Earlier this week, I saw this OpEd at Brown University by Sofia Ortiz Hinojosa: 4/20 and the drug war
It’s another one of those pleas for people to stop smoking marijuana because it’s killing people in Mexico, done with sickening emotional appeal.
With 4/20 coming up, I am concerned that many students fail to see the connection between the purchase and consumption of illegal drugs on college campuses and the violence and chaos in many parts of the world. […]
But the price we pay is much steeper. Swallow this figure if you can â€” in Mexico, over 10,000 people died in drug-war-related incidents between January 2007 and June 2009. By the end of 2010, this number had risen to over 30,000 casualties. Let me say that again â€” over 30,000 people have died in drug-related violence since I first stepped onto campus as a first-year in 2007. This semester alone, another 5,000 have been added to the death toll, making this figure a heart-wrenching 35,000. Every time I go home, I have to hear another story about a mass grave or a bus hijacking. I cannot help but connect it to what I see happening daily on my own beloved college campus, and it breaks my heart.
I’ve responded to this kind of nonsense before, so I didn’t bother with it, but now I see someone else at Brown has stepped up to the plate.
Hunter Fast writes In the drug war, keep your eyes on the real killer
It is readily apparent that Ortiz-Hinojosa does not understand that governments that ban drugs hand a monopoly on their sale to people who are already willing to break the law. In addition, prohibition takes away the courts as a means for drug vendors to settle disputes peacefully. In lieu of a legal framework in which to operate, they terrorize the Mexican citizenry in their needlessly bloody quest for market dominance.
Furthermore, it is naive to assume that one can compel all drug users in the U.S. to quit simply through emotional appeal.
Hunter doesn’t stop with just shooting down Ortiz-Hinojosa’s bad arguments, but goes a step further.
Ortiz-Hinojosa is therefore effectively arguing that all Americans should obey bad laws â€” ones that infringe on fundamental rights to privacy, free enterprise and self-determination â€” so that the violence and the deaths ultimately arising from those laws just might end. Let me be unequivocal myself â€” our freedoms are too important to be held hostage this way.
In a free society like ours, individuals should have the liberty to use whatever substances they see fit in their own homes, pursuant of their rights to privacy and property. After all, in 2003, the Supreme Court established in the case Lawrence v. Texas that the government has no right to ban private sexual conduct between consenting adults. Given that sex and drug use both have associated risks, why should drug use be treated differently?
While Ortiz-Hinojosa feels entitled to a sense of outrage at the sight of someone publicly using marijuana, it instills in me a gratitude to live in a place where someone can commit an act of public civil disobedience against the unjust prohibition of drugs without facing legal repercussions. If more people expressed disdain for the modern prohibition â€” either in the public discourse or through civil disobedience â€” the result would not be the bloodbath that Ortiz-Hinojosa describes, but a greater impetus for the end of the drug war…