I stopped by my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas' blog American Power this morning to see if he could provide me with a laugh or two to start my day and instead I found (sandwiched of course between two posts about what a super-brave, Christian patriot beauty queen Carrie Prejean is for wanting to deny gay people the right to marry each other because she totally read that gay people are bad in some old book once) this libertarian-esque take on personal freedoms:
There's been a lot of debate on health care the last few days. Check out this morning's Wall Street Journal, for example, "Soda Tax Weighed to Pay for Health Care" (via Memeorandum).The rest of the post is just a cut and paste job from another conservative blogger complaining about health care and socialized medicine so don't bother reading it but it was Don's thoughts on limiting human freedom as it pertains to ingesting certain "vice" substances for the benefit of the "public good" that caught my eye in general, and his opinion that "it's the Democrats who're always doing it" in particular, because I remembered reading something rather similar he wrote about cannabis legalization last month:
A "soda tax" is a "vice tax", like cigarette taxes, that gouges people for making personal choices that may have negaative externalities for the economy. The upshot, of course, is that limiting human freedom is taken as beneficial to the "public good." And it's the Democrats who're always doing it.
This is a response to Will Wilkinson's essay, "I smoke pot, and I like it."Now I don't drink soda (although I do like it) and I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't like them. Not only that, I don't like what they both do to people. 33% of American adults are obese and obesity-related deaths have climbed to more than 300,000 a year, second only to tobacco-related deaths which number 440,000 a year. I don't have any sons (that I know of, *wink*wink*) but if I did I would worry that they would come under the influence of bad people who drink soda, smoke cigarettes, and Zeus knows what else.
Fine. Good for you.
But I don't smoke pot, and I don't like it. Not only that, I don't like what it does to people, including people I know, and especially people I used to know, before they they fatally OD'd; and I worry that my sons will come under the influence of bad people who smoke pot, snort coke, and God knows what else; and my boys will be too inexperienced in the ways of the drug culture to know that what they're being turned on to could kill them.
Come to think of it, I would worry that my fictional sons would come under the influence of bad people who do anything, be it doing their laundry, visiting their local library or even praying to a god of their own choosing, because they're bad people. I guess the difference between Don and myself is that I have the ability to realize that doing those things, or even doing harmful things like drinking soda and smoking cigarettes, doesn't necessarily make someone a bad person. And I apply this same logic to those who recreationally and/or medicinally use cannabis.
But Don lacks that ability (in addition to apparently lacking the ability to talk to and educate his own sons about drug use) because he proceeds from a number of false assumptions that he holds either out of prejudice, ignorance or both. One is that cannabis and other recreational drugs are inherently bad in and of themselves, and that it therefore follows that anyone who uses these substances, regardless of their personal level of responsibility or lack of abuse, is a bad person. Another is that since all recreational drugs are bad and therefore rightly illegal, all recreational drugs are also categorized exactly the same and pose the same societal and health risks regardless of their strength or effects on the human body. In other words:
M'kay? Oh, and of course Don has never known anyone who has "fatally OD'd" smoking cannabis because that is physically impossible; it's never happened even once in all of recorded human history. That's right: 740,000 deaths in America every year from completely legal obesity and tobacco, not one death worldwide from illegal cannabis use ever. Later in the same post after relating a story about one of his former students who was arrested for drug possession with intent to distribute Don again applies the Mr. Mackey argument against drug legalization:
Do not tell me, Will Wilkinson, that "Marijuana is neither evil nor dangerous." Fancy-talking libertarians like you have the luxury of expounding on the "failed" war on drugs while kicking back in cozy offices at the Cato Intstitute, or some other free-market think tank. I mean, look at this blather: "the stigma of responsible drug use has got to end."You see cannabis is obviously evil and dangerous because someone Don knows was arrested trying to sell it and rather than promote responsible drug use by consenting adults he would prefer that it remain stigmatized instead, allowing hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Americans to suffer incarceration or worse at the hands of America's "failed" war on drugs. And also rather than employing scientific data and rational points of thought to prove his case he instead deftly applies the standard Glenn Beck/Cheech and Chong argument at the end there because since drugs are bad there's no point in taking any other argument to the contrary seriously, right?
Hey, man, can I borrow your Visine?
To return to my original point, this entire worldview smacks of rank hypocrisy. In the world Don lives in the government and everything it says or does is part of an elaborate ploy to take away your rights and freedoms by controlling and taxing everything you personally choose to put into your own body in the name of the "public good", and this is of course all the fault of and only done by oppressive and socialistic Democrats. But at the same time of course recreational drugs like cannabis are so incredibly dangerous and just plain evil that no intelligent adult should ever be allowed to use them and it's entirely necessary for the government to spend $50 billion a year to protect free Americans from their own actions by fining and/or imprisoning them in the name of the "public good". This is a phenomenon known as "cognitive dissonance" and it makes it very hard for many people to think and debate honestly and logically.
You want to drink soda and smoke cigarettes, Don? Fine, good for you; feel entirely free to get as fat and cancer-ridden as you'd like. I would never suggest that you or any other adult should be denied the right to do pretty much anything you want to your own body, as long as it does not directly harm anyone else's. But by the same token, do not presume to tell me or anyone else what to do to our's because you somehow think you know what's best for us. Conservatives like you constantly bitch and moan about the reviled "nanny state" within our government yet seem to have no apparent quarrels with it when it serves your own purposes and agenda. In a free America we call that hypocrisy, and we call people like you hypocrites of the first order.