Everyone on the entire internet today seems to be talking about the stupid, smug and utterly clueless op-ed on weed the exceedingly white David Brooks penned for the New York Times today. In the piece, Brooks harkens back to his wild and crazy days as a student, back when life was more carefree and experimental and conducive to “frolic.” He recalls doing silly things after getting blazed with his fellow young academics. Thus, the piece is filled with little nuggets of wisdom such as this…
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.
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.
I rarely smoke weed, but I can’t think of anyone I’d least like to get high with than David Brooks.
Anyway, he goes on, essentially making the argument that by legalizing pot we as a society are encouraging its use, therefore we are encouraging people to embrace being stupid.
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.
Brooks’ op-ed of course led fellow out-of-touch, middle-aged white person Joe Scarborough to weigh in with his approval on Morning Joe earlier today.
“I don’t get it, man. I don’t get the legalization thing,” Scarborough said. “I don’t want to get too much into it, I mean, seriously, it just makes you dumb. Pot just makes you dumb.”
Of course, Brooks and Scarborough are missing the larger points about the legalization of pot, the points that should be — and in most cases are — the driving forces behind the legalization movement: the countless lives and communities destroyed (disproportionately poor and minority lives and communities, mind you) by marijuana laws and the billions spent on enforcement of those laws while billions in potential marijuana tax revenues are missed out on.
That said, Scarborough was not quite done proselytizing.
“Never once did I say, ‘Hey man, that looks like something I want to do,’” Scarborough said. “Never smoked it, ’cause everybody that ever did just looked dumb as hell.”
Actually, Joe Scarborough, what makes one really look “dumb as hell” is enthusiastically railing against something on national TV and then admitting two seconds later that you never tried the thing that you just railed against.
Added bonus: one of the people who smoked weed with David Brooks, Connecticut-based psychotherapist Gary Greenberg, came forward today in a post on his personal blog, and what he wrote is pretty great.
I didn’t know before this morning that I was the “full-on stoner” who was one of the four reasons Dave gave up weed. Sorry as I am to hear that our frolics are now his shameful 4 a.m. memories, after all these years of silence, it’s nice to know I mattered to him, that I was a significant part of the moral life of someone so important and with such a strong “sense of satisfaction and accomplishment”—an achievement I guess I made possible by teaching him that “one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life.”
And here all along I thought he quit because of that time we got pulled over by the Radnor cops in senior year right after we’d clambaked his Mom’s Vista Cruiser, and first thing the cop does after the smoke clears is look him right in his red, red eyes, and said, “I don’t suppose it would go over so good if I went over to 632 Haverford Road and told Mr and Mrs Brooks their boy was out here with his clique smoking pot.” I was so impressed with the way Dave pulled himself together then. He didn’t beg for mercy or fight with the cop. Somehow he knew exactly how to go all bar mitzvah boy, how to talk to authority, how to flatter and impress and toady, even stoned to the gills, like his inner Eddie Haskell was deeper down than the pot could get. And it worked. The cop let us go, told us we were lucky he knew Dave and that we were white kids from Radnor, and later on, at the pizza house taking care of our munchies, chattering and cackling over our good luck and trying to figure out how Dave and the cop knew each other, busting on him for being a narc, Dave was quiet and pale and barely touched his hoagie, and I think that was the last time he smoked pot, at least with us.
I just found the other guys on facebook. Flights to Denver are cheap. Pot tourism is already happening, we can buy a cheap package, maybe even find a Vista Cruiser to rent or an air register to blow our smoke into, bake a whole floor of the hotel. If you’re reading this, Dave, consider it an invitation. Let’s go encourage our lesser pleasures, relive those days before we aged out and got all inhibited and gray, give ourselves some new embarrassing memories to wake up to at 4 a.m. Because there’s only one thing worse than waking up in the wee hours reminded of what an idiot you can be, and that’s having nothing at all to trouble you, just the smooth satisfaction of success.
Very well said, Mr. Greenberg.
And are we really debating the legalization of pot in 2013, what with all the other problems this country is facing? Jesus Christ this couldn’t be more ridiculous.
I want more like this!
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