Here is the definition: VISH-ee--aay-shun 1. To reduce the value or impair the quality of. 2. To corrupt morally; debase. 3. To make ineffective; invalidate. See Synonyms at corrupt.

Today, in all the national newspapers, there was a quite remarkable double-truck advertisement which you may have seen, but probably won't remember. It followed along after the other full-page ads: Bloomingdale's bras, A "Year 2000" ad which I still cannot fathom, two self-congratulatory ads by Sprint, Continental Airlines touting frequent fliers, and then this quite remarkable one (here's the headline as it appeared):


The accompanying letter and the, perhaps, 2000 signatures on the adjacent page, endorsed a scientific investigation of the actual, and perhaps vitiating, results of the worldwide "war on drugs." Here are a few excerpts from the letter: (They start by professing their concern about the threat drugs pose to children and call for everyone to work together intelligently): Note: "drug industry" refers to "illegal" drugs.

"Every year governments enact more punitive and costly drug control measures. Every day politicians endorse harsher new drug war strategies. What is the result?" Drug Industry receipts topped $400 billion in 1997 and that represents almost ten percent of ALL international trade. Plus, the drug industry "has empowered criminal organizations, corrupted governments at all levels, eroded national security, stimulated violence, and distorted both economic markets and moral values. These are the consequences not of drug use per se, but of decades of failed and futile drug war policies."

The signers made the case that failed drug strategies have impaired health care research into HIV, hepatitis and other widely spreading world diseases; that human rights are routinely violated in the name of the the war against drugs; that environmental protections are routinely swept aside, with devastating results; that prisons are "inundated;" and most importantly, that scarce resources are squandered on this patently futile and debilitating crusade at the sad expense of health, education and economic development, which together would do more to lift all societies than another hundred years of merely, "rhetorical proposals to create drug-free societies."

The signers went on: "Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse, more empowerment of drug markets and criminals, and more disease and suffering." They said that calling for new approaches should never be labeled "surrendering," and they said that, "true surrender is when fear and inertia combine to shut off debate, suppress critical analysis, and dismiss all alternatives to current policies."

The letter was addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations as the UN began, that week, its once-a-decade review of all the policies on its books.

The signatures included physicians, professors, elected officials, scientists, corporate leaders, human rights advocates, law enforcement officials and educators, former heads of state, lawyers, judges, TV broadcasters, psychiatrists, economists, criminologists... well, you get the idea.

Basically, they were saying that the War on Drugs has become the biggest human rights abuser in the world today, rampaging like Godzilla through our schools, our societies, and through our individual lives. It is, to them, a monster out of control that must be stopped, and the sooner the better.

That's an interesting opinion, don't you think? (Especially in full page advertisements all over the world.)

(At the bottom of the ad is the following small type: "This letter was coordinated by The Lindesmith Center. These names represent only a portion of the many who signed. If you wish to join in signing this letter, contact The Lindesmith Center, 400 W. 59th Street, New York, NY 10019 or fax 212-548-4670. For a complete list of signers, go to Titles and affiliations are for identification purposes only.")


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