By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
On one side, the moral entrepreneurs preach abstinence and promote laws that wreck the lives of countless Americans while using the courts and these same dictates to destroy every vestige of our legacy as a free and free-thinking people. They want to know what goes on in your home, where and how you spend your money, and what you do with your body and your time. In the form of drug testing, they now attempt to see inside your body, for God's sake. What could be more un-American?
I have little doubt that were America's founders alive today, they would cringe at what we've let their wonderful idea become. King George would blush at the tactics we allow our government employees to use in pursuit of those who consume illegal drugs.
On the other side of the drug war are those who provide illegal drugs, an industry of massive proportions that attempts to satisfy the world's lust for the products it produces. The United Nations estimates that in 1997, worldwide trade in illicit drugs amounted to $400 billion per year, or 8 percent of the global economy. Law enforcement acknowledges that it only intercepts a minute fraction of illegal drugs that are sold around the globe, but we continue the fight undeterred, as though somehow, through some miracle, these insane policies someday just may succeed, even though we're no closer to a solution after throwing over a trillion dollars at this disaster.
Although there are other ways of controlling these substances, Americans are rarely allowed to hear the ideas true drug-policy professionals propose. Instead, we must let generals, bureaucrats, political appointees and legislators -- who, more often than not, know very little concerning the substances they attempt to control -- direct the War on Drugs. If that's not enough, the vast majority of "educators" we pay to teach our people about these drugs probably know less than that. That basically defines U.S. drug policy: the blind leading the blind.
Fresh ideas have no place within our current system. Why? Money, and lots of it, on both sides of the issue -- for those who fight drugs and those who supply these illegal substances, with the taxpayer's wallet caught dead in the middle.
In for life:On November 8, Westword published David Holthouse's story about me, "This Thug's Life." I wasn't too happy with the responses the story got back. This interview was to get the attention of younger kids who look up to gangs. But some of you dumb-ass idiots can't read too well.
I am taking full responsibility for my actions, and I made my own choice, which happened to be a fucked-up choice. I am not seeking sympathy from others, so get that straight. Hopefully kids will realize that this is not the route to go. I'm trying to let them know the reality and the outcome of being down for a gang.
Oh, and for the record, I never wanted to be an NSM, 'cause I am already a BAP, and I'm not no buster.
End of the line: Just as there is no happy beginning to this story, there will be no happy ending, either. By no means am I ignorant to Frank's lifestyle. I sat in on family sessions at Jefferson Hills (a youth-detention facility); I did try to use my past experiences to show Frank the sorrow, pain and wasted youth. No one really knows the personal defeat that I feel. I saw where he was headed and I did everything I could to try and show him the positive ways of life.
What happened to Brandy DuVall was a senseless tragedy that may have been done by a certain gang. This rape/murder shocked everyone, including other street gangs. Frank and Andrew both knew Brandy from breakdancing; they still keep her memory alive. There is a world on the streets that most people wouldn't believe exists. We didn't ask for this world, but we do our best to survive. Some get out -- some get deeper.
If anyone has a niece, nephew, neighbor or your very own child that you suspect might be on the wrong road, please do whatever it takes to save them. I've cried a river over Frank. I know that he could've chosen a better life.
Paying the price: In response to the letters in Westword: First of all, Frank is not a thug. He is one of the nicest persons you have the good luck to meet and very trusting with others. You people that condemn him, I want you to reflect on this: "There but by the grace of God go I." Because it can happen to you or yours. We never thought this would ever happen, either.
Don't throw the first stone 'cause it might come back and hit you in the face. Frank made a big mistake and he knows that, but he can't go back and erase it, as much as he wishes. He is paying dearly -- by the cowards that ran over him with their car and almost killed him. He is left disabled for life. You see, what goes around comes around. It can happen to anyone. Chill.