A debate at Brown

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 — 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 — 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 — ones that infringe on fundamental rights to privacy, free enterprise and self-determination — so that the violence and the deaths ultimately arising from those laws just might end. Let me be unequivocal myself — 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 — either in the public discourse or through civil disobedience — the result would not be the bloodbath that Ortiz-Hinojosa describes, but a greater impetus for the end of the drug war…


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19 Responses to A debate at Brown

  1. strayan says:

    Nice? More like brilliant.

  2. darkcycle says:

    Ugh. The problem is that people who are swayed by this type of “heart strings” argument are immune to logic anyway. I’m gonna smoke a completely “Grown in USA, Organic/cruelty to Mexicans-free” bowl and consider my response.

  3. Dante says:

    I thought Brown University produced some of the best and the brightest.

    Well, Ms. Ortiz-Hinojosa definitely proves otherwise.

    • Buc says:

      I’d bet my 401K that she hasn’t touched bud before and probably lives in the state of denial that none of her friends do it when, in reality, they’re too scared (and understandably so) to tell her that they do.

      Ever notice how strong the correlation is between never having tried a particular drug and then just swallowing government propaganda on it whole? You can even see that for cannabis-only consumers that want their other drug using brethren to face the same state-sponsored harassment that they currently face. Half of the NORML crowd feels that way. You know, the ‘Our drug is safe, but continue to arrest cocaine users, heroin users, etc’.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Brown does produce some of the best and brightest, but their dedication to cultural diversity requires that they produce a certain percentage of gibbering idiots.

  4. Buc says:

    That’s called domination right there.

  5. kaptinemo says:

    In a nutshell: “PWNED!”

    Ms. Ortiz Hinojosa’s article is more proof of the necessity to bring back courses in ‘Rhetoric’ in high school.

  6. Shap says:

    For all of us whose blood boils when we read about Illinois v. Caballes


    good work by the Florida Supreme Court

  7. Memphisj says:

    One thing that concerns me is that this same argument is being used by some pro legalization activists in trying to make the case. I’ve seen quotes indicating you should strictly “buy American” since Mexican pot use supports terrorism.

    I hate to see anti-prohibition folks using the language of the drug warriors, but it’s happening and we need to call it out when we see and hear it.

  8. TrebleBass says:

    Sofia even recognizes that legalization would solve the violence, yet only says it in passing and lays all the blame on users. She says she gets very upset when people around her get high, yet apparently doesn’t feel anywhere near enough anger at prohibitionists to write an article about them. It’s amazing how someone so aware of the violence created by prohibition can still only feel anger towards users.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Treble, if you ever get a chance, you might look up Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent to see how the populace is herded mentally by corporately-controlled, traditional-media gatekeepers in cahoots with political figures, narrowing the amount and kind of perspectives allowed regarding any issue. The documentary very handily explains the kind of blind spots that most people suffer from WRT any issue that affects the public…like the DrugWar.

      This process of manufacturing consent, in effect, puts blinkers on anyone without an alternate source of information – like the ‘Net. Which is why every year you see some bought-and-sold pol trying to muzzle it.

  9. Mike Ashley says:

    Domination domination and domination. I don’t want this. But everything was brilliant. Awesome! For all of us whose blood boils when we read about Caballes v Illinois.

  10. Richie says:

    Lets stop drinking so we don’t enrich businesses that prosper off getting people violently drunk. Maybe that nightclub you frequent is a business front for some mafia gang. Your alcohol money encourages advertising that makes drinking glamorous to underage teens. Think about the children.

    I love how these conservative Republicans stress individual responsibility but love to put the evils of Mexican govt corruption and cartel violence on the shoulders of peaceful marijuana users enjoying 4/20. What a scam!!!

    • Richie says:

      We should also give up our right to bear arms because of gun trafficking from US to Mexico drug cartels. Maybe just give up all our rights to appease the most despicable people in our society (politicians and the drug cartels).

      • Richie says:

        One final note on this particular topic, since Sofia Hinojosa loves heart-wrenching figures, here’s another for her consideration:

        Alcohol, a substance far more harmful than marijuana, is linked to 75,000 deaths each year in the US alone.

        By trying to get people to give up marijuana, Sofia and others who share her views would actually be adding more misery north of the US-Mexico border. Seems a little counterproductive in my book.

        Once again, the only solution boils down to that one thing.

      • Windy says:

        “We should also give up our right to bear arms because of gun trafficking from US to Mexico drug cartels.”

        That is what they want people to think, and that is why the ATF, in fact, WAS the PRIMARY organization involved in the gun running to Mexico, involved up to their eyeballs.

  11. Malcolm Kyle says:

    Official return of the Green Fairy:

    Assuming the law is given presidential approval – normally a formality in France – it will enable producers to label their drinks as ‘absinthe’ for the first time since 1915. Since 1999, French producers have exploited a loophole in the law by labelling their drinks as ‘spirit infused with absinthe plants’.


  12. Mike Ashley says:

    The law should be approved by the president and it’s cabinet. We should also give up our right to keep weapon. The procedure taken by Brown must implement soon. Nor it will be the same domination here.

  13. Mike Ashley says:

    This law is very awesome.We should also give up our right to keep weapon. This debate is so much important.Many many thanks for the post.

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