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New York Times' David Brooks Has So Much To Be Ashamed Of, And Doesn’t Even Know It

  1. Rob Cypher
    [IMGR="white"]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=36523&stc=1&d=1388816995[/IMGR]David Brooks wrote a column today that was so stupid that I think it can actually be considered an own goal, where he literally—no joke—argues that because his own experiences with marijuana smoking suggested to him that it’s not the best use of your time, other people should go to jail and have their lives ruined over it.

    "But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned."

    If Brooks thinks going to jail is “subtly” encouraging his preferred behavior of smoking less weed, then he really ought to make an example out of himself and volunteer for prison time. Brooks pretends in his article, of course, that banning weed has no criminal justice aspects and acts like the only effect is to raise the price of it. But the reality is the ban destroys lives:

    "According to “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know,” a 2012 book by scholars at the Rand Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center, there are currently 40,000 prison inmates with marijuana convictions, and “perhaps half of them are in prison for offenses related to marijuana alone.” A recent ACLU report tells us that between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million marijuana arrests in the U.S., 88% of them just for possession."

    But Brooks doesn’t think of these people as people. Just objects to be sacrificed so young men like he says he was are slightly less likely to smoke weed. (By the way, there’s evidence that decriminalization actually reduces drug use.) But again, there’s almost no reason to argue against this piece, since it’s self-evidently completely wrong and shows how pro-criminalization forces don’t even have an argument. What I want to highlight is this paragraph, which might be the most Brooksian bit of cluelessness that David Brooks has ever written:

    "Stoned people do stupid things (that’s basically the point). I smoked one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in English class. I stumbled through it, incapable of putting together simple phrases, feeling like a total loser. It is still one of those embarrassing memories that pop up unbidden at 4 in the morning."

    David Brooks writes something objectively more embarrassing than that memory at least 3 times a week, but that’s what makes him wake up screaming in the middle of the night? That fact alone should be enough to deprive him of his job at the New York Times. That little amount of self-awareness is a bad sign in someone who needs to operate a cash register for a living, much less someone whose job is supposedly to write down insightful opinions to make the reader think. Bless his heart, but David Brooks just really isn’t cut out for this writing gig. A modicum of shame for things that are actually shameful is necessary. Without it, well, nothing you say can ever really be trusted.

    Amanda Marcotte
    Raw Story
    January 3, 2014

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/...uch-to-be-ashamed-of-and-doesnt-even-know-it/

Comments

  1. Calliope
    Re: New York Times' David Brooks Has So Much To Be Ashamed Of, And Doesn’t Even Know

    More than once I have found myself in the weird position of trying to defend David Brooks (but I won't be on this one); weird because I am profoundly non-conservative and actually disagree with almost all of his public policy views, his general philosophy, his reverence for organized religion and so on. But I've listened to and read him enough that I have a fair bit of respect for his willingness and ability to reason. For a spokesmodel-journalist he's quite aware of the presumptions, assumptions and implications of what he propounds. But on this one it really is as if he was wasted on really strong bud when he wrote and thought about it. I joke of course, but only in form, the point is meant seriously - wtf was he on?

    But Amanda Marcotte's condemnation would be a lot more decisive if she had held back some on the frankly abusive language and characterizations of Brooks. Her calling him a shameless and clueless idiot who should be fired and suffer embarrassment nightmares over lack of opinion-writing talent kinda doesn't much advance the important thing. Perhaps she means to be funny, idk, perhaps I lost my sense of humour because I'm high and it's the middle of the night. ;)

    For the record, here is his entire column, which, I note, does not argue that legalization is overall and on balance the wrong thing to do:

    Weed: Been There. Done That.

    For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.

    But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it.

    We didn’t give it up for the obvious health reasons: that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers; that smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed; that young people who smoke go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.

    I think we gave it up, first, because we each had had a few embarrassing incidents. Stoned people do stupid things (that’s basically the point). I smoked one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in English class. I stumbled through it, incapable of putting together simple phrases, feeling like a total loser. It is still one of those embarrassing memories that pop up unbidden at 4 in the morning.

    We gave it up, second, I think, because one member of our clique became a full-on stoner. He may have been the smartest of us, but something sad happened to him as he sunk deeper into pothead life.

    Third, most of us developed higher pleasures. Smoking was fun, for a bit, but it was kind of repetitive. Most of us figured out early on that smoking weed doesn’t really make you funnier or more creative (academic studies more or less confirm this). We graduated to more satisfying pleasures. The deeper sources of happiness usually involve a state of going somewhere, becoming better at something, learning more about something, overcoming difficulty and experiencing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

    One close friend devoted himself to track. Others fell deeply in love and got thrills from the enlargements of the heart. A few developed passions for science or literature.

    Finally, I think we had a vague sense that smoking weed was not exactly something you were proud of yourself for. It’s not something people admire. We were in the stage, which I guess all of us are still in, of trying to become more integrated, coherent and responsible people. This process usually involves using the powers of reason, temperance and self-control — not qualities one associates with being high.

    I think we had a sense, which all people have, or should have, that the actions you take change you inside, making you a little more or a little less coherent. Not smoking, or only smoking sporadically, gave you a better shot at becoming a little more integrated and interesting. Smoking all the time seemed likely to cumulatively fragment a person’s deep center, or at least not do much to enhance it.

    So, like the vast majority of people who try drugs, we aged out. We left marijuana behind. I don’t have any problem with somebody who gets high from time to time, but I guess, on the whole, I think being stoned is not a particularly uplifting form of pleasure and should be discouraged more than encouraged.

    We now have a couple states — Colorado and Washington — that have gone into the business of effectively encouraging drug use. By making weed legal, they are creating a situation in which the price will drop substantially. One RAND study suggests that prices could plummet by up to 90 percent, before taxes and such. As prices drop and legal fears go away, usage is bound to increase. This is simple economics, and it is confirmed by much research. Colorado and Washington, in other words, are producing more users.

    The people who debate these policy changes usually cite the health risks users would face or the tax revenues the state might realize. Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of drug use because that would imply that one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life.

    But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

    In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.


    By DAVID BROOKS
    NYTimes
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/03/opinion/brooks-weed-been-there-done-that.html
  2. Calliope
    Re: New York Times' David Brooks Has So Much To Be Ashamed Of, And Doesn’t Even Know

    And the NYTimes Editorial on the same general topic:

    The Marijuana Experiment

    On New Year’s Day, government-licensed recreational marijuana shops opened in Colorado, the first place in the world to regulate the drug “from seed to sale.” Later in 2014, marijuana retailers will open in Washington State. As public opinion shifts away from prohibition, these two states will serve as test cases for full-on legalization. Here’s what to watch for in the early stages of this experiment:

    THE FATE OF THE BLACK MARKET One of the basic arguments in favor of legalization is that it could eliminate the black market and create new tax revenue. But it’s not clear how quickly and to what extent this will actually happen. Marijuana sold at retail shops that pay taxes may well cost more than illegal marijuana, potentially keeping off-the-books dealers in business.

    UNDER-AGE SMOKING When the Justice Department announced in August that it would not sue to block state laws legalizing marijuana, James Cole, the deputy attorney general, emphasized that local governments must employ “strong and effective regulatory” systems. To avoid federal intervention, states will have to prove that they’re capable of enforcing bans on selling the drug to anyone under 21. Roughly 36 percent of 12th graders reported having used marijuana in 2013. From a public-health standpoint, it will be important to monitor whether youth usage rates in Colorado and Washington diverge from those in other states.

    MARKETING Washington banned marijuana ads near schools, libraries and playgrounds. In Colorado, marijuana vendors may run ads in print media only if there is “reliable evidence” that no more than 30 percent of the readership is under 21. But these policies may not be sufficient to satisfy the Justice Department, which said that it might step in if it saw marijuana “marketed in a manner to appeal to minors.” The Justice Department may not look kindly on THC-infused sweets, like cannabis gummy bears and brownies.

    INTERSTATE TRAFFICKING To stem the flow of marijuana across state lines, Colorado has imposed different rules on residents and visitors. Residents may buy up to an ounce per transaction but visitors only a quarter-ounce. Visitors are supposed to consume their purchases before returning home. Despite these precautions, cross-border trafficking may increase, especially if the price of marijuana in Colorado drops below the price in, say, neighboring Wyoming.

    ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION A big question is whether the widespread availability of marijuana will lead to decreased alcohol consumption, which recent research suggests might happen. That would be a boon for public health. (Heavy drinking is more harmful than heavy pot smoking, and costlier to society.) But if the use of one substance encourages use of the other, the consequences might be dire, particularly for road safety. It is more dangerous to drive after combining marijuana and alcohol than after using either alone.

    NYTimes Editorial Board

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/opinion/sunday/the-marijuana-experiment.html
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