The Cry of a Strawman

The discussion between Dr. Lawson and Congressman Price at the TROSA forum on October 13 was an interesting one, to say the least.  The Durham Herald Sun wrote an particularly fascinating report on the discussion between the two candidates on drug-related issues:

Lawson and Price sparred over issues including health care and law enforcement, especially enforcement of drug laws.

Asked about the Second Chance Act, federal legislation designed to ensure the safe and successful return of prisoners to the community, Price accused Lawson of double talk.

“He doesn’t favor the Second Chance Act,” Price said, “He would not fund the Second Chance Act.”

Price said he was against “criminalization” of addiction.

Lawson stressed the importance of his belief in the Constitution and a “government that follows the rules.”

“I’m the crazy guy giving out the Constitution,” he said of his campaigning style of handing out copies of the document.

This excerpt suggests that Dr. Lawson voiced opposition to decriminalization of drug addiction, while Congressman Price voiced support for it. However, as I’m sure anyone who attended the event will attest, it was in fact Dr. Lawson who voiced clear opposition to the criminalization of drug use and addiction, not Congressman Price. 

The issue of the Durham Herald-Sun’s “Fair and Balanced” coverage aside, an even more interesting topic from the discussion is Congressman Price’s suggestion that Dr. Lawson is “double-talking” on the treatment of drug addicts, citing his opposition to the Second Chance Act in light of Dr. Lawson’s view that drug abuse should be treated as a medical problem rather than as a criminal offense. 

Unfortunately for Congressman Price, this amounts to nothing more than an irrelevant straw man argument. The Second Chance Act, as the Herald-Sun notes, is a bill geared to re-immerse criminals- mainly drug offenders- into society. An analysis of the Second Chance Act of 2007 per the THOMAS database paints a picture of legislation full of provisions relating to incarcerated drug “offenders” that would be completely unnecessary if we did not criminalize drug abuse and possession, as Dr. Lawson understands and argues quite well. For some reason, Congressman Price believes it is a good idea to spend billions of dollars a year to enforce drug use and possession laws against individuals, spend billions more incarcerating them and subjecting them to the adverse physical and psychological effects of incarceration, and then spend even more money to “re-adjust” them. 

This specious argument is just one example of Congressman Price’s perverted thinking on the issue of drug abuse, with his vote just this year for H.R. 6028 to support aggressive “drug war” efforts in Mexico and Central America being another. With another two years, it is quite clear that Congressman Price cannot be trusted to promote the end of the four-decade policy failure known as the War on Drugs that is posting handsome profits for drug dealers, generating violent crime by-products, destabilizing communities and regions around the world, and engendering institutionalized racism with blatantly unfair enforcement patterns. 

According to Albert Einstein, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By the logic of Einstein- who I think we can all agree had terrific logic- David Price is clinically insane in his support for the continuation of our failed drug policies. Furthermore, his position is firmly at odds with that of the vast majority of the American people across party lines, per a recent Zogby poll released earlier this month. 

It is my view that the thinking of the people of the 4th District on this issue is very representative of Zogby’s findings. The issue of drug abuse is yet another demonstration of why it is time for the people of the 4th District to take the advice of Mahatma Ghandi and “Be the Change” by voting to fire Congressman Price on November 4 and to replace him with a representative who will fight to end the War on Drugs and respect our Constitutional rights. The man for the job is Dr. Willian “B.J.” Lawson.

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