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#rockreform10: keith brown on drug war propaganda and the rockefeller drug laws

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Keith Brown on Drug War Propaganda and the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Filter Magazine Op-Ed


Photo by Vincent Delegge on Unsplash


Our new contribution for the #RockReform10 project comes from our Director of Health and Harm Reduction, Keith Brown. In his opinion piece for Filter Magazine, he discusses three widely distributed stories from the past couple of months and the way in which they illustrate the profound ways in which the media perpetuates harmful myths and acts as a propaganda arm of the ongoing, failed War on Drugs.

In each case, information presented as fact was either untrue from the start, or proven false upon further analysis. Further, each piece of reporting exposed a fundamental flaw in how the media interacts with elected officials and law enforcement—parroting their words without fact-checking or speaking to non-criminal justice experts.

“As we look back, many of us can not help but think about the history of the Rockefeller laws and how they came about. Passed in 1973, just two years after President Nixon launched the War on Drugs, these laws were enacted in the midst of what the media deemed a ‘heroin crisis.’

For well over a century, the media’s role in perpetuating myths about drugs—including the harms of crack versus powder cocaine; the terrifying (and since disproved) notion of a generation of ‘crack babies;’ violent, unrepentant ‘super predator’ tropes; and more—has fed the drive for racist criminalization.   

The media is the means by which most of the general public develops its belief systems in the absence of ‘real-life’ experience of most illegal drugs—and it is those beliefs, reflected in officials elected by the public, that ultimately drive laws and policies.” Considering how bad drug policy reporting has long fed the drug war, continued media scrutiny is vital.

Read Keith’s contribution for #RockReform10 here.

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