Sunday, May 07, 2006

The rapists are meeting next week in Cancun.

Last week, at the International Harm Reduction Association conference in Vancouver, B.C., over 100 activists representing more than a dozen different "drug user groups" worldwide took the opportunity to form a self-help coalition, to be known as the International Drug User Activists Congress (IDUAC)*. This new group will "lay the groundwork for increased coordination among user activist groups" who seek "an end to human rights violations against drug users," according to news reports of the events. Determined to ensure that their voices are "heard loud and clear," today's (ab)users feel compelled to take a direct hand in matters; seems the non-using professionals now in charge just aren't getting the job done. As one IDUAC spokesperson noted, "Drug users are one of the most marginalized and stigmatized groups in the community...." A position paper circulated at the meeting says it's "time to raise our voices as citizens...striving for self-representation and self-empowerment." The paper goes on to note that drug-user organizations have already contributed mightily to making drug policies "more responsive to drug user needs."

This is an intriguing phenomenon. On the one hand, the new coalition clearly isn't just a bunch of potheads sitting around comparing war wounds, as it were; these folks are out for action--to effect meaningful change. This, in other words, is a manifestation of true empowerment. On the other hand, they're seeking their empowerment on the basis of a form of alleged victimization with which many observers might take issue. They're selling the notion that--as drug users--they're not violators of the social contract, but rather victims of it. Having broken society's rules, they now want to claim they're being oppressed by society's penalties. This strikes me as a new wrinkle on that old chestnut about the kid who kills his mother, then asks the court for special treatment on the grounds that he's an orphan.

Then again, is such an argument much of a surprise anymore, given Alcoholics Anonymous' 70-year erosion of traditional perspectives on seriously nonconforming behavior? Look at the progression: Pre-AA, alcoholism was a character flaw, a vice. Then, thanks largely to AA, it became a disease, whose sufferers deserved extra consideration (often at society's expense) as they attempted to "get well again." Now this latest group of substance abusers doesn't even want to get well again: They expect society to take them as they are, by God. And if you don't like it, it's your problem.

By the way, I apologize for the title of this post, which some may deem insensitive. But...is it really that far over the top, considering what's happening here?

* You'd think they could've come up with a better acronym. How 'bout the Society for Taking Our Narcotics Every Day (STONED)?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The title surely has its shock value. However, this new uprising of potheads claiming they are victims is just hillarious.

Where do you find this stuff?