It’s pretty clear that the 30-year War on Drugs waged by the United States has been spectacularly unsuccessful at best and criminally wasteful at worst. Within our borders, jails have become overcrowded with small-time offenders while the rate of new usage continues to increase. Outside of these same borders, a new generation of druglords continue to show the world that Pablo Escobar was an amateur.
I guess the thing I’ve never understood is, why are drugs so bad? Yes, I understand why abusing drugs is bad in the same way that I understand why abusing people or anything is bad. But there’s a big difference between using and abusing. I use alcohol in that I have a beer with dinner. I don’t abuse it, though, because I know what the effects would be. Plenty of people use marijuana in the same way and quite honestly, I trust them a lot more than I trust my alcoholic friends.
So why do we continue to demonize drug use even as we profit from it? It’s the same thing with drug use in sports. I don’t want to see guys abusing the stuff but if a small dose of some sort of PED from time to time can keep a guy healthy, why not? We already know what kind of a toll the rigors of professional sports take on the human body. And yes, the athletes know what sort of risks they face. But why wouldn’t we do all that we can to ensure their health and safety?
Honestly, I’m tired of reading about A-Rod or Manny or Ryan Braun. McGwire, Sosa and Bonds? That’s something else. That’s abuse. But those other guys? I really couldn’t care less. If regulated use of PEDs could help players stay healthy, play until they’re 40 and enjoy life post-baseball, that just makes sense. But, so does de-criminalizing marijuana and collecting taxes off of its sale. I don’t expect to see either one anytime soon.
Fall and the playoffs also mean the imminent death of another baseball season. Fittingly, the news outside of baseball also seems fixated on endings and death the last couple weeks. Of course there’s the Michael Jackson doctor trial which seems to inspire the same kind of media circus that Jackson himself used to bring out. But there are two other endings that I find more interesting.
The first is the death of Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen. The dude was definitely a bad guy and behind, or at least the inspiration behind, some of the more nefarious plots against the US in the past couple years. But he was also an American citizen which makes his assassination problematic at best. Does his death make us safer? Probably. Should we be assassinating US citizens? That’s a little less certain.
Obviously a lot of US citizens, a majority most likely, don’t agree with Al-Awlaki’s rants against the US and exhortations to do us harm. But there were also a fair amount of people who didn’t like Martin Luther King’s message and thought his ideas just as dangerous as those of Al-Awlaki. But the US government didn’t assassinate him. No, I’m not saying that the two men are similar or that their messages bear any resemblance but I am saying that assassination is a slippery slope during the best of times. When it becomes an easily employable tool in the context of a nebulous concept like the “War on Terror,” how long before it becomes a similarly employed tool within other nebulous concepts like the “War on Drugs?” Again, I’m not saying this will happen, I’m just saying it needs to be considered.
Considered in the same way that Trinity College in Dublin should have considered their options before e-executing one of their faculty. Ok, sure, Professor Conan T. Barbarian may not have been a real professor or even a real person but did he deserve so inglorious an end as to simply be deleted from a server somewhere? Precedents, people. They matter.
We Americans enjoy declaring war. However, we only tend to make the declaration when the battle must be fought against an abstraction. Declare war on Sudan for its genocide in Darfur? Nah, too many bureaucratic hurdles. Declare war on terrorism, as ill-defined as that term may be? Sure thing. Same goes for the war on drugs, still going strong after three decades. Now aside from the fact that what is and isn’t classified a drug happens to be random at best, the whole idea bears some serious scrutiny since the rate of drug use has actually increased during this “war” according to the government’s own statistics.
What’s even more worrisome is the knock-on effects this abstract war has had on parts of American society. No, I’m not talking about our abysmal rate of incarceration (although it is disgraceful). I’m talking about something much more important, much more fundamental. Something that should have been enshrined as an inalienable right in the Bill of Rights. Beer-league softball.
Apparently over the past six years, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office responsible for waging the “War on Drugs,” has played in the same Congressional Softball League as a team made up of players from drug policy reform groups. And each season the ONDCP team has somehow managed to avoid playing the reform team, even when the schedule pitted the two teams head-to-head.
That’s right people, the drug war is slowly ruining our recreational softball leagues. Luckily, there is a solution. Declare war on the war on drugs.