Editorial: Repentance for the Drug War 9/25/98

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Sundown on Tuesday, September 29, marks the beginning of the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur, day of atonement.† Judaism is not alone among the world's religions in setting aside a time for personal reflection and repentance through fasting or self-sacrifice -- Catholics observe Lent, for instance, and Muslims observe Ramadan to name two -- indicating that an understanding of the value of setting aside a time for taking stock of one's actions, for acknowledging wrongdoing and seeking forgiveness is deeply embedded in the human spirit.

In honor, then, of Yom Kippur, the oldest of such traditions, I write today in respectful suggestion to a handful of people who might want to spend some time in communion with their maker, if not this week than certainly soon, seeking forgiveness for behavior which, under any rational understanding of the intent of a supreme being, must be considered sinful.

Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, for her steadfast refusal to consider the advice of either the world's scientific community or her own commission on AIDS to allow implementation of syringe exchange programs in that state.† New Jersey has the third-highest rate of injection- related AIDS in the nation and ranks near the top in the incidence of childhood HIV infection, which is nearly always caused, indirectly, by dirty needles.

Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, who, during the past year has proffered blatant misinformation regarding the medicinal potential of cannabis, the efficacy of needle exchange, the commercial viability and practical applications of hemp, domestic policies and their impact in such nations as Switzerland and The Netherlands, the impact and intent of the US policy for which he is an apologist, and the nature and intentions of those with whom he disagrees.

Rep. James Traficant, (OH) for continuously pushing for legislation which would further militarize the U.S.-Mexican border, despite the fact that his district is more than a thousand miles away from that border and despite the fact that representatives from border districts, whose constituents would bear the costs and dangers of such legislation, have voiced grave concerns over such plans.

Speaker Newt Gingrich, once a sponsor of pro-medical cannabis legislation and a staunch opponent of the broad powers of the FDA over the lives and decisions of doctors and patients, for shepherding through the House legislation that hides behind the FDA approval process for the purpose expressing opposition to the personal choices of medical cannabis users everywhere.

House Republicans, for overwhelmingly supporting legislation which would both further militarize the civil conflict in Colombia and attempt to dictate the actions of newly elected President Andres Pastrana to the detriment of his courageous and delicate peace plan.

And again, for their willingness to speak out about the need to get the government out of the lives of Americans while hypocritically championing the single most intrusive government policy in existence, the "right" of the government to go to any lengths to find and to punish those who would ingest, into their own bodies, unapproved substances.

House Democrats, for their willingness to compromise their "core values" of civil rights, help for the disadvantaged and the reigning-in of corporate power in the name of a policy that is imprisoning enormous numbers of the poor and the non-white, as well as those who choose either a medicine or an intoxicant that is not owned and patented by either a pharmaceutical, liquor or tobacco company.

President Clinton, for bemoaning an invasion of his privacy in the Lewinsky affair, while presiding over a drug war which arrested over 600,000 people for possession of a plant in 1997.

The list goes on, of course.† But the point is that war, the most terrible and destructive of all human endeavors, is being waged as domestic policy by a generation of American leaders in the false name of morality itself.† And while this is not to suggest that the people named above should observe the ritual of any particular religion or belief, perhaps the coming of Yom Kippur can at least serve as a reminder to them that given their behavior over the past year, a little atonement is definitely in order.

Adam J. Smith
Associate Director

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Issue #60, 9/25/98 DRCNet Nearing the 7,000 Mark -- Your Voice Needed | Alert: Congress Considers Jailing Children With Adults | Alert: from the Andean Information Network | On the Web | Canadian Hemp Shop Bust Aided by US Agents | Hemp BC Business License Hearing Scheduled for Next Week | Media Note: CBS Drama to Highlight Medical Marijuana | Volunteers Needed for Washington, DC Medical Marijuana Initiative | New Study Indicates That Cannabis Relieves Pain | Drug War Militarization Bill Passes House Over Objections of Colombia | Background on Juvenile Justice Bill | Massacre in Ensenada, Mexico Hits Close to US | Minnesota Marijuana Law Faces Constitutional Challenge | Human Rights Activists Accuse Russian Police of Planting Drugs | National Conference on Prisons This Weekend | Editorial: Repentance for the Drug War
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