For legalizing drugs
DeForest Rathbone may have the best of intentions with regard to our drug policy amidst the distortions in his letter "Don't legalize dope," (Monday). He surely must be aware that the CDC figures cited are not for illegal drugs — they are for all legal prescription and over the counter drugs, including alcohol, and for illegal drugs, which makeup only a small percentage of the overall number. And he must know that marijuana kills no one. And he must also be aware that the District and Baltimore have never had drug legalization, whether under the former mayors he cited or under the current ones. If he wants to debate the issue, why resort to such outrageous mis-statement and demagoguery? Just say what you believe, that you have no problem throwing adults in prison for their personal choices.
Washington Center for
Politics & Journalism
The Politics & Journalism Semester
DeForest Rathbone's Monday letter to the editor, "Don't legalize dope," responded to the issue of legalizing drugs. First, the concept really is ending prohibition or decriminalizing certain chemicals; the other wording has the unfortunate connotation that things start out illegal and must be made legal.
Mr. Rathbone asserts that there is evidence that mind-altering and addictive substances have destroyed children, families, schools and communities, and he cites the statistic of 3,000 overdose deaths each month. The evidence is that the small numbers of people who seek and use recreational drugs do so either to recreate or to medicate, not to overdose. (This is not about suicide; people who commit suicide with such substances have many other choices, and, obviously, making these choices illegal didn't stop them.) The evidence is that overdosing is caused by the unreliability of the product being used.
During the horrible time of Prohibition, many people died or went blind from methanol, which was used to adulterate or substitute for hard-to-obtain ethanol. The obvious conclusion is that overdoses will disappear when access to these chemicals is not prohibited because the purveyors will be held to account in the marketplace and courts for supplying products that are what they purport to be. Toxicity is all in the dose: Aspirin, water and alcohol are all fatal in excess, but we don't need to prohibit them to protect people from themselves.
People may make poor choices in recreating or medicating, but how is this any different from choosing alcohol for recreation or medication? Conceptually, there is none. Though it is hard to stand by and let people use drugs that are truly dangerous, we do so to avoid interfering in others' freely made choices.
Mr. Rathbone makes an illogical connection between former D.C. mayor and current D.C. Council member Marion Barry and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and the level of drug use in the cities of which they were mayors, falsely stating that there was "legalization" in those cities. Clearly, the facts are not on his side, so he employs sophistry.
Mr. Rathbone then suggests that our great country would somehow be better if we employed random student drug testing. Imagine, using the heavy hand of the state to enter the lives of every family — and giving witness that the state doesn't trust anyone.
Goodlatte and the horse-slaughter bill
In the editorial "Stop horsing around" (July 25), Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican is shown for what he is: a man who will stop at nothing to derail the efforts to ban horse slaughter in this country. The feelings of his own constituents, the very people he was elected to represent, don't matter to Mr. Goodlatte.
Mr. Goodlatte made this clear at a town hall meeting in June 2004 when he was confronted by angry horse owners who were rightfully upset with his position on H.R. 503, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA). When a horse owner asked him, "What do we have to do to get you to stop blocking this bill?" Mr. Goodlatte defiantly replied, "You must convince me, and you have not done so." Shocked, another person stood and asked, "What kind of a democracy do we have if one man can block the will of the whole country?" Mr. Goodlatte's response was: "This isn't a democracy; it is a republic."
It would seem Mr. Goodlatte's definition of the word republic differs from John Adams' view, given more than 200 years ago: "A republic is a government whose sovereignty is vested in more than one person."
Fortunately the sponsors of the AHSPA rewrote the bill so it would fall under a different committee, essentially taking control of the issue away from Mr. Goodlatte and the Agriculture Committee, which he chairs.
However, he just won't let this issue go. On Thursday, the Agriculture Committee had a one-sided review of this bill, allowing no testimony in support of H.R. 503. Among those who spoke against the bill was former Agriculture Committee Ranking minority member Charles Stenholm, who spouted his usual unfounded rhetoric about "unwanted horses." I listened to their discussion of this bill, and I have to say, the side supporting horse slaughter sounded like a bunch of petulant children who aren't getting their way.
I'll make it clear: I applaud Republican leadership for allowing this issue out to the full House of Representatives for an up-or-down vote. I also applaud the sponsors of H.R. 503 and their 203 bipartisan cosponsors.
However, people like Mr. Goodlatte and his blatant disregard for due process are an embarrassment to the Republican party and should be a concern for Republicans, especially in an election year. Perhaps they should consider censoring Mr. Goodlatte before he does more damage.
A flawed immigration compromise
Republicans Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas have teamed up to propose a temporary-worker program that would allow temporary workers to bring in their families and then eventually stay as permanent residents ("Comprehensive immigration," Op-Ed, Wednesday). It also specifies that private companies would operate so-called Ellis Island Centers in foreign countries to enroll these temporary workers.
This is a plan doomed to failure, as the private companies that would run the centers would be under the control of foreign countries, with all their potential fraud and corruption. On top of all these shortcomings, there would be no limit to the number of workers and their families.
The Nazis and the death camps
I'm writing this letter to draw attention to the problem of terms used to describe the atrocities of the Second World War.
In the article "Holocaust Survivor Shares Tale" (Nation, July 18), the story of Leo Bretholz is presented. I agree with the author that the history of the life of Leo Bretholz is worth sharing with others and especially with the younger generation. What happened should never be forgotten.
But because of the fact that a young reader may know little about the history of the Second World War, I would like to ask you be more careful in choosing the words describing the events.
"I was never in an Eastern death camp in Germany or Poland" and "[h]is mother and sisters were killed in Izbica, an extermination camp in Poland" suggest that Germany and Poland were equally responsible for the killings that took place in the Nazi concentration camps. In fact Poles were killed together with Jews in the same death camps. All concentration camps were build and operated by Nazi Germany. Most of them, located in Eastern Europe, including Poland, were situated on the territory of countries under German occupation.
It is important to use correct terminology in regard to such important historical matters.
Embassy of the Republic of Poland