Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Erowid relies on the generosity of the public for funding.
Please, include Erowid Center in your charitable giving!


by Mark Greer

I recently read a newspaper article that alluded to the community of Bellaire Texas, a Houston suburb, that has passed an ordinance outlawing cigarette smoking in public parks. Something snapped. My frustration at our national insanity has simply reached the its limit. This is the latest in a seemingly unending assault on personal freedoms and individual responsibility that is being foisted on our citizens around the country on an ever escalating basis. We seem to be incapable of grasping certain basic incontrovertible rules of life. We hide our heads in the sand and pretend that we can accomplish universal safety, and a utopian society by passing worthless laws that have no hope achieving their objectives.

Attempting to control whether or not one smokes cigarettes is just the latest foolish trend in this quest to save our population from itself. Our "War on Drugs" is another much more insidious example of a control-mad government run amok.

The Declaration of Independence says it quite well. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Note that these Rights were not endowed by Washington D.C. or Bellaire Texas and that they are unalienable. This means that they are incontrovertible. They cannot be refused, transferred, or taken away. To the extent we try to eradicate these Rights we will inevitably fail.

Most people are familiar with the above quote from our Declaration of Independence, but are far less familiar with what follows "--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." We are rapidly approaching a time when "altering or abolishing" are becoming our only course of action.

Our drug laws, prohibition, and now the "cigarette police" are all examples of totally ignoring not one, but all three of our unalienable Rights as guaranteed by our founding fathers.

The Right to life is being usurped by the very fact of our drug laws which cause a black market and subsequent infighting between various gang factions, organized crime, and drug cartels. This results in the loss of life not only for drug dealers, but for thousands of innocent bystanders killed in drive by shootings and other prohibition-related violence.

The Right to liberty is being refused to over 300,000 NON-violent prisoners that have broken our unjust and unevenly-enforced drug laws. This mass of humanity is currently clogging our prison and court systems to the detriment of our entire judicial system and our society. Liberty is also refused to innocent residents of drug riddled neighborhoods who fear to leave their homes, and to children who can't play in the park due to the potential for violence brought on by drug dealers.

The unalienable Right that is most obviously sabotaged by attempted prohibition of drugs, cigarettes, or of any other commodity however, is the pursuit of happiness. If an individual chooses to use these items in order to pursue his particular brand of happiness, what possible justification could we invent to preclude him from doing so? How one chooses to pursue happiness is that persons Right and is simply none of our business. Further, how does an unemployed inner city minority pursue happiness when the best option open to him is drug dealing and violent crime?

Trying to "protect" individuals from their own choices through prohibition is a dangerous slippery slope towards a loss of all individual freedoms. Perhaps more important, it is absolutely impossible to accomplish. Our society has neither the right nor the ability to control these types of personal lifestyle choices and decisions.

If it is actually possible to effectively prohibit such items, why has it never once been accomplished in all of history? Despite billions of wasted dollars and millions of ruined lives, every commodity that has ever been prohibited continues to be easily available to those who desire to use it.

Many "drug warriors" justify their activities by crying that they are doing it to "save the children" from the ravages of drugs. They never seem to mention the fact that any school kid in the nation can acquire any or all of the so-called prohibited commodities with relative ease under our current system. What's more, thousands of children have died as a direct result of our "War on Drugs" and the inevitable war zone that is a fact of life in most inner cities. How many children have had their happiness destroyed when their parents are incarcerated or killed as a result of their being seduced by the irresistible temptation of easy profits generated by selling illicit drugs?>/P>

So the next time you hear some holier-than-thou politician beating his chest and assuring you of what a good job s/he is doing in fighting the "War on Drugs," remember that what s/he is really doing is undermining your most basic freedoms. This power grab is an ever escalating destruction of your personal Rights. For over 80 years it has been illicit drugs, before that it was our failed prohibition of alcohol. The latest attempt to destroy your freedom is the subtle move toward tobacco prohibition.

If outlawing tobacco is a good thing why not "protect" us from the "dangers" of a fatty diet? Perhaps McDonalds or red meat should be the next target of our "leaders". Imagine street dealers covertly selling the recently outlawed chocolate cake or banana split. Perhaps the real killers, our automobiles, should be eliminated as well. Think of the lives we could save.

While these examples may seem far fetched, remember that it was less than eighty years ago that most drugs could be purchased with no government intervention and that our incidence of drug use was dramatically lower than it is today. In this world where personal choice and responsibility was an assumed fact of life, we had no income tax, our crime rates were of minor concern, there was no national debt, respect for law and order and a two parent family were the norm. This certainly sounds like a better world to me.

It is time for our citizens to declare our independence again. We must rein in or shut down the bloated control freak that our government has become and begin to show faith in our fellow citizens and their ability to make their own choices and take responsibility for their actions.