Drug Policy

Stop the Violence: Legalize Drugs

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The Manhattan Institute's John McWhorter is perhaps best known for his fierce criticism of rap music (though he does enjoy a little Snoop Dogg) and the black left. Lately, however, McWhorter's aim has been focused on a new target: America's destructive and futile War on Drugs. Writing at The New Republic about the tragic murder of a Bronx teenager caught in some gangland crossfire, he presses the case for legalization:

The simple fact is that if there were no profit to be made in selling drugs on the street, no one would bother. For all of the "root causes" reasons so many young black and Latino men turn to this trade instead of seeking legal work, if there were no War on Drugs, they would seek other solutions to the obstacles that face them. And whatever those were, they would involve less murder, fewer crossfire injuries and killings of the kind that have likely ruined Ms. Vasquez' life at 15, fewer men in prison for long periods, and fewer of their children growing up fatherless and on their way to repeating their father's mistakes.

Read the rest here.

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  1. “And whatever those were, they would involve less murder”

    Bullshit. In my neighborhood, most murders are usually caused by some punk ass mother fucker shooting into a crowd because he wasn’t allowed into the party. Well, that and jacking other kids for their throw-back jerseys. Ghetto scum worships the gun. Always will.

  2. We really have done a double wammy on inner city kids. On the one hand, the Left starting in the 1960s has been telling them that the entire country is racist and that working a low paying job is selling out to the man. How many times have we heard someone get on TV and talk about how irredemably racist the country is and how black people don’t have a chance? Of course we also back that claim up by raising the minimum wage and doing everything we can to make it hard to do business in most inner cities. On the other hand, we have the war on drugs creating a lucatrive underground trade that is not subject to the racist white man.

    Imagine for a second that people in the inner city might be thinking human beings who listen to and see all of this and make rational decisions based on it. You are in the inner city. You are poor. Your school is terrible. There are not a lot of jobs. And you have been told over and over again that the society is irredemably racist and out to get you. Meanwhile, people who join the drug trade seem to be making some cash. Is it any surprise that a least a few people in that circumstance say fuck it and join a gang and start dealing drugs?

    1. The problem with your little theory is that 99% of poor people don’t join gangs and deal drugs. They work hard and try to do the best they can for their kids.

      1. True, but it only takes 1% to fuck up a neighborhood. Most people in poor neighborhoods are decent people. But if you have say 50,000 people in an area and 1% are gang bangers, that is 500 gang bangers out there shooting each other. That is a lot and pretty much screws the entire place.

        As far as your point about people in the ghetto believing in the gun, well why is that? Could the fact that we have told them for 40+ years now that society is racist and out to get them have some effect? I mean not on all of them, but some of them. I mean if you honestly think you have no future, why the hell not shoot people to get what you want? You have nothing to lose.

        1. “As far as your point about people in the ghetto believing in the gun, well why is that?”

          NWA

        2. “Could the fact that we have told them for 40+ years now that society is racist and out to get them have some effect? I mean not on all of them, but some of them. I mean if you honestly think you have no future, why the hell not shoot people to get what you want? You have nothing to lose.”

          This is the exact argument I have heard from my brother and others like him. In fact, it’s frighteningly accurate. With more swearing and racism added of though on the part os the people that have argued this to me.

        3. Part of the reason they believe in they gun might be that the drug war has made the police into more of an occupying army than a “protect and serve” source of security.

        4. I would suspect that in part it is because of the revolutionary movements of the ’60s and ’70s, such as the Black Panthers. Mao taught power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and Maoist ideas and ideology were widespread during that period. While the political fervor may have faded with the passing years, guns as objects of and sources of power remain in the collective consciousness.

          Also, it doesn’t matter how tough you are, a bullet can still put you in the ground. Guns are handy, if ill-used. If you are a criminal, or at least criminally-minded, why wouldn’t you want a gun?

          And before I am accused of trolling, I am not saying all gun owners are criminals. Nonetheless, lots of criminals are gun owners.

          1. +1

      2. If you had bothered to read the LAST sentence, where John writes “at least a few people”, then you wouldn’t have had to object. As it is, you actually end up providing evidence for his argument.

      3. “The problem with your little theory is that 99% of poor people don’t join gangs and deal drugs.” [citation needed]

        1. I would think the onus would be on you rather than asking me to disprove your negative.

      4. I’m sure that “99%” comment is backed up with hard statistics based on careful research.

        We’d hate to make judgments based on bullshit impressions with no grounding in evidence.

  3. “Imagine for a second that people in the inner city might be thinking human beings”

    Suggesting that inner city residents may be thinking human beings is racist!

  4. “You are in the inner city. You are poor. Your school is terrible. There are not a lot of jobs. And you have been told over and over again that the society is irredemably racist and out to get you. Meanwhile, people who join the drug trade seem to be making some cash. Is it any surprise that a least a few people in that circumstance say fuck it and join a gang and start dealing drugs?”

    I was born, raised, and live in Albuquerque, New Mexico and for most of my life have lived on the West Side. The bad parts of the West Side. I’m also Hispanic (my real name is not Kyle Jordan) and grew up EXACTLY like John described above.

    He is very correct. Members of my own family, including one of my brothers, have lived a life exactly like John wrote.

    I don’t know how but I saw past the shit of that life very early on and wanted nothing to do with it. However, it’s very easy to look at what surrounds you and just give in to it.

    I’m very glad that I’ve been able to stay away from the gang/ghetto life and am taking steps towards completely leaving it behind but it will ALWAYS exist so long as this bullshit War On Drugs does.

    The Ghetto Driven Life has a valid point too but taking away the easy avenue is the first priority. Then, working on changing the fucking low brow mentality may actually be possible.

    1. “my real name is not Kyle Jordan”

      Proving once again that all Hispanics are serial liars. 😉

      1. Hey bro, ju gota doo what ju gota do to make it in the jueros world vato.

          1. This guy’s lying: Albuquerque is an exquisite oasis in the desert. I know, I looked at it as I flew over in my private jet once.

            1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              :continues laughing for several minutes:

              Well, if you ever visit, be sure to go hang out around Isleta, Arenal, and Goff on a Saturday night. If you survive that, spend the next Friday afternoon/night between Zuni and Gibson east of San Mateo.

              Be armed.

              1. What’s this? Actual commentary by someone who knows what the fuck he’s talking about?

                Don’t you know that the internet is all about popping off on shit that you have no personal acquaintance with?

      1. Thank you, Warty. I saw what you did there.

        We need some new episodes stat, yo.

  5. It seems that the movement towards legalization is going to come from the right. Which makes sense, because the right doesn’t benefit from destroyed communities like the Democrats do.

    1. The right loves strong police powers, Reagan, and Reagan’s stance on drugs.

  6. I don’t see any drug dealing here:

    http://www.twincities.com/ci_13810934

    1. Somalian immigrants, I think. If I may stereotype from the Somalian immigran kids I knew growing up, Somalian kids often have a big chip on their shoulder (I could hazard a few guesses as to why).

      1. Yes, Somali, but with adopted ghetto culture, as demonstrated by their swagger, gesticulation and verbiage.

        I read the McWhorter piece and agree 100% with what he wrote, which is basically the description of a slave mentality.

    2. So what is your point? Gang members are ascetic assholes?

      1. Gang members and hooligans being ill-tempered, generally disrespectful brutes? Say it ain’t so!

      2. Only because they choose to be. No one forces them. No one. Not society, not their mothers not some amorphous creature called poverty. No one.

        1. I’m living proof of that.

          Great post.

          1. I agree with you here, TGDL.

          2. YOU LIE!

        2. makes it a lot more likely though

          1. I’m not bound to averages.

  7. It is nice to see this meme is sprouting in more places.

    I wish we could make employment part of the meme. Like thing of all the products that you can make out of hemp like jeans and paper. All the stoner related products like lava lamps.

  8. I will say that there is some truth to what McWhorter and John say. There’s also some truth to what Ghetto-Driven Life says.

    One thing I’m absolutely certain of is that most of the support for the WoD seems based in circular logic and a condescending view of human anture.

    1. *nature*. I’m a typo machine!

  9. The other gross thing about this is that middle class and rich people use drugs to. Does anyone honestly think that the multi-billion dollar drug trade is the funded entirely by crack whores and people cashing their welfare checks? Hell no. You have to have money to do drugs. Go to any big law firm or corporate office and there is a decent percentage of the people there who smoke pot or snort coke. Of course if you have money and get into problems with drugs, you go to rehap. If you are poor, you go to prison.

    I don’t do drugs and I think they should be legal. But I am really starting to hate the middle class and rich people who do them. These fuckers sit around and fund the drug trade which is destroying our cities and entire countries in Latin America. But, walk away scott free if they are caught (see e.g. Andrew Sullivan) and won’t do a damn thing to make drugs legal.

    1. “These fuckers sit around and fund the drug trade which is destroying our cities and entire countries in Latin America”

      What you need to ask yourself is: why isn’t the drug trade destroying our suburbs then? Given that so many rich and middle-class people use drugs, our suburbs (and exurbs) should be war-zones, but they’re not. How do you explain that, John?

      1. Because you don’t take the risk of selling drugs if you have other options. Kids in the burbs don’t think they don’t have options, so they generally choose not to take the risks associated with dealing drugs.

        It is the same reason boxers come from poor neighborhoods. Why go out and risk brain damage to make your living if you can play another sport or get a good job? In the same way, why risk your life and freedom selling drugs when you have other options?

        1. “Because you don’t take the risk of selling drugs if you have other options”

          That’s so not true. I know a guy – a white guy – who has a good paying job. His wife works too. They live in a house in the suburbs. They have 4 kids, a 52″ Sony plasma TV, etc…

          They sell weed. They don’t need to, they simply choose to. But they are cool about it as they don’t shoot people. Why? Because they are smart enough to understand that if they start shooting up their neighborhood, they’ll be in trouble with the cops.

          1. To be fair, in their particular neighborhood, there’s probably not a rival gang that’s going to come and shoot the dog and steal their turf/drugs*. It’s usually a different story in the ghettos and slums. If another gang doesn’t get you, the cops will.

            *the cops might, though.

            1. “To be fair, in their particular neighborhood, there’s probably not a rival gang that’s going to come and shoot the dog and steal their turf/drugs”

              And why is that?

              1. I’m not going to argue that the criminal mentality you’ll see in a lot of young people in these neighborhoods is self-defeating, but I would say that the problems may very well be reinforced by the WoD.

                1. Or I should say I wouldn’t argue against that observation.

                2. There could be some truth to that. During prohibition, a lot of white people shot up a lot of other white people (e.g., the St. Valentine’s Day massacre).

                  1. But my grandfather was a bootlegger (in Milwaukee) and I don’t recall any family stories involving murder.

                3. “I’m not going to argue that the criminal mentality you’ll see in a lot of young people in these neighborhoods is self-defeating”

                  But what is the source of this mentality? That’s the $64K question. What causes a 14-year-old to shoot indiscriminately into a crowd?

                  1. “All God’s Children” by Fox Butterfield doesn’t really provide much in the way of “answers”, but it is a thought-provoking look into this kind of quandary.

                  2. Because he’s fucking stupid? Because there’s no one home who promises to beat his ass bloody with a belt if he brings the cops to the door? Because he’s hanging out with 18 or 20 year olds who are just fucking with him and he doesn’t see he’s being used?

          2. That is my experience as well. They are also not standing on the corner. It’s almost more like an amway thing whenre a few people meet them, some other meet those people, etc.

        2. Well, there are some…only some, that encourage the meme that if you study, go to college, that makes you an uncle tom. Whatever pathology that is behind this, I think, is the same pathology that encourages that 1% that fucks it up for the rest. That threre are slums with hundreds of thousands of people, IMHO, proves Ghetto D.’s point that poverty forces people into crime. If it did, these huge slums would be burning.

          But I think this whole thread, including the article is missing the point. It may well be indeed true the the number of violent incidents perpetrated by domestic street gangs in the process of protecting and enforcing drug profits is relatively low. However, the number of deaths caused by drug cartels is healthy part of the percentage of drug related deaths. Though McWorter maybe wrong about the numbers regarding street gangs, I think there is no dispute that the drug war is fueling the murders caused by drug gangs. And it is these drug gangs for whom legalization would have the greatest ameliorative impact for society

          1. I got the point, and thanks for the perspective.

    2. You know John, I’m a little disturbed by how much I’m agreeing with you here.

      1. It happens man.

    3. But, walk away scott free if they are caught

      I call bullshit on this narrow point. I don’t think there are enough crack whores and welfare cheats (by the way, they dont’ have cash assistance any more in arizona) to explain 800,000 drug arrests each year.

    4. I am really starting to hate the middle class and rich people who do them.

      But I am sympathetic with this POV. I’ve met nurses and lawyers that high and have voted for Joe Arpaio: WTF! Getting busted is something that only happens to little people. We have have these drugs laws for the little people. There are so many ways that this attitude is wrong.

      1. If Arpaio ever ended up behind bars, it would warm my cold heart so.

        1. I met the man. Complete dick.

        2. He would ball like a baby if that ever happened. It would be just like the guy in Shawshank Redemption.

  10. “Ghetto-Driven”

    Rick Warren doesn’t use a hyphen.

    But on a serious note, I simply don’t buy into the poverty forces people into crime meme. There is nothing to actually back that up. Right now unemployment is the highest it’s been in more than a quarter century and yet violent crime, and crime in general, is declining.

    1. It’s bullshit, just like AGW.

      1. I’d be willing to hazard a bet that wherever you go in the world, illegal activity and violent crime are higher in poorer neighborhoods than richer ones. There’s definitely no *direct* causation between poverty/unemployment and crime, but there’s some sort of connection, it would seem.

        1. “I’d be willing to hazard a bet that wherever you go in the world, illegal activity and violent crime are higher in poorer neighborhoods than richer ones.”

          More violent crimes? Yes.

          More illegal activity? No.

          1. Say, have you read any McWhorter articles on ghetto culture?

            1. That’s akin to asking Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn if he’s read any good gulag books lately.

              1. Further insight can often be gleaned from the work of others. I’d still ask Solzhenitsyn if he’d read Dostoevsky.

                1. Well then yes, I have read McWhorter and DuBois and Baldwin, and Sowell and King, etc. And with the exception of Baldwin, none advocated violence.

                2. You’ll have to dig him up first; Solzhenitsyn is dead. Long live Solzhenitsyn.

          2. Maybe you’re a little more brave/stupid if you have less to lose.

            1. I’d say this observation is accurate.

            2. Which is why all the Okies during the dust bowl years joined gangs and shot the shit outta each other.

              1. Sometimes, force is necessary in the acquisition of resources when you have none. Maybe that’s the deal, gangs are just trying to acquire resources and they are using one of the oldest methods used by man to do so, war.

                1. Yeah, TGDL, you’d have to look back further, to the outlaw gangs of the older West to find a better example.

                2. With all of the welfare options / resources in this country? Are you kidding me???

                  1. Meh. It’s hard for a lot of people to be grateful for welfare. It’s an entitlement, right?

    2. it doesn’t force people into crime but makes it far more likely.

  11. Ghetto scum worships the gun. Always will.

    The WoD has made “gun culture” a “normal” part of life. No surprise it has spread to situations that aren’t even related to drugs.

    1. “The WoD has made “gun culture” a “normal” part of life.”

      Bullshit. Blaxploitation films (don’t laugh) are what made the gun culture a normal part of life. I blame Gordon Parks.

      1. Gun culture has been with us for a couple of hundred years. Nothing says gun culture like legalized dueling.

        1. My point is that these films made antiheros cool. Think Black Caesar and it’s lesson that if you want to have power over “the Man” (e.g, take his home, his woman, even his clothes) violence is the path you’ll need to take.

        2. It reminds me of a solid book I once read: “All God’s Children” by Fox Butterfield.

          1. Not the Blaxploitation angle, but Trickyvic’s observation on “gun culture”.

  12. Excellent article until this: “perhaps the unemployment crisis, the real estate crisis, the health care crisis, and even global warming are more urgent matters in the grand scheme of things just now”

    IMHO ending the WoD is far more important than any of these.

  13. IMHO ending the WoD is far more important than any of these.

    The WoD is the mother roach from which thousands of vermin swarm. The assaults on the 4th, 5th, 8th and 10th amendments. The end-around destruction of the Posse Comitatus Act by creating “soldier”-cops. They are all products of a public policy that is immoral and unjust. Also, wasteful of the treasury, and worse, wasting the lives of those who reject the moral standards of others and are caught doing so.

    The current director of the FBI, in trying to defend it, once said something like “tell that to the parents of a child who has just overdosed and died.” I could. I could tell them that the laws the idiot is fighting to keep didn’t do anything to keep their child alive, and they do a great deal to injure – and kill – others.

    1. This is why the right will never legalize drugs, nor the left for that matter. Drug ODs are because of drugs. People are killed in crossfires because of drug gangs. What I mean by that, is the drug war it’s self will not be identified as the problem by those who fund and execute it.

      1. No. But the word seems to be finally getting out to the public at large, and more and more are starting to catch on.

        1. Some of this change is due to people who grew up in the 70s exposed to outrageous amounts of drugs are now doing quite well in life. Their own experiences tell them the WoD is nonsense, wasteful or lives, and expensive

          1. I disagree. I think many of them still equate their past drug use with their past problems, whatever they were, dispite how well they are doing. For most who used and quit have some sort of regret about the use and thinks you should make the “mistakes” they made.

            I thought Clinton would be the most likely President to legalize pot. Didn’t happen. He probably couldn’t have got it passed Congress (those who fund the WoD) anyway.

            1. Correction: thinks you shouldn’t make the mistakes they made.

        2. Maybe, it might be that it just has the appearance that it’s getting out more due to a couple of people talking more openly. But is it converting more people?

          Of course, I would prefer that you’re right.

  14. Regarding the difference of WOD effects between the ghetto and suburban life. I think the reason you see a difference in culture has to do with who is perceived to be the most succesful in their respective areas.

    In the suburbs, the guy with the flash car is a doctor, lawyer, banker, or some other business man. So living in the suburbs if I want to be the guy with the flash ride I would choose one of those routes.

    In the ghetto, the guy with the flash ride is a dealer. So if I want what he has that’s my career path.

    I don’t remember exactly where I read it (I think Freakonomics might have dealt with this) but most low level dealers, the guys on the corner, actually make very little money. Little more than even minimum wage. But one reason they stick with it is because they’re hoping that one day it’s going to be them in the tricked out SUV running things. And once they enter that life it becomes almost impossible to get out. Even if they manage to not get a criminal record, they will have no education and no job experience to cite on a job application. So who’s going to hire them?

    1. I’d attribute it to a lck of morals. I have heard guys complaining that they were unable to get a job because they have a burglary rap on their record. The astonishing thing is that they think, why should I be denied employment just because I used to break into houses and steal shit? I have heard this first hand.

      1. It’s a problem with no easy solution, but when it comes to the difficulty of reforming criminals, unemployability post-conviction/release is a serious problem.

        1. In more than one way. I wonder how many of those in the ACORN vids received their job via a parole support program? If you are so willing to help transport young girls across the border, and have the actual capability to do so, you probably have a rap sheet.

    2. As I recall (perhaps incorrectly), most of the gang members actually paid to be gang members and the next level got to be members without paying. The only benefit they got was essentially gang war life insurance, which acted as a perverse incentive for members to incite wars with rival gangs. Maintaining discipline appeared to be a big problem.

  15. What an idiot. How about this: legalize everything and then there will be no crime.

  16. It’s a great sentiment and all, but the minimum wage probably contributes much more to the concentration of drug trade in poor neighborhoods than the actually WoD. End the WoD and you’ve probably still got poor areas with random violence and high unemployment. Even with the WoD, humans are remarkably adept at realizing the relatively higher equity of easily obtainable low-paying work over non-paying dangerous gang work. These aren’t stupid people, they’re just stuck in a culture where they can’t easily get and keep a job no matter how low-paying.

    1. “”they’re just stuck in a culture where they can’t easily get and keep a job no matter how low-paying.””

      That sound to me like a reason why mimimum wage probably isn’t contributing. If the issue isn’t low pay nor the amount of jobs. Gang membership existed when unemployment was low.

      Gang membership isn’t about the pay. They think it brings them status, respect, and power. It gives them a family and support group of people with a like minded sense of morals.

      It’s their morals that prevent them from getting or keeping a job. No job, regardless of how low the pay, is really interested in hiring or keeping thugs.

      1. I respectfully disagree.

      2. But they do have a job. Some are employees, some entrepreneurs. It’s not a matter of not working, it’s just the type of business they’re in.

  17. And whatever those were, they would involve less murder, fewer crossfire injuries and killings of the kind that have likely ruined Ms. Vasquez’ life at 15, fewer men in prison for long periods, and fewer of their children growing up fatherless and on their way to repeating their father’s mistakes.

    The devil makes work for idle police and lawyers.

  18. This just shows why drugs are the biggest problem in America. We cannot be safe from drugs until they are eliminated. Don’t decrease the war on drugs, increase it. Fight a real war on drugs, declare marshal law and kill all drug dealers.

    Freedom is drug free! A drug free world, we can do it!

    J

    1. No, we cannot. And shouldn’t.

    2. you live in a real fairy land don’t you realize the number of people on prescription narcotics in the usa is larger than the populations of many countries.

  19. As someone who used to sell/use in the past, I would definitely agree it was for the money. I was making $1400 a month in the army, I could make that in one night selling extasy as the club. Plus it was a blast, hot chicks, dancing all night.

    However, for some reason the rave scene never had that much of the violence associated with it, even though it was all about drug use/dealing. In fact the most violence I ever saw was when somebody got jumped for ratting.

    Also, even after a conviction for dealing, I went on to college, and now am a CPA. So it’s certainly possible.

    Still bullshit though that they waste so much time and money to stop people from having a good time.

  20. So somebody with a big title working for a prestigious think tank now says the same thing that thousands of us have been saying FOR DECADES. OK, that’s one win for sanity, I suppose. And anytime a highly-placed mucky-muck talks sense, it is news of a sort. But I would much rather read an article that mentions this anecdote in the context of determining how close we might be to critical mass for needed reforms that are, finally, becoming blatantly obvious to just about everyone. At what point will the ice crack, and the flow on which the Drug Warriors are standing break away and flow out to sea while the rest of us are left behind on to live our lives in peace?

  21. Sorry, floe.

  22. how close we might be to critical mass for needed reforms

    We are nowhere in the vicinity of that area. The only response to this girl getting shot in The Bronx was… “there’s too many guns”. And from people who should know better.

  23. just like when prohibition ended. the violence stopped.how many drive by shootings do you see in alcohol industry?
    the cops just want more & more expensive toys to fight the WOD=war on drugs half the authorities make money on the take like always.the addicts just want the drugs to feel normal , especially opiate type drugs.we can not even keep drugs out of our prisons, so how can we hope to keep them out of a free society.people are stressed out more and more every day and millions of us are on tranquilizers from doctors.a lot of people cant afford to go to doctors but still need the relief.if i make a pencil in usa that cost 10 cents and sells for 20 cents but, someone in s,America makes 10.00 worth of heroin that they can sell here for 500.00 do you think the drugs will ever stop flowing? of course not someone will always step up to take that persons place if killed or arrested. also people want these drugs. not to party with or get high but to cope in an ever exasperating world, just to stay normal and sane.it will always be this way and please beware there are a lot of hypocrites out there, like Rush Limbaugh taking tons of oxicodone but saying anyone that takes even one Valium illegally should be put in jail.that guy is truly a piece of shit.there are plenty more like him around as you can see by the slap on the wrist he got in court.i truly despise MR. Limbaugh he has absolutely no empathy for other human beings he is a true psychopath and had he not been so rich in our land of justice for all, he would still be in prison where he belongs.legalize drugs please, at least the tranquilizers and pain killers.we cant afford to pay doctors every month to have an unlimited supply like the rich people do.we don’t deserve to go to jail for having a few Valium in our pocket either.there is a day coming soon when every crooked cop and do nothing position will wish they were never born.it has happened before and will happen again.this is no longer the America of freedom, if it ever was to begin with.

  24. i wrote a long reply on why drugs should be legalized and why rush Limbaugh was scum. after i finished some third party complained it was spam. if they don’t print it i would not waste my time on this site any further. if they don’t print what i wrote this site is OWNED.

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