Run-on Sentence Summary
Johann Hari’s expose of the drug war is a page turner because it focuses more on crafting compelling narratives than giving unbiased dispassionate information.
Chasing the Scream was really hard to put down. It colorfully paints the life stories of dozens of people who have been affected by the conflict, from the angry and repressed old white guy who started the war to the scrappy transgender dealer and gang member caught in the resulting cycle of violence.
The book is personal and compassionate, and story after story make you feel the crushing human cost of the current global policy of violence and mass incarceration. To justify the current policies, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that drugs are so physically addictive that they rob people of their agency and thus need to be banned. However, modern evidence is telling us that addiction has far more to do with trauma and one’s social and emotional environment, and ostracizing users is the best way to make sure that they can never recover.
The tapestry Hari weaves is moving and feels crafted to be as persuasive as possible to a wide layman audience. Still, for such a complex issue, I’d feel uncomfortable quoting this book to anyone actually informed on this subject. It was fun to read and has sparked my curiosity to explore the subject in more depth.
“In 1993, in the death throes of apartheid, South Africa imprisoned 853 black men per hundred thousand in the population. The United States imprisons 4,919 black men per hundred thousand (versus only 943 white men). So because of the drug war and the way it is enforced, a black man was far more likely to be jailed in the Land of the Free than in the most notorious white supremacist society in the world.”