Monday, January 11, 2016

Sean Penn Is Right: The War on Drugs Has Failed ... by gimleteye

In various forums, the actor/activist/writer Sean Penn is being excoriated -- along with Rolling Stone Magazine -- for his October 2015 interview, just published, with "El Chapo" -- the Mexican drug warlord, recently captured by Mexican law enforcement.

Rolling Stone is chastised for sullying its reputation with "click bait" reporting that fails to meet the standards of journalistic excellence. Penn, for a facile and decidedly non-journalistic report a clandestine meeting with the world's most notorious fugitive, that may or may not violate legal or moral standards.

I am a writer and also an activist. I respect Penn's record of engagement and passion for causes like the on-going crisis in Haiti. I also respect how Penn, who is otherwise ambivalent about fame, does not hesitate to use his celebrity in service of causes he advocates. No big-name Hollywood star in memory, not Marlon Brando or anyone else, comes close to Penn's willingness to put reputation, time, energy and his own money on the line for what he believes in.

As it happens, Penn is more of a memoirist than a journalist. But his points of view are always interesting, book-ended for readers by his excellence as a film actor. Moreover, for not being a professional journalist or that the standards of his El Chapo report for Rolling Stone come closer to an atmosphere piece than revelatory of new facts, in no way diminishes the value of his views.

Penn is not a bad writer. He is -- as most great actors are -- an acute observer. He is also opinionated on social issues, and who can argue with him; here, in Rolling Stone:
"There is little dispute that the War on Drugs has failed: as many as 27,000 drug-related homicides in Mexico alone in a single year, and opiate addiction on the rise in the U.S. Working in the emergency and development field in Haiti, I have countless times been proposed theoretical solutions to that country's ailments by bureaucratic agencies unfamiliar with the culture and incongruities on the ground. Perhaps in the tunnel vision of our puritanical and prosecutorial culture that has designed the War on Drugs, we have similarly lost sight of practice, and given over our souls to theory. At an American taxpayer cost of $25 billion per year, this war's policies have significantly served to kill our children, drain our economies, overwhelm our cops and courts, pick our pockets, crowd our prisons and punch the clock. Another day's fight is lost. And lost with it, any possible vision of reform, or recognition of the proven benefits in so many other countries achieved through the regulated legalization of recreational drugs."

You might not like Sean Penn's politics, or wish he would stick to either being an actor or an activist, but on this point -- that the war on drugs has failed -- you won't get any argument from many, many readers. As for "El Chapo" himself, the central observation by Penn: that he is unrepentant for supplying toxic drugs for which there is no diminished demand -- Penn draws attention to the failure of government to responsibly address the manifold reasons users seek alternate realities, whether in industrialized or developing nations. For stepping into that breach, Sean Penn and Rolling Stone earn respect.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/el-chapo-speaks-20160109#ixzz3wsXKSaYW
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how you feel on the war on drugs, El Chapo is a ruthless killer.

Anonymous said...

This is the same Sean Penn who hugged Hugo Chavez and thought he was all that. He's an attention seeking moron, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Above Anon: many people share your opinion.

Anonymous said...

There are tens of millions of morons around the planet who use drugs who must realize their purchase is not a sanitary transaction and
government policy that sets the stage... Thanks for the link....
Steve Hagan

Anonymous said...

Sean Penn is a clueless idiot.

Anonymous said...

Sean Penn..... "A great actor"?

Anonymous said...

Hopefully he will end up in jail for this stupid attention-getting stunt. He is not a journalist and is therefore not offered any protection. Even better, he may end up in a Mexican jail.

Anonymous said...

Sean Penn was on the front line in New Orleans after Katrina, saving people's lives while Bush snuggled under his covers in Texas. He slept in a tent with the people of Haiti while we cranked up our air conditioners to avoid the heat. He's a socialist, but if you took part in the public school system or plan on taking social security, so are you!!! At least he gets out there and does things he believes in rather staying at home judging others. For someone to say he's "clueless", well, we're all waiting for non-judgement day!

snooker said...

who does sean penn think he is,GERALDO ......