Monday, July 6, 2009

"Drug Free Zones"

The Brunswick Town Council, at the request of the Police Department, is pondering adding to the list of "Drug Free Zones" in town.

Wonderful; who would argue with reducing the dangers of illegal drug activity, and especially as it threatens our children and general order in public places.

Let's be clear on a few things, though. Calling a zone "Drug Free" because government declares it so is an unfortunate abuse of plain language in the public discourse. It's about as impossible to make a zone drug free as it is to make a stretch of highway "speeding free." All you can do is increase the penalties associated with such behavior, and hope that the would be perpetrators choose not to engage in it. In truth, "Drug Free" zones will be "Elevated Penalty Zones."

Then there's the other side of the coin: what should we call those zones not labeled "Drug Free?" Are they "Drug Rich Zones?" Or "Drug Availability Zones?" Or "Preferred Drug Zones?"

Despite what many think, land mines used by the military are not always deployed to blow up people or things, but rather to "shape the battlefield" by influencing the movement and restricting the location of the opposition.

Will it turn out that Drug Free Zones have the unintended consequence of concentrating drug use and dealing in particular areas?

Which then leads to this obvious question: why isn't the entire town of Brunswick being declared a "Drug Free Zone," so that the elevated penalties apply no matter where the offense is committed?

Not doing so is akin to the distortions of "Hate Crime" legislation, which begs the issue of whether there is such a thing as a "Love Crime."

Above all, let's ask that our public servants use the English language in the way it is intended, and minimize the misconceptions that flow from their deliberations and decisions.

No comments:

Post a Comment