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Public Figures Forgiven for Drug Use, Private Citizens Persecuted

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I was checking out other WordPress blogs, and I happened upon a post with a link to this article from The New Yorker. To sum up the basic news item here, the New York Times ran an article under the headline Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama’s Young Life. Apparently, a few readers were confused. Did that say Bit Part or Big Part? This is an interesting question, and calls to the memory another recent news item. Remember when the newscaster accidentally said Obama bin Laden? Barack Osama?

So according to this story, Obama claims to have used marijuana in his last years of high school and first years of college, along with occasional cocaine use. People who knew him at the time seem to think it didn’t show. Nothing new; this is a recycled story, but it’s election time and nobody’s going to go digging through the microfilm at their local library to dig this stuff up. This revelation will, however, be enough to make a few voters change their minds about their candidate, or stay home. Who knows? Obama might gain more voters for this than he loses.

Clinton didn’t inhale (and I still don’t know what record Hillary has on the drug issue), Obama did it, several Democrats experimented, and Bush… well, Bush doesn’t like to talk about it. It’s all in the past and he’s a good Christian now, anyway, so don’t worry about THAT. Can you be convicted of crimes you committed before you were Born Again, or do you have a new legal identity? Maybe we could make a law. It would drive the credit card companies crazy.

So here we have a list of politicians who have used illegal drugs and, honestly, I don’t have a problem with that. I do believe in second chances, and, well, I honestly don’t see any problem with using marijuana recreationally. It should be legal, and not just for extreme medical situations.

So what reason do I have to complain that these politicians have used marijuana or cocaine (which I DO think needs some form of nonpunitive regulation) when I have no problem with the use of marijuana? The reason is this: They are using their confessions as a method of diffusing any claims that might show up in the media from witnesses of their past indiscretions, but they are NOT, in the longrun, attempting to do anything to change the wasteful and honestly horrifying persecution of marginalized recreational drug users or addicts who need help. They try to pick up the dazed among the voting populace by saying they’ll legalize medical marijuana, and act like this is progressive, but it isn’t. It’s amazing that, if marijuana serves a medical purpose, there would even be a debate as to whether or not its use be allowed among those who need it. We don’t even have such restrictions on injected opiates. Even when doctors could be thrown in jail for not checking carefully enough whether the patients they gave opiates to were really sick or if they were junkies faking it, there was never any question as to whether the medicine itself should be taken off the market.

These politicians expect us to look past their personal drug use and vote for them, and I would be more than happy to vote for someone who admits having used drugs, but I hate voting for someone who has used drugs, gotten away with it, and now has no problem throwing someone in jail just for having a bag of grass. This is a hypocrite of the worst kind. If they want to move on, if they want to be Born Again, if they want their drug use to be forgiven, why can they not forgive the same behavior among the citizens they wish to represent?

They act like there’s a difference because they were young, they don’t do that anymore, ad nauseum. If drug use is OK for the young but not for adults, why don’t we legalize drug use until you’re 30? If you’re willing to imprison people for using drugs, when you go admitting that you took drugs, why don’t you spend 20 years in jail yourself before running for President? You’d earn some street cred. Or if you expect us to pardon you, use your power as President to pardon those who have committed similar crimes. If all it takes is a little reform and the promise that they won’t do it again, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of applicants willing to accept the terms.

This is not the behavior we see in mainstream politics. Politicians expect us to forgive their past, but at the same time, they try to get our votes by being tough on crime and giving people longer jail sentences, only further marginalizing them, increasing crime and drug addiction rates, diverting taxpayer money to privately-owned prisons, and allowing a permissive attitude toward discrimination against people with drug or addiction problems or who just have a differing outlook on life.

Unfortunately there is no major party to vote for with an open and honest drug policy. Either purge your party of all drug users and prosecute them and put them in prison as you are willing and eager to do to your constituents, or work toward a more tolerant society in general that will excuse your own former drug use. Don’t ask Americans to forgive you for “experimenting” with drugs while you’re throwing Americans in jail for doing the same.


Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

February 18, 2008 at 9:43 pm

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