Monday, June 06, 2011

End the War?

Recently, there was a report about a host of "world leaders" who came together to call for an end to the "War On Drugs" because of what a failure it supposedly has been. There are those who feel that since efforts to lower drug use have failed (despite reports of fewer people using--not saying they're accurate, only that they exist), well we should just throw in the towel and not waste the money fighting this losing battle. Mostly left-wingers support this move.

At the same time, there are those on the right who speak disparagingly about the "War On Poverty". They feel the money spent on this struggle is also a waste.

There are other such wars, such as wars on "obesity" and "illiteracy". In each case, there are those who feel that we are losing or that we are wasting the money. In short, they want to quit. Give up. Wave the white flag.

The pattern here is evident in real war. Since Viet Nam (though the attitude has always existed to some extent throughout history), there are those for whom the costs of engagement rise to a level of great discomfort.

How did this happen? At what point did our national spine weaken so badly that no struggle is worth the effort to overcome? Was it the same time rules of engagement have changed so much as to make any effort almost futile?

Let's set aside real war and speak of those metaphorical wars mentioned first. Take the war on drugs. Without getting into whether or not any or all drugs should be legalized or de-criminalized, how should we respond to any call to end such a "war"? Seems to me that such calls are misguided. The drugs in question are illegal. They cause harm. The people who manufacture and market them cause even greater harm. The industry syphons money from the economy and puts it in the hands of very bad people, leaving behind fewer dollars to fix the problems caused by the use of the drugs. Ending the war will only alter the dynamic slightly. The bad guys will still engage in illegal activity in order to earn their living. That's what they do. The drug users will still use drugs, but do it more openly and likely more often. In short, there will be no tangible improvement of life in the country due to withdrawing our forces from the battlefield.

But the attitude that's behind this call is what is most troubling. QUIT! That's what is being suggested. Quit because it's hard! People are going to do drugs anyway, they say. There's nothing we can do about it.

Well. Here's another war that's hard! The "War On Crime". We've been waging this war for centuries. It has not abated. Let's call it a draw and go home. People will engage in criminal acts anyway. What's the use? We could use that money spent on law enforcement elsewhere.

Obviously, just as in real wars, the trouble is not the cause, but how we go about fighting. Generally speaking, recreational drugs are harmful, dangerous and a threat to the well being of our citizenry, especially children. The war must go on until victory is achieved. For victory is the only exit strategy worth mentioning. How to we measure victory? Just as in real war, when the enemy is defeated, totally, unconditionally and with extreme prejudice.

115 comments:

Stan said...

"Quit because it's hard!"

That often seems to be a prevailing attitude, doesn't it? (For instance, "We're getting a divorce because it's too hard.") I am, on the other hand, fascinated by the images of Americans from World War II who thought nothing of rationing and limiting their own consumption in order to help the war effort abroad. What changed?

Jim said...

"The war must go on until victory is achieved."

And what would be "victory" in the war on drugs?

Vinny said...

Do you think we should have stuck with Prohibition?

Marshall Art said...

Jim,

I'm going to assume that was a serious question. How do we measure victory in the war on crime, of which drugs is only a part? There is no end because human nature won't allow it. So victory is a matter of resolve, just as it is in any war. Do we have the resolve to see it through, no matter what? With crime, and drugs specifically, "no matter what" is that part of humanity that will never seek higher levels of character and thus will always be a thorn in the side of the other half that does.

And that would be traditional notions of what constitutes good character and high moral values and virtue, not redefined notions that actually signify surrender to the very character flaws that are causing the problems.

The "war" is really a war with ourselves. Each of us fighting our darker selves. That war ends when our lives do. Victory is a matter of what happens after.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

The problem with Prohibition was that what was targeted by that war was already ingrained in the social fabric of our culture. The same would go for tobacco, but at the same time, that war rages on and there seems to be progress there.

We could say that moderation is the key with all of it, and that responsible people can consume without doing harm. This is obviously true with booze. We can't say the same for all recreational drug use.

At the same time, most recreational drugs have NEVER been legal and/or socially acceptable. They were NEVER is widespread use within our society. To now allow them legally doesn't really make sense if one cares about one's fellow man.

Also, with Prohibition, we know that again legalizing hootch didn't do much to end the organized crime that profitted by their black market sales. But unlike drugs, crime wasn't the main factor for ending Prohibition. It was the fact that it was a substance that had been legal and most folks didn't want it taken from them. With drugs, the crime is more the focus, it seems.

But all in all, this post is more about the attitude of surrender and not the argument for legalization. Stan shows the attitude is prevalent in relationships. It is prevalent in the area of sexuality, as so many of my posts indicate. It is far too common these days to give in to the urge to surrender than to continue to stand for what everyone knows intrinsically is right. The "War On Drugs" angle was merely the latest example.

Vinny said...

As W.C. Fields once said “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no sense being a damn fool about it.”

I don’t know how you can sensibly talk about an attitude of surrender without considering whether a fight is worth fighting, whether the chances of achieving the ultimate goal justify the collateral damage.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

Bill's comment aside, would you advise giving up the war on crime? Should we let children act childish, and teens run wild? Can we ever hope to eliminate any of it from our culture? Or should we steal our resolve and stand firmly for righteousness and virtue? Have you just given up on all of it?

Parklife said...

"let children act childish"

lol.. how would you like them to act?

Parklife said...

"war on crime?"

indeed..

Parklife said...

"intrinsically is right"

Ma, you're trying to walk on water.

Vinny said...

I think we should figure out a way to stop adults from acting childish before we worry about stopping children. I think teens have to be allowed some room to make their own mistakes. I don't think "war on crime" is a particularly helpful metaphor.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

If children are raised properly, we don't need to worry about adults acting childishly.

A nephew of mine is currently recovering from a mistake. Thus far, it cost him a foot. Whether or not he'll pay with the other leg is yet to be determined. Because their mistakes can be huge, teens need more oversight than some believe. As above, how teens were raised while still children determines just how much leash is appropriate.

"I don't think "war on crime" is a particularly helpful metaphor."

What would you prefer? "Kinetic military action"? How serious should our efforts in thwarting crime be? I'd say war-like. This goes to the point regarding our resolve in doing what is right and what must be done. There is no half-way in correcting such societal lapses, nor should there be.

Vinny said...

If children are raised properly, we don't need to worry about adults acting childishly.

Maybe we should conduct a war on bad parenting.

Marshall Art said...

If only we could find a way.

Vinny said...

If only we could find a way.

That is the problem with all such metaphors. Whether its the war on crime, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on poverty, or the war on obesity, calling it a "war" doesn't help you determine whether the goal can be achieved in a way that you can live with.

Mark said...

Speaking metaphorically, we may not be able to eradicate illegal drugs or crime, but we can make some changes to our battle plan that can inflict more casualties.

For instance, as it is currently, we arrest drug users and criminals, slap them on the wrist and then put them right back on the streets.

We need to get tough. Arrest these criminals and put them under the jail. Eventually, the message will get out that there is no tolerance, and the war will get easier.

Dan Trabue said...

At the same time, most recreational drugs have NEVER been legal and/or socially acceptable.

I don't think this is true. Marijuana, cocaine, opium all use to be legal and in use recreationally, I believe...

source

source

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

this post is more about the attitude of surrender and not the argument for legalization.

If you're driving down the road and miss your exit, is it "surrender" to turn around and go back?

IF you believe that our "war on drugs" is a good and right thing, then maybe it would be surrendering to quit because it was difficult. I believe that most people who advocate ending the "war" don't believe it to be a good thing.

For me, IF prohibition worked (on alcohol, on cigarettes, on drugs), then MAYBE it would be worth surrendering that bit of individual liberty, but not really. People are free to do as they wish as long as it doesn't harm others. It's a poor idea, and contrary to American ideals, to try to criminalize any and all behaviors that individuals find distasteful, even if those behaviors don't cause harm to others.

But given that prohibition has never worked AND that it is an unreasonable infringement on liberty (even the liberty to be stupid), I think the only wise thing to do is stop the car, turn around and go back.

That's not surrender. That's wisdom.

Vinny said...

Marijuana, cocaine, opium all use to be legal and in use recreationally, I believe...

That's true, but it wasn't good white Protestant folks that were using them. It was the Catholic Mexicans using marijuana and the heathan Chinese using opium. Of course part of the push for Prohibition was the idea that it was mostly the drunken Irishmen and other Catholics who went to taverns.

Parklife said...

"we can make some changes to our battle plan that can inflict more casualties."

Mark.. you have a way with words.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

"I don't think this is true. Marijuana, cocaine, opium all use to be legal and in use recreationally..."

I don't think three drugs constitutes "most". Besides, it was a general statement and despite the legal status of the three you've named, I don't think you can say that any of them were widely accepted socially. Whatever acceptance any of them may have had soon evaporated once the true impact of their use became known. Indeed, even if we take Vinny's comments seriously, the Chinese didn't look upon opium as benign, nor do I believe the other groups he named looked upon drug and alcohol abuse with pride.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Regarding your second comment,

"If you're driving down the road and miss your exit, is it "surrender" to turn around and go back?"

You have an incredible gift for bad analogies. How does simply driving parallel eradicating bad behaviors?

"IF you believe that our "war on drugs" is a good and right thing, then maybe it would be surrendering to quit because it was difficult. I believe that most people who advocate ending the "war" don't believe it to be a good thing."

The issue here isn't the war on drugs itself. It's the attitude driving the push to "end the war" that's at issue. Unless all the "world leaders" calling for the end, including I believe George Mitchell, are users, they're surrending due to the perceived difficulty and expense of the objective. Even if we assume the "most people" to whom you refer are non-users themselves, what percentage of them think it is a good thing for our society to have free access to drugs of any kind?

I could agree that perhaps the tactics and strategy could stand some review. But to end the war? Because it's hard? Because it's expensive? That's sad. That's spineless. One must make a case, and a really solid case, that we'd be better off by allowing free access to drugs of any kind. If one cannot be made, the war must be fought because without that argument, it must be understood that we are NOT better off.

Drug addictions indeed harm more people than just the addicted. Drug abusers are a burden on society, just as drunks are. Where's the wisdom in enabling more of it by legalizing or decriminalizing drugs?

But again, the point isn't merely about the war on drugs. That was a vehicle to speak on a lack of resolve. To use your bad analogy, it would mean missing that turn and giving up on the destination because of the trouble of turning around.

Marshall Art said...

"Mark.. you have a way with words."

If only you did as well, Parkie, then you wouldn't continue to embarrass yourself with stupid comments.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

But to end the war? Because it's hard? Because it's expensive?

No. End it because it's wrong. Stupid. Destroying families, people and society as much as the drugs themselves are.

We ought to end this war because it's NOT working, contrary to our American values and an infringement upon our liberty.

Craig said...

So if drugs are destroying people, society, and families we should legalize them, great point.

It would be interesting to see if/how many of the "world leaders" benefit or profit from the drug trade.

Finally, I'd be more open to legalization if we could somehow limit the ability of those who choose to damage themselves to access public support.

Vinny said...

Here's what George Shultz and Paul Volker wrote in today's Wall Street Journal:

"'The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.'

That is the opening sentence of a report issued last week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Both of us have signed on to this report."

Neither man favors complete legalization.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

if drugs are destroying people, society, and families we should legalize them, great point.

That's a big "IF." Not that I'm advocating drugs of any sort, but I'd think it would be a hard case to make that drugs are destroying (or costing) society nearly as much as the personal auto. Do you think criminalizing driving is a good idea?

I'm suggesting, as always, that as a general rule, we probably shouldn't criminalize behavior that does no harm to others. If someone wants to smoke and potentially give themselves cancer, that's their right. But they don't have the right to smoke in a room full of other people.

If people want to drink alcohol in their home and addle their brain, that's their business, but they don't have the right to drink and drive.

If people want to smoke marijuana in their own home, that's their business, as long as they're not harming others.

This business of criminalizing behavior of which we disapprove is just contrary to American values and practically-speaking, not a good idea. See "prohibition."

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

Thanks for the link. It saved me time I don't have for searching out exact positions of any of the "world leaders". There is much in the column with which I can easily disagree and find fault. But rather than begin a tangent on drug control, I can state that they somewhat align with my sentiments. They at least seem to be doing something other than calling for an end to the war on drugs, but switching tactics. That's somewhat reassuring, though they provide no example of alternatives. They also seem to think that deaths and crime related to the drug trade will be lessened by a change of tactics. That is highly doubtful since they intend that suppliers still be the focus of law enforcement. So, if we're not to legalize the drugs, but only the use of them, how does that change anything? The suppliers will still kill to maintain their profits, lest every user construct his own meth lab for personal use, or plant a field of poppy, coca or cannabis, etc. The suppliers won't like that. Nor will the neighbors.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

There's nothing "wrong" with having a war on drugs and their use. It's a noble cause for obvious reasons, or at least obvious to thinking people. I would disagree that what we now do is "wrong", except for being incomplete. And it is completely, to be gracious, naive to say that drug use harms no one but the user. Would the death of your wife or child from an overdose be totally harmless to you personally? What of the costs to you in order to provide treatment for them if they didn't die, but only were slowly destroying themselves? What of the burden to the health care system for dealing with self-inflicted, and thus totally preventable addictions and related harm to the users? How is standing back doing nothing in the meantime reflect any American value?

Not to mention, that drug abusers WILL drive and impose upon the rest of society in a variety of ways beyond what was mentioned thus far.

It is also ridiculous and, to be gracious, far, far worse than merely naive to suggest that the personal auto is responsible for more harm to society than drugs. Peddle that lame crap elsewhere. Your hatred of motor vehicles is psychotic. I insist that you never call upon an ambulance, fire truck or squad car should you or yours suffer any unfortunate incident. If help cannot arrive by foot or bicycle, tough.

Anyway, the issue isn't the war on drugs, as I have said, but the lack of resolve in dealing with difficult issues.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

There's nothing "wrong" with having a war on drugs and their use.

So, you're saying it's "noble" to criminalize behavior that might be harmful to individuals? So, given that there are millions killed each year by the personal auto, you support criminalizing cars?

You have no consistent ethos that I can see by which you'd criminalize behaviors, Marshall. Do you have any consistent criteria that you hold as to when and when NOT to criminalize behavior or is it as whimsical as it appears?

Craig said...

Dan,

Your comparison of drugs to automobiles is quite strange to say the least.

At a very minimal level that automobile brings a number of positive things to society while drugs bring nothing positive to society.

I would think that if you were to back out the number of vehicle deaths (which have been consistently dropping for the last 30 years or so) that are driver caused (ie. impaired driving, use of electronic devices, speeding, driving carelessly etc.) you would have a hard time making your case. Because those things are not the responsibility of the vehicle, but of the driver.

If you are suggesting that those who choose to destroy themselves with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes do not damage others then it would seem that you are a bit naive.

If you are suggesting that we as a society do not support those who damage themselves through drug use I agree. Those who are drug users should not receive public support with the possible exception of treatment.

Your problem is you can't make the case that the automobile inherently causes more harm than good. Nor can you support the position that drugs bring anything positive to society.

But, as MA said, the point is the desire to quit because it's too hard.

Vinny said...

The comparison has also been made to Prohibition, which any rational person can see is as perfect a parallel as one could hope to find. Based on that experience, we can see the utter futility as well as the incredibly destructive side effects of trying to eradicate drug use through the use of criminal sanctions.

You want to see a strong case for legalization? It's right there in the history books.

You want to continue the war on drugs? Then suggest a viable strategy that has some reasonable chance of success rather than urging us to follow strategies that are proven failures.

Let's learn from our mistakes rather than repeating them endlessly just for the sake of demonstrating our "resolve."

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

Once again, the difference is in the fact that alcohol and tobacco were already integrated into our culture in a manner that had gained widespread tolerance, if not approval. There was already a distinction with alcohol between acceptable use and unacceptable abuse. Tobacco was not initially seen as harmful.

None of this is perfectly in parallel with drug use, especially with so many of them capable of killing with a single use. There was no widespread social acceptance of ANY use of narcotics in our society, with the possible exception of medical uses.

But if you're talking about adjusting tactics, then you're not talking about ending the war or showing a lack of resolve. But, I would say that any legalization or decriminalization without a viable alternative strategy for fighting the war is foolhardy and a surrender to selfish desires to both engage in dangerous drug use as well as to abdicate responsibility to better our society. Furthermore, it would be difficult to predict the impact of legalization on usage by the general population as we cannot determine who might be attracted to the idea of experimenting but for their being currently illegal. I've encountered many whose main objection to pot is that it is illegal.

As to using history to decide legalization, you are aware that AA is doing good business, don't you? You do realize that there still exists a substantial number of arrests for drunken driving, don't you?

I want to continue the war on crime as well. What has history shown us about that? Let's just legalize theft, murder and rape because they go on all the time.

Marshall Art said...

"So, you're saying it's "noble" to criminalize behavior that might be harmful to individuals? So, given that there are millions killed each year by the personal auto, you support criminalizing cars?"

I realize Craig addressed this inanity, but I just have to throw in. Driving is not bad behavior. Drunkenness, hence any intoxication, is. Sheesh!

Dan Trabue said...

Just to point out: Smoking weed by itself is not bad behavior. Driving impaired because of it is.

People can and do engage in drug usage in at least a relatively responsible way. We can criminalize HARMFUL behavior that RESULTS from the irresponsible drug users (drunk driving, theft, etc) without criminalizing the behavior itself.

Again, the problem with your position is you have no consistent rationale to go behind it: If we applied the same approach (war on drugs) to OTHER topics, we'd be criminalizing just about everything. Eating fatty foods is bad for you, let's criminalize it. Driving cars costs society a LOT, let's criminalize it. "I think Muslims are bad," let's criminalize it.

Where would it end?

You have no rational rationale for your position that I can see.

We can't - or oughtn't - be in the business of criminalizing behavior we find personally offensive. This just makes no sense, especially from the "small gov't" crowd.

Dan Trabue said...

The point I'm making is that we're NOT talking about giving up because it's hard, we're talking about stopping something that's just wrong and was a bad idea in the first place.

Are there SOME out there who want to quit because it's hard? I am sure there must be.

But I know of none who hold that position. Everyone I know who is opposed to these laws is opposed because we think they're wrong and not working.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Intoxication is bad behavior for those who abide Scripture. For all others, perhaps not. But illicit drug possession is not illegal because one gets high. It is illegal because one gets dead, or causes harm to others while under the influence.

Your understanding of the "small gov't crowd" is as misguided as ever. For society to deem the legalization of these substances to be hazardous or even merely uncouth, it is not beyond reason for it to ban them for the good of society. And just because we already allow alcohol and tobacco, for reasons mentioned already, it is also widely believed that legalizing other substances will compound the problems society already faces due to alcohol and tobacco consumption. This despite those of us who can consume alcohol in a responsible manner.

You continue to want to discuss drug laws in a post not created for that purpose. Nor is it about fatty foods or driving cars. It is about the lack of resolve in fighting for what one believes and for what is righteous. In the case of drugs, it isn't about what anyone finds personally offensive, but about what one knows is harmful to society as well as to the users.

Your worries about gov't interference in personal lives is hollow if you insist on the whole of us supporting socialist notions of health care financing. If you insist that an Obamacare style system should be in place, then keeping drugs illegal is even more important because now it isn't a merely personal matter. It becomes a public matter when the general public must contribute to the costs of drug abuse.

Vinny said...

Once again, the difference is in the fact that alcohol and tobacco were already integrated into our culture in a manner that had gained widespread tolerance, if not approval. There was already a distinction with alcohol between acceptable use and unacceptable abuse. Tobacco was not initially seen as harmful.

I doubt that the differences were nearly as great as you think, but it doesn’t really matter, because none of those differences are relevant to your reasons for wanting to continue the war on drugs.

Ending prohibition showed a lack of resolve.
Giving up the battle against alcohol was spineless.
Ending prohibition was surrender.
We ended prohibition because it was hard and expensive.
Alcohol abuse hurts others besides the abusers.
Alcohol abusers are a burden on society.
It costs money to treat alcohol abusers.
Ending prohibition made alcohol more easily available.

Although there are differences between alcohol and other drugs—mostly alcohol is a bigger problem—none of the arguments you have made in favor of continuing the war on drugs would not have applied equally well to continuing the war on alcohol. If you really believed anything you were saying, you would be advocating that we bring back prohibition.

Vinny said...

MA,

When you say that “alcohol and tobacco were already integrated into our culture in a manner that had gained widespread tolerance,” all that means is that it is harder and more expensive to rid society of their evil influence and effects. Since you insist that difficulty and expense don’t provide any justification for tolerating drugs, how can they provide any justification for tolerating alcohol and tobacco?

Craig said...

"Smoking weed by itself is not bad behavior. Driving impaired because of it is."

By the same token driving by itself is not bad behavior.


I don't have time to check but isn't there some suggestion in scripture that becoming impaired (whether drunk, high or whatever) is frowned upon? If this is the case then it becomes harder to justify drug use.

Vinny said...

I seem to recall Jesus' first miracle having something to do with making wine to keep a party going.

Craig said...

Eph 5:18 was what I had in mind.

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery."

It would seem reasonable that this passage would be talking about any type of intoxication.

I guess one could interpret this as the ability to use drugs as long as you don't get high.

Marshall Art said...

"I doubt that the differences were nearly as great as you think, but it doesn’t really matter, because none of those differences are relevant to your reasons for wanting to continue the war on drugs."

This isn't about whether or not I favor the war on drugs. It's about quitting in the face of difficulty, lack of resolve in fighting for a good cause, giving in to evil and wickedness because it seems overwhelming, difficult and/or expensive.

"Ending prohibition showed a lack of resolve.
Giving up the battle against alcohol was spineless.
Ending prohibition was surrender.
We ended prohibition because it was hard and expensive.
Alcohol abuse hurts others besides the abusers.
Alcohol abusers are a burden on society.
It costs money to treat alcohol abusers.
Ending prohibition made alcohol more easily available."


All true.

"Although there are differences between alcohol and other drugs—mostly alcohol is a bigger problem—..."

...because it is easily accessible through its legal status...

"...none of the arguments you have made in favor of continuing the war on drugs would not have applied equally well to continuing the war on alcohol."

I agree.

"If you really believed anything you were saying, you would be advocating that we bring back prohibition."

But you are not commenting on what I am saying, which is that this call for an end to the war on drugs is an example of spineless lack of resolve. Thus, my personal position on the legalization of drugs is irrelevant to the discussion.

The war on drugs began as a way to rid our culture of that which was deemed harmful and destructive. Never mind the source of the harm and destruction, which in this case is drugs. The point is that now that the going has been understood as having gotten tough, the tough are now nowhere to be found. Few remain with the resolve and fortitude to do what is right and fight the fight. It is the same in other areas of life, as Stan understood in his example of divorce. THAT is the point here. Not drugs/alcohol prohibition.

But I'll say this much about your obsession with the wrong point: There is no disconnect or hypocrisy in supporting a continuation of the war on drugs while not supporting a return to prohibition. In my lifetime, alcohol and tobacco have always been legal. Drugs have not. With one exception, I recognize the greater dangers involved with consumption of illegal drugs, so that in general, I understand that to allow these substances to be legalized will compound the problems we have always faced with alcohol and tobacco. As the war is still ongoing, I support its continuation particularly in light of the fact that no better alternative has been presented. Legalization alone is nowhere near a better plan, especially as it is proposed that funds used to fight the war be used to treat abusers' addictions. No way. Since they are illegal, the funds are properly used to enforce existing law. If made legal, those same funds would then be improperly used to treat those who made the bad choices that led to their abuse problems.

Marshall Art said...

"I seem to recall Jesus' first miracle having something to do with making wine to keep a party going."

If you are suggesting that Jesus performed the miracle for the purpose of enabling drunken behavior, you'll need to provide more to make that case.

Vinny said...

If you are suggesting that Jesus performed the miracle for the purpose of enabling drunken behavior, you'll need to provide more to make that case.

Have you never read the story? "When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people (K)have [d]drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.'" John 2:9-10.

Notice what is going on. Jesus was making wine for men who had already drunk so freely that they couldn't tell the good stuff from the bad stuff. If that's not enabling drunken behavior, I don't know what is.

Few remain with the resolve and fortitude to do what is right and fight the fight. It is the same in other areas of life, as Stan understood in his example of divorce. THAT is the point here.

I'm sorry but you have to be able to show that what you think is right actually is right and worth fighting for before you can expect me to take you seriously when you talk about resolve and fortitude.

Mark said...

Art we may expand your point to include the waging of real wars. Real, violent, bloody, body maiming and death casing wars.

We showed the resolve it took to win in WWII by dropping two atom bombs on Japan which resulted in ending the war forthwith.

However, starting with Vietnam (some might even say Korea), our leaders wussed out and gave in to the vocal minority and, frankly, more or less quit. Because the effort was just too hard for them. After all, they had their re-election bids to consider.

Mark said...

Dan, your analogy comparing cars with drugs is ridiculous. You are comparing apples to oranges.

If you had any common sense at all, you'd say this:

"Yah, you're right. I used a faulty analogy. Allow me to change it to something more appropriate such as something that results from bad behavior. I apologize for making such a foolish comparison. Let me try again."

But alas, you have no common sense. But, at least we may have finally succeeded in discovering the reason behind your nonsensical arguments:

You're high on illegal drugs.

That would explain both your nonsensical inane opinions and your defense of illegal drug use.

Marshall Art said...

Jeez, Vinny. You're kidding, right?

Was Jesus getting married? Was HE throwing the feast? Was the waiter talking to Jesus? No. He was talking to the bridegroom. It wasn't a matter of keeping the drunks drunk. Helping out saved the host embarrassment that could have led to, at the very least, severe social consequences. In some eastern areas, possibly here at that time, even civil consequences. Such feasts could last a week and to not be prepared to keep the guests fed and quenched would have been a cultural faux pas to say the least. So to put forth the notion that Jesus performed the miracle to keep people drunk as opposed to merely helping out the host, despite potential drunkenness, is an incredible stretch and bastardization of the point of the story.

What's more, you assume that one who gets buzzed can no longer tell the difference between good wine and bad, rather than simply no longer caring. Drunkenness does not eliminate one's ability to differentiate between what tastes good and what doesn't. It certainly never had for me.

"I'm sorry but you have to be able to show that what you think is right actually is right and worth fighting for before you can expect me to take you seriously when you talk about resolve and fortitude."

Again, you're kidding, right? The cause isn't the point, Vinny. It's what the sentiment was at first compared to loss of resolve later. I didn't start the war on drugs. Thus, I don't have to speak at all on whether or not it is a just war in order to comment on the resolve of those who have given up the fight. What an incredibly goofy thing to say. Are we supposed to be in full agreement on right and wrong before the point is sound? The cause is irrelevant to the point. And being a leftist and atheist, you don't have a clear grasp of right and wrong anyway.

Vinny said...

I don't see how comparing cars with drugs is any sillier than comparing marriage with drugs.

Vinny said...

So as long as you can find some more noble purpose for Jesus actions, the fact that the inevitable and foreseeable consequence was that it enabled drunk people to stay drunk is irrelevant.

Whatever gets you through the night.

On the other hand I don't think that Jesus' conduct is particularly ennobled by the fact that the guests were merely too drunk to care whether they were drinking swill rather than too drunk to tell.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

In the case of drugs, it isn't about what anyone finds personally offensive, but about what one knows is harmful to society as well as to the users.

DRIVING CARS IS HARMFUL TO SOCIETY. There are MANY things that one can make the case are harmful to society, if one is loose in the definition of "harmful." It is MUCH easier to make the case that cars are harmful to society at a MUCH greater cost in human lives and money than drugs are.

MY POINT remains: You have no coherent, logical criteria by which you'd criminalize behavior beyond, "I don't like it." We don't/can't/oughtn't just criminalize behavior we tsk tsk. We DO, CAN, OUGHT criminalize behavior that is likely to harm others.

Tell me, Marshall: What constitutional basis would you have for criminalizing marijuana, but not alcohol; hashish, but not tobacco? The problem I have is that your basis for law-making appears to be wholly whimsical and emotional. That's a poor idea.

As to the POINT of your post: All I've stated and stand by is that no one I know of is for "giving up" on the war on crimes because it's hard: We're in favor of quitting because it's WRONG and causes much more harm than good.

Do you understand my point, because you appear to keep talking past it, as if it's not really my point.

If you're arguing to some SUBSET of drug law opponents, that segment who thinks drugs ought to be criminalized, but it's too hard to do that, so let's quit, then okay, tell them that.

I just don't know of anyone like that who exists, and certainly not the main opponents of the criminalization of drugs. Do you have any source whatsoever where people are saying, "Yes, I'm opposed to drug laws because, while they're right, it's just too hard to do..."? I sort of suspect you're speaking of a strawman group of people who may not exist in any significant numbers in the real world.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

By the same token driving by itself is not bad behavior.

The person who drinks a little beer or smokes a little marijuana as a relaxant at the end of the day is not engaging in bad behavior, and certainly not engaging in behavior that might cause harm to others.

The person who drives a car IS engaging in behavior (pollution) that, collectively DOES cause harm: It emits toxins, it costs society in terms of sprawl and air, ground and water pollution. This may be unintentional bad behavior (ie, not the goal of the behavior) but it is a definite bad result from the behavior.

This can't be said of the responsible drug (whatever the drug might be) user. Not that I'm advocating it: I'm a tea-totaller and squeaky clean in that regards (with the exception of caffeine in Dr Pepper).

I'm just pointing out that we have no good moral or logical grounds for criminalizing behaviors that we merely disapprove of. I don't like people making more than $1 million a year: Should we criminalize that because I disapprove of it? Some here don't like Muslims, Mormons and maybe even the Amish: Should we criminalize those "behaviors" merely because some disapprove of them?

No, we ought not. Similarly, you have no reasonable, moral, constitutional grounds to criminalize responsible drug usage, or to criminalize those behaviors YOU disapprove of, but not YOUR behaviors that others disapprove of.

We criminalize those behaviors which cause harm to others. Smoking a joint just doesn't do that.

Marshall Art said...

And still, like at his own blog, Dan insists on discussing things I never mentioned or suggested, instead of the point at hand. Why is this, Dan? Now I know why these discussions go on tangents. You can't or won't respond to the point (or valid responses to your points in your posts) so you change the subject.

So get this straight: I don't give a rat's ass about the war on drugs in this post. I used that example of those who throw in the towel because the going got tough. YOU want to say that it's because they see the cause as wrong. People say all sorts of things to justify their lack of resolve. You talk about a bottle or a toke to self-medicate after a long day. That would lead to another tangent as to whether that constitutes good, bad or neutral behavior. Not going there, either.

"It is MUCH easier to make the case that cars are harmful to society at a MUCH greater cost in human lives and money than drugs are."

This is absolutely ridiculous, especially considering how much of the harm you claim are owed to cars are really the result of drivers using substances you'd see legalized. Add to that rank carelessness, such as texting while driving, and you're left with very little harm that can be attributed to the car itself or the proper operation of it. Your pollution concerns are also overblown environmental wackiness, especially since cars are less polluting now than they've ever been.

And now you try to compare it to making money. Can you be more outrageous, please? There is no moral hazard whatsoever with wealth creation. We'd be better off as a culture if more people engaged in it. But we'd not be better off if everyone was hammered all the time.

And we damn well do have a constitutional right to outlaw dangerous drugs or drugs deemed dangerous by most of society. We can indeed decide what is right or wrong based on nothing more than majority vote as you constantly try to remind us when discussing sexual immorality or progressive taxation.

But all this is irrelevant to the point of the post, which is the lack of resolve in doing the right thing. Whether your or your goofy associates disagree with the war on drugs, it was begun due to the overriding sense that society is better off without them. For a variety of reasons, the resolve to win the war is diminished. What was once thought good and noble is considered a burden and people want to quit as a result.

Marshall Art said...

"So as long as you can find some more noble purpose for Jesus actions, the fact that the inevitable and foreseeable consequence was that it enabled drunk people to stay drunk is irrelevant."

You can make any assumption you like about the consequences not expressly described by the story itself, Vinny. But you can't pretend those assumptions are accurate without said description. What we do know about the story is only what the waiter said. He didn't say that the guests were hammered. He only commented on the distinction between what he was used to seeing and what was happening at THAT feast regarding what wine was served when. There's nothing in the story to confirm anyone was actually shitfaced. Nice try.

Regarding Jesus conduct, since He was without sin, it can be assumed that His actions never led to sinful behavior. I know you want to diminish the truth about Christ and the Bible, but you'll have to do better than that.

"I don't see how comparing cars with drugs is any sillier than comparing marriage with drugs."

I'm not surprised. There's that liberal difficulty with understanding right vs wrong. But no one was comparing marriage with drugs. Stan was comparing those who divorce because the marriage wasn't going as easily as initially hoped with those wishing to divorce themselves from the war on drugs because THAT wasn't going as easily as initially hoped. The car, or driving one, is a morally neutral thing & action (unless driving improperly). Thus, the comparison is stupid.

Marshall Art said...

I'll be honest. I'm beginning to lose my resolve in keeping certain visitors focused on the point.

When a man and woman get married, they usually take vows to remain together no matter what befalls them until death separates them. It usually goes something like this: "for better or worse". Too common are those who forget the latter, or pretend there's some limit to it, even though none is stated. Rather than work through the issues, remembering that they promised to love each other and remain faithful to each other for life, they bail. A lack of resolve. The surrendered in the war on the challenges of life that besiege their vows.

If one wants to make the case that a cause is not worth the sacrifice to fight for it, that case must be made before the battle is waged. Once one enters into the struggle, character demands seeing it through to the end.

But for those here who can't seem to focus on this point, I'll grant you this: if you believe the war on drugs is misguided, then you are obliged to wage a counter war. Convince enough people that we can legalize or decriminalize illicit drugs without causing more harm, and the day will be won for you. Do you have the resolve to see THAT through?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Once one enters into the struggle, character demands seeing it through to the end.

Marshall, that is just insane. If a majority of southerners originally supported the Civil War originally, they STILL would have been right to change their mind and support.

You don't really believe that once someone's begun any action that is wrong - but are committed to it - that they should stick to it? Or are you saying this only in the case of wars and "wars"?

I'll repeat: It's always right to stop and reverse course IF the original course was wrong. I find it hard to believe you'd disagree with this.

Dan Trabue said...

As to the "off topic" comments, YOU made the case that people were in favor of ending the "war on drugs" because they were just giving up - indicating a lack of backbone. I just countered that this was not always (or even generally) the case - indicating the presence of character.

From there, you went down the road of defending the position that people can't think the war is wrong. OF COURSE they can, I was pointing out. Just because you don't think something does not mean that other people don't think it.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

now you try to compare it to making money. Can you be more outrageous, please? There is no moral hazard whatsoever with wealth creation.

My point with this is that we OUGHT NOT criminalize behaviors just because we might find them distasteful. YOU may think driving is fine or that making obscene amounts of money is fine, or that religious liberty for Muslims is fine, but someone else might disagree. The CRITERIA for crimes ought not be "I disapprove of this behavior."

Harm to others is the more rational and constitutional basis for criminalizing behavior. And smoking a joint or drinking a wine at the end of the day is not harmful to others. Thus, we are ill-advised to criminalize such behavior, because we have no solid rationally consistent non-whimsical reason to do so.

And saying, "it's constitutional!" is not support for the position that we can constitutionally criminalize a behavior. This is beyond the "small gov't" rationale that most conservatives nominally advocate. At least libertarians seem to recognize this.

Craig said...

Dan,

Your response to my comments completely ignores the entirety of what I actually said. If you could please respond to the point I actually made I would appreciate it.

I do have to say I absolutely love this logic.

"if one is loose in the definition of "harmful." It is MUCH easier to make the case "

Of course if one loosens the definition of anything, then one can make anything fit their arguments.

For example, if you are loose in the definition of Christian you can make the case the the ordained minister who said the following is a Christian.

"I believe...
4. that "God" functions as a symbol. The concept of "God" is a product of myth-making and "God" is no longer credible as a personal, supernatural being. For me, "God" functions as a shorthand for the Universe and sometimes for qualities and aspirations I wish to pursue or to emulate.

7. that Jesus may have been historical but most of the stories about him in the Bible and elsewhere are legends. But he's cool. He serves as a human ideal and a focal point for devotion (like an ishta deva)."

I just have to say, this is the best tactic ever. I plan to use it as much as possible.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, I'm not sure what point of yours you'd like me to address. If Marshall doesn't mind, I'll gladly touch/re-touch on every line you wrote. In turn, though, I'd like you to please address my questions (repeated in bold below) that have gone unanswered...

Craig...

At a very minimal level that automobile brings a number of positive things to society while drugs bring nothing positive to society.

Says who? Some people would argue that a little beer or marijuana DOES bring a positive effect to at least their personal lives. Beyond that, who gets to decide "THAT effect is positive, but THIS effect is NOT positive?"

As I noted, it seems an entirely subjective/whimsical way of creating laws. I favor criminalizing behaviors that cause harm to others, NOT behaviors that merely some people disapprove of.

Unanswered question for y'all: Where would be the end of that line of reasoning?

Craig...

I would think that if you were to back out the number of vehicle deaths (which have been consistently dropping for the last 30 years or so) that are driver caused (ie. impaired driving, use of electronic devices, speeding, driving carelessly etc.) you would have a hard time making your case. Because those things are not the responsibility of the vehicle, but of the driver.

? I'm not sure of your point: Yes, vehicle deaths (+40,000/year in US for years - up until the last few years, where it's dropped down in the 32,000-37,000 deaths a year - interesting, that - ~1 million/year globally) are NOT caused by the vehicles, but by the drivers, and oftentimes drivers who have made mistakes/bad choices.

Conversely, marijuana deaths (ZERO/year, as far as I can tell) are non-existent, for instance. Drug usage deaths (this gets trickier, depending on how you count it, but maybe ~16,000/year) and other bad behavior related to drugs ALSO are not caused by the drug, but by the users who have made mistakes/bad choices.

BOTH drug users and car drivers can make good and bad choices.
BOTH groups, when they make bad choices, can cost lives/money/have bad results.

The difference is, that EVEN WHEN a car driver is making the best choices possible, he is harming society by the pollutants and increased risk of accidents by their mere existence. That is: DRUGS, responsibly used, pose no threat to anyone outside the user. CARS, responsibly used, STILL pose threats to others outside the user.

So, what is your point here?

More...

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

If you are suggesting that those who choose to destroy themselves with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes do not damage others then it would seem that you are a bit naive.

I'm suggesting that IF someone chooses to imbibe in drugs, that is their choice, EVEN IF it harms them.

I'm saying that ALL of our behaviors have impacts upon others.

My question to you: Are you suggesting we criminalize all behavior which potentially causes harm to the one who engages in the behavior?

Are you suggesting we criminalize ALL behaviors which potentially have an impact upon others (which is, ALL of our behaviors)? WHICH behaviors can we reasonably criminalize and which ones not?

Is it not reasonable to stick to those which cause harm fairly directly to others?


Craig...

If you are suggesting that we as a society do not support those who damage themselves through drug use I agree. Those who are drug users should not receive public support with the possible exception of treatment.

While I'm sympathetic to this point, I would think that this approach would be counter productive and cost society even more than NOT dealing with the behaviors. For instance, spending $1 million to help prisoners with drug rehab has consistently been shown to SAVE $2 million in reduced recidivism rates. (My numbers are generalizations, but the point is that we SAVE money by investing in drug rehab programs.)

I'm opposed to short-sighted program cuts - ones that have the result of costing society MORE. In theory, we could say, "Well, parents OUGHT to take it upon themselves to get their children educated and NO gov't money should go for that!" and we might be right up to a point, BUT, if we cut public funding for education, we'll have ended up costing ourselves more money and I'd be opposed to that.

More...

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Your problem is you can't make the case that the automobile inherently causes more harm than good.

It's off topic, but I'd be glad at some point to revisit the whole cost of society by automobile culture. I don't believe I have ever said that they cause more harm than good, but I DO think the case can be made fairly well that it's at the least very questionable as to whether or not the personal car society is a net benefit.

Nor can you support the position that drugs bring anything positive to society.

Not being a drug advocate, I don't know why I would. But certainly, SOME drug users would suggest there's no harm to them and so why should we criminalize them. Marshall, I believe, is entirely fine with getting a buzz on with drug usage (beer), so why don't you ask him?

The point is, we don't criminalize behaviors merely because they "bring nothing positive to society."

Or, Are you advocating that - that IF a behavior brings nothing positive to society, and some people think it brings indirect harm at least sometimes, we ought to criminalize it?

Craig said...

Dan,

My point is, and continues to be, that while it can be argued that vehicles do cause some intrinsic "harm" (if you can define it broadly enough to make your point), that is more than offset by the benefits.

To your questions.

1. No, but I wouldn't want to potentially encourage destructive behavior by legalizing it.

2. No. My general thought would be that we would criminalize those behaviors where there is either no potential benefit or where the potential benefit outweighs the potential harm.

3. In theory.

Since I specifiaclly said that treatment would be the exception to my point I can see why you addressed it the way you did. I do find some irony in the fact that while you are arguing that drugs don't cause harm, you are willing to support tax dollars for treatment. Your education comparison makes no sense in this context so I'll ignore it.

Final question. I'm advocating balance.

Marshall Art said...

Let me clarify.

If it is found that the cause is not what was originally believed, then ending the war is logical and righteous. But that is not what is happening with the call for the end of the war on drugs. They are not saying that drug use is in any way acceptable. They're saying they don't like the way the war is being fought, the costs it generates in both lives and money. Translation: it's hard! and thus we want to end the war.

But even in Dan's own argument, that it might not cause harm to others to allow personal possession and use is an abdication. Dan doesn't use himself. Why not? Because he sees it as either harmful to his health or immoral, and likely both. Regardless of the level of such beliefs, he's willing to end his participation in the war (refuse to join in the first place) because of the burden of fighting for the welfare of those who might choose to only harm themselves.

One has to prove to the majority that a behavior is morally benign and not a harm to others before one can justify giving up the fight. If such evidence can be found and presented, obviously the original sentiment was based on faulty understandings and was indeed in error. That is not the case with drugs. It has been simply a matter of quitting in the face of difficulty. A lack of resolve.

I'm well aware that libertarians object to gov't interference on the level of personal use in private. But the harm of drugs will always spill out beyond the boundaries of the self and impact others in a variety of ways. Dan is good with this since he believes that all people should pay for the health care of everyone else, even for self-inflicted injury, illness or addiction. But if this is so, then it is not a behavior that only harms the user after all. Not if the rest of us are charged with paying for treatments.

Keep in mind that pointing to specifics, such as weed and a glass of wine do not mitigate the argument in the least. I favor reviewing individual drugs for a change in law enforcement policies. But that is why I didn't want to focus on the details of the war on drugs, but only on the sentiment of ending the war on drugs without a victory.

Marshall Art said...

Also, it must be kept in mind that my point also doesn't allow for my own personal beliefs regarding drug use. It is merely on the concept of resolve and how it is in short supply in this country these days.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, since this is off topic, I'll just pass on responding further, other than to say that if one is suggesting that the very real harm caused by cars (measured in millions of lives killed and harmed, and billions/trillions of dollars), one would be very naive, indeed to think thusly.

To try to make sense of my questions/your answers.

I asked:

A. Where would be the end of that line of reasoning?

I see no answer. I'm wondering if we are embracing something as whimsical as "stuff I don't like and think of as harmful," as a measure of what to criminalize, where does that end? Who makes that call? Do we criminalize Islam? Cars? Wealth? Poverty?

It's too vague and subjective of a criteria to be useful.

I don't imagine anyone is seriously advocating that as a measure, but if not then...

B. What ARE you advocating as a criteria for criminializing behavior?

More...

Dan Trabue said...

I asked...

1. My question to you: Are you suggesting we criminalize all behavior which potentially causes harm to the one who engages in the behavior?

And you appear to have responded with...

1. No, but I wouldn't want to potentially encourage destructive behavior by legalizing it.

(I've put the numbers in my questions to try to line them up to yours).

So, you're saying you DON'T WANT to criminalize all behavior which might cause harm, but neither do you want to legalize it??

C. Does that mean, then, that you're okay with DE-criminalizing drugs (not "legalizing them" but not criminalizing them, either)? I'll have to say, I'm not sure what your answer means as it relates to drugs.

I asked...

2. Are you suggesting we criminalize ALL behaviors which potentially have an impact upon others (which is, ALL of our behaviors)? WHICH behaviors can we reasonably criminalize and which ones not?

And you answered, apparently...

2. No. My general thought would be that we would criminalize those behaviors where there is either no potential benefit or where the potential benefit outweighs the potential harm.

"We should criminalize behaviors where there is no potential benefit?"

Am I misreading you? What is the potential benefit of eating twinkies? What is the potential benefit of listening to country music? Rap music? Who decides what IS and ISN'T "potential benefit?"

As to criminalizing behavior where the potential benefit outweighs the potential harm..." I assume you mean it the other way? That we ought to criminalize behavior where the potential harm outweighs the potential benefit?

So, if I demonstrate that the harm from cars outweighs the potential benefit (IF I did, not claiming I have, just saying IF I did so), you'd be okay with criminalizing the personal auto? Is that what you're saying?

More...

Dan Trabue said...

I asked...

Is it not reasonable to stick to those which cause harm fairly directly to others?

And you appear to answer...

3. In theory.

So...

D. I THINK we agree that we ought to in general stick to criminalizing behavior that causes fairly direct harm to others (or reasonably might, like drunk driving)?

E. And you're just saying that you think the fella smoking a joint or drinking a beer on his porch at night is causing "potential harm" with no substantive benefit?

F. And thus, you'd outlaw both beer consumption AND marijuana consumption?


If Marshall thinks it worthwhile, any chance of clarification? I'm not at all clear on where you stand? Are you advocating Prohibition across the board because you think the harm done by IRRESPONSIBLE drug consumption has some negative effects? You said that drug users (drinking and smoking included) are "destroying themselves," and so you advocate criminalizing all of these?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

One has to prove to the majority that a behavior is morally benign and not a harm to others before one can justify giving up the fight....

But the harm of drugs will always spill out beyond the boundaries of the self and impact others in a variety of ways.


I would suggest that the former is self-evident: The fella drinking a beer on a porch at night or the gal who grows some marijuana in her backyard and smokes a joint after work... NEITHER of these are causing ANY HARM AT ALL to others.

If you have some "proof" of your rather extraordinary second claim, you could try to offer it, but I'm calling BS on that point. The front porch imbiber "always" spills harm out to others? No, I see no way possible for that to be true - no evidence for that in the real world.

I am further saying that I can much more easily make the case for the obvious harm from cars than you can of the "spill over" of responsible drug usage (which you don't even believe yourself, it seems, since YOU CONSUME DRUGS in the form of alcohol) and EVEN GIVEN THAT I CAN EASILY demonstrate the harm done by cars, I am not advocating criminalizing the personal auto. Why? Because the responsible user is not setting out to harm anyone directly and their harm is more indirect and a result of the huge numbers of personal autos, not the individual.

The point is: We ought to stick mostly to criminalizing that which causes fairly direct harm.

And I DO get this is off topic, so feel free to not respond. We ALL agree that "giving up on a good cause" is wrong, we just disagree that the "war on drugs" is a good cause.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I keep trying to keep the "war on drugs" a matter of generalization for the purpose of not straying from the point as you seem intent on doing. I don't give a rat's ass about imbibing on the porch for the purposes of this discussion. But in keeping the matter generalized, you'd have to allow for imbibing smack or PCP on the porch.

The proof of drugs impacting society is evident in the many drug treatment centers and programs throughout the country. It's all the proof I need to confirm my point about drugs impacting more than the user. The dude tokin' on the porch is irrelevant to the overriding point regarding the war on drugs and why I used it as a prime example, why it provoked the point of the post in the first place. Apparently you're more concerned with trying to find a way to appear more thoughtful, but your attempts include too many bad analogies for that.

What society deems harmful is what the majority says it is. We can hope that it is based on real data properly interpreted, but as we know with global warming and environmental activism, that isn't always the case. The same goes for right vs wrong, but as we know from debates on human sexuality and abortion (as well as in merely toking on the porch), that isn't always the case either.

This country has long maintained the right to determine such things by majority opinion applied by the election of candidates who reflect that opinion. And as I said at your blog on the subject and maintain still, "harm" is subjective enough to force debate as to the truth of whether something truly is or isn't harmful, and also as to whether it matters in terms of gov't policy.

Time for work.

Craig said...

To answer your questions.

A. The end is that we live in a society that determines through our political process what is legal and what is illegal. While I may have preferences regarding those things, and I can work through the system to pursuade others to agree, ultimately your question is meaningless.

B. I am advocating that we as a society seem to have made those determinations and will continue to do so.

1. There are a number of behaviors that are potentially harmful, yet should not be liiegal. For instance, white water rafting, riding a PWC, downhill skiing, these are all activities where the participant willingly assumes the risk and the responsibility. For the most part I'm not sure drug users make the same sort of descisions. For example Bob the pothead gets a job as a forklift driver at the local lumberyard. Bob smokes a little doobie before work, runs his forklift into a wall and gets fired because he fails the piss test. So Bob goes and applies for unemployment, should he get it, no. Should he be able to avail himself of various welfare options while continuing the behavior that got him in this position, no. So, my answer is that if people want to engage in risky behavior then they need to take responsibility for the consequences.

Craig said...

C. It seems to me that you have a distinction without a difference.

2. A little clarification. Yes, I would base the descision on the benefit outweighing the harm. If you want to draw some sort of equivelency between twinkies and crack go ahead.

Since you can't (without your little redefinition gambit) prove that the harm of vehicles outweighs the benifits, I'll just let this little bit of whimsey pass.

D. Yes we seem to agree that drunk (why you don't include other forms of impared driving is a myatery) driving should be criminalized. (I say seem to beacuse I'm not sure how far you'll stretch the definition so I have to leave myself an out)

E. Since both alchol and drugs cause physical harm as well as increase the risk for potential harm to both the user and others, I would sugest that there is at least the potential for harm. I think you would be hard pressed to identify any real tangible benefits produced by those behaviors. But what about the dude alond in his bedroom shooting heroin? How about the chick who's hooking to pick up money to score some dope? By your (admittedly broad and fluid definition) they're not harming anyone either. What if the dude drinking the beer is an alcholic? Does the beer cause harm them? What is the risk that the pot smoker is going to limit himself to just a little weed now and again? What's the magic number where it goes from OK to not OK?

Craig said...

F. No.

Actually I was using your term. You quite clearly said that drug enforcement was " Destroying families, people and society as much as the drugs themselves are.". So I'm just agreeing with the second part of your assesment.

Further, please show me a responsible heroin user or crack user.

"NEITHER of these are causing ANY HARM AT ALL to others. "

Unless of course you whimsically decide to adjust the definition of harmful to allow you to make you case more easily.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, so you DON'T think we ought to criminalize beer, but you DO think we ought to criminalize marijuana - is that what you're saying?

I must admit I'm having a hard time understanding what your position is, Craig. WHICH harmful drugs are you advocating criminalizing and which ones do you think we should make legal and on what basis are you making the distinction?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Unless of course you whimsically decide to adjust the definition of harmful to allow you to make you case more easily.

No, factually and in the real world, the fella who has a joint or a beer at the end of the day simply does NOT HARM ANYONE. By the STANDARD ENGLISH DEFINITION of the word "harm."

If you have ONE SHRED of evidence to support the claim that the backporch pot smoker/drinker is harming anyone at all, present it.

Like this, "The fella smoking a joint/drinking a beer on his back porch is harming .... [insert people he's harming] because ... [insert HOW he's harming them]. Easy enough to do IF there is any harm being done.

Watch:

The person who drives a car is causing harm to people who breath air, because cars emit toxins. Any one individual driving may not emit enough toxins to harm air-breathers, but the conglomeration of millions of drivers DOES.

Further, the motorist's car drips oil and gas and heavy metals which make their way into our streams, polluting our water, which harms everyone.

Easy enough, right?

Just point out ANY evidence at all that the smoker/drinker is harming someone and you'll have at least made a point.

Otherwise, I will just continue to find that argument ridiculous and unsupported.

Craig said...

Dan,

Maybe you miss my point. I am not arguing that we should change current laws.

A quick internet search reveals the following.

"Physiological Effects of Marijuana

The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. That's short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

THC is rapidly absorbed after smoking pot. Within minutes, THC and the other substances in marijuana smoke cause short-term medical effects.

Signs of using marijuana include:

* rapid heart rate
* increased blood pressure
* increased rate of breathing
* red eyes
* dry mouth
* increased appetite, or "the munchies"
* slowed reaction time

These effects are reduced after three or four hours. However, marijuana hangs around in your system for as long as 24 hours after smoking. The lingering effects mean you're impaired for several hours after the high wears off."

It seems to me that one would have a hard time arguing that a rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure are healthy or beneficial. It would also seem that slowed reaction time would pose some potential problems.

So, in your absurd hypothetical does this mythical guy just sit on his porch for hours until the impairment wears off?

Lets continue with some short term psychological effects of weed.

* distorted sense of time
* paranoia
* magical or "random" thinking
* short-term memory loss
* anxiety and depression

Any of these seem particularly beneficial to either an individual or society?

So how about Long term

Potential increased risk of lung cancer? Beneficial, you bet.

"Heavy marijuana use lowers men's testosterone levels and sperm count and quality. Pot could decrease libido and fertility in some heavy-smoking men."

Hey a low sperm count is always a benefit right?

Oh look more benefits.

"Contrary to what many pot smokers may tell you, marijuana is addictive, at least psychologically. Even among occasional users, one in 12 can feel withdrawal symptoms if they can't get high when they want to. Among heavy pot smokers, the rates of dependence are higher."

Symptoms of withdrawal from pot might include:

* aggression
* anxiety
* depressed mood
* decreased appetite

A little aggression is always a good thing, isn't it? But it's helpful for weight loss, except when you crave Twinkies.

That's just one quick check.

And there's this gem.


"Like tobacco, marijuana contains many chemicals that can hurt the lungs and cause cancer. One marijuana cigarette can cause more damage to the lungs than many tobacco cigarettes because marijuana has more tar in it and is usually smoked without filters."


Here are a few more sources.

http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/effects.-Lya.htm

http://www.well.com/user/woa/fspot.htm

So, this mythical fella on the porch is harming himself through the increased risk of physical damage. He is potentially damaging his family by exposing them to someone who is paranoid, and divorced from reality. He potentially harming society if he accesses medicare/medicaid to treat his high blood pressure or other health issues.

So, what in all of this strikes you as a good, healthy, positive thing.

Craig said...

OK Dan,

I've answered your questions, I can only assume I'll get some answers real soon, right.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Maybe you miss my point. I am not arguing that we should change current laws.

Maybe you miss my point: I'm asking WHY would we criminalize (at the least) the guy who's smoking a joint on his back porch? Who is he harming and on what rational, constitutional basis would you support making him a criminal?

As to your research that repeated use of marijuana may have harmful effects for the user, I agree. It might. So might repeated use of steaks, or twinkies, or green tea, or coca cola. BUT, in OUR COUNTRY, we don't outlaw someone's liberty to make these sorts of decisions for themselves.

My question to you remains:

Are you advocating the "over-use of a substance might cause some personal harm" as a reasonable measure of what to criminalize?

Since you're not advocating changing current laws, it appears that you hold the whimsical and inconsistent position that we SHOULD CONTINUE to criminalize marijuana use, but NOT other substances that might cause harm.

I'm saying that's not a morally or logically consistent criteria for law-making.

Craig...

So, in your absurd hypothetical does this mythical guy just sit on his porch for hours until the impairment wears off?

Umm, yeah. You know, like real people do in the real world with cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana already. IF, on the other hand, they choose to engage in behavior that MIGHT ACTUALLY CAUSE HARM to someone else (driving impaired, for instance), then THAT behavior we criminalize. Because HARM TO OTHERS is a reasonable thing to regulate/criminalize.

Craig...

Any of these seem particularly beneficial to either an individual or society?

Do you truly not understand that, in our nation, we DON'T CRIMINALIZE BEHAVIOR SIMPLY BECAUSE IT MAY NOT BE BENEFICIAL. They DO criminalize stuff like that in a certain type of country, though... Totalitarian dictatorships.

Craig...

So, this mythical fella on the porch is harming himself through the increased risk of physical damage. He is potentially damaging his family by exposing them to someone who is paranoid, and divorced from reality. He potentially harming society if he accesses medicare/medicaid to treat his high blood pressure or other health issues.

We criminalize BAD behavior that actually (or REASONABLY potentially) harms others. Not merely because OVER-USE might POSSIBLY cause bad effects for the individual.

And so, to repeat my still unanswered question:

What consistent grounds/criteria/rationale do you think we ought to have for creating laws?

Or, putting it this way: You've just created a new nation (Craiglandia) and you're writing a Constitution and laws. WHAT Constitutional rationale do you have for when Craiglandians can reasonably limit someone's liberty to consume/use what they wish to consume?

My criteria over in Danistan is harm to others. You are free to ingest what you wish, move around how you wish, worship as you wish, do as you wish AS LONG AS your liberty does not interfere with anothers' liberty, life or well-being. You can smoke dog doo, if you want, as long as your dogdoobie doesn't cause harm to others.

Dan Trabue said...

And my "word verification" word was just "hippie," I kid you not.

Craig said...

"What consistent grounds/criteria/rationale do you think we ought to have for creating laws?"

I've answered this elsewhere in this thread.


" You've just created a new nation (Craiglandia) and you're writing a Constitution and laws. WHAT Constitutional rationale do you have for when Craiglandians can reasonably limit someone's liberty to consume/use what they wish to consume?"

Since I have no constitution in this mythical nation you've created the question as asked has no meaning.

Ultimately you keep ignoring my point. It's about balance. If Bob the pothead wants to choose to damage himself or others by his behavior then he forfiets his claim on my resources to support his choice. If the whimsical mythicla characters in your fantsay world want to accept total personal responsibility for their choices then I have no problem with expanding legalization of things.


I keep answering your repeated questions, yet I do not get the same courtesy from you.

A couple of additional questions.

On what whimsical basis do you single out the doobie smoker on the back porch from the crackhead in an alley?

So in your mythical world you would never deal with any behavior until after someone has been harmed?

How does your mythical doobie smoker make the determination that he is no longer under the influence as the detrimental effects last longer than the "high"?

Anyway, the ball is now in your court. Answer or not, just don't expect any more answers from this end.

It is interesting that you have made a pretty extreme descision (to abstain from all intoxicants in any quantities), for some reason. Yet your are quite content to allow others to indulge in a behavior that you personally find negative or harmful.

Dan Trabue said...

Ultimately you keep ignoring my point. It's about balance. If Bob the pothead wants to choose to damage himself or others by his behavior then he forfiets his claim on my resources to support his choice.

What claims on your resources is Bob making? This is the first I've heard of Bob making ANY claim on your resources, and it's really a DIFFERENT QUESTION than, "Is it wrong to criminalize behavior which harms no one else?" Which, as far as I can see, you have not answered directly.

Craig...

If the whimsical mythicla characters in your fantsay world want to accept total personal responsibility for their choices then I have no problem with expanding legalization of things.

I don't think you understand the meaning of the word, "whimsical."

I don't see where the question of "accepting personal responsibility for choices has even arisen, but okay, it's a given that all adults ought to accept responsibility for themselves.

We agree, then, that pot ought to be legalized and that there is no rational, logically consistent, moral or constitutional reason to outlaw marijuana, but not tobacco?

Craig...

I keep answering your repeated questions, yet I do not get the same courtesy from you.

I don't believe this is the case at all. So far as I can see, I have deliberately answered each question you've asked. If you have one you think I've missed, by all means, point it out and I can either point you to my answer or, if I've actually missed one, apologize for missing it and answer it.

Easy enough.

Craig...

On what whimsical basis do you single out the doobie smoker on the back porch from the crackhead in an alley?

Not based on whimsy, at all (do you KNOW the meaning of that word?)

I offer up the example of a marijuana user who's causing no overt harm to anyone else because THAT is my concern: YES, we can criminalize behavior that HARMS OTHERS, but on what basis would we criminalize behavior which DOES NOT harm others? THAT is my question which remains unanswered.

Additionally, in our wrongheaded "war on drugs," fully 50% of our resources/money/time is spent prosecuting low-level marijuana smokers who generally speaking are NOT causing harm to others. IF we gave up this whimsical (and THERE, the word is apt) criminalization of those causing no harm, then we'd have literally tens of billions of dollars freed up to prosecute people who actually harm others or, failing that, return it to the taxpayers.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

So in your mythical world you would never deal with any behavior until after someone has been harmed?

As I have said repeatedly: We CAN and OUGHT to criminalize behavior which MIGHT REASONABLY lead to harm to others, even beforehand. If you've read what I've actually written, you'd know that I support strict anti-driving impaired laws. We do this because one can reasonably expect that driving impaired (whether alcohol or some other drug) might lead to harm.

Now, answer me this: YOu appear to be saying that marijuana smokers might harm others by, for instance, driving impaired. But with alcohol, the way we deal with this is criminalize the problem behavior - ie, DRIVING IMPAIRED, not criminalizing alcohol. Are you suggesting we ought to handle alcohol one way and marijuana another? If so, why?

Smoking pot on your back porch does not reach the level of "reasonably can lead to harm to others."

Do you think otherwise? Then you'd have to make that case.

Craig...

How does your mythical doobie smoker make the determination that he is no longer under the influence as the detrimental effects last longer than the "high"?

? How does a mythical alcohol drinker make that determination?

Craig, do you know how many people DIE from misusing alcohol each year? Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.

Do you know how many die from misusing marijuana? Apparently ZERO, or something close to it.

According to WebMD, "Although the use of [marijuana] is not harmless, the current knowledge base does not support the assertion that it has any notable adverse public health impact in relation to mortality,"

Craig...

Anyway, the ball is now in your court. Answer or not, just don't expect any more answers from this end.

Your questions have been answered (and by "questions," I mean those sentences you wrote that ended in a question mark - if you have other questions that were not marked by said question mark, point them out to me and I'll answer them). I thank you for my questions that you DID answer. I'd think you'd make conversation easier if you answered all of them, but thanks for the ones you did answer.

Craig...

It is interesting that you have made a pretty extreme descision (to abstain from all intoxicants in any quantities), for some reason. Yet your are quite content to allow others to indulge in a behavior that you personally find negative or harmful.

Craig, I ALSO have made the decision to refrain from using cars, but I'm not wanting to criminalize that. I've made the decision to not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, but I'm not going to criminalize that. I've made the decision not to go to a Muslim mosque, but I'm not going to criminalize that. There are all MANNER of things that I personally disagree with or find unpleasant/undesirable that I'm not going to try to criminalize.

Do you know why?

Because we have the liberty in our nation to pursue our own choices for ourselves AS LONG AS we don't harm others. That's a good line to observe and hold to. Do you disagree?

Craig said...

"What claims on your resources is Bob making?"

Dealy with potential claims earlier, see no reason to do so again.

"it's a given that all adults ought to accept responsibility for themselves."

Really?

"We agree, then, that pot ought to be legalized and that there is no rational, logically consistent, moral or constitutional reason to outlaw marijuana, but not tobacco?"

Potentially. I have outline my reservations elsewhere. You have not given any reason why we should legalize weed, but not crack.

"I offer up the example of a marijuana user who's causing no overt harm to anyone else because THAT is my concern: YES, we can criminalize behavior that HARMS OTHERS, but on what basis would we criminalize behavior which DOES NOT harm others? THAT is my question which remains unanswered."

Actually it has been answered, but I'll point out a couple of things.

a. You've just changed the standard from "harm" to "overt harm".

b. By your standards I can define harm as broadly as I want in order to make my point.

While I'm not sure I agree with your 50% figure we actually agree that the bulk of the effort to stop drugs should be directed to those who import/sell/distribute drugs not on the recreational user. This however makes MA's point. You are now advocating a change in strategy, not an abandonment of the effort.

Craig said...

" YOu appear to be saying that marijuana smokers might harm others by, for instance, driving impaired. But with alcohol, the way we deal with this is criminalize the problem behavior - ie, DRIVING IMPAIRED, not criminalizing alcohol. Are you suggesting we ought to handle alcohol one way and marijuana another? If so, why?"

As our current world exists, yes. Since the actual injestion of the weed is illegal, then that can be dealt with before anyone has the chance to drive.

But I would agree that the best course would be to prevent anyone from driving while impared. Where pot seems more problematic is that the imparement lasts beyond the "high" and there is more variance in potency so it becomes much more difficult for a pot smoker to actually make a rational descision. I agree that there is no perfect way to handle this, but however it is handled the difference in effects should be taken into account.

"How does a mythical alcohol drinker make that determination?"

From what I can see the effects don't outlast the high to the extent that weed appears to. Further I have no problem taking additional measures (breathalysers/ignition interlocks etc) that would prevent folks from driving.

"Do you know how many die from misusing marijuana? Apparently ZERO, or something close to it."

This is quite a claim with no citation. I would have to do some research before I went with this.
For exaplle, do they track heart attacks that have been caused by hypertension from smoking weed? In the accident stats do they differentiate between different causes of impared driving. ( I know the statistical models used skew the numbers to make it appear that speed is a greater cause of death than it probably is) Do they differentiate from those who die from lung cancer due to cigarettes v. weed? I'm going to guess that there is probably not a great database that definitively makes your case.

Not saying you're wrong, just that I'd need more than your word for it.

Thanks for answering most of my questions, I hope you'll note that it works better this way.

Dan Trabue said...

re: "My" 50% figure... it's not mine, I found it at several sources. Here it is being reported at the Washington Post....

The study of FBI data by a Washington-based think tank, the Sentencing Project, found that the proportion of heroin and cocaine cases plummeted from 55 percent of all drug arrests in 1992 to less than 30 percent 10 years later. During the same period, marijuana arrests rose from 28 percent of the total to 45 percent.

That was in 2005. I've seen numbers fluctuate over the years and depending on how you're counting it, but we spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of money/resources prosecuting marijuana users.

Here's another source, referencing an FBI study...

This table shows the growing dominance of marijuana arrests among total drug arrests in the U.S., rising from a percentage of 39.9% of total drug arrests in 1995 to 52.6% of such arrests in 2009. Further, while arrests for sales and trafficking have wavered a few percentage points around 5-6% of total drug arrests, the numbers driving marijuana’s increased dominance of drug arrests are those for simple possession, jumping from 34.1% in 1995 to 45.6% in 2009.

We're spending a ton of money on a low-harmful-impact activity, creating a HUGE gov't fingerprint on our culture.

Dan Trabue said...

Dan said...

"Do you know how many die from misusing marijuana? Apparently ZERO, or something close to it."

Craig responded...

This is quite a claim with no citation.

The citation was in the VERY NEXT sentence, from WebMD.

I'm fairly sure that some people die or are harmed from driving while impaired from marijuana, but laws against driving impaired deal with that.

Why would we deal with marijuana differently than we do with alcohol, especially when alcohol causes more damage?

Craig said...

Dan,

Thanks so much for the statistics that back up something on which I agreed with you.

"The citation was in the VERY NEXT sentence, from WebMD."

I guess I'd hoped for something a little more in depth to back up such a sweeping generalization. Especially since other more recent WebMD articles suggest differently.

I'm not saying you're wrong (didn't I say this already), just that I'd want to see some more recent detailed evidence before I jump on board.

"Why would we deal with marijuana differently than we do with alcohol, especially when alcohol causes more damage?"

I've answered this already.

"Why would we deal with marijuana differently than we do with heroin, especially when alcohol causes more damage?"

Just because you have set up a mythical best case scenario, (designed to assume the most benign possible situation regardless of how realistic it may or may not be) doesn't mean you've explained why one shouldn't expand your mythical situation to include crack.

I've already said that in your mythical Pollyannaish scenario that I wouldn't necessarily suggest that it would be that big a deal. Except that we live in a place where pot is illegal. This decision was made properly, and has been supported/upheld throughout all parts of our government. However, you could apply your logic to the dude driving by himself through Montana, with no other traffic within a 50 mile radius driving 120 mph. Who's he hurting?

Once again if you expand your definition wide enough it's easier to make your point.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Once again if you expand your definition wide enough it's easier to make your point.

? It seems to me that you're the one expanding the definition of harm far enough to find "proof" that Bob smoking a joint on his back porch is causing harm.

I, on the other hand, have given a real world example that happens in the real world all the time: I KNOW some "Bobs" who smoke a joint in the evening or drink a beer or two while they watch TV and they go to bed.

In THAT VERY REAL WORLD AND SPECIFIC EXAMPLE, where is the harm?

Saying "I've answered that," does not make it so.

Also, I'd really like to know your answer to this unanswered question:

we have the liberty in our nation to pursue our own choices for ourselves AS LONG AS we don't harm others. That's a good line to observe and hold to. Do you disagree?

Craig said...

"It seems to me that you're the one expanding the definition of harm"

If it's ok for you it should be ok for the rest of us.

"In THAT VERY REAL WORLD AND SPECIFIC EXAMPLE, where is the harm?"

I've answered this already, and saying I haven't doesn't change the fact that I have.

"we have the liberty in our nation to pursue our own choices for ourselves AS LONG AS we don't harm others."

Sure that's great, as long as you're willing to pay the price (without complaining)when what you are doing is illegal.


A couple more questions.

What's the problem with Bob sitting on his porch and shooting heroin or smoking crack?

At what point would you have a problem with Bob' weed habit?

1 joint a day, a week, a month?

10 joints a day, a week, a month?

How do you guarantee that Bob is responsible enough while impaired to not take a run down to the Piggly Wiggly when he gets the munchies?

Does Bob's habit become more problematic if he uses pesticides, or farm machinery to harvest it?

What about taking his personal automobile to meet his dealer?

What if the weed is grown by underpaid, poor, hungry workers in a third world country?

What if he buys it from some dude who uses 12 year old kids in his drug business?

What if he gets a bad joint and OD's and has no health insurance?

It is obvious that you have made some sort of equivalence between weed and beer. The question you keep dodging is where do you draw the line; weed, hash, coke, crack,methamphetamine,heroin,LSD,ecstasy,snorting smoking, brownies,hookah,IV,household chemicals?

Where would you draw the line on age, or would you?

Look, you've put out the most innocuous possible situation in an attempt to justify drug use. While ignoring the fact that the number of folks who fit your hypothetical is minuscule.

How about you address the rest of the spectrum?

Marshall Art said...

One obvious problem with this discussion (I mean aside from the fact that it is way the hell off topic, never having been about the war on drugs specifically) is the implications of Dan's own drug and alcohol abstinence. Craig alluded to it. Does Dan believe it is harmful to him? Does Dan believe it is wrong in some way? Is it mere taste and no alcoholic beverage pleases him? How 'bout a pot brownie? I hope Dan isn't going with the weenie "what's wrong for me isn't necessarily wrong for someone else". That only works in non-behavioral areas like wearing yellow shirts (that's not my color but it looks good on you). A behavior is either wrong or it isn't. "Wrong for me" needs to be clarified if it isn't considered just plain wrong. Dan does the same thing with abortion. He claims he thinks it's wrong (if I recall correctly) but leaves it up to others to decide for themselves. Funny...he wouldn't think that of owning slaves, or stealing.

So, Daniel. Why don't you toke or hoist a few? If it's as I fear, then you have shown the very lack of resolve to which I refer. Again, it's either wrong or it isn't.

Dan Trabue said...

the implications of Dan's own drug and alcohol abstinence. Craig alluded to it. Does Dan believe it is harmful to him?...

Why don't you toke or hoist a few? If it's as I fear, then you have shown the very lack of resolve to which I refer. Again, it's either wrong or it isn't.


1. I have been quite clear that I don't think drugs are a healthy or wise choice.

2. I have been equally clear that the drug war is wrong exactly because we do not criminalize behaviors because they are unhealthy or unwise. No lack of resolve: The "war" is WRONG and we should end it exactly because it is the sort of WRONG, STUPID, BIG GOV'T INTRUSION, NANNY-STATE fussiness that conservatives so often (hypocritically) complain of.

3. IF that is your standard ("We ought to criminalize behaviors/activities that are unwise and unhealthy!"), then we'd have to outlaw TV, Twinkies, Beer, Cigarettes, Bungee Jumping, McDonalds, and a whole host of other activities, because they are unwise and unhealthy. If you'd try to make the case that only THE MOST unhealthy lifestyle choices should be criminalized, then that would include junky fatty food, which far and away surpasses drug abuse as an unhealthy choice.

Is that what you are advocating? Criminalizing unhealthy and/or unwise behavior?

4. I have been equally clear that MY standard for laws is the very consistent: We ought to criminalize/regulate behavior that will or likely could cause harm TO OTHERS.

It's either wrong or it isn't? Well, that depends on what you mean by "wrong." Over-eating twinkies is unhealthy and, FROM A HEALTH POINT OF VIEW, wrong. Over-imbibing in marijuana, alcohol or cocaine is unhealthy and, from a HEALTH POINT OF VIEW, wrong. Is eating one twinkie a month or smoking one joint/drinking one beer a month "wrong" morally? Don't be ridiculous.

As Craig said (albeit wrongly applied), it's all about balance.

But YOU don't want to criminalize alcohol or twinkies, do you? And why not? Because it would be WRONG of the gov't to intrude in personal health choices like that. Do you agree that it would be wrong for gov't to do that? I mean, it's either wrong or it isn't.

Dan Trabue said...

In the news today, from health.com...

Evidence from a spate of recent studies suggests that the more TV you watch, the more likely you are to develop a host of health problems and to die at an earlier age.

Well then, clearly the answer must be to criminalize TV watching.

Dan Trabue said...

??

I wrote a very nice, astute, rational answer to Craig's last set of questions, posted them here (comment # 92) and when I came back to post that last comment, it was gone! Marshall, do you still have that that can be retrieved?

In short, I pointed out that I don't think we ought to criminalize any drugs, even the more toxic ones. If someone is ingesting toxins of any sort (including too much alcohol), that is self-destructive behavior - a socio-mental problem - and should be treated as such, not as a crime.

Bottom line: You all have offered no rational reason why we should treat marijuana (certainly) and even heroin differently than we do other harmful behaviors, like drinking alcohol or eating fatty foods. Your position (which appears to be, "we ought to criminalize SOME behaviors that cause harm to individuals, but not others) is not founded on American ideals (natural law - you have the freedom to do as you wish as long as you don't harm others) nor on any consistent rational moral or logical reasoning that I can see.

Just flimsy whimsy.

Craig said...

"You all have offered no rational reason why we should treat marijuana (certainly) and even heroin differently than we do other harmful behaviors, like drinking alcohol or eating fatty foods."

Rational reason #1. We live in a society governed as a representative republic. The peoples representatives have decided through the legislative process that certtain substances should be controlled. The judical branch has affirmed this descison. In short we live in a society that believes that certain substances pose problems that should be controlled. You disagree. Your rationale is a vaguely libertarian position. I agree in theory that as long as the harm can be limited to the individual who makes the choice, then I really have no problem with that choice. Unfortunately, (with the possible exception of your incredibly limited hypothetical situation) these types of choices ripple out through society. Any time a public money goes to a drug user it harms those who might otherwise bave benefited from that money (again, with the possible exception of treatment)

Isn't the peon who stomps the cocaine paste being exploited/hurt by the drug manufacturer as a result of a personal descision by one person to snort a line?

By your logic we should also legalize prostitution, remove limits on pornography, allow gambling everywhere, and seriously reconsider speed limits in certain parts of the country.

Unfortunately, it all comes down to your faith in fallen sinful humans (who by your diagnosis have a problem with "self-destructive behavior - a socio-mental problem") to make the right, responsible choice on a consistent basis. Further, your response to these folks who engege in this self destructive behavior cause by their socio-mental problems is to provide greater access to their drugs of choice. How is this rational, compassionate, or good public policy?

Sorry, I'm not sure I'm willing to place that much faith in the ability of these folks to make rational descisions. I'd hope that we would want to discourage these behaviors not enable them.

Mark said...

I really really hate to admit it, but I think Dan is accidentally right.

The government does indeed need to get out of the business of trying to outlaw stupid or foolish behavior.

But, the point of the post is that the government shows a lack of resolve when it comes to fighting these metaphorical wars on drugs, poverty etc. And that I agree with wholeheartedly. Just as I said earlier (and no one commented on), The U.S. has shown that same lack of resolve in finishing real shoot-em-up wars since Korea.

And that, I know, Dan would heartily disagree with, because he lives in a fantasy world in which talking wins out over violence.

Dan Trabue said...

And, as much as I hate to agree with some folk here, Mark's right: I'm right...

Marshall Art said...

Is this the comment to which you refer, Dan?

"
Craig, to your questions about the "spectrum" of drug use: ANY overindulgence in ANY are of life can be and often is harmful. IF you eat ten twinkies a day, it is unhealthy and harmful.

Do you advocate criminalizing twinkies? Or even just the over-indulgence of twinkies?

Some substances have effects within them that are more harmful than others. If you'll look at the chart here, you can see that heroin is ~twice as harmful - toxic - as alcohol, but alcohol is 1000+x more toxic than marijuana.

This article references a Lancet medical study that shows that alcohol and tobacco both rank among the ten most dangerous substances used by humans. "More harmful than illegal drugs like marijuana or ecstasy."

I tend to think that even drugs that are MORE harmful to individuals ought not be criminalized, any more than I think Drano or battery acid ought to be criminalized. IF someone is ingesting/abusing any substance that is dangerous to THEM, then that would suggest to me a mental illness, or a lack of cogent reasoning skills. That person needs help - whether they're ingesting Drano or Heroin.

Legitimate "drugs" (heroin, codeine, marijuana, morphine) that might be used medically ought to be treated roughly like any other medication. Some drugs are over the counter, some are prescription only. Whatever the rationale normally used for making that OTC/prescription differentiation should be applied there.

Other "recreational" drugs ought to be treated the same. We have decided that adults can legally purchase alcohol and cigarettes, I see no reason to treat marijuana any differently.

Drugs that are actually MORE toxic than alcohol (heroin, cocaine, maybe) still probably should not be criminalized, but if someone is harming themselves by using harmful drugs (or over-using harmful drugs), then that should be treated as a mental health issue, just like we do with alcohol.

I see no rational reason to differentiate between alcohol and marijuana, or alcohol and heroin. You all have offered no rational reasons to treat them differently.

The bottom line: The "war on drugs" is a wrong idea in the first place, just as criminalizing fatty foods would be a wrong approach to dealing with a VERY serious problem that causes harm to MORE people than drugs do, if I'm not mistaken.

The further bottom line: You all are whimsically differentiating between drugs for no sound, consistent logical or moral reasons. Fatty foods and alcohol are harmful to individuals, yet you don't advocate criminalizing them. Marijuana is harmful (but not as harmful as fatty foods or alcohol) and yet you want to criminalize it. Heroin is as or more harmful than alcohol, but you want to treat using heroin as a crime, but not alcohol? On what rational basis? You've offered nothing other than "it causes harm," but as we have seen (I think - it's hard because you all don't answer questions) - you all don't want to criminalize ALL behavior which cause harm, only certain ones.

Whimsy. Flimsy."

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

My issue with whether you believe it is wrong to toke is based on Christian belief. It was the only thing that provoked any guilt feelings in me over getting high. No one tokes for the taste, even if they say they like the taste. Such is not the case with having a single glass of beer or wine. I know many who sincerely enjoy the taste of a variety of alcoholic beverages and never drink enough to experience drunkenness or impaired behavior.

But a single toke, even for the most regular user, can render a buzz (unless it's really crappy ditch-weed). Immediately, one is inebriated, or drunk. Scripture says the drunk will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, and tokers intend to get inebriated with every instance of putting flame to herb (or ingesting in brownies).

Thus, to vote against the maintaining the illegality of drug possession is to give tacit approval to the behavior Scripture prohibits. It does no good to say that one believes everyone should be free to decide as they choose, and that's legitimate regarding legal substances. But for that which is now, currently, illegal, it doesn't quite work that way. To support the legalization is to support the abuse as abuse will surely happen with greater frequency. In addition, it is not a way to bring about Heaven on earth for one who believes that's a Christian's purpose. Going with the "what's wrong for me" approach is also evidence of lack of resolve if one personally believes a practice is wrong.

As to the war itself, I have a hard time imagining that the scales really support legalization, that any of the points raised in support would truly be corrected, eliminated or mitigated to any great degree by simply saying it's now OK. This attitude also refuses to consider the downside of doing so, which I believe is compelling. What's more, as we don't have agreement on our health care policy, Craig's argument is solid in supposing that legalization would result in federal funds, aka OUR money, going to treat those who couldn't handle their freedom to use recreational drugs. This cannot be. Thus, as always, the lefties who support legalization fail to think the through the ramifications of their position. That is, unless all of us paying for the treatment of irresponsible people is something they support as well. It seems so.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for finding that. Don't know what happened.

Marshall...

My issue with whether you believe it is wrong to toke is based on Christian belief.

No, I don't believe that smoking a joint is inherently "wrong" based upon Christian belief. Jesus never took a stand on marijuana, as you know.

I tend to think that most "recreational drugs" are a superfluous NON-necessity and most likely, not good for your health, but I don't think there's any reason whatsoever to consider them inherently immoral, certainly not biblically or from a Christian point of view.

Dan Trabue said...

I do agree with scripture that we ought not make a habit of drunkenness, but I don't think that equates exactly to never imbibing in smoking a joint.

I have virtually no experience with any drugs (one cigarette, one joint, one beer, one or two tastes of wine and other liquors in my whole life), but my ONE joint that I smoked left no noticeable buzz. I certainly wasn't "drunk."

I've been around other marijuana users and not every time would I consider them "drunk" on marijuana.

I've tried searching on the googles to see if I could find any definitive answer (you're "drunk" on marijuana after x tokes/joints), but could not find such a report.

This one was sort of close, it says...

does marijuana, in fact, adversely effect the ability to drive safely? On this issue, governmental studies are in conflict...

The study found that alcohol consistently and significantly caused impairment -- but that marijuana had only an occasional effect. Further, there was little evidence of interaction between alcohol and marijuana. Finally, speeding tickets and accidents went up with the use of alcohol, but no marijuana or combined alcohol-marijuana influence was noted.

Coming to a different conclusion, however, the California Department of Justice found that marijuana does impair impair driving skills, particularly at high-dose levels or among inexperienced users...

Yet, a more recent federal study has found that "THC is not a profoundly impairing drug….It apparently affects controlled information processing in a variety of laboratory tests, but not to the extent which is beyond the individual’s ability to control...


Do you truly think that any and all "drunkenness" is morally wrong, Marshall? I thought you engaged in the occasional bit of drinking - enough to get "buzzed," I believe you've said.

Do you differentiate between "buzz" and "drunk?" Most marijuana users I've been around (admittedly, a SMALL crowd) I would at most call "buzzed," rather than "drunk." They seem relaxed, mellow, groovy, but not stumbling drunk or uncoordinated.

But again, I'm not especially familiar with any of this first hand.

Marshall Art said...

"No, I don't believe that smoking a joint is inherently "wrong" based upon Christian belief. Jesus never took a stand on marijuana, as you know."

Arguing from silence again? Where's the God-given reason you claimed to have employed to come to your many non-Scriptural positions? Do you actually believe that Biblical warnings against drunkenness were about merely drinking too much as opposed to being in a state of inebriation? This is another "Mom said no cake before dinner, so I'm eating cookies!"

It is not uncommon for the first tokes to produce no high of which the newbie can perceive. Quite common in fact. But as one becomes acquainted with what the buzz feels like, only the crappiest weed will fail to provide a buzz on the first toke (regardless of intensity). One is now inebriated, drunk, intoxicated, faced. It is to that state which Biblical admonitions refer and prohibit. And yes, I wrestled with this knowledge, and like your homosexual friends, I dismissed what I knew to be true (though I never attempted to present the behavior as morally neutral).

What's more, the Biblical admonition would suggest the issue regards the routine drunkard as opposed to those who get carried away during a celebration of some kind. That is, while it speaks against drinking for the various negative consequences (far more directly than it does about wealth, in fact), it takes a different, harsher tone on the subject of drunkards (one who gets drunk is not the same as a drunkard who does often). All in all, it speaks of BEING drunk in starker terms than drinking itself. It's something to be avoided and it seems to me the manner in which one becomes inebriated is irrelevant.

My position is that if one finds a behavior to be wrong, and then one has an opportunity to help shape policy regarding that behavior, to support policy that allows the wrongful behavior is to enable that behavior, giving tacit approval and thus sharing the guilt of those who engage in the behavior. ("I didn't steal nothin'. I just left the door open for the thieves.")

As to myself, once again I wish to point out that I never claim perfection, that I never engage(d) in unChristian behavior. I simply don't try to justify the behavior or pretend I haven't done or aren't doing something wrong. I mean, who would I be kidding? Certainly not Him.

So then, if one believes a behavior is wrong for one's own self, it seems problematic that one would support others' decisions to engage in it. That also suggests that tolerating it in other is actually taking part in inflicting the harm they inflict upon themselves. This "do no harm" thing can get tricky.

Dan Trabue said...

And my position is that it is unhealthy, I don't know that it is morally wrong to imbibe. Again, I am guessing that YOU don't think so, either, since you apparently regularly imbibe.

I'm not arguing from silence. I'm stating a fact: The Bible has no position on marijuana. Yes, there are verses against drunken-ness. I've read and heard and it seems reasonable to me that these passages are speaking of drunkenness as habit, rather than an occasional buzz.

Taking the Bible as a whole: I don't think the passages that speak of drunkenness mean what you think they mean (and again, I'm not sure that you mean what you mean, since you imbibe).

As to what I think is UNHEALTHY ("wrong" is your word, not mine), I advocate free adults making their own life choices on what is and isn't healthy, while I encourage healthy behavior.

I am opposed to gov't trying to step in and enforce at gunpoint "healthy" choices - I think that is IMMORAL and wrong. I think that is more fitting for a totalitarian gov't, not a free people.

Craig said...

Regarding buzzed v. impaired or drunk. The NHSTA has this to say.

http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/adcouncil/41591/

Personally this whole "they're just buzzed" seems like a rationalization.



It seems like we can look at a couple of places in scripture and come up with some guidence as well.

Eph 5:18 "18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery..."

This seems pretty clear that drunkenness (in any context) leads to debauchery. One could make the arguement that since wine is the only intoxicant mentioned that liquer, beer, weed, and other drugs are not covered but not with a straight face.

We also see this “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’" in all 3 of the synoptic gospels. This is a reference to Duet.5. It seems that it would be difficukt to love the Lord with ALL of your mind if your mind is impared by a foreign substance.

I am curious, since it is reasonably possible to determine how much alchohol one could drink without being impared, how does one make the same kind of judgement with any illegal drug. Is the amount of THC consistent from one joinf to another? Are all joints the same size? Is all weed equally potent? Can we really trust those who are engaged in "self-destructive behavior" and who suffer from "a socio-mental problem" to make responsile choices?
Or do we simply enable those folks to access their drug of choice more easily in order to further their "socio-mental problems" and "self destructive behavior"?

Marty said...

Marshall smokes weed? Hilarious.

I used to smoke it back in the late 60s early 70s. Me and my friends would use Gen 1:29-31 to justify our indulgence..."Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.…To you it will be for meat… And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

Looks like some who partake of the green herb are still using that verse and more.

Marshall Art said...

"Marshall smokes weed? Hilarious."

Be so kind as to explain what it is exactly that provokes such a reaction.

Marshall Art said...

"And my position is that it is unhealthy, I don't know that it is morally wrong to imbibe."

What is "drunkenness"? The term comes from the word "drink" or "drunk", which is the past tense version. What happens when one drinks too much alcohol? One is then asked, "Are you drunk?" or is told, "You ARE drunk." Think about that. Are you the past tense of a verb. Substitute any other past tense verb, such as "spoke". Can one be "spoke"? One can be "thrown", but that refers to the actual meaning of the word "throw".

"Drunk" in terms of one's state of being means inebriated. At one time, to become inebriated could only be accomplished through having "drunk" wine or other fermented liquids. But the term specifically is used to denote inebriation, intoxication, being plastered. The means by which one gets there is irrelevant. Scripture is not speaking of intoxication by wine only, but of intoxication, period. Sobriety is a Christian characteristic because it is a state of clear-headedness that is is conducive to adherence to Christian values. Inebriation is not. It is clearly the inebriated condition brought about by imbibing that is the basis of Scriptural admonitions against drinking. Not drinking itself. Avoiding wine or strong drink is encouraged, not moderate drinking of either.

Since it is clearly the state of inebriation that is the cause of concern in Scripture regarding drinking, the means by which one becomes inebriated is irrelevant. There is also no distinction between a "buzz" and falling down shit-faced polluted.

There is irony here. If we were to exchange the topics of drug use with wealth creation, we'd have to switch seats. But my position on inebriation is far more directly supported than anything you've offered regarding wealth creation.

"Taking the Bible as a whole: I don't think the passages that speak of drunkenness mean what you think they mean (and again, I'm not sure that you mean what you mean, since you imbibe)."

Taking the Bible as a whole, those passages mean exactly what I said they mean. This is true regardless of my own unChristian behaviors, past, present or future. Another distinction between us. You seem to confuse my understanding of proper/improper behaviors with my personal behavior decisions. Like Paul, I often do things I don't want to do or know is wrong. Sue me. I don't use myself and my choices as arguments regarding the sinfulness of a given behavior. Never have.

Gotta go. More later.

Marty said...

This:

Dan: "And my position is that it is unhealthy, I don't know that it is morally wrong to imbibe. Again, I am guessing that YOU don't think so, either, since you apparently regularly imbibe."

I'll admit I've skimmed a few comments of this thread. Now that I've read a little more, looks as though Dan was speaking of drinking alcoholic beverages.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

Still not clear on the "hilarity" of my indulgences. Understandable, as you haven't explained yourself at all.

Marty said...

There's really nothing to explain Marshall. The thought of you smoking a joint struck me as quite funny given you're obsession with "right" behavior and all. Maybe you aren't such a stuffed shirt after all.

Marshall Art said...

I don't know why that should surprise you, Marty. I've long maintained that I am far from perfect and have constantly tried to dispel the notion that my positions should not be taken to imply any such thing. There's a cosmic distance between supporting right behavior or knowing what it is, and actually living it in every manifestation 100% of the time.

Craig said...

Perhaps one war we should give up is the War on Poverty. It has gone so swimmingly well that we should declare victory and move on.

Marshall Art said...

Craig,

Please don't feel obliged to respond to the idiot-boy in any way. It's pointless as he's only out to annoy. He's a pathetic little troll who seems to actually believe he's entertaining anyone beyond himself and the frog in his pocket. What's more, your responses will seem odd after I've deleted his sad attempts at cleverness.

Craig said...

feel free to delete my responses as well. I was just trying Alan's tactic of responding in kind (out of love of course) in order to point out his idiocy.

Marshall Art said...

Parkie's too much of an idiot to recognize his own idiocy and thus too much so to appreciate your efforts.

Parklife said...

"idiot" and "idiocy"

You guys are a creative bunch.