Thursday, February 22, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

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War on Drugs

Treatment, yes,but what if the userdoesn't want it?

Editor, The Times:

In Mindy Cameron's column "An American epiphany in the War on Drugs" (Times, Feb. 18), she notes, having watched the movie "Traffic," that the current government stance with regards to drugs - namely war - is a failure. Cameron goes on, as does the movie, to advocate a change of approach: from fighting the drug dealer to treating the drug user.

The idea that this country might devote much more funding and energy to treatment seems more right-minded at first blush, but, the fact is, forced, involuntary "treatment" does not work. In order for treatment to work at all, the person being treated has to want to involve himself in treatment. Period.

A fact that is never acknowledged in our national debate about drugs is that a lot of people who use drugs use them occasionally, recreationally and responsibly. Despite the stereotype, the average drug user is gainfully employed and is a net contributor to his community. For such a person, drug use is not a problem and it's no business of government.

I know that this is going to sound like a radical idea, but maybe government should just leave people alone when they're not harming anyone else.
– Lloyd Gaarder, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Wrong impression

Even in the movie "Traffic," which reveals the drug war in all its misguided, tragic lunacy, drug users are portrayed as degenerates and chemical slaves. The drug czar's daughter goes from bright schoolgirl to pathetic crack whore in the blink of an eye.

Come on. Even for heroin users, the most reliable estimates are that a mere 10 percent become addicted. Not great news, but on a par with booze. The simple truth is that the vast majority of drug users use drugs recreationally and are no more in need of detox and counseling than is a tavern patron.

People take drugs to enjoy themselves, not destroy themselves. The biggest myth about drugs is that drug use equals drug abuse. The truth is that only the unfortunate few come to ruin, and most do so with a legal drug anyway.
– Bill Muse, Seattle

Demand change

The problem is not that Mexico and Colombia and a host of other countries supply us with drugs, but that our demand for them is so great. As long as Americans are prepared to pay these enormous sums, someone will step in to supply the drugs.

So how do we reduce our demand for drugs? By incarcerating addicts. What a thoughtful approach. We hear it was President Nixon's campaign staff in 1968 that thought up the idea of the War on Drugs, and that $40 billion was spent by the government conducting this war last year. So now we have had an epiphany regarding the failure of this 33-year-old war?

I'm sorry, Mindy Cameron, but the facts have been staring us in the face since the beginning, but our only answer has been ignorance and a refusal to face those facts. All the police SWAT teams, attack helicopters sent to Colombia, new prisons and prison sentences have not reduced, nor ever will reduce, our demand for drugs. If one must receive an "epiphany" to realize this, it speaks volumes to our own sad state of affairs.
– Rick Meisenholder, Bellevue

Mind control

Addictions do not meet the nosology of disease. Addictions are stigmatizing terms that are culturally conditioned. Americans fighting addiction is equivalent to Haitians fighting voodoo or, more correctly, St. George out fighting dragons, on which all scapegoat persecutions are modeled (there were no such things as dragons, but St. George "saved" us from them nonetheless).

Taking the "wrong" social drugs is a vice, not a crime or a medical disorder. Sentencing people to "treatment" or helping people who do not want your help is called persecution. Harming people in the name of helping them is as old as mankind is itself.

The ugliest aspect of drug prevention is that in order to control what substances a man may put in his body, the state must also control what ideas a man may put in his head. The state in an ostensibly free country has no business controlling the ideas of its citizens.
– Chris Buors, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Logic lesson

Economics 101, a quiz. Text: There are immense profits in illegal drug traffic. Question: Why don't government officials support legislation removing these profits? Answer: Because there are immense profits in illegal drug traffic.
– Tom Difloe, Camano Island

Blanket Primary

Civic privacy first

I read with interest "Let's keep ballot freedom for Washington's voters" (Times, Feb. 21), but I'm still confused.

While I concede the right of the Democratic and Republican parties to choose their own candidates, I've yet to see where it says that I must pay for that right. While I have the right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, I don't know of any law that says that taxpayers must pay for the abortion. In fact, there are numerable laws and other barriers to prevent just such actions.

While I also have the right to worship as I choose, I don't know of any U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says that taxpayers must pay for my (or any other's) place of worship.

So, why is this different? I'm a lifelong Democrat, who doesn't mind saying so, but I'm not interested in getting dunned by the party to pay for their issues or candidates. I'll support candidates and issues I'm concerned about on my own. I'll even give contributions to the party if I so desire. But I do not think I'm obliged to give up my privacy, which is my right, for the party's right to freely associate.

So, should the parties decide to pay for the primaries, I'll follow their rules. But for now, I (and all the other taxpayers in Washington state) am paying for the primaries and I'd like to be able to protect my own rights - starting with the right to privacy.
– Harolynne Bobis, Seattle

Pox on parties

As I remember it, within the United States' Constitution, political parties aren't even mentioned. Nor is power to legislatively govern allowed for the court system. All laws are passed by the legislative process. However, I do remember a little First Amendment.

Therefore, I caution all members of the Republican and Democratic parties within our state Legislature to remember this constitutional amendment. It states that Congress will make no law abridging the right to vote, to be free in one's person, to practice their own religion, or to be secure in their persons.

As William Shakespeare may have said it, a pox on both their houses. This admonishment by no means is meant to our state Reps. Pam Roach and James West. They have opposed their party's leadership position.

In turn, by publicly opposing a blanket primary, the membership of the Washington state Republican and Democratic parties have shown themselves for the hypocrites that they may well be.
– Michael Luzzo, Spokane


Self-defeatist strategy

The people of Missouri voted John Ashcroft out of office, but George W. Bush put him right back into power. The people of Washington state voted Slade Gorton out of office, but Bush is putting him right back into power. The people of the United States voted for Al Gore, but Bush got in instead.

I get it! I must be voting for the wrong guys! Next time I'm voting for all the guys I don't want. That should assure that the guys I want will be appointed into power!
– Rob Moitoza, Seattle


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