When talking publicly about illegal drugs and butting heads with the U.S. government over its prohibitionist policies, respect is hard to come by.
Over the years, though, local Houston radio host Dean Becker has earned high regard for getting top-tier guests and having intelligent discussions about the war on drugs for his weekly show on the Drug Truth Network on KPFT.
Recently, he earned another level of respect, as the world-renowned James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University will keep an archive of Becker's broadcasts and make them available to listeners at any time on its website.
"The fact that the show is being brought forward by the Baker Institute," Becker tells Hair Balls, "shows a lot about the work we've done, the knowledge we've accumulated within our programs, the caliber of the guests and the information we've shared, which more and more is being recognized as right on the mark."
In the eight and a half years Becker has been hosting his show, on which he spends time poking enormous holes in and criticizing United States drug policies, his guests have included congressmen, federal judges, and Nobel-Prize winners such as economist Milton Friedman, as well as locals such as Harris County DA Pat Lykos and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
The one dream interview Becker says he hasn't gotten yet is a sitting drug czar from the federal government.
"But that's not ever going to happen," he says, "because I will cut him off at the knees and I think he knows that."
Becker is thrilled his work will be accessible to everyone online and says he has no plans to slow down.
"The first question I would ask the drug czar is, 'Can you tell me the number one success of this drug war?' And there just isn't one. Thirty-nine million people have been arrested, we're empowering our terrorist enemies, we're enriching barbarous cartels, we're giving a reason for the violent gangs to exist and we're ensuring more access [to drugs] for our children and more overdoses from drugs that are unlabeled and for which no one can call for help for fear of a prison sentence.
"I try to open up this dialogue and force people to look at what's before our eyes."
Becker says both his writings and an archive of his broadcasts will be available by the end of next week on the Baker Institute website.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.