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DARE To Kill Families

For their role in cuffing dope pushers and supporting the DARE program, cops in one Massachusetts town were recently awarded a $1,000 by a local drug-abuse prevention organization. A job well done: Only part of which involved undermining the family and the relationship between parent and child – but an important part.

While the DARE program has come under intense criticism in the state, resulting in drastic funding cuts, Marshfield, Massachusetts, Police Lieutenant Phil Tavares has been fulsome in praise for the anti-drug school program. Reports the July 8 Boston Globe, “Tavares said he has received only positive feedback about the program and he firmly believes it’s a needed resource. As an example, he talked about the recent case of a DARE graduate who called the police on his mother after finding marijuana in the house.”

Oh yeah. That’s good: Fink on your mom.

It’s nothing new. DARE has always warred on the family, pitting kids against parents. Writes Diane Barnes in the Detroit News, “Children are asked to submit to DARE police officers sensitive written questionnaires that can easily refer to the kids’ homes. And you might be surprised by a DARE lesson called ‘The Three R’s: Recognize, Resists, Report,’ which encourages children to tell friends, teachers or police if they find drugs at home.”

As I point out in my book, Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America, drug arrests in a number of states have been tied directly to children ratting on parents. The reason is simple enough: DARE classes are taught by cops, who are duty-bound to follow up on tips from kids. The Wall Street Journal reported two Boston cases in which “children who had tipped police stepped out of their homes carrying DARE diplomas as police arrived to arrest their parents.”

If we are keen enough to see them for what they are, we should be thankful for such horrifying news items. For all its destruction to families, the DARE program tips the hand of the drug-war establishment in one important regard: It brilliantly highlights the fact that the State will tolerate no competing authority. Its goals are absolute.

Writes Oxford Don C.S. Lewis in one of my favorite essays of his, “The modern State exists not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good – anyway, to do something to us or make us something.” We, in this scheme, have no right to make ourselves something or do things for ourselves unless our aims fit within those of State’s, for as Lewis continues, “We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, ‘Mind your own business.’ Our whole lives are their business.”

No uppity slaves will be tolerated. For the State, the province of our very will and desires are seen as under its jurisdiction. They only wait to be conquered – along with the other intermediary authorities that stymie the State’s advance, which is why down through the years ambitious governments have warred on churches, businesses, communities, and families – precisely because it they will allow no other competing loyalties. It doesn’t matter what the agenda is; the State wants total support and involvement from its subjects. Divided loyalties must be squashed, even if it means, in the case of the drug war, ratting on a parent or finking on a friend. The State’s word is both law and final. And that means, however much you may love your mother, if you find a doobie in her drawer, you call the cops.

”Having teenagers feel comfortable talking about problems with police – you can’t beat that,” said Travers to the Globe. Translation: Replacing parents as the confidants of their children is key to the State’s absolutist goals. The child must be taught to see his true loyalties in the camp of the police, not his parents. He must be taught to come to the police with any infraction of his parents’, so the true object of his loyalties can mete out the proper punishments for nonsubmission to the goals of the State.

Of course, the drug-war’s undermining of parental authority started long before DARE, and the program is not the ultimate focus of this discussion. We are looking at how the drug war as a State project undermines rival authorities. Go back to something foundational to the both the war on drugs and the undermining of parents: The moment the government took parents out of the position of training children in the proper use of intoxicants – i.e., by banning particular substances across the board, regardless of the user’s age or the drug’s purpose – it began chipping away at its rivals and their authority over children.

For the State this is paramount. We must never forget what children are for the State: both potential tools and threats. Because just as children are subject to their parents, they are also subject to the State and someday, once mature, will be primarily subject to it. If children are raised by parents to value individual freedom and choice, the rival authority of parental control is simply exchanged for self-control and the State’s domain is not much increased. If their parents encourage them to extreme levels of individuality, their resultant autonomy can lead directly to decreases in state power; ergo, they become a threat.

To gain substantial control over the individual (turn him into an ally and stifle the threat his autonomy represents), the State must assert control early and broadly – removing from parents the ability to properly empower children with much sense at all of self-determination and autonomy. The child must learn to see the State as the final authority, period.

“Today the state controls not merely the individual’s body but as much of his spirit as it can preempt,” writes social critic Christopher Lasch in his 1977 book, Haven in a Heartless World. “The citizen’s entire existence has now been subjected to social direction, increasingly unmediated by the family or other institutions to which the work of socialization was once confined. Society itself has taken over socialization or subjected family socialization to increasingly effective control. Having thereby weakened the capacity for self-direction and self-control, it has undermined one of the principal sources of social cohesion, only to create new ones more constricting than the old, and ultimately more devastating in their impact on personal and political freedom.”

The drug war and its ancillary programs like DARE are only part of this undermining of the family, but everyone concerned about the State’s intrusion into the private lives of individuals and families must see the attack on all fronts.

So when you next spy a DARE bumper sticker or T-shirt, remember that the Statist usurpers of parental authority are afoot and, whether you use illicit substances or not, they distrust and oppose your role as parent. As we all know, these days it takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes you’ve got to throw a few moms and dads in prison for the kid to grow up properly servile.

July 13, 2004