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of Kindness, Love & Grace
Like You Wouldn't Believe
Call For A Cease Fire In The Ancient Forest Wars
On Bruce Cockburn's "Trouble With Normal"
(War on Drugs. . . .)
Bosnias rape camps are surely trifling compared to those of the land of the free and the home of the brave. Many, if not most prisoners enter confinement with severe emotional problems and exit much worse, according to Dr. Terry Kupers in his newly published book, Prison Madness (1999). U.S. correctional institutions are producing sociopaths and psychopaths, notes Dr. James Gilligan in his book, Violence; Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes (1996). Conditions in the American gulag have gotten so bad that this year, for the first time in its 37 year history, Amnesty International is putting aside its long-standing policy of only investigating human rights violations abroad to focus on the U.S. As a survivor, and president of Stop Prisoner Rape, Inc., I am on Amnesty Internationals speakers bureau for its current campaign.
Rules By Which We Live
Thus runs one solution to end the controversy over Governor George W. Bushs alleged cocaine use. Its funny, but it raises a very big question. Why not simply give every suspected drug user the same right to privacy the GOP presidential front-runner demands? Better yet, why accept such a distortion of the rules by which we live? If a youthful George W. Bush had been tried according to now Governor George W. Bushs own unforgiving drug policy, hed be a felon, and likely sent away to a maximum security prison for anywhere from ten years to life. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are doing hard time around the countrystays measured in decades if not life-spansbecause of their youthful dabbling in the white stuff.
Look at it another way. If George W. Bush had been busted for his youthful use of drugs, hed be unable to raise $50 million and capture the Republican nomination for President. And therein lies the difference. He didnt get caught. The same applies to William Jefferson Clinton. He didnt get arrested when he didnt inhale that joint that one time. But he might have been, and if he had been, America would have been deprived of his leadership for the past eight years.
There is nothing moral or intelligent about a system such as this. Human dignity and potential should not depend on whether people get caught or not. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who have received criminal penalties, including draconian prison sentences, for doing just what these two presidential actors have done. I think of the ones who get caught as being Georges and Bills personal Jesus Christs. Its weird, but like Jesus, the ones caught in the system are made to suffer for the sins of these two hypocrites.
The point is, whats good for our presidential candidates is good for the people of America. Right? Either our laws should be applied equally to all, regardless of class, wealth, position, race ..... or they should be changed to accurately and fairly reflect the behavior of our society. This is what was done in repealing Prohibition, and it is long past time to do it again with the rest of the drugs our society continues to use.
Wars arent easy affairs to end. Even if the politicians came to their senses and called off the War On Drugs, we couldnt proclaim to ourselves as a nation that weve shot our WOD, open the prison gates, and free all those brutalized men, women and children. They are casualties of this war and theyre going to need lots of therapy and other health care, lots of job training and decent housing, or theyll be climbing through our windows with evil intent. Its the least we can do to make restitution to them. We need nothing less than a domestic Marshall Plan to rehabilitate America from the self-inflicted wounds we suffer as a result of this War on Drugs.
In the final analysis, not everone who uses drugs abuses them, which is one of the great lies of The WOD. The truth is, as with alcohol, most people who use drugs do so in a fairly responsible manner.
When will the millions of people of all walks of life, in all social classes, and of all economic means of our society emerge from the peculiarly hypocritical Dont ask, dont tell state we find ourselves in after decades of The WOD, and simply tell the truth about it? When will the doctors and the lawyers, the police officers and the therapists, the teachers and the architects and the truck drivers and the students and the farmers and the engineers . . . when will we just admit in public that many of us use substances that are currently and unjustifiably illegal?
Earlier this century, Mahatma Ghandi exhorted the Indian people to openly break unjust laws and throw off the fetters of their oppression through non-violent civil disobedience. Individually, such actions only hurt the individuals and never could break the tyranny of the British empire. But when hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands of people came out, the justice and prison systems were soon overwhelmed with people no longer afraid of what the system could do to ruin them. The empire changed its laws.
Laws are human constructs. They come and they go, changing according to cultural shifts and economic/political realities. When a law is bad, enough dissent can dissolve the construct. It is time to speak out! Bush and Clinton have put the issue of personal use on the political maplets thank them for it! Campaign 2000 offers a perfect opportunity to resuscitate the body politic and go for national healing.
If we continue the course were on now, the words of Emile Zola in JAccuse (1898), could eventually become an apocalyptic prophecy: Truth is on the march, and nothing can stop it When truth is buried in the earth, it accumulates there and assumes so mighty an explosive power that, on the day when it bursts forth, it hurls everything into the air.
This article only begins to describe the position and the proportions of a very large and dangerous metaphorical iceberg that floats off our bow, menacing our human rights.
The following books and periodical were very helpful in the research for this article:
Tom Cahill is a long-time political activist, and is currently president of Stop Prisoner Rape Inc. Tom lives on the Mendocino Coast of California. He can be reached at PO Box 632, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, or 707/964-0820. www.spr.org