Editorial: Count the People 8/20/04

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David Borden
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

DRCNet editor Phil Smith, in his "What We're Watching at DRCNet" overview this issue, likened the drug war to "a totalitarian fungus [spreading] into every aspect of our lives." Just as endless as the drug war's permutations may be, though, even more endless is its list of names -- names of the people the fungus has caught within its poisonous growth.

They are the names of students kicked out of school. They are the names of those stricken by drug-related hepatitis or HIV or preventable overdoses. They are the names of patients living with severe, under-treated chronic pain or who have ended their lives because of it. They are the thousands of drug users, or mere drug suspects, shot down in cold blood by Thailand's police in their murderous multi-year rampage. They are Colombians living with pervasive violence wrought by prohibition and the drug war and civil war it feeds. They are Bolivians and Peruvians who only want to grow coca to survive and continue their traditions. They are half a million nonviolent drug offenders clogging the prisons and jails of the United States. And the list, or rather the list of lists, goes on.

Every day the drug war rages, 4,000 people are arrested for drug offenses in the US, their lives disrupted, often ruined, for no justifiable cause or demonstrable benefit. How many of our fellow Americans, our fellow humans, have been run through this harsh, destructive gulag, forever altered, during this newsletter's lifetime for seven years or this organization's history for ten? Many were placed in cages before either of those two events, and remain in them to this day.

Nor does prison end for those who have been freed. Last week I met an old friend of the organization whose incarceration ended in 1998. Life is hard for those who have seen the inside, or can be, and such was the case for him -- education, friends, advantages all notwithstanding. Because prison does not end for those who have been freed.

This issue marks a special landmark for Drug War Chronicle, Issue #350, seven years. To work in one's chosen cause is a privilege, one for which we are grateful, and we take deep satisfaction in having served all this time in this way. But we will take greater satisfaction when the need for Drug War Chronicle has ended because the drug prohibition laws DRCNet opposes have been repealed. And I'm not content, in the meanwhile, to count the years. I want the drug war to end now.

Nor do I recommend counting the days. Rather, I say, each day count the people. Remember the thousands newly caught into the system -- on that day -- sent hurtling toward a destiny they did not want and mostly did not deserve. Remember the hundreds of thousands imprisoned, and the millions more suffering, one more miserable day that should have been lived in greater health and safety and freedom. Then imagine a world that is different -- better -- and share that vision with those around you.

While you're at it, of course, tell them about DRCNet and Drug War Chronicle and the movement for drug policy reform. And all the things that they and you can do to make change come one day or one year or a hundred years closer.

-- END --
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Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #350, 8/20/04 Editorial: Count the People | What We Are Watching at Drug War Chronicle | California Patients Sue to Get Seized Marijuana Returned | Recount of Nevada Marijuana Initiative Petitions Underway Following Federal Court Ruling | DEA, Academic Pain Specialists Issue New Guidelines on Prescribing Pain Relievers | Newsbrief: Canadian Marijuana Activist/Entrepreneur Marc Emery Jailed for 90 Days | Newsbrief: DEA Raids Massive California Medical Marijuana Grow | Newsbrief: Justice Department Using Pre-Written Op-Eds to Shill for Mandatory Minimums | Newsbrief: DEA Training Narcs in India | Newsbrief: Death Squad Killings Continue in Philippines, Civil Society Begins to Protest | Newsbrief: Iraq Reinstates Death Penalty, Includes Drug Trafficking | Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana "Sends Wrong Message" Claims Challenged By Decreasing California Teen Marijuana Use | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Media Scan: Chicago Reader on Tribune-Hemp Connection, Counterpunch on California and Medical Marijuana Doctors | Part-Time and Temporary Job Opportunities at DRCNet | Job Opportunities at MPP | The Reformer's Calendar
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