Flashbacks: November 17, 2006

The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966.
By FLASHBACKS  |  November 15, 2006

Fight terrorism, not weed | 5 years ago | November 16, 2001 | Harvey Silverglate made a convincing case for ending the war on drugs once and for all.
“The nation is engaged in a historic and vital debate these days: how much liberty must we sacrifice to attain security in the wake of the September 11 hijackings and subsequent anthrax attacks? In the name of security, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Department of Justice has implemented procedures, apparently without much criticism or resistance, for carrying out actions such as secret arrests, indeterminate detentions, and, more recently, eavesdropping on communications between arrestees and their lawyers without a court order. But he’s failed to propose the one initiative that would substantially increase liberty and public safety, and would do so almost instantly: ending the war on drugs.

“Since the Nixon Administration, the federal government, aided by local law enforcement efforts in all 50 states, has fought a ‘war on drugs’ that has burned through an unfathomable amount of money, decimated both privacy rights previously guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment and criminal procedure due-process rights assured by the Fifth, and turned millions of otherwise productive and law-abiding citizens into felons. Indeed, by branding so many with felony convictions, the war on drugs has deprived more citizens of the right to vote than any electoral anomalies such as Palm Beach County’s famed ‘butterfly ballot’ in the last presidential election. . . .

“The war on drugs has been enormously costly and self-destructive. The terrorist assault on our homeland should, at long last, focus our attention and our resources on the things that really count. We can no longer afford to conduct a war on drugs that drains scarce public resources while assaulting our own citizens’ rights. As we look around for ways to enhance security while preserving liberty, we need to remember the observation suggested by the old Pogo comic strip: ‘We have met the enemy, and it is us.’ We need to focus on the real enemy. The war on drugs should end.”

Show me the money | 10 years ago | November 15, 1996 |Bill Simmons argued that colleges should pay their student athletes.
“Everyone is wondering how the Boston College gambling scandal could have happened, but nobody is trying to explain why it happened. This isn’t about an absence of moral, or a loss of innocence, or athletes representing society’s worst. It’s a wake-up call. And if people listen, it could be a chance to fix a broken system.

“If colleges paid their athletes, maybe the players wouldn’t feel the need to jeopardize their scholarships by making petty $20 bets or even — gasp! — betting against their own team. This isn’t the 1930s with gentleman athletes and eight-game schedules. It’s 1996, and big money’s at stake.”

Paradise lose | 15 years ago | November 15, 1991 | Tim Sandler discussed the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest along the Atlantic coast. 
“Sergipe, Brazil — Clovis Franco speaks of Brazil’s Atlantic rain forest as if it were a terminally ill friend.  His words are steeped in sorrow and anger because the forest’s lush tranquility, the backdrop for his childhood, is vanishing before his eyes at the hands of ‘greedy’ politicians and developers.

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