The New Anti-War Protesters

  The New Anti-War Protesters

Posted by FoM on October 08, 2000 at 09:17:51 PT
By Phil Zabriskie  
Source: Rolling Stone 

Say you're a student who needs help paying for college. You order the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) from the Department of Education and start answering the 104 questions. On Question 28, a curveball: "If you have never been convicted of any illegal-drug offense, enter 'I' in the box and go to Question 29:" No convictions, you mark the box and move on. But anyone who has been convicted in an adult court of possessing or selling drugs, misdemeanor or felony, might need to find another way to pay for school. Question 28 is the result of an amendment to the Higher Education Act that was sponsored by Indiana Congressman Mark Souder, which went into effect on July 1st. 
A conviction for possession renders the applicant ineligible for a federal loan for one year from the conviction date. Before reapplying, an approved rehab program must be completed. For more serious convictions, a student can be excluded from aid for more than two years, or even permanently. Eventually, the law will apply only to students who get a drug conviction while they are receiving federal aid. This latest governmental assault on drug users is not a new idea: It was first proposed in 1992 by New York Congressman Gerald Solomon before it became law in 1998. Souder said, "Taxpayers have a right to know that students who have a drug-abuse problem aren't using tax dollars to go through school." But critics note that the new law punishes people who've already been punished - not necessarily because of a "drug-abuse problem" - and it mandates no similar provisions for assault, arson, rape or any other crime. They say the law is typical of the worst excesses of the War on Drugs, targeting the poor and the nonwhite - those who have been statistically proven to make up an inordinate percentage of drug convictions. African-Americans constitute thirteen percent of the U.S. population and roughly thirteen percent of its drug users, but they comprise fifty-five percent of drug convictions. Solomon and Souder, the law's founders, may have provoked an unintended reaction. The student movement against the current ultra-punitive system had been fragmented into isolated groups with different agendas. But the Higher Education Act provision has antagonized all of these groups. Now students of different cultural and economic backgrounds are slowly beginning to unify so that they can lobby Congress as a bloc. Back in 1998, when Souder was writing the provision revoking federal loans for convicted drug users, a dread-locked, six-foot-six-inch eighteen-year-old named Kris Lotlikar was interning at the Drug Reform Coordination Network in Washington, D.C. Then a sophomore at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Lotlikar had been involved with the Rochester Cannabis Coalition, which evolved into a new organization, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, when members decided they wanted to broaden their mandate. "We became more and more aware that the problem wasn't just with marijuana being illegal," he says. "It was the drug war in general." In D.C., Lotlikar met a George Washington University student named Shawn Heller, and soon Heller formed the second SSDP chapter, at GWU. Through an Internet newsletter - and with the help of DRCNet's sizable mailing list - they began publicizing issues and ideas, highlighting the HEA drug provision. Soon, "there were groups popping up all over the country," says Rochester Institute's Chris Maj. Today, students at thirty schools, including Yale, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Texas, are active in SSDP; George Soros' Open Society, the Lindesmith Center, DRCNet and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation provide the group with funding and support. Spurred by the SSDP, more than twenty student governments and the Association of Big Ten Students have endorsed repeal of the HEA provision, as have the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the United States Students Association, among others. SSDP's first national conference, at George Washington University last November, drew 250 students. Conference attendee Randy Short, a Republican African-American graduate student at Howard University, says, "It's pretty powerful when you get kids from the suburbs who are weedheads, and you get people like me agreeing that something is wrong." The agenda covered HEA, of course, but also mandatory minimums, crack-cocaine sentencing disparities, private prisons and possible alternatives to current policies, including legalization and harm reduction. "I was just blown away," says Ethan A. Nadelmann of the Lindesmith Center, the keynote speaker. "I don't think anybody involved in drug-policy reform had seen that level of mobilization by university students." These are kids who grew up on the D.A.R.E. program, on "just say no" rhetoric, amid ever-stricter drug laws and ever-stiffer penalties. "The new student drug-reform movement is not about drugs, it's about justice," says Alex Kreit, a senior at Hampshire College who helped successfully push the administration to set up a loan fund for drug-provision casualties. (Yale students are lobbying their school to do the same.) "It's about the fact that millions of people are locked up who shouldn't be. It's not people who are saying, 'Hey, I really want to do drugs: It's a lot of people who say, 'I'm sick of the drug war. I'm sick of seeing children lied to. I hated D.A.R.E. when I was in school: I think a lot of people are sick of it." SSDP members write letters in bulk to editors of school and local papers and advise new chapters. They trade information and ideas over the Internet. They write to congressional representatives, conduct voter-registration drives and stage protests (they got kicked out of a Bush rally in New Hampshire). They quote the same statistics - more than 2 million prisoners in the country, roughly a quarter of them nonviolent drug offenders - and speak of the drug war with the same sense of anger and betrayal. "For so long, we've perpetuated it in the name of saving the children and protecting young people," says Lotlikar. "We were the young people," and what they were taught did not bear out in the realm of experience: In fact, all drugs are not equally harmful; good people use drugs, even presidential candidates; and drug consumption often seems to be more of a medical issue than a criminal one. Sometimes the odds against them seem overwhelming. SSDP member Dan Goldman of the University of Wisconsin says that his initial thoughts on getting involved were, "I'm one little kid, what can I do to change the War on Drugs?" Three years later, he says, "I feel like I can do a lot." But still, the members' youth can work against them. "Student groups' opinions don't get weighed very heavily around here, because they don't vote," says Congressman Barney Frank, an ally who has called for repeal of the HEA drug provision. And SSDP's wide-ranging agenda is easily caricatured. "Students for Sensible Drug Policy is really students who want no policy," says Kevin Sabet, a senior at Berkeley and the founder of International Students in Action, a group that works to establish "drug-free" campuses. Sabet believes statistics showing that use has gone down is proof that drug policy is working. He has gone to raves to hand out scientific information on ecstasy use and has, worked in drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey's office. If there are some sentencing horror stories, he says, it's better than what would happen with any kind of decriminalization: According to Sabet, SSDP is nothing more than a thinly veiled legalization campaign that hands out false information at the behest of Soros, Nadelmann and other reform veterans. The stooge charge is one that SSDP members, understandably, find insulting. But it's a reminder that even discussing legalization can stigmatize people. The activists realized quickly that tie-dyes and ponytails are best avoided. "To be taken seriously, we felt that we had to avoid the druggie image," says Mount Holyoke junior Denise Goetsch. For Lotlikar, that meant chopping off about two feet of dreadlocks. "I walk in to presentations with the natty dreads," he says, "people are going to have a preconceived notion." And that, says Kreit, "alienates students who don't use drugs and are against drug use but really hate the drug war." By mid-August, the Department of Education had processed 7.5 million financial-aid forms for the upcoming school year. Either because they didn't believe the question pertained to them, or they feared answering, about ten percent of the applicants left Question 28 blank. The Department of Education was thrown into chaos, spending resources it didn't have to try and return the questionnaires to students. This year only, the department did not automatically disqualify students who didn't answer. Ultimately, less than one percent were ruled ineligible because of a possible drug conviction: 4,500 temporarily, about 1,000 indefinitely. "We're inconveniencing 10 million customers, and fewer than 1,000 fall into the category of people who are ineligible for this specific reason," says Karen Santos Freeman of the Department of Education. "I think you have to look at whether it really is efficient and meaningful." In May, while under pressure from SSDP and other groups, the House Education and Workforce Committee re-examined the Higher Education Act drug provision. In a victory for the student lobbyists, Mark Souder, the amendment's author, revised the law so that it only affects students who are already receiving financial aid - though he maintained that those were the students he had been targeting all along. At the hearing, Souder was the only representative strongly arguing against repeal. "Even to this day," says SSDP member Steven Silverman, "he's the only person I've heard defend this thing." Nevertheless, the committee voted 30-16 against getting rid of the provision. Souder also won another big victory, by pushing through an amendment that requires students to answer Question 28 or be ruled ineligible for aid. "Now we have high school seniors being more presidential than the Democratic and Republican nominees," says Brian Gralnick of GWU, who is an SSDP national co-director. "But they're being encouraged to lie, just like our presidential candidates," adds Silverman. If the student activists fail to get the HEA amendment repealed, the law might hurt many would-be students. Take Jay Clarke, 32, a former heroin addict who is clean after years of trying to kick. He currently has a 3.6 grade-point average at Tidewater Community College in Virginia. A methadone user and a member of the Virginia Alliance of Methadone Advocates, he plans to transfer to Old Dominion and then pursue a career in substance-abuse treatment. He receives federal aid for school and now knows he is eligible only because he never got caught. "That's just it: I got lucky," he says. "I never got arrested.... I would have never thought I could do something like this. I dropped out of high school, and now here I am fourteen years later." If someone told him he couldn't go, he says, "that would really devastate me." As school begins this year, SSDP wants to develop more West Coast chapters by capitalizing on connections made during the shadow convention in Los Angeles. "As our student movement grows," says Lotlikar, "it's gonna become less and less about us asking questions and asking for government change, and more and more about demanding change." Note: On campuses across the country, opposition to government drug policy heats up. MapInc. Newshawk: Carl E. Olsen Rolling Stone (US) Author: Phil Zabriskie Published: October 26, 2000Fax: (212) 767-8214 Copyright: 2000 Straight Arrow Publishers Company, L.P. Contact: letters Address: 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298 Website: Forum: Related Articles & Web Sites:Soros Foundation: For Sensible Drug Policy: Justice Policy Foundation: Reform Coordination Network: Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation: Loans for Stoners Seeking Aid Not Answering Drug Question FAFSA Drug Question Unfair to Students With Drug Convictions Will Soon Be Denied

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Comment #9 posted by kaptinemo on October 09, 2000 at 04:28:23 PT:
A sheep in shepherd dog's clothing
Whenever I hear people like this Kevin Sabet speak, I am reminded of a concept: the eternal sophomore. Someone with a very limited amount of knowledge who nonetheless speaks authoritatively...just as he's been trained to. The antis usually trumpet this type as being the end product of their DARE/Just Say No curriculum, not even guessing at the irony of their own pronouncements. That is, holding up a sheep, putting a shepherd dog suit on him, and suggesting that you emulate him.And yet, when you examine his background, you find...what? Experience in the fields of Constitutional law? Nope. History? Lucky if he got a "C". Sociology? He wouldn't have survived five minutes contact with the old German prof I had. But, he'll counter, he's worked in *Barry's office*! (Doing what, getting Barry's coffee when his own aides got tired of being treated like plantation slaves?)They should tailor those phony sheepdog suits they put on people like Sabet to make them out as sheepdogs; his lamb's tail is showing. And he hasn't yet quit his habit of baahing on cue.
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Comment #8 posted by nl5x on October 09, 2000 at 01:42:10 PT
more-on kevin sabet--ksabet
“A recent Columbia University report cites studies that show that of the 1.8 million people in federal and state prisons and jails, Only 2.1 percent are there for marijuana offenses, and of those, less than 1 percent are there for simple possession.”Source: Kevin Sabet, Daily Californian , Critics of WoD Overlook Consequences of Addiction“look at our jails today, a report out of Columbia University, the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse, says that only 2.1 percent of people in our jails are there for possession of a drug.” Source:CNN Talkback live transcriptsnote: Columbia (marijuana fungus) university has several vested interest in the drug war. =======================================================“if we want to take about the Dutch example, their percentages among youth and among children and adolescents during the time where before they didn't have these policies until the time where they really liberalized it, really just destroyed the whole Dutch generation with 15 percent use in '84. Here we are now at 45 percent in '96. They've caught up with Americans, who always traditionally had larger uses of marijuana.”=============================================”Well, we better make sure that marijuana is not treated like alcohol and tobacco here in the states. We see the tremendous, terrible problems that go along with legalizing a drug, even for people over 18 or 21. There is just widespread rampant availability and use of both of those two legal drugs, which are the cause of most of our deaths, because of their availability”==============================================“And I must say, going back to what Mr. Gray said about alcohol prohibition, that analogy is really a false one and a deceiving one. First of all, during alcohol prohibition it was not really prohibited; it was decriminalized, meaning you couldn't sell it but you could possess it. Second, and most importantly, alcohol has a long history of widespread accepted use in our culture, dating back to the Old Testament in ancient Greece. Drugs do not, and we've got to make sure that they don't. We've got to make sure illegal drugs stay out of society, and don't become a norm, don't become a cultural norm, or else you'll have the disaster of what you see in the Netherlands.”=================================================“The correlation between hepatitis, AIDS and the other -- racism and the other things that he's saying I don't believe are correlated with the drug war.”==================================================BATTISTA: Kevin Sabet, do you feel like alcohol, cigarettes, everything, should be wiped out.SABET: “Of course not. No one is advocating for the prohibition, again, of alcohol and tobacco, or at least most people, because, like I said, you have to look at the other element, which is the cultural element; and like I said, most people who get involved in alcohol don't get in trouble; most people who get involved with illicit drugs do get in trouble, and I think that's a problem.”====================================================Source:CNN Talkback live transcriptsksabet uclink4.berkeley.edup.s i have the rest of the talkback live trans. but it is to big to post.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on October 08, 2000 at 20:26:30 PT:
Hi Doc-Hawk
Thanks Doc-Hawk,Robert Sharpe is a real go getter. He is very good! Thanks for posting the link to his letters!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #6 posted by Doc-Hawk on October 08, 2000 at 16:58:35 PT:


A member of SSDP, Robert Sharpe, is one of the best letter writers that MAPInc ever gets. He has had letters published around the world and could serve as a model for activists anywhere. Many of his letters can be found at the link below:
Robert Sharpe's archived letters to the Editor
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Comment #5 posted by mungojelly on October 08, 2000 at 13:58:51 PT:

word to SSDP

SSDP seems to be becoming a strong organization. Are this and other organizations like it symptoms of a resurgence in student activism, perhaps even a resurgence of progressive politics in general? Ending the drug war is important to me, as it is to all of us, but of course there are other issues that I am interested in. I would like to see -- as Ralph Nader has been speaking about -- a strong civil society in America. Let's start speaking out about the issues that we care about, in civic activism, in art & music & performance, in protests and festivals, lending some color to the world. (PS this always bothers me: "Sabet believes statistics showing that use has gone down is proof that drug policy is working." -- If use goes up, we have a "drug epidemic" and we need to give more money to the drug warriors. If use goes down, then our drug policy is working and we need to give more money to the drug warriors...) 
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on October 08, 2000 at 13:41:46 PT:

What comes around, goes around

Thank you, I Rule. I've been wondering for the longest time when someone in the know, not from our camp but the legal one, would say what I've been saying for many, many years.Narks have felt pretty safe, so far. Politically safe, that is. They haven't had to worry that the very practices that they have engaged in, with the blessings of the pols, would ever come back to haunt them. They believe, so long as they have the backing of the pols, that they can literally get away with murder; after all, the recent killing of the Sepulveda boy proves as much.But things always come in cycles; what's okay today can become verboten tomorrow. And insane policies like the DrugWar will, sooner or later, reach a point where nark behavior will finally cause a torpid public to wake up and realize what has been going on behind their backs.I predict that the two series being broadcast this week will have the same electifying effect that Dan Gardner's Ottawa Citizen exposes had Up North. Indeed, I believe that we shall see *two* primary effects taking place as a result of the broadcasts. The first will be largely spontaneous, the second will result from a carefully crafted respoinse to the first which even now is being prepared even though the the public will not have even have seen the programs, yet.The first will be shock from those whose understanding of the DrugWar will have almost entirely been structured by the propaganda sound bites of the DrugWarriors, themselves. All they have ever heard has been the monotonous Orwellian Animal Farm sheep-bleat of "Drugs are b-a-a-a-ad! and "We are w-i-i-i-ning!". These programs will be a dash of cold water down the backs of those who've given almost no thought at all to the costs of the war they've been blindly consenting to for so long. I do not expect all of the sheeple to wake up; most will simply yawn and go back to munching on their diet of sweet ignorance...until they get buggered by their self-appointed shepherds, or shot by 'accident' by the same.But some will wake up. Some of those will realize what's been done to this country. Some will realize that time is running out before we become the very thing we fought the Nazis and the Communists to keep from ever happening here. And all because the government wants to 'protect' us from some *fool* who wants to put an alkaline powder up his nose, or a needle in her veins.And just as what happened Up North, they will start to ask questions. Hard, sharp questions. Questions the antis had hoped to dodge ad infinitum. Questions, that by the very fact they are brought up *at all*, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the *entire enterprise of the DrugWar*.Questions Officer Jack Boot and his brethren don't ever want to face in an open debate. And certainly not on live TV.Which is why I am predicting a second result from the broadcast. You can bet that the antis knew about this for months before we learned of this here. After all, the producers sent their people out to question these DrugWarriors, and you can bet they were very defensive about their role in this gigantic clusterf**k of a decades old policy failure.They have prepared their ripostes (no doubt hiring media consultants and using our tax dollars to pay them) in anticipation of the public outrage that might result from these programs.But time is running out. The sleeper has awakened; the media has been jarred from its slumber by the fact that Barry and Company successfully 'had their way' with them via Barry-ola as they were stupefyed from swallowing his DrugWar pap. They were made to look like the cheap hookers some of them were, and they don't like that. They are starting to smell blood, and some of them are getting hungry.A few months ago, I predicted that we were going to have a hot summer, and look what we got: Ontario Court of Appeals, the Breyer decision (overturned by no less than an 'emergency' measure by the Supremes; looks like a 2X4 landed squarely between the ears of the antis) Dan Gardner's literary carpet-bombing of treasured anti policies couched in lies, etc. Might I suggest that we might be about to experience an unseasonably warm winter?Particularly for the antis; might I recommend to all you antis reading this to invest in some Nomex underwear? You'll definitely need it when the heat from the fires you started from burning the Constitution starts scorching your collective asses!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 08, 2000 at 13:21:36 PT:

A Madness Called Meth - Special Report

Hi Everyone, This is a huge series on Methamphetamine. I thought I'd post the links because of its size. Thanks i_rule_ and freedom fighter! I sure appreciate the comments and information!From Redding to Bakersfield, methamphetamine ensnares thousands. Some are willing participants, stepping into meth's web to feed the hunger that creates drug addicts. Some are trapped: the children, spouses, parents and siblings of meth users. A Madness Called Meth - Special ReportSacramento Bee
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Comment #2 posted by freedom fighter on October 08, 2000 at 12:25:12 PT

fwd to all main media!

thanks i_rule_!We need all the help we can get!
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Comment #1 posted by i_rule_ on October 08, 2000 at 11:04:01 PT


-----Original Message-----From: CRRH mailing list Date: Saturday, October 07, 2000 5:01 PMJust saw this in the NY Times Drug ForumI believe it is from Cliff Schaffer:I just got back from Joe McNamara's conference at the Hoover Institution andI will give you a few thoughts over the next couple of days. Overall, it wasvery encouraging. I will just share one note with you right now. FederalJudge John Kane was there again this year and he was the keynote speaker atdinner. His topic was more than interesting. The general subject of theconference was "Ethics in Drug Law Enforcement". Speaking to a packed roomfull of chiefs of police and other similar people, he stated unequivocallythat they should aware that this policy has failed and that it will soon bea thing of history. When that happens, people will look back to the policeofficers present to evaluate their ethics on how they handled the situation.He said it was important for all of them to make sure that they were doingwhat was ethically right. Then he went into a several minute longdescription of how the drug war was based on lies, how the Drug Czar and theFederal Government continually lie about it (giving several examples alongthe way). He said that it was unethical for police officials to lie aboutthe facts in order to protect or promote their own position. Furthermore, hesaid it was unethical for police officials to go along with lies, or tocondone them, or to fail to challenge them as lies. He said that the timewould soon come when the truth would be known and those who went along withthe lies to further their own positions would be clearly seen for what theyare. Do the right and ethical thing, he said, and tell the truth. Confrontthe lies, and tell people that they are lies and that the information fromthe Federal Government is simply not reliable.Fwd by: Dean Becker*------CRRH is working to regulate and tax the sale of cannabis to adults likealcohol, allow doctors to recommend cannabis through pharmacies and restore theunregulated production of industrial hemp.------To subscribe, unsubscribe or switch to immediate or digest mode, please sendyour instructions to .------*Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp*mail: CRRH ; P.O. Box 86741 ; Portland, OR 97286 USAemail: crrh crrh.orgphone: (503) 235-4606fax: (503) 235-0120web:
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