Friday, September 2, 2011

On a Certain Interview

By now you may have heard that Patheos refused to run Galina Krasskova's interview of yrs. truly, citing objections with the content - more specifically, the content which dealt with the use of illegal drugs.  According to one commenter, Cara:
My husband (attorney) took one look at the article and said that it would be legally very, very risky for Patheos to print something like that. It got too much into the 'how to do something illegal' - and that Patheos could be criminally liable, even if no one is shown to act on the instructions, for printing something like that. At the least, Patheos could suddenly be shut down by the Feds.
I'd like to chalk these concerns up to the arm-waving hysteria I've posted about recently. Unfortunately, Cara's concerns are not entirely unjustified.  Harm reduction advocates have frequently run afoul of law enforcement officials who accuse them of promoting drug use.  Needle exchanges are regularly harassed by police and were denied federal funding for decades despite overwhelming evidence that they help prevent the spread of AIDS and other diseases.  It's not a coincidence that the harm reduction forums like Bluelight and Drugs Forum host their servers offshore.  The War on Drugs has spawned a prison/industrial complex which guards its privileges and powers zealously and is not afraid to attack its critics with a whole range of legal and extralegal weapons.

Apparently one of the things which raised some Patheos-hackles was my list of suggestions on how one might determine that their usage of a controlled substance was becoming uncontrollable.  Drawing a distinction between recreational use and abuse is controversial in some quarters. The idea that one might be able to enjoy an occasional line of coke or syringe full of heroin without becoming an addict  is dangerous.  It's safer - more socially acceptable, at least - to say "If you so much as sniff second-hand marijuana smoke, you'll be shooting up within weeks."  But as Jacob Sullum pointed out:
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicates that about 3 million Americans have used heroin in their lifetimes; of them, 15 percent had used it in the last year, 4 percent in the last month. These numbers suggest that the vast majority of heroin users either never become addicted or, if they do, manage to give the drug up. A survey of high school seniors found that 1 percent had used heroin in the previous year, while 0.1 percent had used it on 20 or more days in the previous month. Assuming that daily use is a reasonable proxy for opiate addiction, one in 10 of the students who had taken heroin in the last year might have qualified as addicts. These are not the sort of numbers you'd expect for a drug that's irresistible.
Today, our primary model of treatment for rehabilitation is the 12-step/abstinence program.  We are taught that addiction is a progressive and invariably fatal disease which can be controlled only with extensive therapy and treatment.  But according to the folks at Harvard Medical School:
There is a high rate of recovery among alcoholics and addicts, treated and untreated. According to one estimate, heroin addicts break the habit in an average of 11 years. Another estimate is that at least 50% of alcoholics eventually free themselves although only 10% are ever treated. One recent study found that 80% of all alcoholics who recover for a year or more do so on their own, some after being unsuccessfully treated. When a group of these self-treated alcoholics was interviewed, 57% said they simply decided that alcohol was bad for them. Twenty-nine percent said health problems, frightening experiences, accidents, or blackouts persuaded them to quit. Others used such phrases as "Things were building up" or "I was sick and tired of it." Support from a husband or wife was important in sustaining the resolution.
The powers that be are lying to you about the Drug War.  They are lying because it gives them power over you.  If they can protect you from cocaine, they can protect you from vitamins and raw milk:  by declaring you an "addict," they can dispense with inconveniences like criminal trials and enrich their coffers thanks to forfeiture laws.  They can make a well-regarded religious interfaith portal dump anti-Drug War postings because they fear civil and criminal liability: ask yourself just how many other websites have suppressed material because of this chilling effect.

And for those of you who may think me a wild-eyed radical, I close with the words of one of the modern conservative movement's elder statesmen, William F. Buckley, Jr.:
I have not spoken of the cost to our society of the astonishing legal weapons available now to policemen and prosecutors; of the penalty of forfeiture of one's home and property for violation of laws which, though designed to advance the war against drugs, could legally be used -- I am told by learned counsel -- as penalties for the neglect of one's pets. I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors.