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Guess the Party | Main | Political/Open Thread
February 02, 2014

Actor Phillip Seymore Hoffman Dead After Apparent Drug Overdose (According to Police)


While the country is discussing the possibility of legalizing drugs, it should always be remembered and frequently be stated that drugs are very dangerous, and even when they don't kill you, they tend to corrupt you and enfeeble your mind.

I think it's a legitimate question as to whether it is better to dissuade drug use through criminal intervention or through public persuasion and warnings, but we must at least have the latter.

The media has treated the decriminalization of marijuana in Colorado as a social advance to be openly celebrated (as they openly celebrate gay marriage). Very often their cheerleading on the subject displaces all sense of responsibility in reminding the public that every intoxicant, from alcohol to pot to heroin, poses risks to the user, from the relatively minor yet still bad (habituation, changes in personality, lack of ambition, an increasing centrality of the drug in one's priority of needs) to the major (unemployability, domestic strife and violence) to the terminal (death due to overdose).

One of the fears of those who favor continued prohibition -- a well-justified fear -- is that without anti-drug laws and police enforcement of them, there will be no social or cultural backstop to reduce what they believe will ultimately be an explosion in drug use (and, therefore, an explosion in the negative consequences of drug use).

With reports such as this one -- with Anderson Cooper getting the giggles over the possibility that his reporter in Colorado might herself be high -- we see that the prohibitionists have a point.

The prohibitionists claim that the country (and its media) is simply not mature enough, or nuanced enough it its thinking, to simultaneously campaign for decriminalization while also remaining anti-drug-use as a social/cultural/personal matter.

That is, the prohibitionists fear that the country is simply not mature enough in its thinking on social issues, and so cannot conceive of a category of "legal and yet harmful and so to be avoided." And that this immaturity of thought then permits only two realistic regimes:

1. Drugs are bad and thus must be illegal, or

2. Drugs should not be illegal, and in fact, are pretty darned good so why not try some drugs?

If those are the only two choices on the menu, then I myself -- currently in favor of experimental decriminalization -- will have to revert to a prohibitionist stance.

I would like the more mature option -- "legal and yet harmful and thus to be avoided" -- to be on the table.

But if the organs of public information and cultural signaling cannot themselves conceive of that third option, and will immaturely take "legality" to mean "benevolence" themselves, then the anti-prohibitionist movement will be over pretty quickly.

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posted by Ace at 02:03 PM

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