Pardon me, but David Brooks should stick a bong up his ass
One of the best responses to David Brooks's remarkably stupid column against marijuana legalization comes from The Nation's Michelle Goldberg, who writes this:
Brooks's lament about marijuana legalization is astonishing in its blindness to ruined lives and the human stakes of a serious policy debate. Somehow, he's written a whole column about the drug war that doesn't once contain the words "arrest" or "prison." It's evidence not just of his own writerly weakness but of the way double standards in the war on drugs shield elites from reckoning with its consequences.
And the obvious problem, except to lazy pontificators like Brooks, is that the "war on drugs" highly disproportionately targets non-whites. Rich white guys, or even just most white guys, smoke pot and get away with it. Not so much, say, blacks. And so Brooks's argument that marijuana should remain illegal because it doesn't promote "temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship" is self-absorbed bullshit. It's the sort of bullshit I used to hear a lot of when I was a Straussian graduate student, when the cult of the ancients prevailed and we would distinguish ourselves from the nihilistic postmodern world around us by aspiring, at least in speech, to what we pretentiously thought of as higher form of citizenship, the sort of which Socrates might approve. (Actually, I thought this was bullshit back then as well, a simplistic perversion of Strauss's teachings, and I recoiled from it.) But I digress...
It's not that I object to "temperate, prudent, self-government citizenship." Liberal democracies require it to some degree, and it's when citizenship is perverted, when, say, we become consumers instead of citizens, that our democratic rights wither and we basically lose the capacity for self-government and indeed of enlightenment generally.
But it's ridiculous to connect this to marijuana use, unless of course Brooks wishes to ban alcohol as well, which is also ridiculous. Our concept of citizenship allows for a great deal of individual choice and freedom, and people in a free society should be allowed to do things that do not harm others and indeed in a free society the burden is on the government, the government of the people, to show that something is harmful and so should not be permitted. Driving 100 mph through a residential area or physically assaulting someone qualifies as something harmful or so potentially harmful that it is in society's interests to try to prevent it. Smoking pot doesn't. Not even close. You can smoke pot and be anything but a threat to others. You can also smoke pot and be a good citizen. But even if you smoke pot and don't vote, which I hardly recommend, so what? It's a free fucking country. No?
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