance like this! STOP! YOU'RE GOING TO KILL US!!!"
Maybe I didn't say anything because I was frozen with fear. The incident was certainly burned into my head. Looking back, since we got away with it, we could have been characters in a Cheech and Chong movie. It's comedy now but I'm glad it wasn't a scene from a scared-straight driver training film. Most all my other drug experiences are of the giggling and dancing variety. I started smoking less pot after that and the friends I hung out with became less like The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Eventually I quit smoking entirely, except for extremely rare occasions when I know I won't have to drive or mind the kids for a good while. Extremely rare occasions, indeed.
In a similar vein I keep hearing about how the police crack down on secret rave concerts because they claim kids who are high on ecstasy have car crashes after the show. That's a shame because I love the music at these things and the sense of wild abandon, even though I don't get high. I suppose much of the audience is just there for the music too. Anyway, using the public danger logic, why don't they shut down baseball games because of all the drunken fans they let loose on the streets? Maybe they're really trying to get more concerts into the union halls instead of abandoned warehouses or out in the boonies. Or is it just a ploy to increase church attendance?
Anyway these problems are treatable by other methods. Designated drivers, public transportation--you don't have to throw out the concert with the bath water; people need to be able to blow off steam. We certainly don't need to fight a drug war with live ammunition to cure these problems. If there is an addiction problem then you put that person in a rehab center. Isn't it obvious that prohibition only creates black markets, which in turn create blacker problems of violence and death?
So what would it be like if recreational drugs were not illegal - that is semi-available - like alcohol and cigarettes are to adults? Well, MORPHINE is legal for medicinal purposes, yet we manage to control it with the prescription system. AMPHETAMINES are legal in the same way. Why is it that a relatively benign drug with bona fide medicinal value, marijuana, is forbidden?
Big companies are allowed to make profits on the drug trade in morphine and amphetamines. Phillip Morris may yet end up with the marijuana license when it finally happens. Vilify them all you want for tobacco but I'd rather have drugs made and distributed in a controlled way, not prohibited. Better it is done in shades of gray than black. And maybe once in a blue moon they might use some profits to send a few tons of food to a place that needs it.
I have to go back into the closet now to find a tube of Ben-Gay because I think I pulled a muscle while applauding and holding my nose at the same time. Thanks for reading and until next month the Closet is closed.
(C) 2001 - Rusty Pipes
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