Last night, my daughter's school had a little pre-Halloween parade. She's 3. She was wearing a pink tutu. A nice-looking older lady was standing on the parade route handing out baggies of candy to the army of Elsas and Iron Men, none of whom were older than 9 or 10. When we got home, I checked out her spoils (though not because I was afraid of razor blades or poison). This is what I found:
That's right, it's a 24-page anti-marijuana tract in a baggie with some bribery candy. Which someone thought would be appropriate to hand out to elementary school kids.
Luckily, my daughter can't read. But plenty of the kids at her school can. (Or at least I hope so.) And if they cracked open this booklet while munching on Bit o' Honeys, here's what they would have found:
The last page of the tract says that "millions of copies of booklets such as this have been distributed to people around the world in 22 languages." The publisher is the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit.
Naturally, I went to the Google to figure out what the heck was going on. Short answer: It looks like Scientology dressed up as a drug warrior this Halloween.
You can read a little more about the Foundation for a Drug-Free World in their own words on an official Scientology site here, or on Wikipedia here. But essentially the organization is a way to grab people with substance abuse problems and funnel them into Narconon, which promotes L. Ron Hubbard's rather unorthodox views about addiction.
There's nothing wrong with giving kids a little age-appropriate information about drugs, and this lady was well within her rights to hand out these pamphlets on a public street. I'm more than happy to provide counter-propaganda in the form of Jacob Sullum's oeuvre when the time is right. But it's unlikely the well-meaning parade organizers would smile upon their Halloween festivities being used as a Scientology recruitment ground.
Yet no one thought to question her. Why? Probably because, to their eyes, she looked like an obvious good guy. Marijuana's legal status may be changing, but she was doling out materials more or less identical to what will be foisted on kids during official school activities for the rest of their lives. We've become so numb to outrageous anti-drug scaremongering that someone can hand a 3-year-old ballerina a booklet with stories about people dying of cancer and teachers urging kids to use heroin and no one bats an eye.