Saturday, November 08, 2003

My Reaction to a Crack Dealer's Story

Several weeks ago, the Athens alternative newspaper ran an interview with a crack dealer. In the next week's letter column, they ran these two responses (I rather like Professor Merleaux's), and even printed a reaction to those, but they chose not to print the letter I submitted. So I'll share it here:

The interview with the crack dealer, "John Doe," was a
fascinating look at someone on the other side of the law.
But several things he said struck me enough to merit a

First of all, "John Doe" says that his conscience is as clean
as someone who spreads AIDS. I suppose, then, he is unaware
that OCGA 16-5-60 makes if a felony, punishable by up to ten
years imprisonment, for one who is knowingly infected with
HIV to have sex, or even donate blood, without first
disclosing his infection. "John Doe" is, in essence,
equating his conscience with that of a most abominable and
cruel type of felon.

Second, when "Doe" states that there are a "lot of countries"
where crack is legal, I am at a loss as what countries he
means. There are no modern industrial nations where crack or
cocaine is legally available, a la alcohol. Portugal, Spain,
Italy, and Germany have decriminalized the possession of
small amounts of cocaine for personal use, but the sale of
the drug remains illegal in all of them. Even in the
Netherlands, the Mecca of drug legalization, it is still
illegal to possess cocaine. Full legalization was tried by
Switzerland in its infamous 1989 "Needle Park" experiment.
The result was that crime rose, disease spread, and the
number of addicts exploded, and the park was closed in 1992.

Finally, "John Doe" refers to drug addiction as a problem, an
ailment, that the current War on Drugs fails to address. And
there is a lot of truth in that. But "Doe" is the one
feeding that problem, and supplying that ailment. It is he
who allows that problem to grow, and to grow worse. He could
go get a legitimate and legal job, and make an honest living,
but he prefers to sell destructive drugs to addicts. And
then he blames the government for not fixing the problem that
he himself has nurtured and fed.

I suspect that "Doe" would answer this criticism the same way
he rationalized why he sells to his family: "they are going
to buy it from somebody anyway." If that's the case, then
there should be no problem with selling firearms to convicted
felons, because otherwise they'll just find someone else on
the black market to buy from. Or providing kiddie porn to
perverts, because they'll acquire it from somebody
eventually. Or selling plutonium to the Libyans, because
they're going to buy it from somebody anyway. "Somebody
else" excuses make for good rhetoric, but they don't make the
behavior right.

Worst of all, "Doe" obviously knows what his product does to
people. He knows of the dependency, of the desperation, of
the dispair that follows in its wake. If people are coming
to him offering false limbs and stolen food in exchange for a
hit, that is because of the destruction that his product has
brought on their lives. They may have driven themselves to
that point, but it is he that provided the gas. How can he
continue to wreck havoc on more lives, knowing full-well what
consequences await his customers? I imagine it must require
a great deal of insensitivity to your fellow man to
personally provide him with the means to destroy himself.

Loren C. Collins


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