Let’s Retire The Drug War

Let’s Retire The Drug War

Jacob G. Hornberger

by Jacob G. Hornberger
December 2000/January 2001

Retired army general Barry McAfree has announced that he is now retiring from his position as America’s drug czar. If only he would take the war on drugs with him.

Of all the domestic wars that the U.S. government has waged in the last several decades, the war on drugs has got to be the most immoral and destructive of them all.

The drug war has constituted a frontal attack on individual liberty. It has provided an excuse for government officials to trample the Constitution, especially the provisions of the Fourth Amendment. It has caused death and destruction of innocent people, not only here in America but overseas as well. It has provided a means by which racism has been able to raise its ugly face in an innocent guise. And by everyone’s standards, the war on drugs has failed to accomplish its own purported goals despite at least 30 years of warfare.

What does it mean to be free? At the very least, freedom entails the right of every adult to sit in the privacy of his own home and do whatever he wants, as long as his conduct is peaceful and nonabusive. Drink beer. Smoke cigarettes. Snort cocaine. Watch dirty movies. Listen to music with obscene and violent lyrics. Read smutty books. Have sex. Eat fatty foods. Cuss. Even criticize government officials.

If a grownup is subject to being punished by the state for engaging in any of this conduct, then no one in society is free. And it doesn’t matter whether you yourself never engage in any of it. If the state has the power to punish anyone for doing it, then that’s a society in which tyranny is reigning for everyone.

The drug war enables and encourages the police to peer into your windows, examine your trash, monitor your bank accounts, turn your children into stool pigeons, and haul you into court and send you to jail for engaging in what public officials consider to be personal, immoral conduct within the privacy of your very own home.

Is this the kind of country you want for yourself and your family?

Look what they’ve done to our Constitution, which our ancestors intended to be an impenetrable barrier against unreasonable searches and seizures. Whether you’re in your car, at the airport, walking down the street, or even in your own home, you’re subject to being accosted and searched by the drug police and their drug dogs, especially if your skin happens to be dark.

What better way to wage bigoted wars against racial minorities than the drug war? Does anyone really believe that it’s only a coincidence that federal and state penitentiaries are filled with blacks and Hispanics who have violated drug laws? That racial profiling takes place because cops have a good-hearted concern that blacks and Hispanics are ingesting harmful substances?

Ever since President Nixon declared war on drugs (and antiwar protestors), U.S. officials have invaded foreign countries; had drug lords extradited to the United States; killed innocent people in drug raids; barged through doors all across America; executed countless search warrants, many of them based on perjured testimony; arrested, indicted, and incarcerated tens of thousands of nonviolent people; confiscated millions of dollars in private assets, much of it from innocent people; invaded the privacy of thousands of financial institutions; expanded the ranks of law-enforcement; and spent hundreds of millions of dollars.

What do they have to show for it after 30 years of warfare? Good intentions?

Through it all, they’ve never answered two fundamentally important questions with respect to the issue of individual liberty. Why should the state have the power to punish adults for ingesting harmful substances? Doesn’t the very essence of human liberty entail the unfettered right to engage in self-destructive behavior?

For more than three decades, the drug war has assaulted our liberty, invaded our privacy, trashed our Constitution, increased our taxes, and provided an innocent cover for government bigotry. It’s time to put the war on drugs out to pasture.

Mr. Hornberger is president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org.) and co-editor of The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration.

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Copyright © 2000 The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.

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