Friday, January 16, 2009

Good Journalism

Richard Cowan says "bad journalism" is responsible for marijuana prohibition. Actually I will go farther. It is responsible for the whole drug prohibition mess. However, we are starting to get some examples of good journalism. Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune is one of them.

"Man found dead with hands severed."

"Prominent Juarez lawyer, son among four found dead Tuesday."

"Man found shot to death in trash drum."

"El Paso charities afraid to cross border."

"Juarez area slayings top 20 in new year."

Murders across Mexico more than doubled last year to more than 5,600. That's more than the total number of Americans lost so far in the war in Iraq. Most of those murders have been happening in border towns. More than 1,600 were killed in Juarez, Mexico's fourth-largest city, with a population of 1.7 million. The bloodbath of unspeakable brutality includes kidnappings and decapitated bodies left in public places as a grisly form of advertising.

"There have already been 20 murders in Juarez this year," Beto O'Rourke, a member of El Paso's City Council, told me in a telephone interview this week as President-elect Barack Obama met with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon. "That doesn't include the kidnappings and extortions. Ciudad Juarez is essentially a failed city at this point. [Juarez authorities] can't guarantee your safety."

The situation is deteriorating so fast that "Mexico is on the edge of abyss," said retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a drug czar under President Bill Clinton.

"It could become a narco-state in the coming decade," he said, and the result could be a "surge of millions of refugees" crossing the U.S. border to escape.
The General has not caught up with events. Mexico is a narco State.

These facts are well known to the readers of this blog. So where is the good journalim? It is in three words bolded below.
Something drastic needed to be done, O'Rourke, a fourth-generation El Paso resident, decided. A proposed City Council resolution called for more federal action on both sides of the border to reduce the flow of guns and drugs.

But it wasn't strong enough. O'Rourke pushed things further by adding 12 words: "supporting an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics." The council passed it unanimously. Yet, even a bid to talk about drug legalization was too much for El Paso Mayor John Cook. He vetoed the bill, partly out of concern that Washington might not take the measure seriously with the drug legalization line in it.

Nevertheless, the controversy brought what has been rare American media attention to Mexico's crisis by turning it into radio and cable-TV talk fodder. That's a start.
Yes it is. It took seven murders on Chicago's North side in February of 1929 to get legalization of alcohol seriously on the table. In this war it has taken about 700 times as many murders and the help of a unanimous vote of the El Paso City Council to get the subject the attention it deserves. Because it was just not the murders (the bodies have been piling up for years) it is the politicians taking notice. And now newspaper columnists like Clarence Page who has more to say:
...Calderon faces mounting pressures on his 2-year-old campaign against drug and gun smuggling. The campaign actually touched off much of the fighting between the drug cartels. It has also exposed corruption that touched the highest levels of his government. Even a member of his security team was arrested for allegedly feeding information to the cartels in exchange for money.

When you take a broad look at Mexico's growing carnage, it's easy to see why El Paso's city leaders think drug legalization doesn't look so bad. Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.

Legalization is not the perfect solution. But treating illegal drugs in the way we treat liquor and other legal addictive substances would provide regulation, tax revenue and funds for rehabilitation programs. Most satisfying, it would wipe a lot of smiles off the drug lords' faces.
Let me repeat another bit of very good journalism: Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.

That is something I have been saying for years and it only took 5,000 dead Mexicans and the efforts of the El Paso City Council to make my point.

H/T Suzanne Wills of the DPFT list.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

1 comment:

rumcrook said...

"It could become a narco-state in the coming decade," he said, and the result could be a "surge of millions of refugees" crossing the U.S. border to escape.

wow talk about not seeing the forest thru the trees....