Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More Drug War Nonsense

Hammer of Truth

Libertarians have long denounced the war on drugs. I think that we see it as an attempt to dictate morality, and because morals differ for each American citizen, we see it for what it is: an affront to our inalienable right to self ownership. Some people would have you believe that we are drug crazed loonies- that we party like Caligula or Bacchus. I know many libertarians, and our lives are not filled with drug induced orgies. In fact, our lives are filled with the same mundane happenings experienced by the right and left. You know, things like laundry, grocery shopping, soccer practice and band concerts. And, on top of all, work. Efforts on which we are taxed, some of us heavily, to fight something like a person’s choice of medicine or, dare I say, recreation. I wonder, though, if the extremists of any political camp look at the cost/ benefit ratio of this ill pursued war.

Apparently not. According to theDOJ, meth is our country’s biggest drug worry. According to the speech prepared for our esteemed AG, current meth users are numbered at 583 thousand. (User means that a person has used one time in the last thirty days.) The same speech tells us that more than 1.4 million people tried meth last year. I wanted to know how these numbers looked compared to population. According to the US Census report, we have 293 million people within our borders. My sub par math ability indicates that current meth users represent less than 0.2% of the US population. This is our epidemic? Obesity is a bigger killer, and according to Nemours Foundation, it affects more than 97 million American adults. I guess that gluttony is not a sin anyone cares about anymore.

Reading further into the words prepared for our illustrious AG, one finds a smoke and mirror anecdote regarding a little four year old named Romeo. It has been shown that a kid can sell the Drug War like Oprah sells James Frey’s foma.

You’re going to hear a number of compelling stories today about the tragedy of meth use. The one I carry close to my heart – especially as a father of two young boys –involves a four-year-old Colorado boy named Romeo. Romeo’s parents were running a methamphetamine lab in their home.

One day, at five o’clock in the morning, a SWAT team was making the final preparations to execute a search warrant on the lab. As the final checks were made, one of the detectives on surveillance reported that he saw a “skeleton” coming out the front door.

His fellow officers thought he must have been hallucinating. But then his colleagues got a better look and saw the same thing: It was Romeo dressed in a skeleton costume and looking up and down his street. The officers at first thought he was acting as a lookout for his parents.

An officer later approached Romeo. He asked Romeo why he was dressed in a skeleton outfit and standing on his front porch. And why was he looking up and down the street at such an early hour in the morning.

Romeo’s eyes lit up as he explained that later that day his nursery school was holding a Halloween party. As he told the story, his shoulders slumped. He told the officer that he really wanted to go to the party but he hadn’t been able to wake up his mom for the last few days and didn’t know where the bus stop was. Romeo said he thought that if he got up early enough and put his costume on, he might be able see the bus and catch it as it drove by.

At four years old, Romeo could not count to ten. But as officers later learned, he could draw a picture – in detail – of an entire meth lab operation.

As a mother, I have a couple of reservations about this account of events. First, how could a four year old, who doesn’t possess the ability to count to ten, who has fended for himself for a few days, have the ability to wake himself and dress in costume (on what is assumed to be the correct day) for a preschool Halloween party? (A side question for the mothers reading- Did your kid’s preschool have bus service? I ask because I am feeling seriously ripped off right now.) And a question for any legal minds- is it legal to question, without parental consent, a child during an investigation? Is Miranda read like a fairy tale or not read at all? And is the information obtained from the child admissible?

I think we all can agree that anyone choosing drug addiction is walking a bad path and I am certain that it is not healthy for children of any age to see an out of control parent. (Pick a poison.) I also believe that there is a real problem when public servants, in an attempt to push the morals of a vocal few upon many, create ineffective programs to stamp out “immoral” behavior. I found a neat little War on Drugs Clock. As I write this, at 5:30:45, our federal and state government has spent over $4.1 billion on the drug war… keep in mind we’re still in January of 2006. More than 128 thousand people were arrested for a drug crime this year. And after the expense of broken homes, lives and cash, the only epidemic I witness is the disease of good intention run amok. From where I sit, the cure seems worse than the disease.


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