There’s nothing to fear but the lack of fear itself

The term designer drug was always a crappy one. It referred initially to MDMA (Ectasy) that hit the club scene like a bomb in the 80s, giving us raves and lots of great, new music. A more recent look indicates that the term may actually apply now, newer and evolving drugs are here in full force, and clunky laws against them can barely keep up:

The Guardian — The two most popular types are synthetic, cannabis-like drugs, sold as smokable plant material, and stimulants, similar to ecstasy and amphetamines. But what makes this a revolution, rather than simply a market innovation, is the scale and speed of drug development. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction reported 73 new substances last year, meaning new highs were hitting the market at a rate of more than one a week. This wave of new drugs only began five years ago and since then more than 200 previously unknown substances have been found in circulation.

This upsurge in new highs has some serious science behind it. It is worth noting that most traditional drugs of abuse – speed, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and so on – can be synthesised fairly easily. You need someone with a bit of knowledge and the right ingredients, not always easy to find, but you can complete the process in a back room, basement or jungle. Not so with the new generation of synthetic highs. While most university chemists would sneer at the suggestion that the synthesis was difficult, it still needs a professional laboratory, more so for the constant production of new substances.

Well, that could stoke a whole new wave of raw panic. Which seems to be the emotion of choice these days; there’s nothing to fear but the lack of fear itself if you are a spook or a shareholder. And why not? Fear is incredibly useful in a police state, both fuel and fire, like the desert topping and floorwax in one, when it’s not being used to shred the Bill of Rights:

MSNBC — We have courts that have okay’ed putting a GPS tracking device on a car without probable cause and search warrants based on anonymous informant tips and helicopter surveillance of homes without a warrant. The Big Brother state has been alive and well in the drug war for decades, a world where, as The Wire creator David Simon blogged this week, the government has used court orders to cull dialed numbers from thousands of calls to and from certain pay phones. Sounds like what the NSA is doing because now. Along with a drug exception to the Bill of Rights we have a terror exception which affects us all. But these authoritarian abuses were acceptable to most when it was the drug war largely because of who they were happening to.

Now it appears some of this is happening to all of us, but the fourth amendment has been eviscerated–so even if you think it’s discomforting, it’s not illegal. And thus it may be too late. It reminds me of that famous poem, which I’ll remix a little. First they came for the communists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the black men in drug-riddled areas and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t one of them. And when they came for my metadata there was no one left to speak for me.

The war on drugs was a war on the rights of all of us that we see manifested in many other ways. As one federal judge said, “It may profit us very little to win the war on drugs if in the process we lose our soul.” I wonder if we already have.

I’d say we lost our soul along with our shit years ago. It was already perfectly legal to seize property and frisk anyone on the street without probable cause and without filing charges, if the drug boogy-man was mentioned, before 9-11. Especially for young people or those with the poor judgement to not be white. You are literally at orders of magnitude more risk driving to the Taco Bell on Saturday night for a late night snack than you are from designer drugs or terrorists. But heart disease, diabetes, and motor vehicle accidents aren’t nearly scary enough to fork over the Constitution on a silver plate.

The war on drugs, private prisons, the NSA, and creepy Intel-Industrial contractors are all made for each other. One guarantees an enemy in the sad event global thermonuclear war or Islamic terrorism fade away into history, the others cash in on it with the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury and every individual state in the Union. It’s a business marriage arranged in heaven.

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