I wrote yesterday about drug warrior Kevin Sabet's frustrated observation that "80 percent" of the attendees disagreed with him at the UN-sponsored "Beyond 2008" drug policy forum in Vancouver. Sabet's remark was an unintentional testament to the remarkable progress our movement has made since he began defending the drug war more than a decade ago.
longtime former speechwriter for multiple US Drug Czars, Sabet was appalled to discover something he should already have known: many professionals working to address the drug problem have turned against the war on drugs and are now seeking to promote alternatives. It was a brutal awakening, I guess, because Sabet did something fascinating nextâ¦
A moderator at the event informed one of my colleagues that Sabet requested half of the remaining time be allotted to himself and Kelly Corcoran of the Drug Free America Foundation in order to balance the dialogue.
To appreciate how unbelievable this is, one must understand that the whole point of the event was to solicit diverse opinions from experts working in the field. The Vienna NGO Committee states that "Forum participants will be invited to attend and will represent a balanced cadre of ideological interests." Sabet's attempt to take over the discussion is contemptuous of the spirit of the forum itself. The very idea that 2 of the 100+ delegates should get to do half the talking is ludicrous.
After all, we don't get to write half of the Drug Czar's speeches. We've been excluded from the conversation at every turn, but the self-evident truth of our beliefs has taken root and spread far beyond the easily-identified community of longtime reformers. The participants were pre-selected for their diverse backgrounds. Their unified rejection of the war on drugs was not a carefully orchestrated coup; it was just a sign of the times.
Yet Kevin Sabet regards reform advocacy as some sort of contagious mental defect that must be quarantined once its presence in the room has been detected. He literally reacted to the prevailing pro-reform sentiments of the forum delegates by concluding that the screening process had broken down, allowing infected individuals to enter the building and acquire microphones. I can just picture his eyes darting nervously back and forth, eventually settling on the closest window, which he'll jump out of if things get dicey and he's forced to retreat up West Hastings leaving behind a trail of pamphlets and propaganda in his wake.
Update: Kevin Sabet flatly denies that this request ever took place. His response is available here. While I have reasons for being skeptical of his claims in this regard, it's important to hear what he has to say. If there is, in fact, anything inaccurate about what I've written here, I apologize to Kevin for that.