Bible Sanctions Booze, Pot Smokers Deserve to Die part II

Well, it is not tomorrow but I think I can be forgiven for being a bit distracted for Christmas. On with the show Virginia! On with the show!
In my last piece I dissected Mary Grabar’s initial post, which regurgitated every tired and moldy anti-legalization canard to be found. David Swindle (Editor of NewsRealBlog) tossed back a mild and well thought out rebuttal based in Conservative principals. My rebuttal was not quite as restrained.
Today I will look at Mary’s response to David’s post. Buckle up, Ms. Grabar’s reasoning is a tad convoluted to say the least.

“…Your post also points to a war of ideas, a war that conservative strategists have ignored to their peril. We lost the last election because we lost the culture war….”

Right off the bat we can see that Mary has bought into the whole partisan zero-sum attitude. It is a “war” that must be “won” against “enemies” that must be defeated. There is no room for nuance or compromise or intelligent debate in Mary’s political model. It is all us vs. them and winner take all, culturally as well as politically. Need I point out the fallacies of this attitude? Need I point out that all cultures are a blend of elements, some conservative, some liberal and some radical? Need I point out that the goal of politics should be to find the healthiest BALANCE of these elements not the total domination of one mindset? I guess I guess I someone should, at least to Mary.

“Many, including those on our side, have simply forgotten the traditions and values that inform the fight.”

Now here is a statement that I can agree with! I just don’t think Mary would like my applying it to HER as I do. I would recommend the estimable Ms. Grabar go and read up on pre-prohibition attitudes toward drugs and alcohol and the control of private use thereof.

“Many of the young have been brought up on the liberalism now reigning in our culture. It is a culture that says that all values are relative, that all matters of morality are a function of personal choice. This also seems to be the tack of a certain strain of libertarianism.”

Don’t you just hate it Virginia, when partisan types consistently misrepresent the position of their opponents? Frankly I would not misrepresent the stand of anyone, not even a Nazi or klansman. Lying in the pursuit of “Truth” serves only to kill truth. Leftist pseudo-Liberals do not promote the idea that all values are equal. They promote a select set of values, just as Mary does, and seek to promote them above all others, ESPECIALLY Western values. In fact they are partisan and very conscious of the “values” of their targets. Above all, lets us not fool OURSELVES about our enemies by distorting the actual reasons we claim others should oppose them with us. That path only leads to your own partisan form of political hell.

There is something a little disturbing about someone who cuddles up with you and pretends to agree (in VERY limited ways) in order to disarm your defenses before attacking. Limiting the freedom to make personal choices to buying health care and how they spend their money (on legal things I would assume) is hardly to agree with Libertarians on personal issues.

“…These libertarians rightly want to be left alone to live their lives. They want to be free to make their own decisions about health care and how they spend their money. They want to be free to protect themselves with firearms. I agree with all these goals.”

“But I often see something very reactionary in the responses that are made whenever laws affecting such social issues as drug use or prostitution come into play. An apt display is radio talk show host Burnie Thompson’s reference to Andrew Grande [who swallowed the bag of marijuana] as “a casualty of the war on drugs.” The statement, of course, ignores a central tenet of libertarianism, which is personal responsibility.”

Mary seems to be saying that since Mr. Grande CHOSE to take the risk of being caught by draconian punishments for a harmless vice he CHOSE to die in his attempt to evade those punishments. She totally misses the point that he should not have HAD to make such a choice in regard to marijuana! She misses the point that the government FORCED him to either toe their line or take such a risk! Since Ms. Grabar feels that forcing people to CHOOSE not to use pot is just fine, I guess it is only natural that she feels Mr. Grande was personally responsible for his own death! Forgive me if I disagree rather strongly.

“I think it also points to a certain absolutist world view, which goes something like “if we put any restrictions on marijuana all our freedoms are at peril.” But this absolutist worldview is based on an either/or fallacy. It promotes anarchy more than libertarianism. It assumes that we are a society of atomistic individuals; it can exist only in a cultural vacuum. The fact that I am accused of advocating “collectivism” because I favor keeping marijuana illegal I think is indicative.”

No Mary, it indicates that you just “don’t get it”; that you can’t see the difference between restricting behavior that harms others and restricting behavior that harms only the “criminal.”

“It is displayed, I think, by your proclamation,

[D. Swindle]“The federal government does not exist to make the world better. It’s not here to eliminate poverty. . . . It’s not supposed to try and make sure people can buy homes. . . . The founders never intended a government which would require all citizens to buy health insurance. . . . When government is shifted toward bringing about some form of utopia it fails.”
I agree on all these points, but fail to see how they are connected to the legalization of marijuana. Certainly, our government regulates substances it deems dangerous, doesn’t it? It regulates certain drugs by prescription and outlaws others that are deadly. That government regulation of a substance considered harmful will necessarily lead to infringements on all our freedoms seems to be a slippery slope argument.”

Virginia, did you know that all slippery slope arguments were fallacious? Neither did I! Forgive me if I wait for more evidence on that point before I jump onto Mary’s bandwagon.

Mary, the idea is that the government is not supposed to decide FOR the citizen what they should do, or not do to be happy. The things you confuse with personal acts are actually professional and business acts that ARE rightly controlled by the government. A doctor or business is not allowed to make false claims regarding a substance and may only SELL it in ways and for uses considered “Safe.” This is to protect the public from LIES and FRUAD and FAKE cures. There are MANY deadly substances in stores across the country, available to anyone. But, they are labeled for and sold ONLY for certain uses. IF I go into a hobby shop and ask for old style model plane glue (being over 18) to sniff they won’t sell it to me. But if I tell them it is for my model plane I can buy a case full.
The government’s intrusion into the PRIVATE and INFORMED decisions of its citizens on what to do what they will with their lives is not at all the same thing as the government telling a doctor not to prescribe opium tar as a wart removal cream!

“Like many of my detractors, you point to the harmlessness of the drug. But people are not thrown “in jail” for “growing and consuming a plant.” Surely, you would have to agree that marijuana is not just a “plant” that you would grow in your garden, like spinach. In fact, a better analogy might the one of growing poppies to produce opium.”

See Virgina, you have to love how she makes the legalization debate personal with “my detractors”. Unfortunately the rest of her statement is mostly truth-free. Is Ms. Grabar unaware of the food and textile uses of the plant we are discussing? Is she also unaware that marijuana is non-toxic while opium is extremely dangerous and addictive? Mary, how about the analogy of growing potatoes to make vodka? Or growing grapes to make wine? Or growing tobacco? Coffee? My dear, you are stretching yourself all out of shape trying to avoid this analogy. The sad fact is that it is true. The plant as it grows, with no processing at all can be consumed for effect. Why doesn’t Mary advocate for the banning of coffee and tobacco and alcohol? All of them are more toxic, more addictive and just as easily produced by nature! Mary Grabar’s Answer: tradition and personal prejudice; my way is right, your way is strange and dangerous, and PLEASE do not confuse the issue with facts.

“Part of the absolutism is the refusal to acknowledge any of the dangers associated with marijuana or the concessions I made about the dangers of alcohol. In my column I compared smoking marijuana to drinking alcohol, which I think is apt, depending on the strain of marijuana. Both are used socially, both are relaxants, and both can be addictive. The debate centers on legality.”

Hold on there a minute Mary! Let us take that one bit at a time. I am not swallowing any camels today!

The most powerful strain of marijuana that I have ever heard of cannot kill someone who smokes too much the way hard alcohol can! Pot cannot kill my uncle after a joint or three a day for 30 years the way his beer addiction did! It would not have turned him yellow with liver failure and caused yeast infections to burst from his skin all over his body the way the beer did!
The rest of Mary’s comparison is also outrageous! Relaxants? One drug is associated with “relaxing” such things as inhibitions against violence, vandalism, rape and verbal assault! The other is associated with relaxing, as in being mellow. Is it really “relaxing” when you depress social restraints beyond civilized limits?
The debate centers far from simple legality, it centers on commons sense rules no matter the “drug” and equal application of the law to all harmful behavior. If one behavior is bad how can a more harmful behavior be good? THAT Mary, is the debate.

“Although marijuana is illegal, the punishment for its possession (alone) usually is very light.”

The arrogance of this statement is simply staggering! A person does something harmless and the government punishes them AT ALL, and this is all just peachy with Ms. Grabar? Who are her “detractors”, people who think instead of obey?

“What legalization proponents (including William F. Buckley) don’t say is that many of those perpetrators serving prison sentences supposedly for “drug possession” have pled their cases down or are repeat offenders with long histories of other crimes, including violent crime. So in effect they are not serving sentences for smoking a joint in their living rooms as many imply.”

Is there any logic in this statement? There is certainly no compassion! And definitely no recognition of the whole “innocent until proven guilty” concept that underlies our American concept of jurisprudence!

Mary’s Apparent Thesis: Since SOME people sentenced for simple possession really committed (but cannot be CONVICTED of) more serious crimes this makes the mistreatment and punishment of those RIGHTLY convicted of mere possession fine and dandy!
Mary, go to jail, do not pass go and do NOT collect $200.00!! Instead go and pop open a can of beer on the street (unless you live in New Orleans) and spend a weekend in jail; see to what you condemn the innocent in your zeal to keep real offenders behind bars. And then Mary, remember that jail is a hundred times easier than prison to an otherwise law abiding citizen.

“Those who do smoke in their homes (without any punishment I might add) say, “Look, I smoke every day and pull in six figures and pay my taxes, don’t beat my wife or kids, etc., etc.” That may be true. It is also true for functioning alcoholics.”

Virginia, where does Mary think those people GET the marijuana? Dropped through the chiminy by storks with diplomatic immunity?  Even if someone grows their own there are too many nosy busybodies, like Mary out there peaking over fences to make that safe. Mary, where do you stand up for and advocate the legalization of home cultivation and consumption with retention of draconian laws only for sale or distribution?

“Again, the similarities between the two substances, and I revert back to an argument based on tradition and specifically our Judeo-Christian heritage. I openly—and non-relativisticaly—assert that it is a heritage that is superior to all others. I base my arguments on this premise…”

Isn’t it amazing how Mary can use alcohol as an argument in TWO directions at once!! On the one hand she compares successful pot smokers to functional alcoholics, to the pot smokers detriment. And then she goes on to excuse the alcoholics because of some supposed Biblical mandate to “drink responsibly” while avoiding all other intoxicants.

“In order to invoke the founding fathers, one needs to understand the cultural tradition they drew from. They read deeply and drew upon the rich traditions of Western thought. They agree with George Washington as he says in his Farewell Address, “Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. . . . Who that is a sincere friend [to our form of government] can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?” I believe I was pointing beyond the isolated use of marijuana to the foundations.”

Which all amounts to nothing since Washington grew hemp and so did Jefferson and both were aware of the intoxicating properties of the plant! No where did they advocate for the government control of what individuals did with it. They might have even partaken of it themselves according to extant correspondence!!! Mary exists in a post prohibition mentality that she assumes has been a feature of America since its founding.

“Barry Goldwater in The Conscience of a Majority bemoaned the decay of morality, of the acceptance of the once “unthinkable” that “eventually could bring about the destruction of our free society”: “The ‘unthinkable’ says automatically that because of ‘changing times’ we not only must alter our old methods of living, but we also must change all of our previously held attitudes. Thus, you find a vicious and growing attack directed at every tradition, every standard and belief—no matter how fundamental it might be to an ordered society of freedom and justice. . .” I think we see this now with libertarian arguments that argue along lines divorced from tradition, standard, and belief. The “unthinkable” also concerns those behaviors that on their face have no harmful effects. One of these might be public nudity. I can imagine an “unthinkable” scene, of nude citizens in the public square smoking joints. It’s funny, but logically consistent with the arguments of those who would legalize marijuana and all other non-harmful behaviors. Our culture since Goldwater’s writing has accepted many, many other once “unthinkable” acts, usually to the detriment of our society.”

Ms. Grabar picks a good example to display her prejudices! In just what way would allowing people to be nude and smoke pot in public change ANYTHING about the core of our culture or REAL moral values? Mary has lit on two perfect silly “morals” that merely highlight how draconian “Biblical” values can be distorted to enforce a person’s neurotic need to “save” people from something that causes them no harm; like simple nudity. I might ask Mary just where in the teachings of Jesus he instructs people to enshrine religious faith in secular government. Where did He tell Christians to legislate His ideals into secular law and punish Christians AND non-Christians who transgressed against them? Or is Mary confusing the Bible with the Quran?

“For arguments based on practical reasons, I encourage readers to look up the comments of my friend Tina Trent who blogs on crime.”

We got a sample of Tina’s “logic” in my last post. I should give her some attention one of these days. I am sure I will find her “arguments” to be a veritable playground of silliness.

“She gives many good reasons why legalization won’t lower crime rates. In my column, I also linked an article that indicated that the legalization of marijuana in certain states has given young people the idea that it is safe. It is not safe. It has serious health effects. It is addictive. I personally know people who smoke it every day. They started young. One started after being in a motorcycle accident and used it for pain. These are people who are supporting themselves, true. But they are people who are operating way below capacity, who have lost the ability to think logically or to care enough to argue logically. Their emotional relationships are shallow. They have lost initiative and that fighting spirit that defends the idea of liberty.”

And of course America needs to take Ms. Grabar’s anecdotal evidence and personal judgments as gospel truth! The fact that we may not have the same experience that she has or that we have or own evidence that she is completely wrong should be ignored. And especially we need to ignore the school of psychology that says that it is the PERSON that controls the risks of addictions more than the substances. There are those who can become addicted to ANYTHING. Mary also ignores the concept that personality types are attracted to different things. The kind of person who becomes addicted to cigarettes and cocaine is not the same person who would likely become addicted to beer and pasta. Lifestyle and personality and personal susceptibility to TYPES of addiction are major factors.

“Why now put the imprimatur of legality on a substance that does this?”

Why not make ANYTHING that has a potential to be harmful to certain people off limits to protect those who are vulnerable? Why? Because that would be an impermissible infringement on the freedom of all those people who are NOT at high risk and who act responsibly. Ms. Grabar’s political philosophy ends with everyone locked in a padded cell with a rubber spoon lest they harm themselves or someone else! And even in that she is not sincere, since she limits herself to attacking “illegal” drugs and totally excuses all currently legal yet dangerous substances. Her hero is not health, it is Status Quo.

“One of the things that sets our culture above others is that we are a nation of laws—reasonable laws. And laws for possession of small amounts of marijuana need to remain at the misdemeanor level. This does not take away our freedom to use drugs in a legitimate manner, nor detract from our other freedoms.”

According to Mary we need to be content with whatever freedoms our paternal government allows us. The limitations are all for our own good after all. What was that Virginia? You say that it has been documented that the criminalization of marijuana in the 30’s never had a legitimate basis? That it was a ploy by BUSINESS interests with collusion by racists? Well, never mind, I am SURE it was for our good after all. Mary Grabar Says So.

“The culture warriors of the 1960s used a multi-pronged approach to effecting a change in “consciousness.” One of those was to present the “unthinkable” in libertarian terms. Nudity, sex out in the open, orgies, destruction of public places, desecration of art—why not? The acceptance of all kinds of behavior, including some extremely self-destructive behavior, by my students worries me. They cannot articulate reasons why some behaviors—even those that seemingly affect only individuals—should be condemned. They cannot articulate reasons why our culture is superior to others.”

There we have it! Marijuana is evil because Mary’s English students can’t argue! Since Mary herself has limited debate skills I think it is a bit rude for her to condemn her students for the same crime!“Law and Order” is not the same as enforcing your cultural prejudices on others regardless of the merit of the “tradition”! It is also not the same as forbidding any behavior your culture finds “weird” while defending any that are familiar REGARDLESS of the actual effects of the behaviors! As Jefferson said; (paraphrase) if it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg what business is it of mine? Or of Mary Grabar?

As I see it, this debate really is about more than whether or not you smoke a joint in your living room—which for all practical purposes neither I nor the cop on the street much cares about. What I do care about is this one more capitulation in the Culture Wars.”

“Conservatives need to focus on educating young people who have been kept in ignorance about how our culture and country have provided them the freedoms they now enjoy. As Goldwater said in 1964, there is no freedom without law and order. The debate about drug laws entails larger questions about cultural values. To argue in an arid, absolutist manner is to indicate a certain disregard for our heritage.”

Mary reminds me of those Senators who voted AGAINST a solidly moral amendment to a bill because it was proposed by a LEFTIST (Al Franken) and MIGHT be a PLOY. Forget the actual EFFECT of the amendment! WE MUST NOT LOSE OR EVEN LOOK BAD was the mantra of the ten, and in avoiding the “ploy” they ended up looking evil at worst and stupid at best.

I think the rest of us would rather recognize the nuances and admit that no one ideology should be allowed free reign in exchange for the promise of “Freedom, IF you will OBEY”!