Parsing the song 'White Lines' for drug war propaganda
Grandmaster Flash may be a great rapper, but he is a lousy philosopher and historian, at least if he actually believes in the lyrics that he raps. Check out the words to "White Lines," the Duran Duran hit on which Flash is the featured rapper, with lyrics by Melvin Glover and record producer Sue Robinson.
Ticket to ride, white line highway
Tell all your friends, they can go my way
Pay your toll, sell your soul
Pound for pound costs more than gold
Sell your soul? Really? Merely by using a plant medicine that has been used responsibly by non-Western cultures for millennia?
This line could only have been written by a lyricist who was mentally under the thumb of Drug War propaganda, a lyricist who had been convinced by cop shows and movies that cocaine can only be used for evil, since that's all the producers had ever allowed him to see. But these lyrics would have been laughable in any country that was not in the midst of America's unprecedented war on plant medicines.
For well over 2,000 years, the educated people of all cultures have known that any chemical substance can be used wisely or unwisely. Salt can kill you in high doses. Botox is deadly even in low doses, but in minuscule doses it can perform cosmetic wonders.
But the Drug War holds the superstitious notion that once a psychoactive substance is criminalized by politicians -- presto change-o -- it becomes evil incarnate, unsafe at any dose (or indeed in any form), and can thus be demonized without regard to common sense.
But moving on...
My white lines go a long way
Either up your nose or through your vein
With nothin' to gain except killin' your brain
Killin' your brain? Really? Apparently the lyricist is unaware of the fact that Freud used cocaine heavily to increase his work output, then withdrew from the habit later in life, without a big self-aggrandizing ruckus, when he no longer needed the focus-inspiring effects of the drug in question. HG Wells and Jules Verne wrote their best stories while taking generous swigs of Coca Wine. South American tribes have used the coca plant in religious ritual and for practical purposes for millennia. The Incas thought coca was a god. But we can't speak of this in America, because the Drug War ideology says that we are mere helpless babes when it comes to the all-powerful psychoactive substances with which mother nature has surrounded us: and thus it is our duty to fear them, not to understand them.
Chuck D of Public Enemy says that rap music is "the black CNN." But what's the point of creating a whole new "news network" when you're just going to spout the same old tired party line about drugs, based on a pack of Drug Warrior lies and censorship?
Earth to Grandmaster: plant medicines do not "fry your brain" -- that is a Drug Warrior lie. To the contrary, cocaine brings mental focus, opium spurs creativity, and psychedelics help you think outside the box. If you don't believe me, read up on the responsible and productive "drug use" of Henrik Ibsen, Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, and Francis Crick, respectively, the latter luminary being the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the DNA helix by ingesting liberal quantities of psychedelics. Hell, Plato himself was a "user" at the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries, where he obtained his philosophy about the afterlife.
But the lyricists have such a naïve faith in the veracity of Drug Warrior lies that I'm tempted to sell them some prime swampland in New Jersey. Check out how the lyrics that follow mindlessly conflate the use of cocaine with the use of heroin and crack, in deference to the Drug War practice of libeling and slandering Mother Nature's plants at will, without any reliance on pesky facts, let alone mere common sense. (Hey, apparently all's fair in love and the Drug War.)
(Hey man, you want to cop some blow')
(Sure, what you got, dust, flakes or rocks')
(I got China White, Mother of Pearl, Ivory Flake, What you need')
Talk about guilt by association. Cocaine is not heroin. Cocaine is not crack. Cocaine is not Fentanyl. But when the Drug Warrior wants to demonize a plant medicine of mother nature, he's allowed to make up facts -- which is easy to get away with in a world where the DEA will not even allow the scientific investigation of most of the psychoactive substances in question, except to for studies by crooked researchers who are paid to "prove" that the DEA is necessary to regulate plant medicine that grows unbidden around us (like the researcher referred to by Rick Doblin in "Psychedelic Medicine" who filed dodgy reports against the drug Ecstasy to ensure that soldiers would go without a godsend treatment for PTSD for the last forty years!!!)
I wanna respond: Hey man, you want to cop some antidepressants that you will have to take every day for the rest of your life??? Visit your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist!
And the Drug War beat goes on, as Grandmaster Flash proceeds to blame cocaine for all the problems that the Drug War itself has actually created out of whole cloth:
Athletes rejected, governors corrected
Gangsters, thugs and smugglers are thoroughly respected
The money gets divided
The women get excited
Now I'm broke and it's no joke
It's hard as hell to fight it, don't buy it
Hey, I'm almost broke myself, trying to pay for my daily fix of Effexor, a modern Big Pharma antidepressant which is more addictive than heroin. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Grandmaster Flash to demonize Effexor on my behalf, even though 1 in 8 American men and 1 in 4 American women are also addicted to such modern antidepressants, none of which were initially intended for long-term use. In fact, since Flash is such a pushover for Drug Warrior propaganda, it would not be out of character for him to appear on Oprah with a rap song reminding Americans to "Take Your Meds!" -- since that's another Drug Warrior lie, the notion that we must demonize mother nature's plant medicines while yet reminding Americans that it is their moral duty to become addicted to modern antidepressants.
But perhaps the most frustrating lyric of the song "White Lines" is the following:
A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time
He got out three years from now just to commit more crime
A businessman is caught with twenty four kilos
He's out on bail and out of jail
And that's the way it goes, raah
Don't get me wrong, the lyrics are absolutely right. The problem is that the singer's addiction to drug-war ideology makes him absolutely impotent to do anything meaningful about this injustice. After having been prompted by Drug Warrior lies to conclude that cocaine is pure evil, he can scarcely call for the re-legalization of the coca plant, thereby finally getting the racist police officers off the backs of his fellow minorities. So what happens?
Such confused thinking about drugs leads to a byzantine effort by would-be minority advocates to tweak the wording of drug laws here and there, not to re-legalize mother nature's plant medicines (which should be ours by birthright under the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America), but to make sure that the penalties for white collar crimes committed by Caucasians are just as harsh as the penalties for drug offenses committed by minorities.
This is why drug-war opponents can't make a united front against the Drug War: because Drug Warrior ideology has conquered by dividing them into competing camps. And so the minority advocates go to the government, essentially saying: "Those kids got 5 whacks on the tush while we got 10." That may be true, but the real problem is that the government is administering blows in the first place, not that they are biased in the way that they distribute them.
It is no coincidence that the notion of treating criminal suspects as dirt and scumbags appeared on the scene at the same time as the Drug War blossomed in the early '70s. It is the Drug War that militarizes America's police forces and gives them free rein to indulge their racist impulses. The answer to the problem is not to demonize mother nature's plant medicines and imply that they're just as bad as the worst man-made drugs we can imagine: the answer is to stop unscientifically demonizing drugs altogether and start talking objectively about them, with the term "drugs" to include alcohol and Big Pharma antidepressants and the information that we publish to include perceived benefits as well as drawbacks and contraindications.
Flash's rapper friend, Cowboy, would not have died from crack had he been given objective information about psychoactive substances. The problem was not the coca leaf: the problem was the Drug War, both its suppression of objective information about substances and its criminalization of far less lethal plant medicines with which human beings like Cowboy could have achieved self-transcendence with little or no risk of addiction, let alone of the AIDS and subsequent death to which these Drug War prohibitions eventually led him, so to speak, by default.
The whole problem is that we have been trained by Drug War propaganda to hold this thing we call "drugs" responsible for causing all evil, turning it into the universal scapegoat for social problems, when all the real problems in the world are caused by the Drug War itself: its deliberate lies about substances, its suppression of inconvenient truths about them, its criminalization of a wide array of psychoactive plants that could bring peace of mind to millions, and above all its creation of massive and widespread violence, the violence that inevitably occurs when one creates a black market in desired substances.
Chuck D of Public Enemy says that rap music is "the black CNN." But what's the point of creating a whole new "news network" when you're just going to spout the same old tired party line about drugs, based on a pack of Drug Warrior lies and censorship? The lyrics of "White Lines" would easily pass ideological muster with "the white CNN," or even with an openly racist Drug Warrior for that matter. True, the black CNN wants to focus on the racist implications of the Drug War, but neither "news agency" can clear its head from Drug War propaganda long enough to realize that the problem is the Drug War itself, not the mere way that it is administered.
OCTOBER 1, 2020 - Why does Grandmaster Flash think that cocaine was criminalized in the first place? Because racist politicians associated its use with Black Americans -- just as racist politicians associated opium with the Chinese, marijuana with Hispanics, and psychedelics with hippies.
Thus the war on drugs is simply back-door racism, which is the perfect political crime, since now even Black Americans themselves have been taught to adopt the same jaundiced attitude toward cocaine that racist politicians adopted as a front, merely as a way to arrest Black Americans and remove them from the voting rolls by charging them with a felony. Conservatives generally want nothing to do with laws that foster social control, like laws regarding recycling for instance. And so when conservatives rabidly endorse laws to foster social control, you can bet there's an ulterior motive behind it: in this case, the ideological enslavement of Black America, and disempowering them through Drug War propaganda into supporting the mass arrest of their very own people.
Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at email@example.com. Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.
*"Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." -- Heather Ann Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
The above numbers may represent undercounts since some of these totals were compiled in late 2021.
The news media just doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it. Most stories about the deaths of blacks in inner cities never mention the drug war, as if the fact that prohibition led to armed gangs had nothing to do with the skyrocketing gun deaths that they're reporting on today. For a case in point, check out the article by Micaela A Watts in CommercialAppeal with the headline: "Following 346 homicides in Memphis in 2021, officials consider what's driving the violence."
Yes, that's a real poser, Micaela. The city fathers must really be scratching their heads!
The author notes three major theories for the violence, all of which have nothing to do with the drug war: "Lack of conflict resolution skills," a lack of "fair wages," and (get this) poor mental health.
Looks like the city officials failed to ask themselves why city residents were armed to the teeth in the first place. Hello? That was due to the drugs warriors' substance prohibition which incentivized the poor and poorly educated young people to get into the fantastically profitable business of selling drugs!!!
Substance prohibition created drug gangs and cartels just as surely as liquor prohibition created the Mafia.
Yes, drug warrior, YOU are responsible for these deaths. You! It's a natural result of your ban on medical godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions and have the potential for treating (if not curing) such diverse conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, and depression.
Drug War Victim of the Day
killed in Prince Georges County, Maryland on August 15, 2022
Southeast Washington DC remains a no-go zone, even for UPS drivers, as this latest shooting incident points out, which is 1 in 6 shootings that have taken place in the last week, two of them fatal. If this were happening in Hollywood, California, it would be a scandal. But movie stars are people, and victims of the drug war, especially when poor and black, are what Noam Chomsky calls 'unpeople.'
Yes, even the director of "Bamboozled" is bamboozled about drugs. He agrees with the drug warrior lie that there are psychoactive substances in nature that have no positive uses whatsoever, in any place, any time, any context. This superstitious way of thinking has forced me to go without godsend medicine my entire life. Thanks, Spike. Why do you want people to become drug-hating Christian Scientists, exactly? These things that you call "drugs" have inspired entire religions. The conservatives are laughing as they rush to the polls to elect fascists, because they have bamboozled Spike Lee himself to sign off on the drug war which brings death and incarceration to inner city blacks. Throw away that "just say no" teddy bear with which you were bribed in childhood, Spike, and open your eyes.
Mangual is the author of 'Cities got deadlier in 2020: What's behind the spike in homicides?' in which he never once mentioned the drug war!
Here's my letter to his website:
Hi, Rafael. Just wanted to suggest that you start holding the drug war responsible for inner-city violence -- since substance prohibition incentivized 'dealing' in poor neighborhoods and the guns soon followed. Because no one mentions this 64,000-pound Gorilla, Trump is able to blame the deaths on Democrats, so that, rather than ending the violence-causing drug war, he can begin executing the blacks that drug warriors were previously happy with merely incarcerating.
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
All warfare is based on deception, said Sun Tzu. Yes, but what is all deception based on? A mistrust of one's fellows. And how do you combat that, Chris? With empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin.
London: East India Publishing Company, 2021.
Pious drug warriors have usually thought of Marcus Aurelius as the perfect replacement for bad evil drugs -- but Marcus had his cake and ate it too. He philosophized under the influence of opium (but don't tell the kids!)
Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel.
New York: Amazon, 2021.
Alice's shroom-powered adventures are a standing reproach to glum-faced drug warriors, who closely resemble the Queen of Hearts, shouting: "Off with their heads, for using godsend medicines of which I disapprove!"
De Quincey, Thomas.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
New York: Dover, 1995.
During De Quincey's informed opium use, he "partook" only weekly in order to better enjoy the opera, making his weekday life happier as well, however, thanks to anticipation of use, a benefit of which materialist science takes no account.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner .
New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
A stark reminder that the world is living under a nuclear sword of Damocles. And why? Because it demonizes all the godsend medicines (like MDMA and shrooms) that could bring humanity together in universal harmony.
The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys .
New York: Park Street Press, 2011.
First-hand accounts of psychological breakthroughs achieved with the guided use of entheogens, suggesting that one-time givens like "character" and "human nature" are far more susceptible to improvement than we thought.
A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War.
New York: Da Capo Press, 2014.
The late historian Fleming cites the popular mob-led public "diseases" of Witch-Hunting, Liquor Prohibition, and Communism -- yet says nothing about the Drug War, which was the great disease in the public mind of his own time!!!
Liberalism and Its Discontents.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
Great bipartisan insights, BUT... Francis reckons without the drug war, so, like a good drug warrior, he blames all the ills caused by prohibition on the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy.
New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
The author seems unaware of the increasingly clear ability of empathogens like MDMA and shrooms to improve the very human nature which grumps like Hobbes portray as being so irrevocably fixed.
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.
New York: HarperWave, 2020.
Julie claims that Nixon criminalized psychedelics for health reasons. What? That's not the Nixon I know. He said himself that Leary was enemy #1. He was removing "users" from the voting rolls, not protecting them.
The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell.
New York: Penguin Books, 1970.
Huxley's speculations about perception jibe with modern science, which finds that human beings see what is presumably useful to them, not necessarily what is "really there" in the sensory-rich physical world.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead .
New York: University Books, 1964.
Americans have been primed by the drug-war zeitgeist to consider everything Leary writes as nonsense. But he was the first one to announce loudly and clearly that what's really nonsensical is to outlaw plant medicine.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
New York: Del Rey Books, 1970.
Lovecraft's work is full of opiate imagery that drug warriors want to render impossible for artists to feel: "I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves..." (Ex-Oblivione)
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009.
Gabriel moralizes "addiction." Addiction, however, is a political term. One can use psychoactive Big Pharma meds every day and be a good patient -- use heroin every day, however, and you're just escaping "inner pain." What?
Maupassant, Guy de.
Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique .
Paris: , 2019.
In "La Horla," Maupassant anticipates Huxley by speculating that our perceptual habits blind us to a world of wonders. Many of today's demonized drugs, it appears, can at least partially open our eyes to that world.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution .
New York: Bantam, 1992.
This was the book that reminded me of what I already vaguely knew: that it is tyrannical insanity for a government to outlaw plants. McKenna's philosophical speculations on why we criminalize inspired me to create abolishthedea.com.
Miller, Richard Louis.
Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle .
New York: Park Street Press, 2017.
Informative interviews with movers-and-shakers in the field, including Rick Doblin, Stanislav Grof, James Fadiman, David Nichols and Robert Whitaker. Packed with eye-opening one-liners about godsend meds.
Out of our Heads.
New York: HiII&Wang,, 2010.
Noe reveals how patients with "locked-in" syndrome have reported being supremely aware of their surroundings during their supposedly brain-dead coma, a fact that puts in question our materialist assumptions about consciousness.
When Plants Dream.
New York: Watkins Publishing, 2019.
I find philosophical problems with most of the books that I read on the subject of psychoactive medicine, but Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the few authors who could teach me a few things on this topic.
Poe, Edgar Allan.
The Essential Poe.
New York: Warbler Classics, 2020.
Because drug warriors never mention the good side of "drugs," we must turn to Poe to learn, for instance, that morphine can bring a surreal appreciation of Mother Nature (see "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains").
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence .
New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
Pollan has yet to realize that the very term "drugs" is just a modern pejorative epithet for "plant medicine of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove. "
Reynolds, David S..
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Exhaustively researched account of the 19th-century zeitgeist, and yet the word "drugs" (as defined, or rather derided, by today's drug warrior) is never even used. Last century's boogieman was liquor, it seems, not "drugs."
Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
The psychedelic experience was once characterized as pharmacologically induced madness. Richards shows how the properly guided experience can lead to sanity instead -- and a way of life that is not self-destructive.
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 .
Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
The war took place 16 years before anti-Chinese Drug Warriors criminalized the poppy plant, and yet opium is only mentioned with regard to a group of unimaginative volunteers who smoked some and "couldn't see the point."
Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered.
New York: Arlington House, 1967.
Burke was a conservative in a sense, but he would not recognize America's Republican party of today. He would surely have seen that prohibition causes all the problems we ascribe to "drugs," and then some.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
New York: Penguin, 2014.
In 1980, the Air Force nearly blew up Arkansas and irradiated half the country. When Reagan took office the next year, what was his priority? Outlawing plant medicine that could make our species less warlike.
Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. .
New York: Pocket Star, 2006.
On March 7, 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine nearly blew up Pearl Harbor with a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of launching a war on nukes, then-President Nixon launched a war on medicines that could inspire peace, love and understanding.
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler.
New York: RosettaBooks, 2011.
Paraphrase from book: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds.
Back Bay Books: Boston, 2019.
Despite griping about the weight she's put on from taking her daily 'meds,' Slater gives Big Pharma a big fat mulligan for consigning 1 in 4 American women like herself to a lifetime of chemical dependency on SSRI antidepressants.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences .
New York: Park Street Press, 2001.
Rick doubts DMT's therapeutic usefulness, but common sense psychology suggests that any break from full-on introspection would be a treat, notwithstanding materialists who aren't even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!!!
Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Filled with inconvenient truths that critics ignore rather than refute, including how politicized science tells us a la God: "Eat of the fruit and you shall die," ignoring the fact that education tells us how to eat of that fruit safely.
Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market.
New York: Praeger, 1992.
Chock-a-block with all-too-rare common sense: "Doctors, lawyers and politicians started the War on Drugs and continue to wage it, and they are its real beneficiaries -- the drug war's ostensible beneficiaries... are its victims."
Tyler, George R..
Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System.
Michigan: Pegasus Books, 2016.
Doesn't mention drugs, but illustrates how drug reform can be stymied by just 3% of the public: namely, those holding stock in Big Pharma, etc., especially when these elites can bribe politicians to retain the status quo.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America .
New York: Crown, 2010.
Prohibition has facilitated the creation of a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. Moreover, these pills cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.
Zuboff , Shoshana.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
New York: Public Affairs, 2019.
Surveillance capitalists and drug warriors share the same goal: to keep human beings predictable: one by rendering us more robot-like and the other by denying us the mind-improving blessings of psychoactive medicine
There are an absolute LEGION of online articles and newspaper stories that get it wrong about so-called drugs. Even those in favor of drug law reform have been subject to drug war propaganda from childhood (and they probably have a DARE teddy bear to prove it!) so speak truth to nonsense and comment on the articles that get it wrong.
Bloody disgusting fact: The Drug War brought almost 800 deaths to Chicago in 2021 by incentivizing the hugely profitable sale of psychoactive medicine in poor communities. And now Trump and his fellow fascist drug warriors want to use that violence as an excuse to KILL drug dealers via execution! Any community leaders supporting the drug war are complicit in this genocide. For as Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."
How America can end inner-city homicides overnight in three easy steps:
Re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines
Treat substance abuse as a health problem
Buy back inner-city guns at double their purchase price (even triple the price would be a huge bargain in the long run)
This will, of course, be a huge sacrifice for everyday Americans, who do love their drug war, bless them.