TPM Reader BT has a bracing, hard response in our on-going discussion of marijuana legalization. He’s responding to this response from TPM Reader RG. I basically agree …
Sorry, but that person’s take is completely incoherent and ignores the lessons of history. Criminalized vice is inevitably the criminalization of being poor. Because that’s where enforcement falls and that’s where changes hands most openly — not because use and abuse are uniquely prevalent there.
Criminalization of the poor and brown, in my opinion, is the single greatest problem our country faces. By far. The mechanism for that is drug prohibition.
He mentions decriminalization, but alcohol prohibition was in many ways a de-criminalized prohibition. We did not mass incarcerate. Nonetheless, the illegal money and conflicting wet and dry cultures tore at the racial and social fabric of this country in the post WWI era like nothing ever has except slavery. It damn near tore us apart. The Klan was the first DEA. (Wrote a book about this in Florida.) The 20s were our most criminally violent national decade. Not a coincidence.
Alocohol is infinitely better regulated now than before or during prohibition. There has never been a time that alcohol and smoking have not pervaded our national life — for better or worse.
But there have been times when drug wars did not pervade. And they were unquestionably better times.
That’s because Anheuser Busch is an unquestionably better provider than Al Capone. Big Pot will be unquestionably better than Big Cartel. Your reader has a willful blindness to the limits of institutions to affect micro human behavior that lies at the heart of the most cogent critique of the liberal mindset.
And I would argue that meaningful education and health reform, which inevitably means poverty reform, cannot happen as long as well-meaning people ignorant of history sustain the war that has does more to impoverish and ruin American lives than other American war.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.