The Most Burning "Race Issue" Of Our Time
Seriously, the War On Drugs has to reverse course:
More than two decades after President Ronald Reagan escalated the war on drugs, arrests for drug sales or, more often, drug possession are still rising. And despite public debate and limited efforts to reduce them, large disparities persist in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, even though the two races use illegal drugs at roughly equal rates.
That, to me, is the most persuasive argument. Obviously this has a heavy toll on the black community--but if this were just a matter of us being more criminally-inclined, I probably wouldn't be so persuaded. Black men are also more likely to commit violent crimes, but I don't think that argues for going soft on violent offenders. In fact, in my ideal world, we'd have harsh penalties for violent crime--race be damned--and drugs would be legal. Violent criminals are threat to my son in a way that capitalists specializing in the cocaine or marijuana market just aren't. The Times grabs a token conservative for the counter:
Some crime experts say that the disparities exist for sound reasons Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York, said it made sense for police to focus more on fighting visible drug dealing in low-income urban areas, largely involving minorities, than on hidden use in suburban homes, more often by whites, because the urban street trade is more associated with violence and other crimes and impairs the quality of life.
“The disparities reflect policing decisions to use drug laws to try and reduce violence and to respond to the demand by law-abiding residents in poor neighborhoods to clean up the drug trade,” Ms. Mac Donald said.
As someone who lives in a poor neighborhood, I can say that the demand is to clean up--and clean out--violent offenders. I realize that the violent offender is often a drug dealer--but that's a direct result of our drug policy, not the nature of drugs themselves. All along Lennox Ave. you can see brothers walking up and down the street selling cigarettes. Nicotine has, in some studies, been shown to more addictive than cocaine and heroin--but I've yet to see bodies piling up over the "cigarette war." Furthermore, the idea that our de facto policy would be that drugs are illegal, only among people who commit violence is deeply immoral, in that it basically means drug laws exist for poor people only. It's also untenable.
I tried to read some stuff from Heather Mac Donald, but I found she was much more interested in smacking up strawmen, than addressing real issues. Her piece is titled "Is The Criminal Just System Racist." But that's beside the point. I frankly don't give two hoots about the intent of the law, or the people who made it. We are talking about the actual effects. The better question is, Is it good policy? Is it good for America? Furthermore there are plenty of people like me who believe that gun-violence should be aggressively prosecuted and punished, but marijuana possession (which accounts for 40 percent of all drug busts) shouldn't be.