New Drug War Blog

Earlier this year I wrote that the media was failing at their main function - spreading information to limit government abuse - and that this as best exemplified by their implicit support of the drug war:

While the war on drugs also suffers from massive media-disseminated disinformation, more importantly, the media ignore the injustice of the WoD that they are charged with reporting. Every day local and federal police abuse their power and trample on principles of life and liberty all in the name of a drug-free America. Every time DEA agents bust in the wrong house and kills a completely innocent person, near silence. Every time President Bush gives rhetorical support to drug-testing all public school children, the media, blatantly fear-mongering, willingly add that marijuana is more potent then ever. The media are supposed to let us know when government agents with guns kill innocent citizens for no good reason. How the left-leaning media find right-wing religion when it comes to the War on Drugs is an absolute mystery. And it stands as their greatest failing.

Now there is a blog dedicated to just that: Prohibition and the Media - a daily critique of drug reporting my major media outlets. An excerpt:

First, a piece by Steven Dudley in today's Miami Herald, distributed by Knight Ridder and hence appearing in other papers as well, reports on a war within the feared "Norte del Valle Cartel," touched off by US extraditions of cartel leaders, which has left over a thousand dead. These thousand are not all big time drug lords -- a cartel has one or a few of those, not a thousand -- and many were doubtless innocent bystanders. Taxi drivers, for example, are among the dead left piled up by the side of the road, according to Dudley's article.

Dudley also does a good job of pointing out how the carnage is all ultimately in vain: "Yet the price of cocaine on U.S. streets continues to drop -- a sign of increasing availability," he writes, and "The only question is: How long will it take for a new [cartel] to emerge?" he quotes Wilson Reyes, a consultant for a Valle del Cauca provincial peace initiative.

In Edmonton, Canada, the Edmonton Sun in an article titled It's All About Drugs reports on the city's 27th and 28th murders this year, a record in the city. Police and criminologists attribute the spike in violence to fierce competition amonst gangs for control of lucrative drug selling turf.

Here in the US, the Philadelphia Daily News reported on the tragic murder of Milton "Shreets" Brown, a 16-year old who decided to leave drug selling behind. But his former associates wouldn't let him, and others were caught in the crossfire too.

And in Utah, KSL-TV, the NBC affiliate based in Salt Lake City, reported on a fight over drugs in the suburb of Lehi had led to a homicide. The victim was the 43-year-old Kenneth Ward.

These kinds of stories frustrate me, because all of these murders occurred only because drugs are illegal. The Norte del Valle Cartel would not exist if drugs were produced and distributed by legitimate business. Drug gangs in Edmonton would not fight over turf if they were replaced by pharmacies or what kinds of stores were licensed to sell the drugs instead. Milton Brown would never have gotten mixed up in drug selling on the criminal market if the drugs were being sold in some legal frameword -- and to those who say that Brown and the people who killed him would have just been doing some other kind of crime, I ask you, where would the money have come from to finance the lifestyle? And while we don't have enough details about the killing of Kenneth Ward to draw conclusions firmly, obviously it is the high cost of drugs, and the time people need to spend in dangerous circumstances to buy them, that makes them something people would be likely to fight over. How many people have been affected, how has the quality of life and the functioning of the economy been damaged, by all of the needless violence? The answer is so obvious -- legalization -- and therefore all the more frustrating.

And the blogosphere gets cooler by the day!

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The Word for the Day is: "The Reformationative President" Last DailySpam! til after the holidays. Enjoy, and Merry Xmass! ;] Heh. Stoller's Law: "No matter how unethical you expect the Republican Party to be, they will not only be worse, but they w...

? Isn't the media's role to

? Isn't the media's role to make money, just like any other business?
I actually agree with your assessment, but it seems like a non-libertarian idea.

I hardly see what is

I hardly see what is non-libertarian about criticizing the media for not living up to the standards they proclaim to set for themelves. I certainly think their main purpose is to make profits, but a) ask a high-ranking media executive if that's so, and b) ask a journalist if they would let a corporation off the hook with the "our main goal is to make profits" defense.

I didn't call for government regulation or action to combat this hypocrisy, I just merely point out that such hypocrisy exists. Nothing non-libertarian about that.