The Drug Czar's Circular Reasoning

The Drug Czar's Circular Reasoning
Posted by FoM on May 28, 2000 at 08:03:34 PT
By Kenneth Brooks
Source: Times-Herald
Gen. Barry McCaffrey is coming to Vallejo to tour the Beverly Hills area. The anti drug- abuse workers laud his visit. They view his coming as an official stamp of approval for their efforts. I see it as the acceptance of Federal intrusion into local affairs and the erosion of constitutional freedoms. 
I distrust the U.S. drug policy because it is not practical or constitutional. The government should not attempt to regulate personal conduct that does not affect other people. It should not enter this personal area, because when it does it harms society more than it helps. The Constitution does not grant it those powers. I believe that the recreational use of drugs is unhealthy, but controlling the activity is outside government authority. Gen. McCaffrey's philosophy is an example of thinking that dangerously extends the government's power into citizens personal areas. He seems to believe that the government may exercise any power not expressly prohibited to it by the Constitution. For example, the Constitution expressly prohibits the government from controlling the press or establishing a religion, while it allows government to declare war and collect taxes. Nevertheless, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments say that the people retain the rights and powers not delegated to the United States. McCaffrey shows his thinking by some statements in The World & I. He defends anti drug-abuse laws with the classic "harm to society" and "personal risks" arguments. He cites this statistic: "Drug abuse in the home renders a woman 28 times more likely to be killed by a close relative." That statistic is so vague that it's meaningless. What relationship does the drug usage have with the killings? Is she the drug user, the close relative, or someone else? Does the drug user kill her and is that same person the close relative? Also, I doubt the accuracy of the statistic, because America does not accurately count the drug users who never become addicted or get arrested. McCaffrey's personal risk argument is the more frightening one. " . . . Americans have decided that people do not have a right to ride motorcycles without wearing helmets, drive cars without using seat belts, pollute the environment at will, or endanger themselves and others by refusing vaccination or similar life-saving health measures. In general, our laws indicate that self- destructive activity should not be permitted. . . . U.S. law does not grant people the right to destroy themselves or others. " That partially quoted justification for U.S. drug policy contains so many reasoning errors that one suspects he makes them intentionally to mislead the public. The risks he compares are not alike. Operating a vehicle without the proper personal protective equipment is a personal health risk. Outlawing that conduct reduces the slight likelihood they may harm themselves. However, polluting the environment is an act that is highly likely to harm others. Outlawing the activity potentially saves others from harm. Also, the personal health risks from driving without protective equipment are only remotely similar to those of using certain recreational drugs. One is a passive risk, because people can drive for a lifetime without an accident and suffering from the risks taken. However, the consequences of using drugs are immediate and possibly cumulative. The extent of those consequences varies. Nevertheless, McCaffrey cannot make a believable and ethical argument when he tries to justify anti drug-abuse laws by comparing unrelated conduct as similar health risks. McCaffrey uses circular reasoning when he says, "In general, our laws indicate that self- destructive activity should not be permitted." If the government has a law against something, that's the same as saying, it does not permit it. So, McCaffrey is saying that, the government does not permit self-destructive activity so that indicates they should not permit it. He uses what government does as proof that what it does it right. His final assumption is most frightening: "U.S. law does not grant people the right to destroy themselves or others." As noted above, the government does not grant the people any rights because they are born with them. The people voluntarily limited some of their rights and gave the government the power to pass laws that protected them from each other. Nevertheless, despite McCaffrey's combining the two, the people did not give up the right to control their bodies and the government should not attempt to usurp them. Our drug policies are equally bad everywhere. Now they ask 1.6 billion dollars for Columbia's drug wars, because our four-year "successful" drug war in the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia pushed the problem into Columbia. So, while I would welcome an opportunity to question his drug policies, I won't be inviting him to my neighborhood. Kenneth Brooks is a Vallejo freelance writer. Contact him at P.O. Box 882, Vallejo, CA 94590 or e-mail brooks Published: May 28, 2000 Copyright 1998, Times Herald. CannabisNews Articles & Archives On Barry McCaffrey:
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Comment #1 posted by shishaldin on May 28, 2000 at 11:58:24 PT
Well Said
Well said, Mr. Brooks!!!"U.S. law does not grant people the right to destroy themselves or others." -McKKKaffrey"The citizenry of the U.S. have not granted people (like McKKKafrey) the right to destroy our lives, or the lives of others, through Draconian drug laws and the erosion of our personal rights as citizens of the United States" -MeMcCaffrey is power mad. His siege mentality shows the signs of mental instability and paranoia. Check HIS urine!!!
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