Pe­dia light

The Freeman - - OPINION -

There is a dis­con­nect in our na­tion’s drug pol­icy. The Palace spokesman thinks it’s good idea for chil­dren to take manda­tory drug tests. Not only does it fol­low the gov­ern­ment’s re­lent­less drive against the drug men­ace, but sup­pos­edly, par­ents would want to know if their kids are do­ing drugs.

How con­vinc­ing is that? The best way to test would prob­a­bly be to ask the par­ents them­selves. Is this some­thing they wel­come? That a ran­dom gov­ern­ment of­fi­cer can just ap­proach their child and test them? And not get any di­rec­tion from par­ents to see if they think it’s a great idea? Is this not fun­da­men­tally a de­ci­sion that should be left with the par­ent?

If a par­ent ob­jects, can the gov­ern­ment over­ride the de­ci­sion? Why force the par­ent and child? Is this not a vi­o­la­tion of their pri­vacy and Con­sti­tu­tional rights and a gross ex­er­cise of state power?

The spokesman says it can be done un­der the doc­trine of parens pa­triae. That is a le­gal doc­trine sup­port­ing the prin­ci­ple that the state will act like the par­ent of its cit­i­zens, and force all its ci­ti­zen-chil­dren to do what is best be­cause fa­ther knows best! It’s like re­quir­ing all cit­i­zens to un­dergo mass in­oc­u­la­tion against a dis­ease, or de­cid­ing to pros­e­cute a rapist even if the vic­tim’s par­ents don’t want neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity.

Parens pa­triae is a fluid, le­gal con­cept and can be in­ter­preted many ways. Ul­ti­mately, it will be the Supreme Court that will de­fine its lim­its, and get­ting a rul­ing that state-forced drug test­ing for kids is il­le­gal mi­gra­tion might take years. Mean­while, this gov­ern­ment in­tends to waste re­sources by pur­su­ing mass tests on the sec­tor least likely to use drugs.

Re­ally, my tax money will be de­voted to catch­ing kids on drugs? Why not adults?

Mean­while, let’s jux­ta­pose the gov­ern­ment at­ti­tude to­wards drug test­ing of chil­dren ver­sus drug test­ing for po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates.

For can­di­dates, our gov­ern­ment isn’t gung-ho about manda­tory tests. The spokesman said it might vi­o­late the Con­sti­tu­tion if drug agen­cies forced them to do so.

Say what? Why would the Con­sti­tu­tion care if the of­fi­cial is forced to take a drug test if it can­not pro­tect a 10-year-old from be­ing forced to take it?

The in­con­sis­tency in at­ti­tude to­wards dif­fer­ent sec­tors in so­ci­ety is trou­bling. We can force drug tests on kids, but not on politi­cians? What is the rea­son for such dis­par­ity?

The ex­pla­na­tion is that there are al­ready cer­tain cri­te­ria im­posed by the Con­sti­tu­tion for can­di­dates, and the ex­ec­u­tive branch can­not add qual­i­fi­ca­tions. It would be un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Well, there’s an easy so­lu­tion for that! Let all those who fail drug tests con­tinue run­ning for of­fice (mean­ing don’t dis­qual­ify them), but pros­e­cute them for their crimes, if need be. Track them for use and abuse. Fig­ure out their sup­pli­ers and ac­com­plices, and catch them in the act. And let the elec­torate know whether those politi­cians did or did not break the law. Now there wouldn’t be any­thing con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­hib­ited about that, right?

That’s much bet­ter use of gov­ern­ment funds. And it will show con­sis­tency from this ad­min­is­tra­tion that has talked tough ver­sus drugs. You want to catch drug­gies? What bet­ter way to set an ex­am­ple than purge from within?

Let us wait for our gov­ern­ment to stand firm, and demon­strate to us that there is nei­ther fear nor fa­vor in their sup­posed war against drugs. Is this a war that the state can wage within the very midst of the ranks of the pow­er­ful and rich? Or just against in­no­cent, de­fense­less kids?

Let not “pa­thetic” be the end­ing to this story.

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