alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

Editorial: It's Not About Public Safety

National shyster-in-chief (aka "drug czar") John Walters has done it again. Walters' "drugged driving" initiative calls for "zero tolerance" for driving under the influence. "It's about public safety," Walters claims.

Not only is the initiative not about public safety. It's not even about driving while drugged.

Smoke marijuana on a Saturday night, for example. Drive on that Sunday. Guilty. For that matter, smoke a week before. Guilty. Neither situation has anything to do with driving under the influence -- marijuana's components simply remain in the bloodstream for awhile after it is used, days or weeks after the high disappears. But head drug propagandist Walters isn't interested in that. He wants zero tolerance, for its own sake.

Not only will Walters' so-called "drugged driving" campaign not target real cases of impaired driving -- existing laws already do that -- it may actually deflect resources away them. Instead of monitoring the roads for truly dangerous drivers -- dangerous from alcohol, illegal drugs, insufficient sleep, carelessness or poor judgment -- police will be asked to indiscriminately round up all sorts of other people whose driving may be absolutely fine.

It is an insult to the many victims of drunk or careless driving. But it is not surprising, not at all. This is, after all, the drug czar whose TV ads equate drug use with supporting terrorism -- even though it is the government's prohibition that causes drug profits to sometimes be available to terrorists -- an insult to the victims of terrorism and to the American people as a whole. And this is the administration that put time and money that could have gone into investigating terrorist cells or protective measures, into raiding medical marijuana clubs that serve the sick and dying instead -- an insult to California's voters who approved medical marijuana, and a dagger in the face of all that is good and decent.

None of those things were about public safety; they arguably make us less safe. Certainly California's medical marijuana patients are less safe. And as someone who has "held the keys" and served as designated driver on more than my share of occasions, I'm entitled to say that I will feel less safe if drug czar Walters' "drugged driving" proposals becomes reality. So who will protect us from John Walters?

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.