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13 April 2009

the Short Bus e-mails (continued) / drug policy reform wisdom from the Hartford Courant's columnist Stan Simpson

----- Original Message -----
From: "Simpson, Stan"
To: "Robert Merkin"
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 11:33 AM
Subject: RE: Just Say 'I'm Willing To Think About It'

Dear Robert Merkin:

I've written about racial disparity in CT prisons for years, and about the percentage of CT inmates who are drug offenders, and about the percentage of inmates -- 75 percent -- who are high school drop outs, while noting how it's all connected.

You're late to the party.

Smart guys like you think you have the easy answer. Just legalize all drugs. Deal with the consequences later, right? Or, are you in that disengenuous camp that claims there are no consequences to having someone be able to run up to corner pharmacy and buy a few joints or a little coke?

Drug reform laws won't put an end to racism. They won't solve the issues plaguing African Americans and Hispanics in urban communities. Drug-dealing is a symptom. Drug use is a symptom. We're not treating the CAUSE.

The problem is a lack of education and meaningful jobs -- and a lack of strong male figures at home. Again, I've written about this.

What part of American society is not rooted in a racist foundation? Politics, education, business, sports, schools, the court system, etc.. all have it.

I could inject race -- as a historical foundation - in just about every column I write. Then, of course, you would complain that I'm playing the race card!

Thanks for responding, though. BTW, I was a sportswriter in a previous life. Proud of it.



Dear Stan Simpson,
Schiller said it better than I can:
Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens.
Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain.
I've been actively advocating to end the racist, foot-shooting, community-destroying war on drugs since around 1980, and was convinced the war on drugs was a catastrophe for America for a decade before that.
Before that, I'd never been in the same universe with marijuana, cocaine, LSD, heroin, meth. Before 1965 when I was graduated from high school in a big East Coast city, they essentially didn't exist in the USA. I had as much experience with them as I had with UFO Aliens.
About 15 years ago, the RAND Corporation think tank concluded that if the goal is to reduce drug use, $1 spent on medical resources has the equivalent reduction effect of $7 spent on police/prosecutors/prisons.
You're still cheerleading for the $7 police/prosecutor/prison un-cure.
I guess because it's so thrilling to watch SWAT teams kick those doors down on those cable reality shows.
Doctors, nurses, addiction specialists, pharmacists -- boring. There's no comic-book Batman component of Fighting Evil, there's no Instant Gratification of seeing People of Color being dragged off in handcuffs.
The Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote a LEAP column last week, and quoted Jack Cole:
"Cole says that in 1914, when the first federal drug law was enacted, the government estimated 1.3 percent of us were addicted to illegal drugs. In 1970, when the War on Drugs began, the government estimated 1.3 percent of us were addicted to illegal drugs. Thirty-nine million arrests later, he says, the government says 1.3 percent of us are addicted to illegal drugs."
And those will be the terrible consequences of legalizing marijuana, cocaine and heroin tomorrow: 1.3 percent of us will be addicted to them. The other 98.7 percent of us can just take or leave them.
Meanwhile, among the addicted, we'll have to put up with the sinful ways of the surgeon who founded Johns Hopkins medical school (cocaine), Billie Holiday (heroin), William S. Burroughs (heroin), Louis Armstrong (marijuana), Judy Garland (pills, alcohol), Charlie Parker (heroin) ...
San Francisco dedicated a little park to our great addicted Americans, listing dozens on a plaque. Isn't that shameful? Call a cop and throw them all in jail. Only the Drug-Free (or alcoholics and tobacco smokers) merit dignity, respect, justice and decent treatment.
While you mull and contemplate and wonder about these strange new paradigms, your neighbors keep getting incarcerated -- my United States of America has more prisoners than Russia, my Land of the Free has more prisoners than China -- and shackled to lifelong criminal records. Right now about 1 in 99 adult Americans are behind bars, the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Mostly for diseases. Which get worse inside our prisons, our institutional pressure-cookers for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Eventually they all get released, and bring those diseases back to the upstanding Drug-Free community.
Bob Merkin


Allan Erickson said...

Well done sir. Huzzah!

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hey hey Allan --

Thanks! What a superfamiliar name yours is, I think our LTEs have been sharing the same MAP parking lot for years.

When I read Stan Simpson's original column about LEAP and Jack Cole, my instinct of course was to grind out an LTE.

But this jerk was so infuriatingly stupid that I wrote him directly. We've been ping-ponging back and forth for a few days.

He's still infuriatingly stupid.

(And my suspicion was right: He WAS a sportswriter.)

Anyway my e-mail's

Drop me a line, I'll send you more of Simpson's continuing wisdom and my replies.

Allan Erickson said...

highya bob...

I think a lot of us have had personal interlocution w/ media types. There is a fella that writes on occasion for the Denver Post, Ed Quillen, I've had a years long discussion with Ed about the WOD and his last column on the ganj and legalization was spot on.

Alan Wall writes for Mexidata and I've hammered him for the last cuppla years. Its great fun and often proves fruitful.

I enjoy cruising into Vleeptron HQ and seeing what the heck weirdness you've been posting. Soitingly an enjoyable blog.

Ta ta... see ya on the funway!