The War On Drugs is not so much a health matter as it is an issue of obedience. No country may rightly be called free wherein it is impossible to be an outlaw. Where it is not possible to obtain and smoke a joint in privacy, the undisobeyable mechanism of totalitarianism is in place, regardless of whatever charades are being played out for us on C-Span. Whenever unresistable power can be imposed -- if history is taken as evidence -- the greedy and the self-righteous are sure to abuse it, the one in self-indulgence, the other in self-sacrifice. The imposition of such power is made most easy by the identification of a sinister enemy group living covertly among the society. If that targeted groupís alleged crime is a popular practice or common condition, then the levels of State surveillance and control necessary to locate, indict, apprehend, and punish them comprise the capacity for total control of the lives of the general public.

Whatís the big deal about killing with an assault rifle? If we are to prevent crime by banning weapons, we must forbid all of manís technical achievements since we began picking up rocks and throwing them at each other. Since it is clearly unreasonable to suggest a madman bent on murder will spare his victims if there is a law forbidding the AK-47, what other motive might lie behind the nominal "anti-psycho" stand of the gun-ban proponents?

KILLER A: put six bullets into a person with an antique Colt revolver.

KILLER B: put six bullets into a person with a 270-Savage hunting rifle.

KILLER C: put six bullets into a person with an Israeli submachinegun.

The significant difference to those who would like to make such distinctions statutory seems one of perception: Killer A would seem most likely a collector of firearms for historical purposes. Killer B would seem most likely to be a conservative sportsman. Killer C must then seem most likely to be a violent criminal or a political radical.

The distinction they would like to codify is that the Colt revolver and the 270 Savage are intended principally for sport, whereas the Uzi is a weapon of war. The former are lethal toys, whereas the latter is personal armament. It seems to me that is exactly what is specified in the Constitution by the use of the word "arms". The distinction is not one of technology, but of use, and it is specifically the means of conducting armed combat against other human beings, that is, war, which is guaranteed to the citizen by that great contract. To leaders who fear they cannot maintain the control necessary to fulfill their self-perceived responsibility to police the morality of the state, such a guarantee of real power to the people is horrifying. It is not because we citizens might use assault weapons against each other that legislators wish to ban them, but because citizens who champion civil freedom might someday feel bound by principle to use them against over-zealous elements of government.

How about capital punishment for "drug-related" crimes? Put fifty thousand dollars in small bills and a briefcase full of cocaine into the same secret room without the protection of public scrutiny or law, and it draws flies. Lots of folks will kill for that much loot all over the world, and for a dealer to know the US government is officially adding itself to the list is merely an ironic aside to the risks of conducting business.

KILLER D: put six bullets into a person for a forbidden sexual relation.

KILLER E: put six bullets into a person for burning The Flag.

KILLER F: put six bullets into a person over a drug deal.

One murder for lust, one for pride, and one for greed. The distinction drug-crime opponents would like to make is the former are motivated by "morality" and "patriotism", which they hold sacred; the latter is motivated by self-indulgence, which they consider profane.

The crime -- from A to F -- is murder, yet the laws are about owning or marketing weapons and drugs, neither of which is of itself an offense against anyone. Laws banning weapons do not keep them from those whose intention is criminal use. They become unavailable only to those who would not break the law even so far as to own them. The drug-crime distinction is also the result of misdirected thinking. Except for very few depraved (and deprived) addicts, no one kills for drugs. The heaviest user, even the hell-bent suicide, can only consume so much of drugs, even if he has a shipload. No, the murder is not for the drugs, but for the money, on which there is no known ceiling for greed. The money to be made in the drug black market is the direct result of the prohibition statutes which make the drugs illegal. The drugs do not cause the "drug-related" crimes which are used to justify the anti-drug laws; the conditions which motivate the crimes are created by the anti-drug laws.

Making the drugs no longer illegal will not eliminate drug use. Users will still have to suffer the direct consequences of use of whichever drugs they choose. However, such action will eliminate most of the so-called "drug-related" crime, the murders, the corruption of officials, the disruption of the economy, the breakdown of civil freedom, and the massing of personal power and wealth by ruthless criminals. It will also end the peculiar legitimization of being a criminal which the widespread use of drugs for two generations has engendered -- as a result of the drug laws, millions of young Americans have been raised with the notion that drug users like their parents and friends comprise a persecuted group of good guys who must live outside the laws. For them the DEA, the IRS, FBI, FAA, CIA, and yes, now even the JCS are not respected organs of a beloved democratic state, but are the minions of a cruel and oppressive Federal Empire. What could be worse for a nation than that? What harm could drugs themselves do to equal that?

The action needed to eliminate drug-related crimes is clear: remove totally from criminal status the growth, processing, sale, distribution, or use of all non-medicinal "drugs", particularly the natural ones: marijuana, coca, opium, peyote, and mushrooms. The medicinal drugs are correctly controlled by limiting their manufacture to the prescriptioned need, not by persecuting the street users who buy the huge surplus as black market drugs for non-medicinal purposes. The black markets, and the basis of criminal power which they create, would collapse immediately. Then the problems related to the use of the substances themselves could be solved in the light and in the open, as a free and informed nation should best be able to do.

The destructive effects of prohibition of drugs and firearms are greater and more pervasive than the destructive effects of misuse of either. Do those who represent us in government really not recognize the truth of that? Since the effect of ignoring that fact is to progressively motivate and justify increasing government surveillance, regulation, and enforcement, they must be blind to it (which makes them incompetent), or they are turning their heads (which makes them irresponsible), or they are in favor of the government having such increased power over the lives of its citizens (which makes them tyrants). It would be tragic if so few acknowledge it because gregarian obligation to conservative moralist posturing demands precedence over their reason or sense of justice. It would be more tragic if such a large majority of our legislators and administrators condone the aggressive enforcement of the prohibitionary statutes which create the drug war in order to willfully promulgate the replacement of our Constitutional civil freedoms and protections with the penal-system policies and executive privileges of the forced-security State.

James Nathan Post

Simple 'Siris wants to know!