This Week at The Center 2-1-07 - An unholy partnership with the "Partnership for a Drug-Free America"

I was disappointed and angered to read, in the latest weekly message from the GLBTQ Community Center, an article reporting that "we are pleased to join with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America to educate Californians about the negative impact of methamphetamine use."

  The PDFA is an evil, lying organization that has demonized tens of millions of innocent Americans, including many in the queer community, for their peaceful personal lifestyle choices. It has even more egregiously contributed to a public climate that allows the incarceration of millions who have done nothing more than deciding what to put into their own bodies and engaging in voluntary transactions with other consenting adults. The organization has wasted hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, donations, and resources that could have gone to better causes, without appreciably reducing the usage of banned substances in the United States. But its attempts to deliver "one anti-drug message per household per day" including messages about marijuana "making one into a terrorist" (see Wikipedia entry below) are like a steady drip of poison into the American bloodstream. This massive propaganda effort has surely played a part in the U.S. having a greater percentage of its people behind bars than in any other country in the world, including places like China, Iran, and North Korea.

  In the absence of this ongoing campaign to sustain the cruel, destructive and wasteful "War on Drugs" by keeping the public in a state of fear, trying to educate people about the real dangers of methamphetamine would be an entirely laudable effort. Even as the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terrorism" start to overlap, to the further erosion of civil liberties, one might argue that ad campaigns specifically focused on warning people about the dangers of crystal meth, an admittedly harmful substance, are no worse than movies warning people about the dangers of Islamic terrorism. The former, one might say, are no more threatening to responsible users of meth and other drugs than the latter are to moderate, peaceful Muslims.

  But even if you accept that logic, it still wouldn't excuse partnering with the likes of Jerry Falwell to make movies about Islamic terrorism. And that's the equivalent of what The GLBTQ Center is doing by partnering with the PDFA to promote their message about meth. They are Drug Warriors through and through, with all the wreckage of broken families and inner city gang violence blood on their hands that this implies. If Josef Goebbels had been a non-profit director instead of a Nazi propaganda minister, he would have felt right at home working for the PDFA.

  It's hard to say what's more disturbing -- the possibility that the Center has embraced this despicable organization in order to increase its chances of getting more funding from a federal government bent on demonizing drugs -- or the possibility that money *wasn't* the motivation.

Love & Liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>
    Vice-Chair, Libertarian Party of San Francisco
      The Partnership for a FREE America

From the Wikipedia entry on the "Partnership for a Drug-Free America":

"[The PDFA] first entered the wider public consciousness in 1987 , with its This is Your Brain on Drugs broadcast and print public service advertisements (PSAs), which used the analogy that if a person's brain is an egg, then using drugs would be like frying it. This, in addition to a PSA where a television, a trip to Paris and a new car all disappear right under the nose of a cocaine user and another about how a drug-induced high is like diving into an empty swimming pool, were all praised in a speech given to those involved executively with PDFA by then-President George H W Bush in late 1989 .

"PDFA has a relatively small number of full-time staff, who manage the volunteer efforts of research firms, advertising agencies and the media. From whom PDFA receives donated television and radio spots [1] and pro bono advertising time for them plus advertising space for posters, all in a fairly similar manner to the war bond drive during the Second World War . Overall media efforts are directed at achieving the objective of getting a million Dollars a day in donated time and space. Hypothetically, this results in the delivery of approximately one anti-drug message per household per day. All major national media are visited personally by PDFA staff to monitor the program. State and local braodcasting programs are also developed by sending sales representatives, who cajol them into donating further air time for PSAs. Companies that offer their services for free or corporations that donate funds are able to benefit commercially by disseminating PDFA's message, via increased brand visibility and writing off donations as tax breaks, as well as receive gains to their publc image. PDFA also participates in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, co-ordinated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). At the core of which is a paid advertising program featuring messages produced by PDFA, who donates all PSAs to the campaign.

"The organization's tracking research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and directed by the Gordon S Black Corporation. The annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS) uses a centrally located sampling to evaluate attitudes toward narcotics amongst pre-teens, teenagers and adults.

"PDFA was the subject of criticism when it was revealed that their federal tax returns showed that they had received several million dollars worth of funding from major pharmaceutical ,tobacco and alcohol corporations, an issue which has been linked to the organization's lack of media discouraging the misuse of legal drugs. From 1997 it has discontinued any fiscal association with tobacco and alcohol suppliers, although it still is in receipt of donations from pharmaceutical producers.

"Several of its PSAs have been criticised for being misleading, sometimes deliberately. Most notably, it was forced to discontinue one which purportedly showed a flat-lining EEG read-out of a drug user's brain, which, in fact, it was not at all. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) also called into question another PSA, which linked statistics relating to violent crime and marijuana use.

"Drug counselling organizations involved with outreach, have also felt that PDFA's hardline stance against all illegal drugs is unhelpful to their work, believing that PDFA tends to demonize narcotics use beyond what observation would support and thus can result in a loss of trust by young people when their personal observations of drug use fail to agree with the image that PDFA puts forth.

"More recently, an attempt by PDFA to conflate the War on Drugs with the War on Terrorism through PSAs that attempted to show causal links between drug trafficking and terrorist groups, was also criticised due to the links pointed out being quite weak and broad, (as well as being applicable to numerous consumer products) and that they seemed to ignore the fact that the Taliban had actually been virulently opposed to opium poppy growers in Afghanistan . By focusing on the repercussions of the narcotics trade (As opposed to the drugs themselves), the PSAs have also created an opportunity to recommend legalization and regulation as a means of removing criminal elements from the trade, an idea that PDFA has rejected.

"Some of the campaigns run by the PDFA have been either satirized or referred to in popular media.

"In the comedy film Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle ,John Cho and Kal Penn 's characters are watching the Harmless PSA whilst intoxicated from marijuana. The advertisement in question features two young boys smoking marijuana; one of them handles a gun and then fatally shoots the other child.

"The South Park episode " My Future Self 'n' Me " reflects on some campaigns run by the PDFA. A couple of exaggerations such as "pot making one into a terrorist" and the infamous "Harmless" commercial are mentioned.

"An episode of Robot Chicken parodied the 1998 version of the This is Your Brain on Drugs PSA, where Rachael Leigh Cook destroys the egg, then the kitchen, and promptly goes on a rampage in a residential area, hitting everything (and everyone) in sight with her frying pan."