Best columns: The U.S.
Forget about legalizing all drugs
“As the opioid crisis takes lives on a historic scale, it’s time to kill a bad idea,” said David French. “Just say no to legalizing hard drugs.” Since the war on drugs took off in the 1980s, many thoughtful conservatives, libertarians, and liberals have argued for legalization. Their rationale is that the drug war’s costs—“in lives lost, lives squandered in prison, and civil liberties curtailed”—outweigh any potential harm from the drugs themselves. The opioid epidemic proves them wrong: The consequences of hard-drug use are indeed “more horrific than prohibition.” The scourge began when the federal government approved and pharmaceutical companies aggressively marketed addictive prescription opioid painkillers such as Percocet and OxyContin. It was, in essence, the legalization of heroin in pill form. “Communities were suddenly awash in narcotics,” and when prescriptions became more tightly restricted, already-addicted people simply turned to cheaper street heroin. In 2015, 52,404 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, more than the number who died from car crashes or guns. People don’t choose to use opioids—they become slaves to them. While we may never win the war on drugs, “there is no choice but to continue the fight.”
When women are jailed for abortions
The Washington Post
If abortion becomes totally illegal or strictly limited in half the country, said Irin Carmon, women won’t need to get the back-alley or coat hanger abortions of the 1950s. They’ll be likely to turn to the easily available drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to “end a pregnancy by their own hands.” That means ambitious local prosecutors in red states could hold only one person—the woman—legally accountable, and “there is little doubt that states would delight in prosecuting her.” For public relations purposes, the anti-abortion movement has long insisted on a logical inconsistency: “Abortion is murder, but women shouldn’t be held accountable.” Yet at least 17 women have been arrested since 2005 and accused of self-inducing abortions. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, or states restrict abortion to the point where it’s unavailable, tens of thousands of desperate women will obtain abortion pills from pro-choice activists or online pharmacies. (That phenomenon is already occurring.) The women most likely to be caught and prosecuted, of course, will be poor women of color. “Supporters of abortion rights should get ready for what illegal abortion in America will look like.” Abortion will go underground, and women will be sent to prison.
Why everyone thinks they’re losing
One of the strangest aspects of the Trump era is that “nearly everyone seems convinced their side is losing,” said Will Rahn. Liberals, of course, are morose because a man they view as “a racist, a sexist, a crook, and perhaps even a traitor” occupies the White House, while his fellow Republicans control Congress and a majority of state legislatures. Traditional conservatives are unhappy that the GOP has become “unmoored” from their small-government, respectable ideology, that “a charlatan” of incoherent views now rules the party. Even the right-wing populists feel like they’re losing, because “a clique of elite Manhattan Democrats,” including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, have pushed aside firebreathing nationalist Steve Bannon. Besides, Trump can’t get any legislation passed because of a hopelessly fractured congressional GOP. The widespread sense of panic and loss is probably responsible for the fact that the militant left and Trumpists both now justify censoring opposing views. “It’s a remarkable, and perhaps unprecedented, moment in our history.” Everyone—regardless of ideology—has a sinking feeling that in the battle for the nation’s soul, “we’ve already lost.” ■