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July 2006
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Drugs and Fire, an analogy

This is just from a little mental goofing-off, but I got to thinking about using fire as an analogy for drug use and the drug war. Like fire, drug use can be very beneficial or it can be harmful, depending on how it’s used, but with a little common sense, it can be quite safe.
In this particular analogy, the establishment has decided that only fire in corporate-sold furnaces is acceptable, and all other use of fire must be extinguished.
Prohibitionists (again, in this analogy) decide that the way to accomplish this is to destroy the fire utterly… by throwing dynamite at it. On occasion, the resulting explosion will temporarily suppress the fire from the lack of oxygen, but more often, it spreads the fire further in an unchecked manner — plus it causes enormous collateral damage.
Most reformers say that fire is our friend, as long as it’s controlled. They like cooking with fire, and even just sitting around and watching a candle or a bonfire (although it’s become much more dangerous to do so now that some crazed prohibitionist might show up and throw dynamite at it).
There are also some people who think fire is bad, but are smart enough to realize that throwing dynamite at it is stupid and ineffective. So they lobby for fire safety instruction and encourage people not to have fires, or if they do, to just have those little tea-light candles. Prohibitionists say that even that is unacceptable.
Conversations with prohibitionists tend to go like this:

Prohibitionist: How can you sit there and actually promote the use of fire? Don’t you know about the little girl that was burned to death in a house fire?
Reformer: Uh, … you threw dynamite at that fire.
Prohibitionist: She was burned to death. Fire caused that, not the dynamite.
Reformer: Uh, no. They were having a cook-out on the grill. You threw dynamite on the charcoal and the explosion spread the fire to the house…
Prohibitionist: See? It was fire. How dare you promote the death of little girls, you pyromaniac!

Meanwhile, the dynamite manufacturers and the dynamite throwers union lobby for increased use of dynamite fire-fighting, and new laws that would allow them to blow up sticks and other items that could be used in making a fire.
Prohibitionists: Saving children by throwing dynamite at fires.
Hey, it makes about as much sense as the drug war.

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