Loosening

As the caffeine began to nudge my neurons into relectant action this morning (wake up, you lazy bastards!), I started the day as I do most Sundays, and slowly focused on the New York Times Sunday Week in Review section, which is where the editorials are published on the weekend, and my attention was drew to Nicholas D. Kristof’s colum “Drugs Won the War.”

It was a reasonably phrased piece recapping stuff I already knew: that Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” never worked, drugs were easier to obtain and cheaper than ever, and drug profits were fueling terrorism and corruption in Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, and other countries (including the United States), and that the only way to really get a handle on the issue was decriminalization or some form of drug legalization. Over the years, I’ve researched the issue fairly extensively, partly because I wrote a play on the subject called “Altered States of America” (which put forth the modest proposal that drugs should be made available through state-run outlets to adults who passed a drug education program and could purchase reasonable, non-addictive amounts of drugs through a ration card; note producers: the play went on to be nominated for an Oregon Book Award).

Plus I’ve been hearing whisperings on the subject of late, and Obama’s choice of “drug czar,” the former police chief of Seattle (whose name I can’t spell and I’m too lazy to look up right now) has suggested a “harm reduction” model where drug treatment is favored over arrest. So it didn’t seem like a big deal. I thought, oh, that’s interesting, and went on to read Frank Rich’s column, which more or less echoed my Frankenstein piece on Right-wing nutjobs.

But then the appropriate synapse finally flickered, and I went: wait a second. I just read a pro-legalization/decriminalization piece in the largest paper in the U.S. by a staff editorial writer, not some outside writer hired for the piece. Did I really? What?

Yes, I did. You can read it at:

Drugs Won the War

But the most remarkable part seemed to be that the whole thing seemed entirely prosaic, and maybe a little boring. Kind of a “duh” moment. It’ll be interesting to see reactions to Kristof’s piece, whether it comes and goes as so many of these articles do or opens a dialogue, but it does seem like a vague ray of light. If anything happens, it probably wouldn’t be until Obama’s second term, but…you never know. If the guy actally pulls off revamping the health care system, anything is possible.

Anyway, it makes for good reading, especially if you’re not well-versed in the twisted history of America and drugs.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

2 responses to “Loosening

  • xtine

    hi s,this is not about drugs 🙂 altho thank you for this post. what i'm touching base about is this phenomenon called followspot, which you wrote about a while back. i took some time to have a look, and holy fuck. wow. all this piss and vinegar (vinegar is too complementary, i think) from anonymous anonymous anonymous. what is that about? i dunno. but it got my goat tonight let me tell you. i don't care if someone wants to rail, wants to praise. but this anonymous shit really yanks my chain. so: my chain got yanked! hooray! 🙂 big woop. but, i thought i'd write you to say so, cuz you have had it on your radar. and thanks for putting it on mine. even if it did just rile me. that's good. riling. you know.ok. all hail, brother. meantime: keep kicking ass.x

  • splattworks

    C–This AM, I saw your post on followspot, and thought it was admirable that you tried to call the vicious little elves out. But the thing is, I'm not even sure the main perp is a real person. Which is to say, they don't realize they have a very distinctive writing style that identifies them each time they post, and sometimes they post in response to themselves to back themselves up. In other words: they're an Internet troll. They know enough about Portland theatre to make trouble, but there's something inauthentic in their voice which is hard to pinpoint…a sociopathic note. It'd be amusing if it wasn't a little unnerving.Whoever they are, they've kind of painted themselves into a corner, because, if it's ever revealed who they are, they've screwed any chance of working with their vitriol. So maybe we should pity them….and hope we don't have to work a show with them.What did Einstein say again? "The world is not stranger than we imagine. It's stranger than we can imagine."S

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