We've seen wars come and we've seen wars go.
The War on Terror. The War on Poverty. The War on Christmas. The War on Women.
We've seen wars on democracy and socialism, wars on religion and atheism, wars on trans fats and short people. There have been wars on disco, science, the environment and high prices. There's even been a War on Guns.
But this latest war is, truly, the war to end all wars.
Call it "The War on the War on Drugs."
An increasingly vocal group of people, emboldened by the sheer reach and anonymity of the Internet, are insisting that the United States has lost its own ill-advised War on Drugs, and that it is -- pardon the pun -- high time we legalized certain substances.
Locally, this battle seems to have coalesced around the capital homicide case against Matthew David Stewart. For months now, in hundreds of posts on the Standard-Examiner's website, the two sides have been arguing over the finer points of illegal drugs and law enforcement.
The combatants basically are split into two camps.
CAMP ONE: People who think police officers are nothing more than thugs with badges and bad haircuts, and that certain drugs -- specifically marijuana -- ought to be legal, cheap and readily available.
CAMP TWO: People who think police officers walk on water, and that not only are the drug laws fine just the way they are, maybe we ought to think about cracking down on a few more questionable chemical substances -- like "fry sauce" or the 81-milligram baby aspirin.
Camp One makes a compelling argument. Let's face it, the efforts to stem the tide of illegal drugs flowing into this country have been futile thus far. And, though there are plenty of caring, committed police officers out there, even this columnist -- the most anally law-abiding citizen in the country -- will admit to having encountered more than a few who give the term "peace officer" a bad name.
On the other hand, Camp Two makes an equally persuasive point. Because if there's one thing that drug use teaches us, it's this one universal truth ...
Drugs make you stupid.
I'm sorry, I know that's harsh, but what other conclusions are we to draw when faced with the overwhelming evidence in news stories? Stories such as:
* OGDEN -- An accused burglar's claim that he was just practicing to be a locksmith proved to be a key in his arrest, according to police. Deputies who were dispatched to a vehicle burglary in progress found a 31-year-old man who brilliantly tried to tell them that he was simply rehearsing for a career as a smithy of locks. The officers found burglary tools and seized a number of items from a truck, including purses, wallets, a camera, DVDs, a handgun, gems, and even religious books and scriptures. (OK, this guy is soooo going to hell ...) The man was charged with burglary of a vehicle, manufacture/possession of burglary tools, possession/use of a firearm by a restricted person, five counts of theft by receiving stolen property and -- here's the kicker, people -- possession of drug paraphernalia.
* TAYLORSVILLE -- A 27-year-old Taylorsville man is facing charges after police say he tried to shoot a mouse in his pantry and ended up shooting his roommate. Confident that he could build a better mousetrap, the man told police he was aiming at the rodent, but the bullet went through the pantry wall and into the bathroom, where it hit the roommate in the shoulder. The shooter was charged with one felony count of discharging a firearm with injury and -- wait for it -- one misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia.
* OGDEN -- A city resident may face charges after police said he was butchering a cow in his driveway Sunday afternoon. (Meat-processing on a Sunday? Yet another hell-bound soul ...)
OK, so this last one, near as anyone can tell, didn't actually involve drugs. But I've been in this business long enough to know that whenever a story comes across the news desk that makes editors shake their heads in disbelief, odds are good that drugs or alcohol were involved.
In fact, the two most common phrases in such news stories are "Police believe alcohol may have been a factor" and "Drugs may have contributed to the incident." Indeed, if you type "alcohol may have been a factor" into Google, you get roughly 214,000 results. Even more impressive is the fact that if you type "drugs may have contributed" into the same search engine, you get almost 2.2 million hits.
That's a lot of contributing factors, folks.
Look, I'm not saying there aren't responsible drinkers -- or even drug users -- out there. All I'm saying is that whenever police find someone naked, or climbing atop some public structure at three o'clock in the morning, or loudly arguing with a mannequin in the display window at a crowded mall -- nine times out of 10, drugs and/or alcohol are involved.
So I don't know, maybe we should raise the white flag in the War on Drugs.
But then again, maybe we need to declare a War on Stupidity.
It's high time to contact Mark Saal. Reach him at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.