Words are powerful. The right word can communicate a complex idea concisely and clearly. Labels are powerful. They help us to categorize and understand the world, allowing us to sum up the beliefs and characteristics of a person in a single word. Together, they influence the perspective from which we view the world. This is why I want to promote the word “Sadomoralist”.

What is a sadomoralist? A sadomoralist is someone who would rather punish people for “immorality” (as they see it) than find constructive solutions to society’s problems. They’re the people who would rather see our prisons filled to capacity than tolerate someone enjoying a substance other than alcohol. They’re the people who would rather criminal organizations earn billions off drug profits than see a product they view as a vice being regulated and sold in stores. They’re people who are so blinded by their sadistic desire to punish those with whom they disagree, that they can’t see the collateral damage that lies in their wake.

What is the power of the word “sadomoralist”? In a single word, you can communicate the essence of what took the entire paragraph above to describe. When talking about a politician who refuses to acknowledge the failures of prohibition on the grounds that drug users need to be “taught a lesson” you can simply use the word “sadomoralist”. As the word becomes more common, that’s all you’ll have to say, and people will know exactly what you mean. As the label becomes more common, politicians will want to distance themselves from it.

The great thing that I see about the term “sadomoralist” is that the “drugs are bad” argument is irrelevant to it. It frames the debate from the wider perspective of society and the effect that prohibition has on it. It forces prohibitionists to consider and explain why they think punishing people for drug use is worth handing over a multi-billion dollar market to violent cartels and gangs, tearing apart families, and destroying trust and respect between authorities and the people they ostensibly serve. When the focus is kept on the big picture, it’s very difficult for politicians and others to deflect the issue with rants about the “dangers of drugs”.

We get emails and messages all the time from people asking what they can do to help fight prohibition. Here’s one simple way you can help: Use the term “sadomoralist” whenever you see that it applies. Spread the word and it’s definition. One of the key themes of the book 1984 is that language dictates the way we think. As “sadomoralist” enters common usage, people will naturally think more in terms of “what’s the overall effect to society”, and that’s not only a winning mindset for those of us supporting marijuana legalization, it’s a mindset than can help us unite society in every aspect.

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