To the Editor:

The Yale Daily News article (“U.S. Rep., Yalie debate Higher Ed. Act,” 4/11), was good news. The fact that a U.S. representative is debating a university student over drug policy in the media indicates that drug policy reform is making strides.

In the CNBC debate with Andrew Allison ’04, Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia said, “They’re undercutting the entire value system on which this country is based.”

Isn’t this the same U.S. representative who successfully quashed a bona fide election? Doesn’t holding Washington, D.C., votes on their Measure 59 — which would have allowed medical cannabis users to possess small quantities of the substance — hostage for 10 months undercut our value system? In fact, isn’t it directly contributing to the erosion of constitutional principle?

When tyrannical social moralists like Barr subvert our electoral processes, they openly display prejudices that should preclude their participation in such debates.

Allan Erickson

April 14, 2002

To the Editor:

Criticism of Yale’s decision to reimburse students for aid lost under the federal Higher Education Act has been quite vigorous, with some lawmakers and much of the U.S. press stating outright that the decision amounts to “flouting the law and irresponsible behavior.”

Such views ignore the possibility — no, the certainty — that not all laws made by mere humans are good ones, and that according to basic principles of free socities, bad laws are to be resisted as a matter of public duty, especially when lawmakers cannot be persuaded to change them in a timely manner.

Some may believe that present federal drug laws are good ones. But that is far from generally agreed upon today. That institutions of higher learning are now as a matter of principle beginning to resist what many perceive as ill-considered drug laws is to be welcomed.

Perpetrators of atrocities have always and everywhere stated that they were merely “following the law.” Those who blindly align themsleves with those perpetrators are in their ignorance more dangerous foes of democracy than any would-be tyrant.

Peter Webster

April 14, 2002

The writer is the review editor of the International Journal of Drug Policy.