Luther College Chips

On the myth of the moral consumer and illegal drugs

Ana López, Managing Editor

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It is going to be about a year since I woke up to the news that three film students that had been disappeared for weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico were found. Salomón, Jesús, and Marco were found in the containers that were used to dissolve their bodies in sulfuric acid. If you’ve ever held a joint made with illegal weed between your lips or consumed an illegal drug, their story concerns you. Their story, which is just one among many, should concern all of us.

A questioning of the moral implications of the things we consume has been ubiquitous recently. For example, animal rights movements and environmentalist organizations have shaped what we eat, increasing the number of individuals that have a vegan or vegetarian diet. These changes come from a move to treat animals morally and with dignity. We care about buying organic products that do not harm the planet because we feel a duty to take care of the environment. We try to buy fair-trade products to prevent us from the moral responsibility of supporting child labor. We don’t want blood on our food, we don’t want the weight of exploitation in our clothes. And yet, there is very little said about the moral implications of consuming illegal drugs.

The goal of this opinion piece is to invite our community to reflect on the human cost of consuming illegal drugs. I do not mean to judge the consumption of legal drugs. The  death of Salomón, Jesús, and Marco added just three more to the 200,000 deaths related to the war on drugs that have been registered since 2011 in Mexico alone. Consuming illegal drugs supports an industry that thrives in violence and keeps communities captive. I am sure that the numbers are similar in other places around the world but it so happens that Mexico is my home and Salomón, Jesús and Marco went to school in my neighborhood.

Mexican blood is not the only one that stains the illegal drugs that are consumed on this campus. Drug trafficking disproportionately affects racialized communities in the United States that have been marginalized and left vulnerable through this racialization. Drug wars inflict pain in communities of color across this country.

The cost of their blood, the blood of innocent people like Salomón, Jesús, and Marco, of people in marginalized communities of color, is already considered in the price of the products you can buy. And it is clear that their blood is cheap. The cost of consuming illegal drugs is just one more instance of how racialized bodies and lives are cheaper, less important, dispensable.

If you want to be a moral consumer, I invite you to reflect on the suffering that acquiring your product necessitates. If you need names, and faces, think about Salomón, Jesús, and Marco. If you need a more familiar one, one that will hit closer to your home, a quick search in the internet will do. It has been  about a year since I woke up heartbroken.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations with which the author(s) are associated.

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