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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 8, 1996)
Just say no?
Blame the cause of drug use, not the drugs
I am physically addicted to
caffeine. If I tried to go without it
for a day, I would become lethargic
and irritable. My head would throb,
and my temper would flare.
I am inordinately fond of alcohol.
If I went without it for a day, a
week, or even a year, I would
experience no physical repercus
sions. But I would miss it. I love
beer, and I’m a sucker for a good
single-malt scotch, but I am by no
means addicted. Ibuprofen, Turns
and Alka-Seltzcr round out the list
of my drugs of choice.
I’ve also dabbled in other drugs
— the illegal kind. I’ve experi
mented with the ones that are
supposed to serve as “gateways” to
harder drugs, eventually leading to a
life of petty crime and forsaken
potential. I tried the drug that should
have made me leap off of a building
in the belief that I could fly. I’ve
also tried the drug that’s supposed
to sap every last ounce of your
motivation and eliminate your
chances of ever becoming a produc
tive member of society.
I’m not alone in this. In fact, I’m
in excellent company. The current
President of the United States, the
Vice President and the Speaker of
the House all have admitted to
trying marijuana. Bill, A1 and Newt
dismiss their own illegal drug use as
harmless experimentation, some
thing any normal kid would have
done in their place.
As politicians and responsible
members of society, however, these
men are quick to denounce anyone
who has done the same thing. They
insist that the drug user in question
is well on his or her way to addic
tion and is certainly in need of
treatment. This drug user is destroy
ing the very fabric of society, and
will inevitably find some way to
waste the tax dollars of more
responsible citizens. He or she
ought to be thrown in jail, the keys
I have news for these guys. Their
war on drugs is lost. We’ve thrown
billions of dollars and countless
“We fret about the
possibility that children
might be exposed to
drugs and drug users in
school while we’re lining
up for prescription drugs
such as Ritalin and
hours of human effort at the
problem. We cannot prevent the
production of drugs in other
countries. We cannot keep those
drugs from entering the United
States, and we cannot eliminate the
sale of drugs within our own
The drugs just won’t go away.
A recent survey commissioned by
the Partnership for a Drug-Free
America found that marijuana use
among teen-agers has been rising
steadily for the last five years.
Heroin is gaining popularity among
middle-class Americans. Mctham
phetamines are epidemic. Teen
agers who don’t have access to other
drugs will sniff glue or paint, lick
toads or suck on aerosol cans.
According to one report, teen-agers
have even been dipping cigarettes in
embalming fluid for a high.
This society has a bizarre and
unhealthy fbve-hate relationship
with drugs. We’ve installed pro
grams in the schools to teach
children about the evils and dangers
of drugs. Mcanwhdc, prescriptions
for the psychostimulant drug Ritalin
have increased 500 percent since
1990. The same people who piously
inform children that drugs are evil
seem to be the first to treat a child’s
behavior problem with drugs.
We throw casual drug users in
jail by the dozens, while we arc
inundated with ads for drugs that
promise to cure everything from hair
loss to insomnia. We fret about the
possibility that children might be
exposed to drugs and drug users in |
school while we’re lining up for
prescription drugs such as Ritalin
If we want to solve the drug
problem, we need to start by
examining our own attitudes about
drugs and drug use.
We need to stop the hysteria
surrounding illegal drugs. Yes, some I
of them are extremely harmful, but 1
others are not. Any reasonable and 1
coherent drug policy should include rj
an honest assessment of a drug’s
potential usefulness — such as the
efficacy of marijuana in treating ■
glaucoma and casing the nausea
caused by chemotherapy.
We need to stop demonizing
casual drug users. Not all of them
arc addicts. Some of them arc
normal human beings who pay taxes
and lead productive lives. We need
to separate users and addicts in our
minds, and think seriously about the
causes and cfTects of addiction.
Then we can think about providing
We also need to ask why so many
people are using drugs like Prozac
and Ritalin. These drugs don’t solve
people’s problems, they merely
mask the symptoms. Why are so
many adults depressed? Why are the
children angry and restless?
Drugs are not inherently good or
bad. All drugs — legal or otherwise
— can be used or misused. Drug
abuse is a problem. Hysteria and
hypocrisy are not the solution.
Mapcs Is a senior advertising and his
tory major and a Dally Nebraskan colum
Guy next door
Terrorists made up of more than foreigners
Alter nearly two decades, it
appears that the FBI has finally
captured the individual responsible
lor a nationwide series of bombings.
If the suspect in custody is eventu
ally proved to be the Unabomber,
then all law enforcement agencies
will breathe a collective sigh of
The relief comes from not only
ending one particularly nasty •
person’s grudge against technology
and its purveyors — but by bringing
the Unabomber to justice, the FBI
has accomplished far more.
First, and most importantly, the
last thing this nation wants is the
bombing of places and people to
become a routine event. When we
see weekly visions of blasted streets
telecast from Belfast or Jerusalem,
the notion that such carnage could
become an everyday reality in Los
Angeles or New York is unthink
able. Hence, the FBI needs to solve
these crimes quickly, or at the very
least present an image of control to
the public through the media.
That brings us to point No. 2 —
The Agency Plan to Downplay
Negative Character (TAPDNC).
With a less than glorious history of
upholding personal civil rights,
under J.E. Hoover’s command, its
recent handling of the Ruby Ridge
and Waco confrontations, and
internal conflicts between the
bureau’s upper echelons of com
mand and Attorney General Janet
Reno, the FBI gets a needed and
well-deserved PR boost.
Thirdly, the FBI is demonstrating
its ability to deal with a wave of
domestic terrorist activities. With
the World Trade Center bombing,
Americans could somehow accept
the incident in their minds with the
knowledge that the perpetrators
“In reality, the
Una bomber case is
about the power of
perception one person
can wield over a
country, and its chief
were FOREIGNERS, and not the
guy next door.
The problem is, that belief
system has turned out to be danger
ously misleading. We have met the
enemy, and he is us.
Separatist movements such as
The Freemen, cults such as Waco’s
Branch Davidians, and white
supremacy factions like the one to
which Timothy McVeigh belonged,
all have showed how individuals can
exploit the First Amendment for
their own twisted and criminal
So the FBI walks a fine line
between carrying out its responsi
bilities to safeguard the public and
not trampling any one individual’s
or group’s rights. Fairness in
judgment is weighed against
intolerance of violence. L
In reality, the Unabomber is only
a single case in a multitude of
destructive acts that occur here
every day. The drive-by shooting in
East L.A., the drug deal in a Miami
motel room gone bad, and the drunk
driver who just wiped out a family
of four are all defined as domestic in
origin and effect. A murder takes
place in our country once every 15
In reality, the Unabomber case is
about the power of perception one
person can wield over a country and
its chief law enforcement agency.
The perception that one man could
single out targets at will with
handmade pipe bombs, and escape
punishment, and the fact that this
perception encourages others to do
the same in the future, is reason
enough for the FBI to devote a 200
man task force to the investigation.
I read part of the Unabomber’s
manifesto when it was published in
the New York Times. I remember
thinking it had been wrong for the
paper to print the material, on the
promise from the writer that he
wouldn’t mail any more bombs. Is
faith in that kind of appeasement
worth the price? Like myself, I don’t
think the FBI agreed with the plan.
Negotiating with criminals goes
against the FBI’s nature. In cutting
the deal with the Unabomber, the
bureau undermined the public’s
confidence in the government’s
ability to handle home-grown
terrorism — confidence and support
the FBI is going to need, at least
with the next round of nuts and
loose screws it’ll have to take on.
Poyner Is a graduate student la museum
studies and a Dally Nebraskau columnist
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