Jefferson Parish, LA — Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy Stephen Arnold succumbed to his injuries this week after being shot five times while executing an arrest warrant in a New Orleans home. Arnold has been on life support since 2016 when this unfortunate incident unfolded.
As media uses his death as a tragic line of duty statistic, not a single mainstream outlet will question the reason he was in Jarvis Hardy’s home that day or why Hardy shot him five times. Hardy was sentenced to 35 years in prison for shooting Arnold that day but he was never convicted of murder or attempted murder of a federal law enforcement officer as he maintained he was responding to a burglary in process. By definition — he was.
If we remove the drug war from this scenario and look solely at the facts of the matter, Hardy was in his own home that day, when armed invaders kicked in the door to kidnap and rob him. He defended himself against these armed invaders, eventually killing one of them.
Had the state not claimed the legal right to prohibit arbitrary substances, Hardy would be a free man and Arnold would be alive.
Just because the state claims it is “against the law” to sell, possess, or ingest arbitrary substances they deem illegal, does not mean they have the moral ground to kidnap, cage, and rob people to enforce this law. However, because they do, a family watched their hero suffer the last five years of his life being fed through a tube, unable to breathe on his own and another family is watching their son rot away in a cage.
Who did this help?
When trying to prevent future tragic scenarios like this one from happening again, we must ask ourselves these hard questions. Who was “protected” the day 12 cops kicked in Hardy’s door to rob him of his cash and product? What was the net gain to society? Was there a positive effect from these actions? Did Arnold’s death make the citizens of New Orleans safer?
In reality, no one was protected that day. If we look at the current historical overdose epidemic unfolding in the United States, there was certainly no net gain for society. Arnold is dead and Hardy is in jail so there were no positive effects which outweigh these factors. Crack and opioids are still readily available for anyone to purchase throughout the city of New Orleans and crime is on the rise, so no one was made safer.
Unfortunately, most people in positions of authority refuse to see the war on drugs from this angle. Instead, they believe they can wipe out addiction and drug use through the barrel of a gun and completely ignore the fact that this has only made the problem worse. Since the inception of the war on drugs, drug use has gone up and last year marked the largest number of recorded overdose deaths in the history of the United States.
In the war on drugs — drugs are winning.
What the establishment also fails to address while supporting the state’s immoral war on substances is that it violates the very basic of rights — you own your body.
There is arguably no right more basic, more inherent in human nature, than the right to choose what substances to put in one’s own body. If government can tell us what we can and cannot put into our own bodies, what does that say about the ownership of our bodies. It says they own our bodies, that’s what.
Moreover, because many of these substances which the state prohibits can alter our consciousness, this also assumes government ownership over our very thoughts.
In essence, drug use — or nonuse — is your choice and your choice alone because you own your body, your mind, and your thoughts and you alone can choice to alter them.
As renowned psychiatrist Thomas Szasz states, “I favor free trade in drugs for the same reason the Founding Fathers favored free trade in ideas: in a free society it is none of the government’s business what ideas a man puts in his head; likewise, it should be none of its business what drugs he puts into his body.”
If you support a woman’s right to an abortion, you are a hypocrite if you do not support the legalization of all substances. “My body, my choice,” does not stop at the termination of a pregnancy. Conversely, if you support the right to informed consent, and stand against forced vaccination or required medical procedures, you are a hypocrite if you do not support the legalization of all substances. Forcing someone to take a vaccine is not much different in degree than forcing someone to not ingest a substance.
The sooner we understand these basic ideas, the sooner we can focus on harm reduction, addiction treatment, safer substances, and end this violent and vicious cycle of prohibition.
As we have pointed out before, much of the dangers associated with “illegal drugs” would diminish if drugs were legalized and people had the freedom to put what they want into their own bodies. Take cocaine for example, in a legal market, this extract of the coca leaf – which has been safely used for thousands of years by South Americans – would be produced in exact dosages known to the consumer, free from harmful synthetic chemicals.
If people could go to the store and buy a bit of cocaine, as they can buy alcohol, we could expect the demand for dangerous synthetic versions like flakka and meth to be reduced or non-existent.
Prohibition does nothing to curb the supply or the demand of drugs, but it does enrich the corporatocracy and gives the State immense power over our personal freedom. It also creates a void in the demands for drugs and those voids are filled with even more dangerous substances like synthetic opioids which killed nearly 100,000 people last year.
We should have learned the lesson that prohibition only causes greater harm, during the miserable attempt at alcohol prohibition from 1920 to 1933. When government attempted to ban alcohol, its production and distribution shifted to the black market, and people suffered and died.
Reports of blindness and death were common as people attempted to make their own alcohol but failed to realize the dangerous by-products that can be produced. Bootleg alcohol fueled violent criminal gangs exploiting prohibition for financial gain. We are seeing the exact same scenario play out today and government is either none-the-wiser, or complicit in the criminal activity or the profit generated from the police state.
This has played out over and over like a broken record for the past 6 decades and the problem has only gotten worse.
There’s a saying about doing something over and over again and expecting different results, being the mark of insanity. Prohibition is the perfect demonstration of this which is why it must end, today.
If it had ended five years ago, officer Stephen Arnold could have spent the last five years solving real crimes instead of putting himself in harm’s way in the state’s relentless pursuit to own your body and mind.