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Themes in Chemical Prohibition: Sec 6
NIDA: Themes in Chemical Prohibition, William L. White, 1979

6. Both User and Supplier Are Defined as Fiends, Always in Search of New Victims; Usage of the Drug is Considered "Contagious" [epidemic, war]

a demon with arms around child
Devil's Harvest
(circa 1942)2, 3
the term 'Drug War' used in the movie Reefer Madness, 1936
"the 'war'... victims are characterized as young children" (above: an example of the term "Drug War", here used in the movie Reefer Madness, circa 1936.)
The prohibition propaganda which has surrounded the presently illicit drugs represents a blatant manipulation of the symbols of evil that would do credit to Jonathan Edwards.

Nothing can so excite an adult population as can anything which appears to threaten their own children.

Since the Harrison Act of 1914, the user and the seller of illicit drugs have both been characterized as evil, criminal, insane, and always in search of new victims, the victims are characterized as young children.

Drug usage is characterized as "contagious;" its increase (real or imagined) is characterized as an "epidemic."

Efforts to reduce drug usage are referred to as the "war" on or "battle" against drug abuse.

Persons who sell are called "pushers" in spite of increasing evidence that most persons get drugs, particularly their first drug, from friends and not some arch villain who seduced them on a street corner.

anti-drug ad depicting drug seller as snake
anti-drug ad demonising African-American cannabis vendors as venomous snakes (circa 1988)
[view this 30-second PSA on youtube]

ASSASSIN of YOUTH! MARIHUANA - feeding the god Moloch
ASSASSIN of YOUTH! MARIHUANA - feeding the god Moloch (c.1943)
FIFTH COLUMN (theme 1) SOWING DESTRUCTION (theme 2) IN THE YOUTH (theme 5) OF AMERICA (theme 3) DEVIL'S HARVEST (theme 6) SHE'S A GOOD GIRL UNTIL ... (theme 5) THE TRUTH ABOUT MARIJUANA THE SMOKE OF HELL (theme 6) Rat on a Rat propaganda poster
(Rat-on-A-Rat-Poster, c.2003) "deliberate dehumanisation ... contains a double message of contempt, comparing not only drug-dealers to rats but also those who are encouraged to inform upon them"

the demon-devil drug pusher, a stock character and image
In the morality play media often presents as "the drug war", the demon/devil drug pusher is so much an hackneyed and "stock" character that his cliched and stock image is even offered up by firms which produce "stock" images. (from, circa 2008).

  • breaking news items showing this theme
  • book: Drug War Propaganda
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    emphasis, bracketed comments, some illustrations are added]