Dazzling Knowledge

Monday, March 10, 2008

Better Dead Than High

Radly Balko on the perverse logic of drug warriors.
For several years now, the drug naloxone has been used in emergency rooms and clinics to treat people who have overdosed on opium-derived drugs like heroin or morphine.

A new version of the drug is even more promising in that it can be administered outside of hospitals. The new version comes as a nasal spray, and retails for about $10.


...
But not everyone is happy. Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, recently told National Public Radio she opposes the distribution programs because—and hold on to your hat for this one—she believes life-threatening overdoses are an important deterrent to drug use.

"Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services," Madras said.

Madras' reaction offers a telling glimpse into the mind of a drug warrior.

We're told that certain drugs have to be prohibited because they're too dangerous. But we should also resist efforts to make them less dangerous because doing so might encourage drug use.

It's a bizarre argument until you consider the real motivation behind it: In truth, it's not so much about the harm some drugs do; it's about an absolute moral opposition to the use of some drugs.

Even if they were completely harmless, some people simply don't like the idea that we can ingest chemicals that make us feel good.
Over the years, drug warriors from former Drug Czar William Bennett to current Czar John Walters to recent DEA Administrator Karen Tandy have defended the efficacy of alcohol prohibition. All three have called the experiment a "success," and the notion that it failed a "myth."

They insist alcohol prohibition was a success because it reduced alcohol consumption. That assertion itself is debatable, but even assuming they're right, the argument itself is revealing.

Americans didn't pass prohibition because there's something inherently evil about alcohol. They passed it because of the alleged deleterious effects associated with drinking.

To call Prohibition a "success," you'd have to ignore the precipitous rise in homicides and other violent crime during the period; the rise in hospitalizations due to alcohol poisoning; the number of people blinded or killed by drinking toxic, black-market gin; the corrupting influence of Prohibition on government officials, from beat cops to the halls of Congress to Harding's attorney general; and the corresponding erosion of the rule of law.

1 Comments:

Blogger Chamomiles Davis said...

The tough-love logic of the nanny state can be mind boggling. Is it possible to overdose on self-righteousness?

4:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home