Several others have already commented on Mark Souder going off the deep end in a letter to HHS (reported in the Washington Times).
He was pissed off because Health and Human Services was listed as a sponsor for a conference that includes harm reduction approaches. You see, Souder not only doesn’t support harm reduction as a concept, but he fervently believes that even discussion of that nature should not be allowed. The sponsorship in question amounted to only $3,000 in travel funds — I’d be willing to bet that more than $3,000 in taxpayer funds is used to wipe Souder’s ass each year.
Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, said in an angry letter sent Friday to Health and Human Services ( HHS ) Secretary Michael O. Leavitt that the conference’s approach to end the nation’s “war on drugs” in favor of programs that try to limit drugs’ harmful effects undercuts federal policy. “That administration officials from your department are consulting with harm reduction advocates … and sponsoring conferences controlled by the harm reduction network completely undermines the work of the President, the Congress and the men and women who work in law enforcement across the nation who are trying desperately to fight the meth epidemic,” wrote Mr. Souder, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources.
I’ve begun to believe that Mark is a Sado-Moralist. You see, he doesn’t care if drug policy works. He doesn’t care if drug policy reduces drug use. He doesn’t care about reducing the harm caused by drugs. He cares about punishment. He may even get off on it.
The problem with harm reduction from his point of view is that it necessarily means that some people who used drugs are going to be helped, rather than punished. It doesn’t matter that harm reduction works. He’s not interested.
He’s been the driving force behind the denial of financial aid to students who use drugs. While he says it’s because students who use drugs aren’t taking advantage of their subsidized education, he’s got to know that there are methods for measuring that (grade point average affects financial aid), and that his policy causes more harm than benefit. But it doesn’t matter. He can’t stand the notion that students might enjoy using drugs without having to pay in some way. He needs to punish them.
He doesn’t particularly care that the drug war is an abject failure, as long as people who are enjoying themselves are being punished.
In fact, I can imagine that if not enough people used drugs, he’d find it perfectly acceptable to go out there and sell drugs to people himself, as long as he could bash them over the head afterward. He might even enjoy it.
It’s always been clear that Mark was a moralist. It’s only recently that I’ve been looking at the sadist angle. Once you see his desire for punishment (along with the intense anger in his reactions), it seems to fit. What do you think?
Mark Souder, Sado-Moralist