Vice Squad
Thursday, November 03, 2005
More Asian Drug War Humanitarianism

The point of the war on drugs is to decrease human suffering. If you enter a war for some other higher purpose, the inevitable casualties are a tragic but necessary price to achieve that paramount objective. But casualties that are sustained in a humanitarian war directly undermine the point of the war. They should be avoided at almost all cost, or the war itself should be re-thought.

Our attempt to make people better off via the war on drugs somehow skirts this logic. We not only do not go out of our way to avoid casualties, we actively seek them out. The most recent outrage (via D'Alliance) is the scheduled execution by hanging of a 25-year old in Singapore. He was convicted of trying to leave the country with a few hundred grams of heroin. So he must die. Presumably this death is necessary to deter others who might otherwise leave Singapore with heroin. Wasn't heroin completely legal once? How did we end up executing people for carrying a little bit of it? Don't such punishments run counter to the presumably humanitarian purpose of this war, this absurd war, on drugs?

Declare a substance to be evil and this is what happens: no standards by which to judge infractions, and a willingness to adopt any sort of enforcement that offers hope of reducing the use of the evil substance. Drugs do addle minds, no?

Asia seems particularly susceptible to drug war fanaticism, in the Santayanian sense of redoubling your efforts when you have lost sight of your aims. Here's a previous Vice Squad post on the lamentable phenomenon.

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