Friday, November 11, 2011

David Laffer and the War on Drugs

An American veteran who was involved in the first invasion of Iraq shot four people in a pharmacy in Long Island in the course of a robbery aimed to net medications for himself and his wife. He had lost his job. She evidently was going through withdrawals.

From the Washington Post:

'Laffer said he committed the robbery because he had lost his job, and his wife required not only painkillers but also blood pressure medicine, anti-nausea pills and muscle relaxants.'

He claimed that he did not intend to kill any one, that the shootings occurred when he lost control of the situation in a panic. This is no defence in law, of course, as any killing committed in the course of a felony is considered to be murder, irrespective of the mens rea of the individual.

What is interesting about this sad and rather sordid case is the national outrage that it has sparked in the U.S. both among members of the legal profession involved in the prosecution, conviction and sentencing and with respect to the general public.

The New York Post published a quote in which some one referred to David Laffer and his wife as 'diseased rats'. They threw the proverbial book at both defendants when they sentenced them but that did not suffice to diminish the fury of those who considered the crime to be more heinous than any committed by an individual who was not unfortunate enough to be addicted to drugs.

I expect that my attitude on this will be extremely unpopular but I felt I had to go on record as declaring that drug addiction is a MEDICAL PROBLEM and should not be a LEGAL issue.

Furthermore, who taught David Laffer to kill in the first place? He was a soldier in the first infamous invasion of Iraq and thus conditioned to the use of a firearm! This fact is not mentioned by any of the news articles that deal with the case.

The government tells a man that he will be a hero if he kills people. Both Iraqi invasions have been filled with incidents of mass murder of civilians by U.S. and Allied Troops. David Laffer evidently led a fairly quiet, normal life after his return from the killing fields of Iraq... until he lost his job.

No, there is absolutely NO justification for his actions whatsoever, and there are programmes, however inadequate, that exist to help drug addicts in the States when they are going through withdrawals. Even so, the vitriolic response in this case by the prosecutors, judge and general public with respect to the man and his wife is prompted by their addiction to drugs rather than the actual crimes. This can be seen in the actual quotes by individuals who award Laffer and his wife invariably with descriptions demoting them from human to 'animal'. (Not that animals are inferior to human beings in my view. Quite the contrary.)

In the same way that the so-called 'war on terrorism' refuses to deal with the underlying causes of international disgust with American foreign policies, those involved with the case of David Laffer and his wife fail even to address the spurious nature of the 'war on drugs' and its role in these killings. If David and his wife could have obtained the medications and/or drugs they needed, there would have been no robbery of the chemist and no murders. Yet, I have not seen a single article by the American press that addresses THIS topic.

It is interesting to see how the era of 'Prohibition' has been romanticised since the laws that made alcohol illegal were repealed. What is the difference between illegal alcoholic substances and illegal drugs? None whatsoever except the legislation that governs their acquisition and use. What is the difference between legal drugs and illegal drugs? None except the legislation that places them in one category or another. Why should it be so difficult to obtain LEGAL DRUGS? People can mouth platitudes about the 'dangerous' quality of certain substances but it seems to me that an adult should be responsible for his or her own safety and not be subjected to the stranglehold of the AMA. The American Medical Association is not as much concerned with the actual SAFETY of the general public as it is by financial considerations. Malpractice suits are one concern and the ability to CONTROL the dispensation of medications absolutely is another. The AMA is not about to relinquish THAT monopoly.

What if an individual could go into a local pharmacy/chemist and simply BUY whatever he or she needed at a reasonable price? It is not simply narcotics that can be prohibitively expensive but other life-saving medications, whether for heart disease or high blood pressure. There are an unconscionable number of individuals who have to choose between food and medication. The government's answer is to provide an HMO for EVERY ONE, but that is nonsense. The HMO system is beggaring the U.S. as well as placing the safety and welfare of the general public in the hands of arbitrary organisations whose sole concern is their own financial profit.

People have begun to awaken from their lethargy. Where the crimes of international banking is concerned, there are quite a few who actually have taken to the streets in protest. The 'Occupy Wall Street' may be the most famous of these, but it is not by any means the only protest.

It is time to bring down the HMO system and to loosen the control of the American Medical Association. People need to be more proactive where their own health is concerned. Doctors are NOT Gods nor even demigods unless you cede them the power of life and death. There is a saying to the effect that there is nothing a doctor hates more than some one who has access to Web M.D. and other internet sites that allow patients to research their own health issues. Well, it is time for the general public to recognise that they must curtail the power of the medical profession to give or withhold medications and to dispense sentences of life or death to lowly individuals who do not own medical degrees.

The media that has been covering the cases of David Laffer and his wife should take the opportunity to discuss the social underlying CAUSES of crimes like these rather than glorying in a holier-than-thou attitude of fury and outrage.

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