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Tony Newman

Tony Newman

Posted: June 10, 2010 03:56 PM

Andrew Breitbart's popular right-wing website, Big Hollywood, just published a blistering attack by blogger Kurt Schlichter on the musician Sting, philanthropist George Soros, and formerly incarcerated activist Anthony Papa for appearing in an anti-drug war video -- a two-minute promo where people share their feelings about the failed drug war and the reasons they support the Drug Policy Alliance.

Sting states that he believes in the right to "sovereignty over one's mind and body" and that "the war on drugs represents an extraordinary violation of human rights." Montel expresses his view that, "Whether you use drugs or not, you deserve to be treated with kindness and dignity." Soros, meanwhile, explains that he supports the Drug Policy Alliance because the organization "promotes harm reduction" and "fosters debate on drug policy." Anthony Papa talks about his experience spending 12 years in prison for a first time nonviolent drug offense.

Schlichter rips into all and everyone and appears disgusted that Sting, Soros or Montel would have the gall to think that they have any insights into this issue.

He accuses Sting of wanting "drug dealing scumbags" to run free while he "retreats behind his gates and armed guards."

He argues that Anthony Papa made out great by spending 12 years of his life locked up for taking part in a small-time drug deal where he was set to make $500. He says that Papa became an artist behind bars "on the taxpayer's dime" and that "some Hollywood half-wit even scooped up the rights to his inspiring story." Schlichter claims to speak for "most of us" and asks, "why only 12 years?"

He even mocks the video for claiming that the drug war is a war on people of color, ignoring the fact that African-Americans are 13 times more likely to end up incarcerated, even though they use and sell drugs at rates similar to white people.

Schlichter's rant reminds me of Rush Limbaugh, who scoffed at the idea that African-Americans are disproportionately arrested on drug charges, and suggested that the solution was to arrest more white people. But once Limbaugh was busted for sending his maid out to score him OxyContin and it came out that he was addicted to pills, he quickly changed his tune about the benefits of sending more white people to jail. I imagine the same gross hypocrisy would be true for Schlichter. If he or someone he loved got busted for using or selling drugs, would he still ask "why only 12 years?"

Schlichter thinks he really nails it when he asks Sting to expand the discussion and get the opinions of Michael Jackson, Health Ledger, Brad Renfro, DJ AM, and Brittany Murphy. "Oh wait, they're all dead." How ironic that Schlichter tries to pin these tragic overdose deaths on drug war critics. It is under drug prohibition that we have record numbers of overdose deaths, and it is advocates like the Drug Policy Alliance who are offering real and proven solutions to prevent overdose fatalities and save lives.

Last month, the Associated Press dropped a bomb on America's longest running war. The headline said it all: "The US Drug War has Met None of its Goals." The first sentence of the piece asks, "After 40 years, the United States' War on Drugs has cost $1 trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what?"

Schlichter pretends to be the guy in tune with "the people" and that the speakers in the video are living in a privileged bubble, but in reality, it is he who is out of touch and on the wrong side of history.

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)

 

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