Just Say No

A little departure today from my normal tales of things I’ve been personally involved with and a bit of a philosophical tale (or something, what do I know).

It’s widely believed (if it hasn’t been proven, I don’t know, and I don’t care enough to Google it) that the CIA funneled crack into inner-cities as a way to keep minorities down. While I think that’s horrible and a pretty shitty thing for the CIA to do, I also have some advice for those who want to blame the CIA for their crack problems:

Don’t smoke crack.

That’s probably a bit overly simplistic, but to blame the CIA for the crack epidemic of the ’80s is ridiculous. Let’s face it, the CIA has pretty much screwed up everything they’ve ever touched. Seriously, read Legacy of Ashes…they’re incompetent. But that’s not why you can’t blame them. You can’t blame them because while the CIA may have been providing the crack to the inner-cities, they sure as hell weren’t sticking the crack pipe in anyone’s mouths and lighting it up for them.

(By the way, I need a little aside to say that I absolutely love the words “crack” and “coke”. They’re just fun words to say. I think it’s the hard c’s in the words. I think anyone you refer to someone who’s addicted to cocaine or crack, you must refer to them as a “coke fiend” or “crackhead”. Just fun words.)

I’m a firm believer that every drug should be legal. Weed is a no-brainer – it’s ridiculous that things as harmful as alcohol and tobacco are legal but you can go to jail for possessing marijuana. But I believe that everything – cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, ecstasy, etc. – should be legalized and taxed, and that those with substance abuse problems should be treated and not imprisoned. You create a new industry, you make the drugs that are being used safer, the government has a shit ton of new revenue, and there are a ton of wrongly-imprisoned individuals that we no longer have to pay for. It makes so much fucking sense that no one will ever go for it.

Now the naysayers will say, “We can’t do that, it’s just too dangerous.” To that I say bullshit. The drugs will always be there. If you want cocaine, you’ll find cocaine, whether it’s available at Walgreens or you need to find a dealer. I’m not going to start using cocaine if tomorrow I can get it at 7-11. And why?

Personal responsibility.

See, we have a tendency to affix blame to things that don’t deserve blame. The CIA wasn’t responsible for the massive number of crackheads in the inner-cities in the ’80s. The crackheads who couldn’t say no to the crack were responsible. It’s possible that smoking crack was easier considering how shitty some of our inner cities are. I’m not doubting that. The thing is, life is hard. It’s that choice that determines who’s to blame.

Don’t ask me why I remember this, but when Robert Traylor made his announcement saying he was going to Michigan, Mitch Albom did a story about a kid at the same high school who was going to Michigan on a full academic scholarship and getting none of the accolades. Now, Mitch Albom’s a fucking hack and it’s entirely possible that this kid never existed. That said, I’m sure that there are a fair number of kids who come from rough backgrounds or shitty neighborhoods (or both), where drugs are readily available, where it’s easier to sell crack than it is to excel in school, who make the choice to dedicate themselves to school, or academics, or really anything that will help them escape from their shitty surroundings.

So sorry, but I’m not buying the argument that the CIA was the problem.

Now, why am I bringing up this discussion today? (BTW, I’m sure no one is asking this question because I’m such a brilliant writer and have explained my point so brilliantly…insert dripping sarcasm.) I had lunch with my mom and brother yesterday, and my mom told me about a family friend who had made the dean’s list at her small, private business school.

This girl had a bipolar, heroin-addicted mother. Her brother’s had drug issues. I have no idea where her father is. Her step-father is a good enough guy, but he’s had some problems and didn’t come from the best upbringing (not a terrible upbringing, but his parents weren’t exactly model parents). If anyone’s got an excuse to become a drug-addict/alcoholic/deadbeat, this girl does. If this girl can make the dean’s list – hell, if this girl can get in to college – no one’s got any kind of excuse.

(Sorry, I’ll try to bring it back to more entertaining tales next time.)

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