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Kevin Drum's asks "if you could pass any single piece of federal legislation related to civil rights, what would it be?" The majority consensus seems to be that homosexual rights are the big ticket item, to which we respond:
US Health and Human Services, "
National Household Survey on Drug Abuse":
"Among persons aged 12 or older in 2003, the rate of substance dependence or abuse was highest among American Indians or Alaska Natives (17.2 percent). The next highest rates were among Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders (12.9 percent) and among persons reporting two or more races (11.3 percent). Asians had the lowest rate of dependence or abuse (6.3 percent). The rates among Hispanics (9.8 percent) and whites (9.2 percent) were higher than the rate among blacks (8.1 percent)."
I.e. African Americans have the second lowest abuse rate of any ethnic group, which I figure should correspond roughly to possession rates and the likelihood of being caught possessing controlled substances if you were randomly violating people's homes and persons. In a state that respected civil rights you'd have roughly corresponding levels of incarceration, you would think, and so you check the incarceration rates and find:
"blacks constitute 36 percent of arrests for drug possession. Blacks constitute 63 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons. In at least fifteen states, black men were sent to prison on drug charges at rates ranging from twenty to fifty-seven times those of white men."
Conservative's often refute studies on racial disparities in the criminal justice system by taking advantage of the fact that for most crimes there's no good way to compare incident vs. conviction. They argue that prosecution rate disparities can be simply explained away as a disparity in the rate of crime among minority groups, 'blacks are just more likely to engage in criminal behavior, nothing to see here'. True so far as it goes, a is equal to a. So here we have 'criminal' behavior which whites participate in at about the same rate as blacks - a little higher in abuse and a little lower in casual use - and a massive disparity that can't be explained away, a = 57b.
Whatever the cause you have here a pretty solid case of de-facto violation of civil rights, resulting in the destruction of a generation of African American men for whom it is effectively criminal to go out in public. Not to belittle the necessity of equal rights for homosexual couples but I'd say this demands a little more attention.