After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast — terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left.
Daniel had a vision of four beasts. The fourth beast Daniel saw was somehow related to people’s propensity to declare war, and engage in constant fighting. (Or at least some people, ahem, Thug Addicts.) Later in Daniel 7 we read how this beast “will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.” (NIV)
The 4th Beast is the Prohibition Industrial Complex
It seems to me the beast represents at least the prison system, but not only prisons. In the same way, the beast’s iron teeth are obviously not just the iron bars of the prison cells which close over people — like a mouth — but also the switchblades, knives, guns, etc…, all ferrous, and often accompanied by mouthiness, shouting, snarling and bearing of teeth, all proving beyond a shadow of doubt the prophesy being fulfilled.
However, I would suggest the beast represents the whole Prohibition Industrial Complex and not just the physical prisons. Why? Because we are told of horns on the beast which are “kings,” they obviously control the beast. We are told of what the beast does, it engages in a might-makes-right campaign, devours people, crushes them, and it tramples the planet. So I don’t think the beast is just the prison system, it’s those directing the beast where to crush, who to devour, it’s the whole Prohibition Industrial Complex.
To repeat, I am not saying the beast is only the prison system, our prison system surely needs reform, but I am not here to bash all prison guards or wardens. Rapists, child molesters, vicious murders, horrible fraudsters, all belong in prison; granted it would be nice if they came out reformed instead of just punished, or skilled in other crime, but sorry to say that until things become perfect, we will need to imprison people who go beyond mean. The beast is the whole Prohibition Industrial Complex.
War on Terror (or a Specific Religion) Is Not the Beast
Before the so-called “War on Terror,” there is the “War on Drugs.” In fact, the War on Terror springs from the War on Drugs. Angry anti-government groups in every country looking for a source of income — lots of income — usually end up trafficking and dealing drugs: quick money, a ready supply of willing customers; you’ve heard the other complaints: no sluggish bureaucrats coming to inspect the premises, no reams of overly complex tax forms to fill out, and no lawyers to have to deal with.
Also, note that neither the terrorists nor the people fighting the terrorists are much interested in putting people behind bars. They just want each other dead, prisons are a serious inconvenience, a drain on their resources needed to achieve their goal of wiping out the enemy.
And terrorism hasn’t invaded every country yet, but Drug War has. The U.S. takes the prize for incarcerating the highest percentage of its citizens, and it continues to try to force mandatory minimum prison terms on other countries.
Crushing and Trampling: Your Life, Your Rights, Your Constitution, Your Planet!
The biggest point raised in Mr. Vance’s article is that Drug War so clearly tramples our Founding Documents, namely our supposedly inalienable and guaranteed Constitutional rights. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were able to smoke hemp and not have hoards of screaming members of the Holier-Than-Thou-Congregation screeching “what kind of message does that send?”
Those who are arrested for the man-made “crime” of drug use have had their rights violated. And as we all know, the patient medicating with marijuana harms no one else’s rights! The religious user who eats peyote or mushrooms or uses cannabis harms no one else’s rights! The guy who thinks religious people are fools and yucks it up with his friends and passes the bong to Michael Phelps is not harming anyone else’s rights. The real violators of rights are the inhumane bullies who who kick in doors, shoot people and pets, etc… those people. So they desecrate Biblical teachings, violate the Constitution, and throw them in prison.
The prison’s iron teeth-gates open wide and they are devoured.
Once they are out of prison, they continue to be hounded by the repercussions and actions of the High Priests of Assigning Permanent Shame. Want to go back to school from where we kidnapped you? Tough, we’re going to hold a grudge against you; no more student loans for you. We don’t care that you want an education! Suffer! Want to apply for housing or a job? Tough, we’re going to bring you even more shame, making it even harder for you to stay off the streets. The Prohibition Industrial Complex, exactly like the fourth beast Daniel saw, “has large iron teeth; it crushes and devours its victims and tramples underfoot whatever is left. It devours the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.”
Besides prisons with iron-bar-teeth devouring people, trampling people’s lives who have left prison, trampling the rights and lives of drug using people who have not been to prison, and trampling the rights and lives of non-drug using people, Drug Prohibition also tramples Mother Nature — the planet itself.
Untold gallons of herbicides and defoliants have been poured on the planet to kill plants which are harvested for drugs. Needless to say this also kills many other plants, and poisons lots of the landscape, leading to many wildlife deaths. Drug Prohibition also means drug producers are not regulated, so many of them just pour their by-products out in forest, or they mix toxic chemicals in their kitchens, more harm which could be stopped by legalizing drugs, we could actually inspect their operations.
Clearly the fourth and last beast Daniel saw in his vision described in chapter 7 of the book which bears his name, is what has been leading up to and is the current state of Drug Prohibition. The kings (horns of the beast) have ensured millions of lives are trampled, that the planet is trampled, that our rights are trampled, and last but not least, that jails and prisons devour many through their iron teeth.
Be sure to read it yourself to see how it turns out! :-)
[UPDATE: added links to new essay regarding a theory of horns, published around Fri, Mar 15, 2013. This essay on Prisons’ Iron Teeth was published around Thu, Dec 9, 2010.]