bird icon for twitter

Stigmatize THIS

More Drug War Agitprop from the Atlantic

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 16, 2023

disgraceful article in the Atlantic tells us that it was a mistake to destigmatize drug use.

The first thing to notice about this claim is that it is absurdly general in nature. It was a mistake to destigmatize drug use? What drugs? Aspirin? Ben Gay? Beta Blockers?

Maybe they mean those antidepressants upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. We certainly aren't stigmatizing THAT drug use. To the contrary, doctors appear regularly on TV to remind us Americans to keep taking our pills.

No, the authors use the word "drugs" as defined long ago by Americans with a jaundiced view of mother nature and a complete lack of knowledge about substance use in human history. For them, "drugs" means "substances that can have no reasonable benefits for anyone, anywhere, at any time, in any place, ever."

In other words, the authors are talking about a non-entity1. There are no substances in the world that can provide no benefits under any dose, in any circumstance. The Drug War notion that such substances exist has massively censored science in America, to the point that shock therapy is still today's 'state of the art' treatment for deep depression. (See the recent series on what I call "Electroshock 2.0" by Laura Sanders in Science News.) After all, our Drug Warriors tell us that merely cheering up a patient is wrong, that it's better to fry the brains of the depressed than to let them use substances that make them want to continue living. What's more, there are many mood-enhancing non-addictive substances (like those synthesized by Alexander Shulgin) that would make shock therapy unnecessary, but any and all "feel good" drugs are demonized by Drug Warriors - that is to say, they are classified as "drugs," which are evil by definition - and this political use of words has criminalized all hope for the depressed and forced the most hopeless to commit suicide or to have their brain fried according to the latest advice of scientists, all of whom are in thrall to the Drug War ideology of substance demonization -- at least if they know what's good for them, vocationally speaking.

But perhaps the best way to refute this absurdly generalist claim, that we should stigmatize drug use, is by catechizing the authors with some inconvenient questions:

More to the point:

The authors will certainly say no to this latter question, thus revealing their corrupt biases and motivations.

They do not, after all, have a problem with people using drugs. No, such critics simply want to see people using the RIGHT drugs, i.e., those that increase value for Big Pharma shareholders.

Their supposed hatred of drugs, then, is really a hatred for the people that they assume are using them: the poor and minorities. This use, the prohibitionist fears, threatens the pharmacological virginity of their kids, little Jack and Jill Whitebread. (They're not worried about the victims of the inner-city shootings of minorities which their policy of prohibition inevitably brings about5.)

But the arguments in favor of prohibition are tautological.

Prohibition massively incentivizes drug dealing in all poor communities around the western world. Then the Drug Warrior who wrote those laws will point to the use of drugs among "the undesirable element" and claim that this is proof that prohibition is necessary. This is the blame-the-victim approach used by Francis Fukuyama in "Liberalism and Its Discontents." Moreover, the prohibitionist screams about the lack of safe-use practices and yet refuses on principle to teach users how to use safely.

The fact is that prohibition itself - along with the constant din of drug publicity provided by groups like the DEA and DARE - causes the very situations about which the prohibitionists are now complaining (See Synthetic Panics, by Philip Jenkins6).

In a world in which fearmongering was outlawed and drugs were not thus madly publicized by Chicken Little puritans, we would be able to use ANY SUBSTANCE IN THE WORLD to improve our mental powers and mood. In such a world, we would quietly - without a puritan fanfare in Congress - develop ways to treat or even prevent addictions and to help folks find those drugs that they can use to maximum advantage given their own life goals (as opposed to the goals of a Christian Science rehab center)7.

But these anti-American critics think the best way to deal with "drugs" is to outlaw academic freedom and bar folks from using the plant medicines that grow at their very feet (and make no mistake: academia is censored today, which is clear from the almost total absence of academic articles that sing the praises of the drugs that politicians hate, whether in the professional or popular literature).

Their goal is nothing less than the militarization of police forces around the world and the outlawing of all new religions, to ensure that gun-toting Christian capitalism can continue without being threatened by new ideas and that all social problems can be ignored, or rather redefined in terms of drugs. For although prohibitionists are skinflints when it comes to social problems, they simply cannot spend lavishly enough on building prisons and supplying riot gear for local law enforcement, both domestically and overseas.

These guys do not want to stigmatize people who visit your local pub. They want to stigmatize depressed people like myself who believe that the use of drugs like coca and opium is preferable to damaging my brain with electricity and/or lobotomy. (How unscientific of me, right?)

Such prohibitionists have outlawed my religion, which tells me to seek the ineffable and to improve my mind to the extent possible. They have forced me to live my entire life now without godsend inspirational medicines, many of which grow at my feet.

But they're still not happy. They now want to stigmatize those who believe that the government should not be in control of our minds and moods.

If anyone needs to be stigmatized, it is the prohibitionist whose anti-democratic policies have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths over the decades, for which the Chicken Little puritan never has the honesty to take credit. We can thank them as well for the election of Donald Trump, who could never have taken office had racist drug law not filled America's prisons with minorities, which is to say with the inmates from the traditional demographic of his political opponents.

As of 2020, the US-inspired Mexican Drug War had led to the disappearance of 60,000 people, with 31,000 murdered in 2019.8. But I don't see any prohibitionists trumpeting this inconvenient truth: "See, look what WE'VE done!" The situation is now so bad that we're unlikely to hear much about it - for the simple reason that journalists are quite frightened about covering the story. As Dawn Paley writes in "Drug War Capitalism,"

"The Drug War creates a context where members of resistance movements and journalists can be assassinated or disappeared under the pretext that they were involved in the drug trade."9

But how do you argue with people who are blind to all these seemingly endless downsides to their hate-inciting agitprop? How do you argue with folks who feel that its well worth hundreds of thousands of deaths in order to stop people from using time-honored medicines, many of which have inspired entire religions?

Author's Follow-up: December 16, 2023

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

As if we haven't been stigmatizing drug users enough. We stigmatize them so harshly already that it's impossible to get a job in America if you use drugs that have inspired entire religions. How's that for stigma? I'm not sure how you "crank that up," except maybe to stigmatize users a la Duterte and simply shoot them outright, as recommended by LA Police Chief Daryl Gates.

Of course, the prohibitionists will ignore the minority and overseas deaths and point instead to drug users on the streets -- failing as always to realize that it is prohibition which leaves the user nowhere else to go. This is the insidious MO of the prohibitionist: they point to all the downsides of prohibition as a reason why prohibition must continue. They don't give a rat's proverbial about a hundred thousand minority deaths -- but if young Johnny Whitebread is even in the vicinity of a hated substance, they will move heaven and earth to make said substance unavailable to anyone, anywhere, for any reason, ever.

The Drug War is thus the triumph of militaristic and racist idiocy.

Author's Follow-up: January 12, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Guess I should not be surprised, since I've read that Kevin Sabet is the editorial staff's go-to guy at the Atlantic when it comes to ideas for "fighting drugs" -- as if Americans should be fighting to turn America into a Christian Science theocracy. I've heard him proclaimed as the new voice of the drug debate -- which is odd, since he's just a slightly kinder and slightly gentler version of William Bennett, the old chimney pot who wants to behead drug users. In fact, William's biggest beef is with users who are problem free. He wants their names posted in the paper. He's not yet called for them to be "rounded up" but give this kind of thinking another 20 years, and who knows.

It wasn't enough for America to kill off the tribal peoples -- now they want to kill off their positive attitudes about nature and drugs, for as the original ethnobotanist, Richard Schultes tells us, all tribal people have used psychoactive drugs for the benefit of their people. You remember the tribal people, right?... or at least the survivors, the ones that we ruined by pushing liquor on them, meanwhile telling them to say no to Mother Nature on pain of incarceration -- not to mention stigmatization by magazines that should know better.


1 Quass, Brian, There is no such thing as DRUGS, 2020 (up)
2 Quass, Brian, William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas, 2023 (up)
3 Quass, Brian, Suicide and the Drug War, 2022 (up)
4 Quass, Brian, America's Great Anti-Depressant Scam, 2020 (up)
5 Quass, Brian, The Invisible Mass Shootings, 2022 (up)
6 Jenkins, Philip, Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugs, New York University Press, New York, 1999 (up)
7 Quass, Brian, Addicted to Ignorance, 2020 (up)
8 Mexico's war on drugs: More than 60,000 people 'disappeared', (up)
9 Paley, Dawn, Drug War Capitalism, AK Press, Chico, California, 2014 (up)

Next essay: Matthew Perry and the Drug War Ghouls
Previous essay: Drug War Agitprop

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

The DEA conceives of "drugs" as only justifiable in some time-honored ritual format, but since when are bureaucrats experts on religion? I believe, with the Vedic people and William James, in the importance of altered states. To outlaw such states is to outlaw my religion.
The Shipiba have learned to heal human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually with what they call "onanyati," plant allies and guides, such as Bobinsana, which "envelops seekers in a cocoon of love." You know: what the DEA would call "junk."
Prohibition is a crime against humanity. It forces us to use shock therapy on the severely depressed since we've outlawed all viable alternatives. It denies medicines that could combat Alzheimer's and/or render it psychologically bearable.
There are hundreds of things that we should outlaw before drugs (like horseback riding) if, as claimed, we are targeting dangerous activities. Besides, drugs are only dangerous BECAUSE of prohibition, which compromises product purity and refuses to teach safe use.
If politicians wanted to outlaw coffee, a bunch of Kevin Sabets would come forward and start writing books designed to scare us off the drink by cherry-picking negative facts from scientific studies.
The Holy Trinity of the Drug War religion is Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and John Belushi. "They died so that you might fear psychoactive substances with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
John Halpern wrote a book about opium, subtitled "the ancient flower that poisoned our world." What nonsense! Bad laws and ignorance poison our world, NOT FLOWERS!
Materialist scientists cannot triumph over addiction because their reductive focus blinds them to the obvious: namely, that drugs which cheer us up ACTUALLY DO cheer us up. Hence they keep looking for REAL cures while folks kill themselves for want of laughing gas and MDMA.
They drive to their drug tests in pickup trucks with license plates that read "Don't tread on me." Yeah, right. "Don't tread on me: Just tell me how and how much I'm allowed to think and feel in this life. And please let me know what plants I can access."
The Drug War is the most important evil to protest, precisely because almost everybody is afraid to do so. That's a clear sign that it is a cancer on the body politic.
More Tweets

essays about

Brahms is NOT the best antidepressant
Why SSRIs are Crap
Sending Out an SOS
Why Rick Doblin is Ghosting Me
Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanism
The Pseudoscience of Mental Health Treatment
Lord Save us from 'Real' Cures
Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination
Disease Mongering in the age of the drug war
The War on Drugs and the Psychiatric Pill Mill
Psychiatrists Tell Me That It's Wrong to Criticize Antidepressants
So, you're thinking about starting on an SSRI...
The Depressing Truth About SSRIs

essays about

The Infuriating Philosophical Idiocy of Kevin Sabet
How the Atlantic Supports the Drug War
How the Atlantic Supports the Drug War Part II

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, Stigmatize THIS: More Drug War Agitprop from the Atlantic, published on December 16, 2023 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)