What Happens When You Wage a War on Drugs

I’m guessing the formatting of this post will improve if I stick a couple lines of text here up at the top, thereby uncovering the sidebar so that the number of comments can be seen.

Radley Balko is urging everyone to send the video above to the drug warriors in their lives, and I urge you to do the same.


Mark Thompson adds:

It should be on every evening news broadcast tonight. It depicts what real, actual tyranny looks like, and how it has become a regular, everyday occurence in the United States of America.
What is so remarkable about this video is precisely that it is so unremarkable, depicting something that happens up to 40,000 times a year. Indeed, perhaps nothing proves how common this is more than the calm, cool, and thoroughly routine manner in which the agents of tyranny carry out their task, quickly disposing of the family dogs (one of which was a corgi) and filling the victim’s home with bullets within, literally, moments. All in front of what looks to be the victim’s six or seven year old son.
The cops did recover a “small” amount of marijuana though, which was apparently enough to charge the parents with child endangerment. Somehow, the people who riddled that child’s home with bullets, killed that child’s pets, and forcibly removed that child’s father – all while the child was looking – were not charged with child endangerment.
When the government has the right to bust into tens of thousands of homes in the middle of the night, unannounced, with guns drawn and in full military armor, to take the life of beloved family members, and to menace 6-year old children, all because the homeowner is believed to possess a few grams of a plant or a non-explosive substance, tyranny cannot be said to be on the way. It’s already here. And President Obama wasn’t the one who created it, either.
I will believe that conservatives and the American Right view the words “liberty” and “tyranny” as something other than politically effective platitudes when they make putting an end to 40,000 raids like this a year a higher priority than whether they are taxed to provide someone else with health care or the unrealized hypothetical consequences of cap and trade.

The longer I’m around, and the more I despair about movement conservatism as a whole, the more I’m impressed by two right-leaning organizations, Cato and Reason, for bankrolling the important work done by Mr. Balko, Julian Sanchez on surveillance, and other staffers too numerous to mention here, whose output I don’t just respect, but judge to be vital. The same goes for the Institute for Justice’s work on asset forfeiture, and a few other organizations on the right whose work often overlaps with left-leaning folks at the ACLU and similar organizations.

Health care and cap and trade are important issues, and the policy choices made do have implications for personal and political freedom, but one effect of demagoguery about “liberty and tyranny,” and the supposed embrace of statism by the whole left, is that it obscures or even poisons alliances between right and left against actual abuses that are going on now, and all that is gained are cheap, largely inconsequential political points on issues that at most concern predicted abuses at the end of a slippery slope that we aren’t yet careening down.

I don’t know if Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson can succeed at their very-much-worth-trying liberaltarian project, but I wish that one way or another, liberty-minded folks on right and left can refrain from demonizing one another about their disagreements enough to cooperate on drugs, prison, detainee policy, and all other matters related to wars without end.