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October 2007
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The rule of law

“bullet” I continue to be a big fan of Glenn Greenwald’s work in exposing the authoritarian movement in this country. While he generally is not talking specifically about the drug war, there is common cause — the drug war is authoritarian in nature, and is used by authoritarians for increasing their power.
In a recent post about ill-conceived legislation to provide amnesty for telecoms, Glenn talks about the rule of law.

And our opinion-making elite is eagerly defending this — insisting that while the poor irrelevant souls who buy and sell drugs near the corners of their offices are real criminals and those people belong in prison, our nation’s telecoms and other high officials, when they get caught breaking the law, should have special laws written decreeing that they are immune from all consequences.

When so many people in this country are arrested and imprisoned based on unjust and unfair laws and enforcement, while others in the corridors of power are rewarded for lying and lawbreaking, there’s no wonder that large portions of the population lose faith in the rule of law.
Greenwald quotes Thomas Carothers:

Respect for the law will not easily take root in systems rife with corruption and cynicism, since entrenched elites cede their traditional impunity and vested interests only under great pressure.

And of course, as respect for the law diminishes (as a result of both unfair laws/enforcement and the hypocrisy of those in power), those tasked with enforcing the law, faced with an uncooperative public, are pushed to greater extremes of confrontation, becoming enemies of the people (and escalating the cynicism even more).
Every now and then I hear someone “counter” reformers by saying “Drugs are against the law. End of story.” as if the very act of passing a law constituted the rule of law. (And, in fact, many of our lawmakers seem to be under the impression that their job is to “rule” people by passing a lot of laws.)
But the rule of law is much more important. It is the judicious use of just and fair laws, equally applied.
The drug war is a corruption of the rule of law, as are the authoritarians in our midst who seek to impose their power on others.

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