DEA Museum opens tomorrow at the California Science Center

I mentioned earlier that the execrable DEA Museum Exhibit: Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause had not been put out of its misery, but instead was continuing its tour – now to California.
A number of people wrote to the Science Center to express their dismay, and Center staff responded:

Thank you for your email. You are referring to an earlier version of the
exhibit, and are not aware of the changes and modifications that have
been made for the Los Angeles venue.

The California Science Center recognizes that science knowledge and
technological innovation play important roles in understanding and
breaking the cycle of drug abuse and addiction. It is with this
perspective that the Science Center’s Ethics Advisory Committee reviewed
the Target America exhibit prior to agreeing to host the exhibit. Upon
review, we appreciated the potential of the exhibit to educate guests on
the science of drug abuse and the health implications of drug addiction
with certain content modifications. Since last spring, the exhibit has
been refurbished, expanded and updated to reflect these concerns.
Specifically, the DEA Museum Foundation has updated and enhanced the
current science content, added a Local Story component, and modified the
exhibit to better balance the issues of prevention, treatment, science
and enforcement.

Additional programming will further support the science and technology
educational messages. You are welcome to attend these programs and to
engage in these discussions. We are confident the current exhibit will
support our mission and provide a powerful educational experience on the
damage drugs cause, and invite you to review the revised exhibit,
opening Oct. 2nd.

Shell Amega

Vice President, Communications
California Science Center

So before I rush in guns blazing (figuratively – I don’t have any guns and I can’t make it to California), I figure we should at least give him the benefit of the doubt and check out the exhibit.
So anyone who can — please visit the exhibit, take notes and pictures, and report back.
The good news: neither the California Science Center nor the DEA’s site feature the really offensive World Trade Center wreckage sculpture that was the centerpiece of the exhibit in previous locations. If they’ve removed it, that’s an encouraging sign. (Please let me know if they continue to promote the drugs-terrorism connection in any way.)
Additionally, the Science Center has downplayed the DEA’s involvement to merely “Developed by the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum and Partners.” I wonder if this means that it will be less of a DEA infomercial than the Chicago exhibit was.
However, I don’t see any way that the California Science Center could have actually properly fixed this exhibit and still have the DEA involved at all. Because quite frankly, there’s no way that the DEA would allow any truthful representation of the dangers of prohibition, which means that the “science” is still propaganda, not science.
If you do check it out, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Play a wacky basketball game that gives you a sense of temporary memory loss first-hand, as you learn about the latest research from UCLA scientists on the effects of drugs in the brain.
  • Speak into a wiretapped microphone and see your unique voice print. Learn about innovative technology pioneered in Southern California and view footage of drug enforcers and wiretaps in action.
  • Through an immersive theater experience, ride along with seasoned Southern California drug enforcement officers on a simulated drug bust. Discover the science, technology and skill of surveillance and apprehension.
  • Spin the Wheel of Misfortune and see the various risks drug addicts face. If you‰re lucky enough to land in Rehab, spin the Wheel of Recovery and see what your chances are for long-term recovery. Find what treatment options are available throughout the southland.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
And, of course, you’ll be able to view actual wreckage from a drug-related car accident, a tenement crack-house, and the bedroom of a young teen that has accessed a Web site that sells illegal drugs.
Check out my site: DEA Targets America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Caused by the Drug War for my response to the earlier form of the exhibit, and the flyers we used to pass out to museum patrons.
I’m still open to revising the flyer further based on what we learn about the current version of the exhibit, and making quantities available to those who would like to help educate the patrons of the California Science Center as to any aspects of the science that have been neglected.

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