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Editorial: How Much Reality is Too Much?

Submitted by David Borden on (Issue #568)

David Borden, Executive Director

David Borden
How much reality is too much? For many politicians, any intelligent discussion about what the drug laws are actually doing to us is more reality than they can take.

This was illustrated in a lurid way recently, after the city council of El Paso, Texas, did something unusually real. As part of a resolution expressing solidarity with the neighboring Mexican city Juarez, struggling with a wave of drug trade violence that sometimes crosses the border, council members included an amendment calling for "an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics" to stop that violence.

El Paso Mayor John Cook, who had only watched silently when the resolution was discussed, responded by vetoing it, arguing that it would make it hard for him to lobby Congress for funding. But he demonstrated the ignorance underlying his veto move in an e-mail deriding legalization supporters as "pot heads" that wound up going public.

It got worse. State legislators and even El Paso's US congressman got involved, lobbying the council members with sky-will-fall warnings about El Paso losing out on stimulus and law enforcement funding. But City Rep. O'Rourke, the sponsor of the resolution, pointed out that none of the legislators could cite a single actual threat made.

Tuesday, the Council failed on a 4-4 vote to override the mayor's veto. But the mayor's victory was pyrrhic. Council reps who voted against the override stated publicly they did so only because of the threat of losing funding. And critics of such intellectual intolerance waxed eloquent, like City Rep. Steve Ortega, who voted to override: "If we are silent on this matter, the prospects for the future of this community are placed in danger. And I'm not going to stand here idly and listen to unnamed legislators threaten us for having a dialogue over the future of this community."

For a city council to speak up about prohibition causing violence was too much reality this month for a mayor, their state legislators and congressman. But with neighbors across their border being killed, and the effects of it hitting El Paso, that reality was too much for the council to not speak up, at least for awhile. Ignorance won the final vote this time. But we'll be back.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

We need more community leaders who are not afraid to do their job.

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 2:09pm Permalink
alapoet (not verified)

It's about public officials stepped up to the plate, spoke out and started actually doing their jobs -- addressing the very real problems which face us!

Drug prohibition has never worked and will never work.

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 2:37pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

US REP REYES. Head of Intelligence? How can this man be the head of the US House of Reps Intel committee? Just how intelligent is it to openly suppress freedom of speech with obvious threats? Boy, this country is in great trouble. Just imagine what thuggish behavior is going on behind the curtains. Yes, were going to have a lot of change in government and it looks to be all bad. Just look at who else Pelosi picked for other positions. Then we have Mr. Obama who's stacking the deck with prohibitionists. People better stand up & speak out before it's too late. It looks to be a situation of drug laws reformers being pushed to make their point before the prohibitionists get settled in. That's the only way to succeed. Everybody, contact your elected officials and politely demand the end to the war on drugs. We should at the least insist on the legalization of marijuana. This means you either need to sign one of the pre-made form letters found on sites like this. Or, learn all you can real fast in order to be able to write intelligent letters of your own. Here's a link to contact your elected officials from: Please, do that & contact them today. No one else can do this for you. It looks to be a make, or break situation. Let's get going, now.

Signed, Joel Green

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 2:56pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You suggest people "politely" demand an end to the drug war. Many of us have been doing that (sometimes, daily) for a very long time, with very little to no response from legislators at either the federal or state level. It is now past time for politeness, it is time to be ANGRY, and to let them have it with both barrels, so to speak!

Tell them you will work to have the recalled from their position if they do not begin to represent the views of the people. One letter/email/call saying that won't get them to change, I know, but an avalanche of them would, especially since politicians know for every letter/email/call they receive there are at least 10 more people in their district who feel the same way about that issue, but won't take the time to contact their "representatives" about it.

Sun, 01/18/2009 - 3:20am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Mj will continue to be illegal as long as there are closed mind juicer rednecks making laws and dicisions about mj.

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 5:57pm Permalink
Malkavian (not verified)

It's a quote from The Simpsons, and the scary part is that even Homer got it. Sure, fine ... play make-believe for a while, but then ya gotta face it.

Another thing whose enormity has begun to overwhelm me is the nonchalant way in which so many people talk about how nobody is going to use his or her political capital to correct the terrible error of prohibition. And the audicence just goes "aha, sure, I get it" as if it's the most natural thing in the world to subject other people to death, maiming, incarceration and theft ... all for one's political career.

That's where I wonder if people had the same polite, serious-looking faces beaming with "well of course" when nazis killed Jews, when people were burned at the stake or when supporting apartheid and slavery, and State-sanctioned hate-crimes against homosexuals?

Doing what they do to people who choose differently wrt. intoxicants needs to be redefined as hate-crimes.

Sat, 01/17/2009 - 5:52pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Why, do our officials support the failed policy? I think there are many answers, but maybe the most important question, is why do our officials continue to support drug prohibition? There-by putting criminals in charge of American drug policy. There has to be a reason. Is it possible that we have elected and re-elected, that many idiots. However, have we investigated these yokels? Are they caught up in some nether world? Or, is there a money stake to be had by our "officials"? I have wondered about that for at least five years, ever since, one of our local police officials, was caught selling their stash of seized cannabis, and doing very well. But then isn't about profits?

Mon, 01/19/2009 - 12:53pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

but at the international stage, it's about jobs for police, dea agents, lawyers, jugdes, correction officers, wardens and prison staff, subcontractors and suppliers, pawn shops and our politicians. It's more about maintaining lifestyles than addiction.

Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:20am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

We were a lot smarter back in the 1930s when we repealed the prohibition of alcohol!! I can't believe that this country, with 5% of the world population, has 25% of the world's prisoners!! It's unfortunate that our 'leaders' are more interested in the almighty dollar than they are in people's lives!! Here's an interesting article that shows just how stupid we've become:

SCHOOL - 1958 vs. 2008

Scenerio #1: Jack goes quail hunting on the way to school and drives into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack..
1958: Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2008: School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.
Scenerio #2: Johnny and Mark get into fistfight after school.
1958: Crowd gathers, Mark wins, Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2008: Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.
Scenerio #3: Billy breaks window in neighbor's car and his Dad gives him whipping with a belt.
1958: Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes successful businessman.
2008: Billy's Dad arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's Mom has affair with psychologist.
Scenerio #4: Mark gets a headache and takes aspirin to school.
1958: Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on smoking dock.
2008: Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.
Scenerior #5: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of Juky, puts them in model airplane bottle, blows up red ant bed.
1958: Ants die.
2008: BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.
Scenerio #6: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying and hugs him to comfort him.
1958: In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2008: Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in state prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.
Scenerio #7: Pedro fails high school English.
1958: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes onto college.
2008: Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Nerwspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway, but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English.


Thu, 01/22/2009 - 5:04pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

I jut about did not read it, because it was getting a little long. Glad did, though. I forgot about those "good old days". Now, I worry about having any guns because my wife got busted for forging scripts, to get pain medicine for her chronic pain, that she cannot get doctors to adequately treat!. Things are all messed up! SNAFU!!

Thu, 01/22/2009 - 5:14pm Permalink

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