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Thu Jan 10, 2013, 05:32 AM

Retired Judge Reveals the Surprising Rationale for America's Extremist Drug Laws

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/retired-judge-reveals-surprising-rationale-americas-extremist-drug-laws



What follows is an excerpt from " Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge" (Thomson Reuters Westlaw 2012), a book where the author tries to explain life on the bench and the unknown parts of our legal system.

The first anti-drug law in our country was a local law in San Francisco passed in 1875. It outlawed the smoking of opium and was directed at the Chinese because opium smoking was a peculiarly Chinese habit. It was believed that Chinese men were luring white women to have sex in opium dens. In 1909 Congress made opium smoking a federal offense by enacting the Anti-Opium Act. It reinforced Chinese racism by carving out an exception for drinking and injecting tinctures of opiates that were popular among whites.

Cocaine regulations also were triggered by racial prejudice. Cocaine use was associated with blacks just as opium use was associated with the Chinese. Newspaper articles bore racially charged headlines linking cocaine with violent, anti-social behavior by blacks. A 1914 New York Times article proclaimed: " Negro Cocaine 'Fiends' Are a New Southern Menace: Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower Class Blacks Because They Have Taken to 'Sniffing.'" A Literary Digest article from the same year claimed that "most of the attacks upon women in the South are the direct result of the cocaine-crazed Negro brain." It comes as no surprise that 1914 was also the year Congress passed the Harrison Tax Act, effectively outlawing opium and cocaine.

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply Retired Judge Reveals the Surprising Rationale for America's Extremist Drug Laws (Original post)
xchrom Jan 2013 OP
tclambert Jan 2013 #1
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #2
Demeter Jan 2013 #3
xchrom Jan 2013 #5
Locrian Jan 2013 #4
greenman3610 Jan 2013 #6
Berlin Expat Jan 2013 #7
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2013 #8
OldDem2012 Jan 2013 #9
frylock Jan 2013 #18
randome Jan 2013 #10
uponit7771 Jan 2013 #16
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #23
malthaussen Jan 2013 #11
OnionPatch Jan 2013 #17
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #22
kydo Jan 2013 #12
greiner3 Jan 2013 #13
Baitball Blogger Jan 2013 #14
sadbear Jan 2013 #15
MicaelS Jan 2013 #19
malthaussen Jan 2013 #21
Manifestor_of_Light Jan 2013 #20

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 06:37 AM

1. Fascinating. So racism and anti-drug laws have gone together since 1875.

And is still the case today. Drugs commonly used in the white suburbs get lighter sentences than drugs popular in the ghetto.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 06:59 AM

2. Surprising to those who have paid no attention to the issue

The information is out there, it's just not taught in school or made readily available.

The very name "marijuana" is a racist slam on Mexicans, cannabis wasn't called that before the demonization program got under way.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:02 AM

3. Cocaine use is the whole story of Porgy and Bess

which Gershwin used in his opera...Bess is an addict, Porgy tries to clean her up, her former supplier coerces her to leave Porgy and start up again...

they call it "Happy Dust".

Opera first performed in 1935, is set in the 1920's. (and not fully acceptable until the 1976 Houston Opera performance...when Black Power threatened the white man's sensibilities, the black man grasped any achievement for pride's sake, and opera world accepted it as a "real" opera).

Racism and sexism explains so much about America's faults...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:09 AM

5. porgy and bess is one of my favs -- what voices!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:04 AM

4. interesting article...

And I don't doubt the racial part being used to create fear.

I do think though, that the are (in addition?) strong economic forces from the prison, pharma, chemical (DOW in respect to marijuana) industry, etc - that drive a lot of it.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:20 AM

6. it's well known that the modern "war on drugs" was a catchphrase cooked up in the Nixon Whitehouse

- a dog whistle to re-assure the "silent majority" that the GOP was going to crack down on hippies and blacks.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:31 AM

7. Jello Biafra also

made a similar reference on his spoken-word album "I Blow Minds For A Living." I don't have a recording anymore, but from memory, it goes basically like:

"'Marijuana was outlawed on the grounds that it might make white kids start listening to jazz or might make a black man look at a white woman twice.'"

That's perhaps not exactly verbatim, but it's to the best of my recollection.

And I agree that most, if not all, anti-drug laws have a racial tinge to them.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:49 AM

8. DURec. thanks for posting xchrom

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:55 AM

9. And then there's this...."Secret ties between CIA, drugs revealed".....

Secret ties between CIA, drugs revealed

QUOTE:

"LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) - New evidence has surfaced linking the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to the introduction of crack cocaine into Black neighborhoods with drug profits used to fund the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contra army in the early 1980s."

I remember very clearly the series written by Gary Webb under the title of "Dark Alliance" as referenced in this article. I also remember the attempt by the US Government to totally discredit him by attacking him personally as opposed to the factual basis of his series.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:47 PM

18. i can't recommend the book "Dark Alliance" enough

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:56 AM

10. You know what? I don't care.

The less cocaine and heroin on the streets, the better. Everyone benefits from that.

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Response to randome (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:56 AM

16. REALLY!? Less drugs goes without saying, that's not the point of the OP though

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Response to randome (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:27 AM

23. Some of us can imagine how much we would benefit from less guns

I'm sure there are twenty sets of parents in Newtown who could tell us a great deal about the benefits of less guns.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:00 AM

11. The same may be said of Prohibition

... although there the attack was on class, rather than on race. Broadly speaking, TPTB regulate "vice" in an effort to jerk around those who are not among TPTB.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 11:03 AM

17. Yep, I think class also plays a part

If you ask me, the prohibition on marijuana is to crack down on "hippies" and all the "free thinking" about peace and such that comes along with them.

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:21 AM

22. while making money on the product whether it's legal or illegal. drugs = income source, power

 

source, instrument of control

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:02 AM

12. In all honesty its not surprising or a new revelation

It's a documented well known fact that the USA's war on drugs was started because of racism.

The History channel for starters has been airing a history on drugs for decades and the very first thing the series talks about is how and why each drug became illegal. And it was always to protect white women from nonwhite males. Despite the fact that white men usually have always caused the most harm to white women.

The racism element of our war on drugs is probably the biggest reason why it will take a long time to do the common sense thing with drugs such as marijuana. The second biggest factor is money and its not lack of money for groups trying to legalize it but rather the money that is made on keeping it illegal.

The racism about drugs has changed since the beginning of this war. Just look at cocaine, if you have it as a powder because of the weight you do less time in jail as compared to in a rock form (crack). Crack weighs more so more time in jail. Coke costs more then crack so peeps with more money (generally white) buy coke and nonwhites buy crack. We look down on the crack user but try to help the coke user. We should be helping both equally.

Also pills, we need look no further then the most famous not in jail walking poster boy for hate Rush "my balls are Limper then a neutered dog." His drugs of choice come in a pill bottle and he is a he and is white and has money. So he is not in jail and is out spewing hate. While if he had not been white or not had money his fat ass would have been in prison and have a criminal record making employment difficult as well as obtaining basic needs like food and a place to sleep as most people can't get government help if they have a record that includes a drug charge.

Of course the powers that be would rather the masses think the war on drugs is because drugs are bad and its only for your own good, blah blah more bull shite blah blah. But it is racism that started it. And its racism that helps get it going.




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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:28 AM

13. I believe;

The headwinds on legalization of at least marijuana are from;

Corporations that sell beer.

I did/could not drink alcohol when high and knew few who did.

Mellowness is not beer's intent or outcome.

On the other hand, the maker's of Screaming Yellow Zonkers should be giving millions to promote the legalization!!!!!!!!!!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:40 AM

14. Isn't this what Jesse Jackson pointed out with the different penalties between powder

and crack cocaine?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:46 AM

15. Not surprising at all.

Just take a look at our prison population.

Hell, we just came to terms with the crack vs. powder cocaine law discrepancies recently.

I'm more interested in which older laws aren't somehow racially motivated or otherwise biased against some group as a whole.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 04:05 PM

19. Just like Alcohol Prohibtion had racist underpinnings.

Go read Daniel O'Krent's Last Call The Rise and Fall of Prohibition I cannot reccommend this book highly enough.

Alcohol and marijuana The xenophobic origins of prohibition

http://tucsoncitizen.com/tucson-progressive/2010/10/11/alcohol-and-marijuana-the-origins-of-prohibition/

“Prohibition largely had to do with a xenophobic, largely anti-immigration feeling that arose in the American Middle West, that arose among white, native-born Protestants. It also had a strong racist element to it. Prohibition was a tool that the white South could use to keep down the black population. In fact, they used Prohibition to keep liquor away from black people but not from white people. So you could find a number of ways that people could come into whatever issue they wanted to use and use Prohibition as their tool. The clearest one, probably, was women’s suffrage. Oddly, the suffrage movement and the Prohibition movement were almost one and the same — and you found organizations like the Ku Klux Klan supporting women’s suffrage because they believed women would vote on behalf of Prohibition.”

“This was the final thing that enabled the ratification of the Prohibition amendment. You needed 36 states to approve it, and this was happening just as the U.S. was entering World War I. And the great enemy was Germany — and the brewers were seen by the Prohibitionists as tools of the Kaiser. if they weren’t actually seen as them , they were used for that purpose to make their political point. So you have a rising tide of strong anti-German feelings sweeping across the country, the brewers got swept away with it.”

As Okrent pointed out in his interview, there are many parallels between alcohol and marijuana prohibition: 1) both were xenophobic moves by religious conservative nativists; 2) both led to huge black markets, gangs, and violence on our cities’ streets; 3) neither prohibition stopped people from buying and using these recreational drugs; and 4) economics was the reason alcohol prohibition ended and may be the reason marijuana “decriminalization” comes to the US.

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Response to MicaelS (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:17 AM

21. Andrew Sinclair makes many of the same points...

... might be interesting to compare him with Okrent.

-- Mal

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 12:07 AM

20. Anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic.

Anti-Irish and anti-Italian, because Catholics drink alcohol.

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