From drug detection, undercover infiltration and electronic tracking, to incarcerating those captured and convicted, private companies are cashing in on the War on Some Drugs and profiting from the police state. This new breed of "copitalist" is a powerful force with a strong self-interest in keeping certain drugs illegal and their users vilified.
Many of the groups that profit from the War on Some Drugs are well-known. Federal and state law enforcement agents, for example, depend on the continued War, as do attorneys and others in the so-called ' criminal justice system. Correctional officers (a.k.a. prison guards) are now a powerful political lobby, and everyone knows that tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical companies have a profit motive in keeping other drugs illegal. In this article, I will discuss a number of lesser-known companies and industries that are cashing in on the War on Some Drugs, point out some of the attendant dangers of privatizing the police state, and suggest one possible strategy that might deliver a blow to the very foundation of the War.
TESTING & TRACKING FOR DOLLARSEntheogen users are familiar with the drug-testing industry, an industry intent on using your bodyall of your bodyagainst you. While compelling a person to turn over his or her own tissue and bodily fluids for testing may seem like a flagrant violation of the Fifth Amendment's protection against compelled self-incrimination, the United States Supreme Court has held otherwise, ruling that the Fifth Amendment does not protect against self-incrimination by way of physical evidence, even if forcibly taken. (Schmerber v. California (1966) 384 U.S. 757, 761.) A contrary ruling would have nipped the entire drug-testing industry in the bud.
Products designed to capture and test your urine, blood, breath, and hair, are designed by private companies and marketed to law enforcement agencies and employers intent on drug testing their workforce. This is a multimillion dollar industry, completely dependent on the continued illegality of certain drugs. And. while it's not well-known, pharmaceutical companies are at the apex of the industry. Syva Company, for example, designed the very first immunoassay screen for marijuana. In 1990 (the only year for which I have been able to obtain a figure), drug-testing equipment and chemical reagents grossed pharmaceutical companies over $300 million. (See, C. Skozycki. "Drug-testing Industry Shows its Wares," The Washington Post, Oct. 17. I 990.)
The fact that drug-testing is such big business speaks volumes about the War, and its drug-using "enemies." Most drug testing today is done for the very purpose of identifying who uses illegal drugs. While that is obvious, the point is seldom made that, for the most part, there is no other way to distinguish the typical user of illegal drugs from his or her counterpart who uses legal drugs. While a small percentage of companies drug test only after spotting signs that a particular employee may be using drugs, the vast majority of employers utilize random, suspicionless testing. In other words, were it not for the test results, employers can't tell. This is because users of illegal drugs behave no differently than others. If an employee's job performance was poor, an employer could fire that person regardless of whether he or she uses illegal drugs.
The same goes for most criminal prosecutions of illegal drug users. Drug prosecutions are rarely based on any anti-social or dangerous action by the person, but rather simply on his or her proclivity to control their consciousness in unsanctioned ways. a point made by Richard Miller in his book Drug Warriors and Their Prey:The law identifies drug users through their blood. Also through their excreta... All that matters is a person's blood and excreta. All that matters is the makeup of a person's physical body. Drug law does not care if an illicit user is a beloved schoolteacher who improves a community or a vicious psychopath who tortures victims to death.... The law does not care if tests used to detect illicit drug users fail to demonstrate that users are impaired. The law does not care if users behave in ordinary ways. A statute creating a status crime targets ordinary people. That is its purpose. If illicit drug users acted in ways that distinguished them from nonusers, a status crime statute would be unnecessary. (R. Miller Drug Warriors and Their Prey, p. 9. 1996.)
Pharmaceutical companies and their investors are not the only ones profiting from the drug-testing boon. The prospect of large profits has given birth to smaller companies whose business is to create new and "better" tests capable of detecting an ever-widening range of substances in your most private bodily fluids. (See, 15 TELR 158, for information on a device so sensitive that it can allegedly detect the increased sugar content from a single sugar cube tossed into Australia's Sidney Harbor.)
A new device that can purportedly detect recent use of MDMA (ecstasy) is being developed by Cozart Bioscience, an English company. Cozart's product is a "lollipop" that captures saliva and (crudely) analyzes it for the presence of recently ingested illegal drugs. (J. Boyle & J. Booth, "Lollipop test on the way to catch drivers on drugs" 9 Oct. 1997, The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK.) The lollipop has an absorbent swab on one end that suspects are asked/ordered to lick, thereby capturing a small sample of the suspect's saliva. The sample is then inserted into a small "drugalyser," that returns a positive or negative reading within five minutes. So far, when compared with blood tests as a control, the device is 95 percent accurate. While Cozart touts this as an impressive accuracy rating, the deviceeven by the company's own figuresis horribly inaccurate, falsely accusing one out of every twenty "suckers." While a subsequent confirmation test is required for criminal conviction, officers may arrest people solely because they tailed the lollipop test.
Another new device in the world of drug detection is the Ionscan 400,TM a $55,000 handheld Dustbuster-like device, which police can use to vacuum a suspect's body and clothing. The device, which traps and then tests extremely small traces of illegal drugs, is manufactured and sold by Barringer Instruments Inc. of New Providence, NJ. The company bills it as being more accurate than a drug-sniffing dog that never gets tired or needs food or exercise. The State of Maryland already uses one of these devices to test people who visit or work at Maryland's prisons, and plans to purchase three more units. One recent newspaper article described how the Ionscan 400TM is used:Using the hand-held vacuum, an officer scans skin, clothing or even cash. Particles from what was scanned are captured on a filter about the size of the average index finger. That filter is placed inside a scanner that determines the presence of as many as 20 narcotics.The scanner identifies the narcotics after it has been given a sample of the drugs from what is called a "calibrator stick"something like a tube of lipstick that has particles of the drugs to be searched for. A matter of seconds after the scanner produces resultswhich takes just secondsit reports the presence of drugs. The computer says "pass" or "alarm" after the scanning is complete. ' Maryland aims 'drug buster' at prisons' visitors workers," The Baltimore Sun, 2 Oct. 1997.)
Companies that used to be part of the "military industrial complex" are retooling to get on board the War-on-Some-Drugs gravy train. A company by the name of American Science and Engineering, Inc., (ASE), for example, is making its investors rich by designing and selling super-high-tech x-ray-using devices designed to detect expertly hidden contraband. Last year the company's sales exceeded $30 million, showing a sixty percent growth in revenue. (A. Boadle, "Drug Smuggling a Boon to U.S. X-ray Manufacturer," Reuters, 4 Nov. 1997.)
American Science and Engineering, Inc., (which is publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol "ASE"), recently received a $2.6 million order from an undisclosed agency of the United States government for ten specially enhanced Model 101Z vans equipped with ASE's proprietary Z Backscatter X-ray detection equipment. This equipment is able to detect organic substances, such as drugs, concealed in complex backgrounds, and can literally see through vehicles. The Model 101Z vans were specifically built to satisfy "the rigorous specifications of U.S. Customs." The order also included two Model 101XL machines for peering into small freight, such as luggage and parcels. ASE also makes backscatter x-ray systems designed to inspect small packages ("Model 66"). (Company Press Release, "American Science and Engineering, Inc. Announces Receipt of $2.6 Million Order for Z Backscatter X-Ray Equipped Vans" 14 Oct. 1997.)
In September of this year, ASE announced the receipt of a $3.8 million order for two Mobile Search x-ray inspection trucks from the U.S. Department of DefenseCounterdrug Technology Development Program. By late 1998, these mobile inspection systems will be used by U.S. Customs agents for interdicting drugs hidden in vehicles and cargo crossing the Mexican border. The contract calls for further development work that is expected to double the capacity of the system, and allows the government the option to purchase up to four additional Mobile Search systems. (Company Press Release, "American Science and Engineering, Inc. Announces Receipt of $3.8 Million Mobile Search Order," 19 Sept. 1997.)
ASE's disclosure statement, required by all publicly traded companies, admits the obviousthat "global political trends and events which affect public perception of the threat presented by drugs" could dramatically effect ASE's projected gross revenues. Note that it is not the actual danger posed by illegal drugs but the "public perception of the threat"that is central to the company's multi-million dollar business.
Police state profiteers are also making money by developing and selling devices used to electronically track people suspected of using, selling, or manufacturing illegal drugs. A company by the name of Teletrac Incorporated sells a radio-transmitting tracking device to police, which when secretly attached to a vehicle shows the vehicle's location at any time. The devices are about the size of a video-cassette and are attached magnetically. Once placed on a car, the device allows law enforcement to "see" where the vehicle is by showing it as a blip on a computer generated street map. Already, Southern California police agencies have used Teletrac's transmitters to obtain more than 100,000 reports on vehicle locations since 1992.
Not only does Teletrac profit from the continued vilification of illegal drug users, but it has a profit motive to weaken constitutional protections against warrantless searches. Lawyers for the company argue that no search warrant is required to install the electronic devices, so long as police attach them only to the outside of a suspect's vehicle. An Oregon court rejected a similar argument, saying that the secret attachment of a tracking device transforms a person's automobile "from his private personal effect to a tool of the state." (State of Oregon v. Campbell (1986) 742 P.2d 683) The Oregon court held that under the Oregon Constitutional protection against unlawful search and seizures, the placing of an electronic tracking device on a vehicle constitutes a seizure. and hence cannot be done without a warrant. But, many states, including California, have not addressed the issue.
A bill (Senate Bill 443) that would have required police in California to obtain a search warrant before secretly mounting an electronic tracking device on a person's vehicle was vetoed by Governor Wilson on October 5 of this year. The bill explained how police across the country are secretly following cars on computer screens. (S. Pfeifer & M. Katches, "Wilson rejects a measure requiring a warrant to affix such devices to suspects' cars," Orange County Register, 8 Oct. 1997.)
PRIVATE UNDERCOVER NARCS
Perhaps one of the most frightening new copitalist industries is that of private undercover "narcs." One of the leading companies in this field is Wackenhut Corporation, a corporate security firm founded in 1954 by George Wackenhut, a former FBI official. It's now a publicly traded company on the
New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "WAK." A check on November 3, 1997, showed that there were 14.7 million shares in the company outstanding, trading at just over $21 per share. In 1996, it earned almost one billion dollars.
Wackenhut. has long contracted with America's corporations to provide ' silent witness" or ' concerned employee action" telephone lines. Signs inviting employees 4 to anonymously report drug use by fellow employees are posted in the work place. Wackenhut records the incoming tips and sends the information to the contracting company.
In the last year and a half, however. Wackenhut, and other corporate security firms such as ASET and Pinkerton's, have begun providing undercover narc-employees to businesses concerned about employee drug use. As promoted by Wackenhut, "[s]killed investigators blended in among other workers become management's eyes and ears in the work force." These private undercover narcs enter the workforce as if they were newly-hired employees, and often stay undercover for over a year. (ASE I claims that none of their investigations last less than six months.)
In most cases, before sending in the private narc the company informs the local prosecuting office to ensure that if evidence is obtained, the prosecutor will pursue the case. The ASET agent serves as a witness at any subsequent criminal trial.
ASET claims to have 75-100 investigations continuing nationwide at any given time. and proudly boasts that its investigations have resulted in the firing of over 100,000 people and the jailing of tens of thousands. In one undercover operation earlier this year, General Motors contracted with ASET to secretly place ASET agents in several auto plants. The undercover operation resulted in more than three dozen arrests. A typical ASET undercover operation was described in a recent newspaper article:The bogus workerswomen as well as men, with the numbers determined by the clientare "hired" by the client and begin insinuating themselves into the work force, socializing with employees both on the job and off the clock. Eventually, they ease their way toward those workers who may be using, buying or selling drugs.The laundry list of available substances runs the spectrum from marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine, to prescription drugs and heroin. And operators admit that interacting often means coming into close contact with the very contraband the company is trying to eliminate.Pinkerton's agents try to avoid even the simulation of use.. . by concocting lies about why they will not imbibe: Threat of a drug test, fear of an interaction with some prescription medication or saying they are only interested in buying for a friend.When the situation demands. ASET agents must simulate illegal activities realistically enough to mislead their marks, while remaining credible if the case ever gets to court. "I wouldn't want to give away trade secrets and tell the bad guys what to look for, but if you're out there playing a role for eight months you're going to have to convince people you're a user,". .. said [an ASET spokesperson]. (M. Davis, "Your coworker may be an undercover narc," The Tennessean, 12 Oct. 1997.)
Once sufficient evidence is gathered. it is turned over to local law enforcement agents who sweep in and make arrests. Not only is the evidence used to reprimand or fire the employees, but it is often also used in criminal prosecutions.
As earlier noted with respect to drug testing, the fact that employers must utilize undercover narcs in order to catch employees who use illegal drugs, shows that without such extreme measures, illegal drug-using employees are unidentifiable. Plainly, the private narc phenomenon is terribly destructive to people's basic trust in their fellow workers. As the industry grows,. and more employees begin to question who among them is a private narc, the overall level of trust declines and the social fabric begins to rip and unravel. Additionally, and most worrisome from the legal viewpoint, consider that private narcs operate outside all constitutional constraints. If a government agent, such as an undercover police officer or DEA agent, violates the constitution the evidence is excluded from court. But, in stark and frightening contrast, a privately employed undercover narc could break into your home to gather evidence against you, and such evidence will be perfectly admissible in court because the constitution only protects people from the government, not from other privately-acting people. In other words, so long as a private narc is not acting under the direct control of police officers or other governmental body, such a narc is entirely unconstrained by the Constitution. As a result, they can do things that government narcs could never do without running the risk that their entire case would be tossed out of court because the evidence was unconstitutionally gathered. An independently-acting private narc, can search your office without a warrant, or rummage through your briefcase or purse, or even sneak into your house to gather evidence against you. The fact that the private narc broke the law to gather the evidence will not bar a prosecutor from using the evidence against you in court.
Similarly, because private narcs operate outside the constraints of the constitution, the defense of entrapment is unavailable. As a result, these agents provocateur can go to extreme lengths to entice a target to commit a crime, perhaps even manufacturing crimes that might otherwise never have occurred.
Once you've been tracked by an electronic beeper, drug tested or searched with a high-tech product. and eventually busted by an undercover private narc, the private repression industry is prepared to profit from your incarceration. Another surreal but sizzling growth area fueled by the War on Some Drugs is private prisons. Copitalists would do well to invest their money there. With about 1.7 million people currently incarcerated in the United States, and about twenty-five percent of those (425,000) in for drug offenses, space in America's government-run prisons is in very short supply.
As more and more people are incarcerated for drug crimes each year, the ever-increasing demand for prison space is making private prisons a very lucrative business. Already there are 120 private prisons in the United States. owned and operated by about twenty different companies. This year the industry will reportedly gross over 1 billion dollars. (P. Floyd, "Private Prisons: Corporations Cash in on Crime," 59 Slingshot 1997.)
The private prison industry's base unit of calculation is the "bed," a nice way of designating ½ of a cinderblock or metal cell (two beds per cell). In just the last ten years, the industry has grown an astounding thirty-fold. from approximately 3,000 beds. to over 85,000. In California, for example. there are about 1,500 people confined in private prisons. These are all minimum security prisoners, many doing time for drug offenses. In Texas, the state with the largest private prison population, there are over 18,000 people privately imprisoned. (See. C. Thomas, D. Bolinger, & J. Badalamenti, Private Adult Correctional Facility Census, (10th ed. 1997) Center for Studies in Criminology and Law, University of Florida.)
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), is the largest private prison company in the U.S., owning and operating 61 prisons in 18 states, and housing approximately 23,000 people. The company is so sure that prisons are a growth industry that it is building a $100 million, 2,000-bed prison in a remote California town. CCA has no contract with the State of California. Instead, it is building the prison purely on speculation that California, which already suffers from extreme "overpopulation" in its prisons, will soon have no choice but to pay the company to house its prisoners in the CCA facility. The bet is a good one given that California s Department of Corrections predicts it will run out of prison space by the year 2.000 and it takes three years to build a prison.
Investors in CCA (which is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol CXE) are getting filthy rich. Originally founded by the same group of entrepreneurs who financed Kentucky Fried Chicken. CCA entered the private prison business in 1984. contracting with the federal government to operate alien "detention centers." Since then, it has grown to a mega-company that in 1996 had revenues of $292 million dollars
Last year, investors in the company's stock realized a gain of over 40 percent. CCA's revenues will, no doubt, continue to grow as indicated by the fact that lawyers for the company just helped draft legislation that was passed in Tennessee to facilitate the privatization of that state's entire prison system. With voters nationwide reluctant to finance new prison construction through bond measures, and yet demand for prison space propelled by more and more drug arrests (in 1996 alone over 1.5 million people were arrested for drug crimes, including over 642,000 for marijuana offenses), it's inevitable that more and more states will turn to private prisons.
The second largest private prison company in the country is Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, an offshoot of the Wackenhut Corporation, one of the major private narc companies discussed earlier. Like CCA, Wackenhut Corrections Corp.. entered the private prison business by building and operating alien detention centers in the 1980s. Also, like CCA. Wackenhut Corrections Corp. is a publicly traded company whose investors have done wellrealizing an amazing 82 percent increase in their investment in just the last year. In 1996, Wackenhut Corrections Corp saw revenues of over $137 million, and ended the year with over 12,000 "customers" in its U.S. prisons. (The company also has two medium security prisons in Australia, and boasts of prospects for additional facilities in the United States. South Africa, Europe, and the Pacific Rim.)
So far, few people know that private prisons even exist, let alone have stopped to consider whether it's good public policy to hand over punishment to the private sector. Already, the industry has been plagued by corruption. Also, like any profit-motivated business, operators of private prisons will look to cut costs however possible. And, when your clientele is as politically unsympathetic (i.e., powerless) as prisoners, few people will pay much attention to their complaints. In other words, the potential for human rights violations is significant as private prisons compete against one another to offer state and federal governments "the best deal" for incarcerating convicts.
PROFITING PROPAGANDA PARTNERSAll the companies and industries discussed above, and those better known (e.g., police officers, judges, lawyers, alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies), trade and profit on the continued currency of illegal drugs. This is a huge and growing industry dependent upon the public perception of illegal drug users as evil and dangerous people. Companies that sell drug-detection and testing equipment stand to lose their very bread and butter if illegal drugs are seen as no more dangerous than their legal counterparts, and illegal drug users no more dangerous or morally degenerate than people who drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or drink espresso coffees.
Hiring private narcs, for example, is not cheap. Wackenhut and ASET routinely bill in the six figures. yet companies believing that users of illegal drugs lose more time to sickness, and injury, or are more likely to steal from the company, willingly pay the price. Plainly, the greater the perceived evils of illegal drugs and those who use them, the greater will be the demand for the private narc industry's services. No company is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of its own money to fight the War if it knows that occasional users of illegal drugs are just as productive, just as healthy, and just as trustworthy as their counterparts who use legal drugs.
In the private prison industry alone we have a billion dollar interest largely dependent upon the continuation of the War on Some Drugs. If drugs were legalized, demand for prison space would plummet by 25 percent with a corresponding decrease in the industry's profits. In fact, private prisons stand to lose even if drugs remain illegal, but mandatory minimum sentences are repealed or punishment for drug offenses is otherwise liberalized. Empty "beds" translate to lost revenue. As a result. the private prison industry is a self-made billion dollar public relations firm with a profit motive for manufacturing and perpetuating the false stereotype of evil illegal drug users. The more that illegal drug users are accurately perceived as no different than anyone else, the more the private prison industry stands to lose.
The bottom line is that the War on Some Drugs. like any war, requires a supporting public. Enemies need to be vilified and dehumanized, and there's no better way to do that than through the media. And, the copitalists know it. The portrayal of users of illegal drugs as untrustworthy, unhealthy, and dangerous dregs is itself big business. Media imagery has falsely, but very successfully, portrayed the average marijuana user as a 16-year-old "son" with a defiant attitude who's "frying" his brain. Since this is the image that many people have come to associate with marijuana it has much more political power than the truth.
To a large degree, the success of some medical marijuana initiatives has been the result of successfully de-coupling the "16-year-old stoner" image from marijuana. Study after study has proven that marijuana can be good medicine, yet the public consideration of such data has been eclipsed by anti-drug rhetoric and imagery. Anyone can get seriously sick, and anyone who is seriously ill will want the best possible medicine. Proponents of medical marijuana have worked hard to escape the negative imagery associated with marijuana use. and as a result have been able to generate political support.
Television itself is an addictive drug that stands to lose if other drugs are legalized. The Partnership for a Drug Free America, producers of the "this is your brain on drugs" fried-egg "public service announcement" among others, relies heavily on donated time from media and advertising companies. In fact. from 1987 through the spring of 1995, media executives donated more than $2 billion in broadcast time and print space. (S. Rhoades, "Public Service, Private Ideologies," EXTRA!, July-Aug., 1991.) In 1990, this amounted to almost $1 million a day of donated time and space.
The Partnership, as you should know, gets over 50% of its funding from pharmaceutical. tobacco, and alcohol lords, who obviously have a vested interest in keeping their drugs the only ones sanctioned. The Partnership's whole strategy is one of attack-advertising. Rather than promote its financier's own products, it instead promulgates a negative image of those who use its competitors. The Partnership makes no bones about this, stating that its goal "is to reduce demand for illegal drugs by using media communication to help bring about public intolerance of illegal drugs. their use and users." (R. Miller, supra, p. 27.)
Entheogen users are caught, then. face-to-face with an ironic dichotomy, pitting substance against image. The very essence of entheogens is the substance of the experience, yet control of imagery seems to be fundamental if there is any hope for liberalizing the drug laws. The solution to the problem is clear. but how to solve it is not. Obviously. there is no way that users of illegal drugs, let alone just entheogen users. can financially compete with mass media imagery.
Perhaps one strategy would be to encourage prominent well-respected people to publicly reveal their own use of entheogens and to carefully plan such admissions to maximize media-exposure. The juxtaposition of such honest testimony with the contrary. amorphous imagery put forth by The Partnership might go a great distance toward debunking the false stereotype of illegal drug users. An orchestrated series of such revelations might demolish it.
Notes1. Most information on share prices and company revenues in this article are from Thomson Financial Services, Inc (a Division of Thomson Financial and Professional Publishing Group), and are absolutely not intended to entice you to invest in these companiesjust the opposite. The point of this article is that these companies, and their investors, are perpetuating the War on Some Drugs.(back)
2. One writer has offered the follow description of a billion dollars:....Suppose that every day, seven days a week, you got a thousand dollars In a year, you'd have roughly a third of a million and in roughly three years, a million. Since a billion is a thousand million, it would take you three thousand years to earn a billion dollars at the rate of a thousand a day.. Now7 if at the time of Christ. someone started laying aside a thousand dollars a day to your account, now, 2000 years later, you'd still be shy about one third the amount. (J. McDermott. The Crisis in the Working Class & Some Arguments For a New Labor Movement, p. 107, 1980.)Another way to conceive of a billion dollars is to consider that if a small business has revenues of $40.000 in one year. A company with one billion dollars of annual revenue is worth the equivalent of 25,000 such businesses.(back)
3. By 1991, 445 of every 100,000 people in the U.S. were imprisonedthe highest rate of incarceration in the world. (M. Mauer. ' Americans Behind Bars: One Year Later," The Sentencing Project (1992).) Figures compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, indicate that at the end of 1996, one of every 118 men and one in every 1,818 women were under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities. Nationwide, state and federal prisons are operating at 25 percent over capacity. (A. Beck & C. Mumola. "Prisoners in 1996" (NCJ-164619).) (back)
4. A study by Utah Power and Light showed that users of illegal drugs have lower health benefit costs than non-users. (Crouch. et al.. "Critical' in Drugs in the Workplace, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Monograph Series, no. 91. [SuDocs HE20.82 16:91 ] 1989.) Another study by Georgia Power Company found that marijuana users had absentee rates thirty percent lower than their fellow employees. (D. Parish, "Relation of the Pre-employment Drug Testing Result to Employment Status: A One-year follow-up," 4 Jnl. of General Internal Medicine 44-47, 1989.) And, another study found that "the net productivity effect for all marijuana users...was positive." (C. Register & D. Williams, "Labor Market Effects of Marijuana and Cocaine Use Among Young Men," 45 Industrial and Labor Relations Review 435, 1992,) A recent study in Australia concluded "[a]lcohol and tobacco use carry far greater health care costs, and alcohol far greater crime costs. than illicit drugs." (S. Mugford, "Licit and Illicit Drug Use. Health Costs & the "Crime Connection" in Australia," 19 Contemporary Drug Problems 351-385 (1992). (back)
5. David Lenson, in his book On Drugs (p. 213), does a good job of deconstructing this advertisement's nonsensical analogy:... consider the silliness of an antidrug television commercial run in the United States beginning in 1989 that shows an egg with the voice-over "This is your brain." The egg is then dropped into hot oil on a grill, and the voice says "this is your brain on drugs" as the egg cooks. The outline is "Any questions?" In fact this metaphor raises nothing but questions, about its strange and dubious identifications of the brain with an egg, of cooking with destruction, of drugs with cooking oil. If the metaphor can be disentangled (it is presumably intended to be a visual rendition of the term "fried," which usually means "high"), it is probably saying that (undifferentiated) drugs cause the destruction of the mind, and that this is the only possible outcome. This lack of differentiation is particularly disconcerting since the ad was produced by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, which was funded almost entirely by tobacco and alcohol companies." (D. Lenson, On Drugs, p. 213, 1995.) (back)