Sunday, November 07, 2010


Language matters in politics.  In particular, it is useful from a strategic point of view to connect policies or people with demonized words.  If you make that connection well enough, then you can start changing public perceptions.  That came to mind when I saw this op-ed in the Houston Chronicle calling on Latin America to legalize drugs--or at least marijuana--as a way to reduce violence.  The very first sentence uses the word "prohibitionist" and then uses term two more times in a short article.

Prohibition, of course, refers to the period between 1920 and 1933 when alcohol was made illegal in the United States.  The term is now pejorative and conjures up images of expanded criminal activity and widespread flouting of the law.  So it is useful for those who want legalization of drugs to try and connect current laws with prohibition.  You thereby pave the way to make such a policy seem less shocking.

Popular support, both in the United States and Latin America, remains weak.  But I do not remember any time when the issue was discussed this widely.


Tambopaxi 8:06 AM  

...It's because more and more people realize that the war against drugs (the new prohibition, if you will) has always been a losing proposition. It's never worked, ever, and it won't as long as the demand for drugs (along with with the demand for alcohol) exists..

The issue is much more prominent now because of Mexico. Bolivia, Colombia, Afghanistan, wherever, were places far away with problems that drew only occasional attention with the American public. Mexico's much more violent and right here (or there, for you all) and the drug wars aren't just being lost, they're tearing poor Mexico apart in the north.

Common sense would dictate that drugs be legalized like alcohol, but the war's gone on for too long, and there are too many interest groups in CN sector to ever allow this to happen. So, the CN wars in Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan, etc., will gone on ad infinitum, with their usual tragic and predictable consequences....

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