Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

16 Jan 2001, 12:16 p.m.

"Traffic" - an important film to Smokedotters and others

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I saw the movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh, with an ensemble cast (the most famous of whom would be Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas). Did you? I was very glad that I saw it, and enjoyed it.

Perhaps it makes few proposals, but it's a big indictment of the current "War on Drugs." As my moviegoing partner said re: the WoD (before seeing the film), "I don't know what we should be doing, but I do know that whatever we're doing, it's not working."

Note: self-indulgent equivocating and rambling ahead. And this is not really a review.

The various parallel plots sometimes converge, sometimes not, and the compare/contrast of plotlines works well. Various artistic devices also help the viewer see the film's viewpoint ... the closer you get to South America, the more jarring and unfamiliar the filming technique gets, it seems.

In my years here at Cal, I've begun to understand the inherent flaws in the Drug War. In a primarily libertarian environment such as K5, I assume most of my (three) readers will agree. But it still would bother me --

you see, I'm not quite a libertarian; I still think that some "consensual" or "victimless" crimes might be legitimate for the government to prosecute. Maybe prostitution is just not a good thing, for individuals or groups in the US culture, and no amount of regulation or free-market influence or education or open-mindedness can make it morally neutral, much less a good thing. Same for drugs in general. What is the best way to draw some sort of legal distinction between crack and pot, among tobacco and alcohol and heroin and ecstacy?.....then, I've never drunk anything more intoxicating than kvas, a Russian fermented-black-bread drink that's (my classmates told me at the field trip) less potent than your average beer. So maybe those with empirical experience should be making policy....those still alive, sane, and able, that is...I suppose --

I suppose that reformed ("recovering?") hard-core heroin addicts have insight to add to drug policy. I further suppose that the types of things they would say and suggest will not become major policy planks until some sort of catastrophe occurs....say, as in "The Mycojuana Incident" by Fran van Cleave in the "Analog" sci-fi magazine of Feb. 2001. (A good and relevant read.) Or a tragic, massive O.D. by the President's wife or child. Or some other similarly horrific and telegenic disaster. I'll simultaneously hope and dread, then.

Poll: What drug would you LIKE to try?

  • Marijuana
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • MDMA
  • LSD
  • Cocaine
  • Fresh Air
  • None of the Above

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at