The Chronicle's "Casualties of the drug war" editorial (May 25) distorts the truth about the movement in America to extend individual liberty and limit the use of legal force upon U.S. citizens.
Your examples of violence that harm innocent people are indeed factual cases taken from the war on drugs. But you confuse who it is who aggresses against the innocent and ignore the reason for the aggression.
Why are the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, filled with drug lords and exposed to violence? Why have 20,000 people along the border with Mexico died in the past three years due to drug violence? Marijuana is a plant, a weed of literally no value to those of us who do not smoke. As with any product, its value rises according to demand, and as the law makes this plant more scarce than its abundance would otherwise make it, its value on the market rises proportionally.
The violence you depict and the innocent victims you rightfully decry are results of an artificial market created by the very laws you promote. Marijuana, cocaine and their cousins -- as with barley or malt or wheat -- are agricultural products that can be made into substances that some will misuse.
You say it is "preposterous" to argue that illegality causes the problem in the drug trade, and you make a comparison to rape. But you ignore the reality that rape has a victim who did not consent to the attack; drug use is almost always a choice made by the individual, for better or for worse.
The laws are the problem, and the governments who make them are the aggressors. What would happen if, in an era of increasingly worthless Federal Reserve notes, our government once again made possession of gold illegal? Does gold create "casualties," as you say illegal drugs do? It does not now, but it would if the government forbade Americans from owning it.
The problem is out-of-control government, not drugs. We must create a society in which individuals are free to do as each thinks best, and is then held responsible -- sober or otherwise -- for the consequences of those choices.