Clarifying Terms for Drug War's End 

Clarifying Terms for Drug War's End 
Posted by FoM on April 29, 2001 at 19:26:50 PT
By Thom Marshall
Source: Houston Chronicle
Words intended to mean one thing when leaving your mouth can mean something completely different upon entering the ear of another. Saying what you mean in such a way that others will not misunderstand you is the great challenge in most any type of discussion, debate or negotiation. I wish I could remember who provided an illustration of this many years ago by pointing out that a fellow might intend to convey a romantic message meaning: 
"When I look at you, time stands still." But if what the listener understands is, "Your face would stop a clock," there obviously was a major problem with word choice creating a definition gap between intention and understanding. The word-choice topic came up in a dinner conversation Tuesday, when a California judge met with a handful of Texas people who share his interest in changing the nation's drug policy. Judge James Gray came to Houston to speak at a luncheon Thursday sponsored by the Drug Policy Forum of Texas. He is the author of a new book: Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It. Regulating isn't legalizing:Gray said he avoids choosing and using the word "legalize" in connection with drug-policy reforms. What he is working toward, he said, is regulation. Gray first went public in 1992 as a critic of the nation's war on drugs because, he said, he had seen firsthand and up close how the drug laws have failed, how they waste tax dollars, increase crime and despair, and harm so many lives unnecessarily. He said at that time that he predicted a major turnaround in drug policy -- an end to the war on drugs -- by the year 2000. He admits he was off on that guess, but based upon recent developments and the rapidly increasing support for policy change, he believes it could happen in another two or three years. One of the folks at that Tuesday dinner said that when he uses the word "legalize" when talking about drugs, he is proposing that they be treated like alcohol, which once also was illegal. The problem with that, Gray explained, is that alcohol still is not legal in many instances. There are many places where buying it, selling it or consuming it are illegal for anyone. It is illegal for anyone underage to buy it or consume it. It is illegal to sell it at certain times. It is illegal to produce it or sell it without the licenses and permits. It is illegal to buy it without paying the taxes on it. Many people hear "legalize" and they believe that to mean drugs would be readily available to everyone. Alcohol is regulated. And under potential policy changes favored by Gray and many others who want to see an end to the war, other drugs also would be regulated. He does not claim that regulating drugs would make them impossible for kids to get. After all, teen-agers can get booze today, just as the judge and others of us middle-age folks could get it when we were teens. But kids have to go to some effort to obtain alcohol, due to the ways it is regulated. Illegal drugs are easier to get, Gray said. Illegal drugs come looking for the kids, and there is a plentiful supply despite years of the best efforts of those fighting the costly but ineffective drug war. Ill-defined words stall progress:So Gray said he is for changing laws so that the currently illegal drugs could be regulated. In his book, he calls it a "major pitfall in the discussion of our current drug policy and alternative options" that terms are not carefully defined by those who use them. "It is, regrettably, very common for one person not to know what another person is talking about, which naturally leads to a great deal of miscommunication and misunderstanding," he wrote. "If everyone would take care to define their terms, we would make a lot more progress." He believes progress is inevitable. "Our country will someday change to a materially different drug policy," he said, also predicting that "we will look back in astonishment that we allowed our former policy to persist for so long, much as we look back now at slavery." Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Author: Thom MarshallPublished: April 26, 2001Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle Contact: viewpoints Website: Related Articles & Web Sites:Drug Policy Forum of Texas Policy Forum of Texas - Austin of Gray On The Drug War Laws Criticized in Speech
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on April 30, 2001 at 07:59:15 PT
Well Said
Yae verily...wisely spoken Jorma.May JAH Shine on You Always.............................................................dddd
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Comment #4 posted by jorma nash on April 30, 2001 at 07:34:59 PT:
dddd sayeth: "It makes it seem as if breaking the law is one thing,but a Drug Offender is in a different category....""...I have yet to hear any of our fine leaders or czars explain this dichotomy."in my excursions behind enemy (thought) lines,i think i have found an explaination. my take is they *do* think it's a worse crime.murder merely destroys your *temporary physical body.* also, most people can readily see the harm involved in murdering someone.drug use is far worse: it destroys your *eternal spiritual soul.* the most insidious part is, users are deluded into believing the experience is not evil, but actually kind of fun, so the cancer spreads.i happen to argee, cannabis does have a spiritual experience a personal Oneness with All.since this is 180 degrees from fundamentalist "shut up and worship a remote, seperate deity as you've been told,"which is by definition Good, cannabis must be hideously Evil.this would also explain the harm maximization policies, too.they want you to come to *physical* harm, it might show you the error of your ways and cause you to repent, thereby saving your *soul*.(remember, you now inhabit a throw-away body in a throw-away world, this plane is no more than a test to see if you belong in heaven with God and the prohibitionists.)so why don't they come out and say it?they *know* they are correct, (words alone cannot describe how certain a fundamentalist is that (s)he is correct)but also understand how zealous the argument sounds, they fumble around, trying to find social, medical, scientific evidence."know thine enemy."
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on April 30, 2001 at 05:50:07 PT
Yup...I think that words,,the way they are used,and the meaningsattached to them,(aka;semantics),,,is as bad as the problem I havewith long akward sentences,and too many ,,,,, and ........Observers observation concerning the word "legalize",applies tomany other buzz words that the prohibitionist have effectivlyattached a stigma,or notorious overtone to.A good example is the "Drug Offender" label.It makes it seem as if breaking the law is one thing,but a Drug Offender is in adifferent category.This is proven by the student loan thing.Rapists,murderers,prostitutes,drunk drivers,,no problem,,but a "Drug Offender",that's different.You must be singled out for special treatment,you havethe 'drug offender' label.You must wear it on your record forever.Itis reminiscent of certain yellow stars in hitlers Germany.I have yet to hear any of our fine leaders or czars explain this dichotomy. ..............................................................................................dddd
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Comment #2 posted by observer on April 29, 2001 at 23:17:07 PT
Yes, Jorma!
That's exactly right! Legalize to too many people means, "They want our four-year-olds to be toking on reefers!" If you're not agreeing with every prohibitionist penalty, you must want the kiddies to all be dopers, etc. Total access or total prohibition. 
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Comment #1 posted by jorma nash on April 29, 2001 at 20:51:04 PT:
i'll take this one, observer.
i'll save Observer the trouble of pointing out this article is all about deconstructing the prohibitionist theme:"options are presented as either total prohibition or total access" it's an important point.once it's clear there will be some minimum age threshold, and it's generally understood kids can get marijuana more easily than beer right now,it will seriously threatens the "for the child-run!!!!" mantra.then where will the prohibitionists be?not in a position to ruin lives anymore, hopefully.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world,and that is an idea whose time has come.~ Victor Hugo ~
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