ne of the main themes of my site is that the Drug War is based on a huge number of misconceptions. One of the least recognized but most muddleheaded misconception is the idea that we should not "glorify" drug use.
Oh, really? Why not?
We glorify alcohol and tobacco use every day in TV, movies and magazines. We even glorify the UNSAFE use of these substances. The Andy Griffith show had its own resident drunk, who had apparently learned to "let go and let liquor." The movie "Arthur" shamelessly glorified the lifestyle of an unapologetic drunkard. The protagonists of modern movies are often regular chimneypots, scornful (indeed almost proud) of the risks that they are taking by puffing away on so-called "cancer sticks."
Speaking of "cancer sticks," I almost gasped out loud the first time I heard that phrase back in the early '90s. It was uttered in an offhand manner by my niece who was a preteen at the time, and I thought to myself: "Bless my heart, they must be using vivid imagery in those DARE classes that she's been attending."
Well, folks, guess whose niece grew up to be a regular smoker? So much for the power of vivid imagery.
The fact is that nobody rushed out to become a drunkard after the release of the movie "Arthur" in 1981. Then again, if they had done so, we would not have heard about it, because the media would not have been in a hurry to draw a connection between that "lovable" romance comedy and a horrid addiction. Now, had Arthur been a fan of opium, reporters would have been sent out like hound dogs to find connections between the airing of the film and addiction. And they may have even found a few cases that seemed relevant (hey, it's a big world out there) - but not to worry. A few cases is all the media would need to denounce the movie as "a clarion call for addicts to 'take up thy pipe.'" In fact, one single solitary gnarly story of addiction on the front page of a tabloid could have caused the Academy to revoke any awards with which they might otherwise have felt tempted to grace such a film.
Yet we have heard this mantra for so long - "don't glorify drug use" - that it seems like a law of nature. But WHY should we not glorify drug use? Because it can be dangerous? True, anything can be dangerous if undertaken by the uninformed - but in that case, why do we glorify NASCAR racing and free climbing? Why do we glorify stunt-plane flying and water skiing? Why do we glorify sky-diving and ice hockey? Surely all those activities are extremely dangerous when engaged in by the uninformed.
Why then do we bar glorification only in the case of drugs?
It is because those who made this rule against "glorification" falsely believe that drugs are things that "have no good uses, for anyone, anywhere, in any dosage, at any time, for any reason, ever."
Now, if that were true, then we should not "glorify" drugs, since they are completely evil: they have no positive uses whatsoever.
And yet this is a bald-faced lie. There are no substances in the world that "have no good uses, for anyone, anywhere, in any dosage, at any time, for any reason, ever." Even cyanide has positive uses.
So there is no special reason why we should refrain from glorifying drug use - except for the fact that we have been programmed since childhood to regard the politically created category of "drugs" as highly dangerous in a way that nothing else in the world is - even free climbing. This fear has been greatly enhanced by the most mendacious lie in the history of public service announcements, the 1980s ad in which the Partnership for a Drug Free America told us that "drugs" fry the brain, when, to the contrary, many "drugs" increase neural connections and even grow new neurons in the brain. Ironically, if any substances fry the brain, they are modern Big Pharma drugs, a contention that I make based on 40 years of firsthand experience with the same.
Why should we not glorify substances that have inspired entire religions? Why should we not glorify substances that have inspired great literature? Why should we not glorify substances that have changed the user's world view for the better?
I'd like to see movies that glorify the use of opium and coca and ibogaine and ayahuasca and peyote, or any of the hundreds of psychedelic godsends synthesized by Alexander Shulgin. Of course, due to the brainwashing referred to above, the movie would probably have to end with an on-screen bromide about safe use, saying something like: "Of course, these substances must be used safely, etc." That said, we never see such disclaimers after movies like "Arthur." "Warning: in real life, alcoholism is not always connected with a cheerful disposition and a carefree romance."
Author's Follow-up: March 28, 2023
Back in the early '90s, I was still bamboozled by Drug War lies. I sensed that criminalization was all a crock of shit, but I had yet to open my mind to the way that the Drug War ruins absolutely everything it touches. However, when my preteen niece casually referred to cigarettes as "coffin sticks" out of the blue, I really thought that she was being indoctrinated with an alarming degree of intolerance by the DARE organization. She hadn't been taught to understand facts: she had been taught to feel certain emotions instead.
But this is what the Drug War is all about: it's not to teach you about "drugs," it's rather to get you to feel the politically correct emotions about "drugs," namely fear and disdain -- all in the name of an unspoken commitment to the theological notions of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the drug-hating Church of Christian Science.
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company