Thursday, April 12, 2007

Henley, cont'd.

Ultimately, we must end the insane and vicious drug war. What on earth does the drug war have to do with a glory hound DA pushing a nonexistent case for personal status and glory? Quite a lot. Because it’s essentially impossible to fight the drug war “clean,” we keep changing laws to make it easier for law enforcement to fight it dirty. We weaken warrant provisions; we encourage systems of informants and undercover work that are in their very structure dishonest. We criminalize an ever wider circle of behaviors - paying cash; buying decongestants; installing indoor gardening facilities - in the name of surrounding the less crackable violations at the core of drug use and sale. We turn entire categories of people into presumptive suspects, from young black men to Latin American travelers. We turn prisons into factories for rape and colleges of crime, packing them to the walls with young men who come in nonviolent offenders and come out cold and mean.

Most of all, we make a lot more violent crime than we need to have. We raise the prices of goods that would otherwise be cheap to the point where its consumers will rob to pay for them; we put untold billions of commerce outside the protection of courts and contract, so that everyone who conducts it perforce becomes a do-it-yourself enforcer; an ever-larger regimen of drug testing makes it harder for addicts and mere users to get honest work.

Making more crime makes law enforcement people tend to view themselves in terms at once desperate and grandiose. We produce a class of narcissistic cynics. The abuse that follows is inevitable. We can be glad when isolated cases of overreach fall apart, but the problem is not the occasional nails that stick out. The problem is the architecture itself.

-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings