This is your conscience on drugs.
Thus the basic message of the latest pool of spots from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, which once again seeks to explode the notion of drug use as a victimless crime. We'll see. So far, the main victim has been the drug office itself. When the campaign broke on the Super Bowl drawing a connection between drug money and terrorism, the critics pounced.
"Blaming nonviolent kids for terrorism is like blaming beer drinkers for Al Capone's murders," Ethan Nadelman, a decriminalization advocate, told the Miami Herald. Abigail Trafford of the Washington Post said the premise was exaggerated to an "absurd extreme." And Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard declared the campaign, "Propaganda worthy of the Soviet Union."
Well, comrade, the FBI earlier this month said it has conclusively linked a Midwest amphetamine manufacturing operation to the Hezbollah. The Taliban, of course, was in the opium business. And if counterfeit infant formula is a cash cow for Egyptian extremists, is it not reasonable to suspect that drugs are, as well?
The point of the advertising was never to blame the 9/11 attacks on a bunch of American stoners; it was simply to emphasize that recreational drug use-wholly apart from any health and social-policy questions-has deadly consequences.
Maybe the message argues more for decriminalization than for abstinence, but in any event it is sobering to consider, and sobering is what this advertising wants to be.
So now come two fresh scenarios from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, cleverly showing the chain-link by link-between domestic drug consumption and all sorts of mayhem down the line.
One spot begins with a pretty young woman buying a dime bag and ends with a child shot in drug-warfare crossfire. Another shows us Dan, just a guy in his 20s, watching the tube. He could be your buddy, your big brother, your kid brother, your dad.
"This is Dan," says the voice-over.
"This is the joint that Dan bought."
We see the joint. Then we see a phenomenally beautiful and only vaguely dangerous-looking young woman descending into a cellar club.
"This is the dealer who sold the joint that Dan bought." Then we see a total dirtbag, as, one by one, the various players in the ultimate drama are introduced. No reason to further describe the visuals. You get the point.
"This is the smuggler that smuggled the pot to the dealer who sold the joint that Dan bought.
"This is the cartel that uses the smuggler that smuggled the pot to the dealer who sold the joint that Dan bought.
"And this is the family that was tied up by Dan's cartel and shot for getting in the way.
Then the onscreen message:
"Drug money supports terrible things. If you buy drugs you might too."
We could do without the last sentence, which would be superfluous even if it were properly punctuated. But otherwise we are totally sold. No dime bags for us.
Although we would like to meet Dan's dealer, just to, you know, explain the error of her ways.