Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey
Over the years, people attempting to change things they deem destructive have resorted to the practice known as the boycott.
The most well-known was the boycott of the Birmingham, Alabama bus system after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. It became the focal point for civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After a year of nearly-empty busses, the bus company changed the seating policy.
Other examples of successful boycotts include:
• Companies that did business with South Africa during apartheid
• Wal-Mart and Target for allegedly selling the products of sweat shops
• Tuna fisherman for failing to protect dolphins from seining nets
• Agricultural interests for exploiting immigrant labor.
Yet, there exists today an ongoing source of human misery which has been largely ignored.
The use of illegal drugs.
• In the last two years alone, cartel gunmen murdered some 12,000 people along the U.S.-Mexican border.
• Human traffickers routinely smuggle immigrants into the United States, often using them to carry illicit drugs.
• In the Caribbean, poor people are convinced to ingest drug-filled capsules, then flown to the U.S. Sometimes, the capsules rupture in their bellies, causing an excruciatingly painful death.
• In Colombia, desperately poor peasants work in jungle labs. They march barefoot through vats filled with coca leaves and acid, the first step in producing cocaine.
• In the U.S., street gangs use violence to enforce their control of territories where they sell drugs to willing customers, possibly the only time in history that humans have actually volunteered for slavery.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 570,000 people in the U.S. die each year from the effects of illicit drugs, thousands more from the violence.
Yet, despite this human misery, users don’t seem to care.
One solution is addiction treatment. But what I’m told by professionals is that unless the user WANTS to quit, no amount of treatment will work. Relapse almost certainly follows.
Another proposal is to legalize drugs and tax them. There are several problems with this approach.
Legalization of alcohol in 1932 halted the gang violence in Chicago. However, alcohol deaths continued every year. About half of all traffic deaths in the United States have been attributed to alcohol, some 15,000 to 25,000 each year since 1945. Some researchers estimate that as much as 75 percent of spouse and child abuse cases involve alcohol. Alcohol was the prime or contributing factor in 50 to 60 percent of nondrug-related murders.
Clearly, the end of Prohibition merely replaced one form of violent death with many others.
There currently exists in this country a billion-dollar business smuggling both alcohol and cigarettes in order to evade taxation. Criminals will not legitimize their business just to pay taxes. The smuggling routes and infrastructure are there, and will continue to operate.
Drug use is an act of selfishness. When a person wants their high, they don’t care about anybody else’s misery. Not the people tortured and beheaded in Mexico, not the peasants in Colombia, not the violent deaths in this country. In their narcissistic self-absorbed world, users don’t care how many suffered and died to deliver their high.
The United States is the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs. The only way to end this cycle is by boycotting those drugs.
Boycotting Wal-Mart and Target over sweat shops was cool. Boycotting non-dolphin-safe tuna felt good, as did boycotting the fur trade and animal testing. Boycotting the companies doing business in Burma was so right. Mitsubishi stopped buying rain forest paper products. And how about all those companies that stopped using CFCs in their packaging materials?
If you supported or took part in these actions, you’re a hero. But if you don’t think boycotting illegal drugs is a good idea as well, you’re a hypocrite.
That’s right, America. I’m calling you out.
Barack Obama campaigned for hope. But no one can embrace hope by embracing drugs. If you were serious about President Obama; if you are serious about hope, if you really care about the future, then help take the power away from gangs and cartels.
Boycott the poisons they sell.