Hell No, I Won't Go

End the War on Drugs

photo: James Hamilton

According to the drug warriors, I and my ilk are personally responsible not only for the deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix but for the crack crisis. Taken literally, this is scurrilous nonsense: the counterculture never looked kindly on hard drugs, and the age of crack is a product not of the '60s but of Reaganism. Yet there's a sense in which I do feel responsible. Cultural radicals are committed to extending freedom, and that commitment, by its nature, is dangerous. It encourages people to take risks, some of them foolish or worse. It arouses deep longings that, if disappointed, may plunge people into despair (surely one aspect of the current demoralization of black youth is the peculiar agony of thwarted revolution). If I support the struggle for freedom, I can't disclaim responsibility for its costs; I can only argue that the costs of suppressing freedom are, in the end, far higher. All wars are hell. The question remains which ones are worth fighting.

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