Editorial: One Step Too Far 11/21/03

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 11/21/03

David Borden

It's easy when watching drug policy to think that the warriors can get away with anything. After all, they are dumping poisons on Andean peasants. They routinely bust down doors for routine drug busts, sometimes based on wrong information and sometimes killing people in the process -- and then they go on to do it again, and again. They have half a million people in jail or prison for drug offenses -- some of them not truly guilty in any meaningful sense of the word. And of course, they lie and lie and lie and lie and lie... the list of outrages goes ever on.

But sometimes they make mistakes. Tulia, Texas, is one example. Though it took years to correct, though the officials involved haven't owned up to their guilt, though the townspeople for the most part haven't apologized and thought the perpetrators may never be punished -- at least it was corrected, and a lot of people were woken up to the drug war in the process.

The frightening incident at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina, was another such mistake. Americans have tolerated paramilitarized policing and Stalinist-style no-knock drug raids for years -- and they have tolerated an ever-growing oppression and abuse of youth for purposes of supposed drug control -- but in Goose Creek the warriors made the mistake of putting both of those things together, and people are angry.

Yes, the white townspeople, whose kids weren't targeted, are still mostly rallying around the police and the principal. But that consensus is breaking down, and far more rapidly than happened in Tulia. Goose Creek's superintendent has publicly criticized the raid, as have two of the local newspapers. The principal himself has finally pulled back a little, saying he didn't think the police would actually pull their guns on the students. One professor was actually quoted last week (albeit in this newsletter) likening the police squad's tactics to those one might consider using in the Sunni triangle for fighting terrorists!

Like Tulia, Stratford may be another turning point for stopping the war on drugs. A picture of a rally, distributed over drug reform talk groups this week, showed a Stratford High parent, with a Students for Sensible Drug Policy activist, holding a banner up calling not only for stopping the drug war but for ending prohibition itself. When parents start calling for an end to prohibition, not just of the drug war, things are getting serious.

I don't know who it was who first theatrically uttered the famous phrase, "This time they've gone too far," or where or when. But it seems appropriate here. Things went just a little too far in Stratford for the public to tolerate, and students and parents as a result are beginning to question situations and practices they may heretofore have taken as a given. When that kind of questions starts to take place, that is our opportunity to educate and get the kinds of people involved who are needed to bring about change. One step too far for the drug warriors at Stratford may mean one step -or maybe two -- in the right direction for our movement.

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Issue #312, 11/21/03 Editorial: One Step Too Far | Harsh New Drug Bill About to Be Introduced in House | Jamaica: Ganja Decrim is Moving Again | Incident at Goose Creek: Fallout Continues in Aftermath of High School Drug Raid | DRCNet Interview: Youth Sociologist Mike Males | Call Campaign Targets Congressmen Voting Against Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Methamphetamine Labs Are Not Weapons of Mass Destruction, North Carolina Judge Rules | Newsbrief: California Judge to Run for Senate on Legalization Platform, Libertarian Ticket | Newsbrief: Mexico City's Top Prosecutor Goes Off the Reservation -- Talks Legalization While Fox Government Vows Loyalty to Drug War | Newsbrief: California to Quit Sending Parolees Back to Prison Over Drug Tests | Newsbrief: Arkansas Attorney General Rejects Medical Marijuana Initiative -- Again | Newsbrief: Filipino Senator Calls for Firing Squads in Continuing Escalation of Drug War Rhetoric | Newsbrief: Reform Judaism National Body Endorses Medical Marijuana | Media Scan: Jack Cole of LEAP on Cultural Baggage Radio Show Next Week | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
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