The War-on-Drugs paradox is a variation of a catch 22
and an ad hominem
attack, and is as follows: if I criticise the WOD, I am most likely then a drug user interested in making whatever arguments I can to legitimize my own behavior, and therefore my arguments are wthout merit. If, however, I qualify my opinion to make it clear that I have little personal interest in seeing the WOD ended, or to push for the legalization of drugs
, then I am obviously ignorant of the actual harms
and can be dismissed as being unqualified to speak about the impacts of drugs; again, my arguments are without merit.
This kind of circular dismissal has been around for a long time (see witches and McCarthyism). It comes from an ideological school of thought that has a lot in common with fascism (with regards to notions of the end justifying the means, and the relationship of the relative values of society and the individual). It is terribly effective at sidestepping honest debate and obscuring the truth. And it happens over and over and over again.
The use of qualifications in our society is necessary, particularly in knowing whom to believe on complicated, deep issues (like law, or medicine). But the use of the attack described above frequently entails the spurious or specious demand for credentials that are either impossible or simply unwarranted; it is a straw man argument of sorts designed to draw attention away from the argument at hand onto a turf where the attacker is more comfortable. The presentation of a well thought out, logical argument, especially when backed by factual evidence, demands a similar rebuttal. But too often it is instead met with a dismissal of character. Whether it is the insistance that a critic of police actions in the WTO protests in Seattle must be an anarchist or the portrayal of uncooperative actors as communists, the mere suggestion that the mainstream line of thought might be wrong is frequently met with character assasination rather than debate.
I'm sure that folks on both sides of all issues have and will continue to make these arguments; I am resigned to that fact. But that there are issues which are effectively insulated from debate, at all levels (from the national level right down to most subcultures) in my country, shocks and frightens me. That middle America believes in the myth of the pusher's free sample and dismisses any presentation of evidence to the contrary as leftist-ranting, or that the Congress of the United States of America can classify Cannabis Sativa as a substance with a high potential for addiction and abuse, and suffers not the slightest recrimination for ignoring essentally every piece of research done on the subject in the last 50 years, disgusts me. But it is the knowledge that it is socially acceptable to assume that I must be a criminal, or reprobate, unless I qualify those opinions (I am not a drug user, etc) so heavily as to render them, in the eyes of most people, empty, that outrages me. It is, in my drug-addled, leftist, homosexual commie opinion, simply awful.