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Marc Dion
Marc Dion
8 Feb 2016
Shot Below the Belt

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Hurry up and Forget


The sad thing about life is that, unless you're a professional musician, your world dies before you do.

As a 54-year-old man trying to resist nostalgia, I listen to rap music. I play war games online. I Facebook. I have a Kindle and an iPod Shuffle. I download, upload and tweet. I try to have young guy friends. I do some of these things because of my job and some of them because I don't want to live in a frozen world in which Jim Croce is forever singing "Operator." God, I loved that song.

Once you get past 50, the urge to return to some safer world of childhood is nearly irresistible. You have to fight it, or you live with the crying ghosts of dissatisfaction.

Or, you join a political sub-movement aimed at rolling America back to 1963.

And I liked 1963. I had good parents, a dog, franks and beans for supper, long New England dusks and the calm, heaven-seeking nuns of my red-brick Catholic grade school. I was an altar boy.

I am a reporter at a daily newspaper. Not too long ago, a few of my colleagues were engaging in the bored reporter's game of, "should drugs be legalized?" Like the bored reporter's game of, "Why don't people vote?" the game is best played in a newsroom, on a Tuesday afternoon, when the police scanner's static offers no shootings, nothing is on fire, and the mayor is in Washington, begging for money to hire back the 20 police officers the city laid off last August.

I don't think anyone playing the game was over 45. I wasn't playing.

And it struck me, as they trotted out arguments for and against, that I was the only one in that room who remembered America before illegal drugs were everywhere.

That's the funny thing about the war on drugs. Right now, a huge percentage of the population doesn't remember the world that war was supposed to preserve.

My wife, who is 42, doesn't remember a time before junkies were the source of most urban crime.

Pretty soon, I'll be working with reporters who can't remember an America without crack cocaine. Or crystal meth. Or Oxycontin.

This isn't to say that drinking didn't cause misery when I was a kid. In one neighborhood where we lived, a fellow who lived down the block drank too much canned beer every Friday night and beat his wife until she couldn't get up off the floor. Over the decades, we've added a dozen or more drugs to the Friday night menu, which only got us more houses of horror.

But it stunned me to realize that the drug-addled nation my parents had so feared was normal now, that I was the ancient mariner who remembered safer streets, remembered when 18-year-old gang members didn't use automatic weapons to protect their bit of a national drug trade that is as big in America now as U.S. Steel was in 1963.

And I guess if you asked me the biggest change I've seen in my life so far, it would be the use of illegal drugs by Americans and the chaos that followed.

Face it: The Internet is what people used to talk about in bars, crammed together on a Facebook page. Cable television is crap and commercials, just like free TV. A cellphone is still just a phone.

But drugs. There you had a game-changer. Crack is whiskey times a million, beer times 3 million. Sometimes, you have to drink for 20 years before you become a worthless street bum in urine-soaked pants. You can do it in three months with crystal meth.

If someone breaks into my car tonight, it'll be a junkie. If someone breaks into my house tomorrow, it'll be a crackhead. If someone shoots me dead when I leave the newspaper office after next Tuesday's night shift, the guy behind the gun will probably be a drug addict.

Your world dies before you do. My world overdosed.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit



5 Comments | Post Comment
Many of us remember that world and it's not just nostalgia, they were better times for all.
Legalize drugs and the majority of crime will fall dramatically, they won't need to be begging for funds to subsidize hiring more law enforcement. The prisons will be under occupied. The gangs will have lost their income and a good part of their reason to fight, steal, and kill. And America will, in a dramatic way, finally show a hint of a promise of returning to her former glory.
And, most important, if the US stops it's "war on drugs", which it lost many years ago, think of the billions and billions and billions of $$ we can apply to pay down our debt. Or we could use those funds to subsidize a national health care plan.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Steve
Fri Apr 6, 2012 12:19 PM
Unfortunately legalizing drugs is not the answer. The children of drug addicts will follow in their parents footsteps and the drug problem will just get worse. It is high time that the drug kingpins get taken down with massive wiretapping intenlligence possible in the modern world. Sure, privacy will become a victim with this kind of enforcement but future generations will thank us for our valiant efforts at combatting the real criminal threatj-the money laden kingpins!!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Uldis Sprogis
Sat Apr 7, 2012 4:26 AM
If we legalize drugs it would legitimize the sale of drugs and end the criminal reign of drug dealers, smugglers, and traffickers. It would lead to government oversight of the drugs to insure that the drugs are pure and high quality. This would lessen the chances of drug overdoses and poisonings due to the unscrupulous use of dangerous chemicals mixed with the drugs as cutting agents. The Government can tax the drugs and increase their cash strapped coffers. The drugs will be decriminalized so there will be a large reduction of the prison population, saving government costs, and making room for violent prisoners.

I also favor the repeal of all laws that create "crimes" without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes. The use of drugs is within the exercise of sole dominion over our own lives and the government has no right to legally prevent it. We already have legally used drugs of alcohol and tobacco in America and the country has not collapsed. The legalization of marijuana will make the drug available to sufferers of cancer, and glaucoma which helps relieve pain, nausea and increases appetite. The drug war is a failure. It needs to end and the police resources redirected to other crimes.

"The children of drug addicts will follow in their parents footsteps and the drug problem will just get worse."
That has not been proven to be true by those working in the field.
"A parent does not cause a child to become alcoholic or drug addicted. Emotional wounds provide reasons to drink and/or use illegal drugs and are the fuel that drives an alcoholic/addict's behavior, but are not the cause of the disease. We were all raised in dysfunctional families - because society / civilization is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional. We were all wounded in our childhood, because our parents were wounded in their childhood - and when we became parents we wounded our children. Not all, in fact the majority of wounded children of addicts do not themselves become addicts."

I expect the scoffers and cynical of government to dispute my argument of government oversight, but surely the outcome couldn't be worse than this insane war on drugs which is doing the same thing the same way expecting different results.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Steve
Sat Apr 7, 2012 9:30 AM
Marc, I had a date with two old friends last nightand we went to Hong Kong restaurant in Taunton formerly Roseland Ballroom. It is by far the best Chinese food in Southern New England . The gals were Pauline Sorel Ready a Dental Technician and Lorraine Berube Palmer a retired Social worker. We had a long conversation about how Fall River use to be. On Friday nights the streets were full of people shopping and on Saturdays too. We would also go to Van dyk's acrosss from Mc. Whirr's for a sandwich and the best coffee in the city. After wards I would go next door and have my shoes shined because if you had a date on a Saturday or you went dancing you had to have nice shined shoes. We would buy our Barracuda jackets from Freeds Men's shop or Empire Mens shop. If you were poor you would get an imitation one from Sawyers next door to Cherry & Webb. We talked about Rector's Spa where many students went after school on Bedford St. We had mant theatre's in Fall River, the Capitol,the Center,Empire,Academy,Durfee, Embassy.The Park at Globe Corners and the Strand in the flint.and oops the Plaza across from the Capitol. Now it's all gone. How times have changed. Durfee High School was rated one of the Top Ten in the State. Crime was minimal back then. We had 112 dress shops,4 or 5 sweater factories,4 curtain factories,4 or more factories making mens suits. Dye plants. The city was bustling. What has happen to our what once was our beautiful city? How times have changed and not for the better. Oh for the glory days in Fall River
Comment: #4
Posted by: Ed Migneault
Sun Apr 8, 2012 6:45 PM
Steve I am very cynical of government, but in this case I would take government oversight over drugs if it would put a stop to this ridiculous drug war. The problem with Uldis' arguement is that criminalizing drugs does not stop people from using them. I have never done drugs before, have no drug connections or criminal record, but I would bet my next paycheck that I could have 5 bags of pot from 5 different dealers by days end. Making drugs illegal does not make them go away. Making guns illegal does not make them go away. The only people these laws hurt are law-abiding citizens. I'll add one more reason to legalize drugs to Steve extensive list: Mexico. Drug running through Mexico is tearing the country apart, and many Mexicans don't even use them. Of course, the Obama administration dosen't care about Mexicans, take Fast and Furious for example.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Apr 9, 2012 9:28 AM
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