Like most Portland activists who've made the houseless their cause, proponents of drug decriminalization in the Rose City employ thought-stopping rhetorical tactics that have the effect of shaming and silencing critics. Sometimes they even use the same ones, which is not surprising since there is overlap in their ideologies.

Hence, homeless activists and their allies in the media rail against local government's efforts to "coerce" campers into relocating to Portland's so-called safe rest villages. Likewise, activists who oppose the recent re-criminalization of hard drugs are trying to keep the battle alive by stirring up public opinion against "forcing" addicts into treatment. The audience for this rhetoric must be liberals and the sort of elected officials who would be mortified if anyone believed they were in favor of strong-arming the most helpless among us.

Does it ever occur to those nice people that activists' manipulation of language is coercing them into tolerating social conditions that they surely would have considered unthinkable 10 or 20 years ago?

One lasting consequence of Measure 110 has been to shift the Overton window for discussions about drug policy in Oregon. While the notion of decriminalizing (why don't we just call it what was: "legalizing"?) the possession of personal quantities of hard drugs likely would have shocked all but a few of the most radical Oregonians 20 or 30 years ago, the M110 experiment has had the effect of making talk of re-criminalizing the same drugs sound transgressive in some quarters today. Likewise, prolonged exposure to the scolds who claim without offering proof that making addicts go into treatment against their will is coercive and ineffective may have caused segments of the public to abandon contrary views they used to hold.

The proper response to attempts to quash critical thinking is to embrace the thing we're being accused of doing. Yes, I do want to see the homeless coerced off the streets and other places they are camping provided it is done peacefully, legally and in compliance with their constitutional rights and they are offered adequate substitute shelter. Time has shown that some houseless people will not pack up voluntarily. Yes, I do favor applying measured pressure to addicts to enter treatment so long as applicable medical and ethical standards are observed. There are human zombies in our midst who will never get there on their own.

In his book "San Fransico: Why Progressives Ruin Cities, " Michael Shellenberger posits that activists view homeless people and addicts as the marginalized victims of systems of oppression. Perhaps that is why progressives are so fixated on honoring addicts purely notional autonomy. In activists' peculiar world view, addicts' supposed autonomy is the only thing that hasn't been taken from them. It would seem their philosophy doesn't admit the possibility that members of an oppressed identity group can oppress themselves by the poor choices they make.

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Your voice on this issue has been remarkable. So well done. Thank you.

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Thank you so much

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