Kaskade: ‘The war on drugs is a farce’
Last week, HARD revealed that Day of the Dead would not take place in 2016 – marking the first year the event production company has not held a Halloween event in the Los Angeles area since establishing HARD Haunted Mansion in 2008. Dispelling rumors that DOTD had been cancelled in response to the deaths at this year’s HARD Summer, spokeswoman Alexandra Greenberg commented, “HARD decided earlier in the year not to schedule it this year for production reasons. Preparing for two festivals at two new locations (HARD SUMMER and HARD Day of the Dead) so close together would have been too much of a strain on their resources.”
Despite the truth of Greenberg’s statement, Los Angeles Times posted an article entitled, “After a summer of deaths, popular Halloween rave won’t be held,” analyzing the circumstances leading to HARD’s inability to establish a permanent venue for Los Angeles events, and quoting statistics of substance abuse-related deaths at raves.
In response to the paper’s article, Kaskade wrote an editorial on his own website, taking issue with the article’s title and the implicit characterization that raves can be considered responsible parties for individual patrons’ drug-related deaths.
“Really. A summer of deaths. Really.”
In his response, Kaskade contrasts the statistics for substance-related deaths at raves with the average number of daily deaths caused by drunk driving accidents. Kaskade writes, “So, in the past 10 years there have been 21 substance-related deaths at dance events. And EVERY DAY there are 27 substance-related deaths, which are somehow less news and attention worthy. I suppose once you reach a certain point, the news doesn’t notice anymore.”
Kaskade goes on to note that he would like to use his platform to help prevent fatalities from substance abuse, strongly emphasizing the inefficacy of prohibitive measures as solutions:
“I’m happy to tackle substance abuse. I’m happy to use my influence to encourage people to be responsible, to stay alive. But this is a world-wide problem, something that is not even close to being unique to dance music. Part of the problem is people trying to simple-size it. Raves = drugs. So close them down.
“Not going to work, and we all know it. Time to devote your column inches to some real stories. The war on drugs is a farce. There are better answers than regurgitating the same alarmist solutions that have never worked, which will NEVER work. Try this on: education, harm reduction and legalization.”
Kaskade’s argument against prohibitive solutions in many ways mirrors Pasquale Rotella’s response to LA County’s proposed rave ban in August 2015. However, Kaskade’s message carries a different weight than Rotella’s – and those of most other vocal dissenters to rave prohibition. Kaskade’s platform is influential not only because of his reach, but also because of who Kaskade is.
As a mormon, Kaskade is staunchly sober for religious reasons. His frank acknowledgment that the war on drugs is a “farce” cannot be misconstrued to be an apologist statement; his assertion that “regurgitating alarmist solutions” is an ineffective reaction to drug fatalities is an objective observation, in spite of his personal attitude toward drug use.
The degree to which Kaskade’s observations will be heeded by lawmakers and the media remains to be seen. Los Angeles Times amended their article to reference the producer’s comments after his article’s publication.