January 5, 2014

Brooks vs Marijuana Legalization

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks got deservedly hammered for an anti-weed editorial he wrote that was self contradictory, blindly arrogant, completely unsupported and failed to make a point.

Brooks is a skilled weaver of words designed to deceive. In that sense he is like Rush Limbaugh, skilled at making things sound true that aren't really true. Brooks is much smoother than Limbaugh and speaks to the Brooks Brothers set as opposed to Limbaugh's lunchpail crowd, but his job is the same. He's a spokesperson for the conservative establishment and it's his job to verbally defend and glorify the status quo, that is the "I-got-mine-Jack-you-on-your-own" ideology.

Brooks is glib, a facile user of language, but his job is to make a bankrupt, dysfunctional system sound correct, honorable and inevitable.

He has a lot of support from the giant chorus blaring from the establishment media, and he can always fall back on the established lies, such as, the poor shouldn't get too much help or they'll lose incentive, but the richest corporations are too big to fail or we'll all go down with them. Brooks is good at making the lies that proceed from the standard conservative axioms sound true. But he's been sheltered in the right wing noisemaker media so long he's gotten lazy. He thinks he can pass off anything that comes to mind and have it taken seriously just because it's him writing in the New York Times. It doesn't have to be supported by fact, or even hold together logically, as long as it parrots the right wing, free market privatizer ideology. But sometimes he gets so far out on a limb he gets nailed, as in the case of the marijuana story.

Brooks starts by saying he smoked pot as a teenager and left him "fond memories" and "deepened our friendships." In his confession to engaging in illegal activity as a teenager he did not offer to do prison time, but he supports other people doing prison time, as they do when they get caught with marijuana under present laws. He doesn't agree with legalization because "Stoned people do stupid things," such as when he got stoned before a presentation in English class and botched the presentation.

Brooks and his buddies, except the "smartest" one, gave up pot smoking for "higher pleasures," he said (really). He said it didn't really make you funnier or more creative and parenthetically refers to "academic studies" that "more or less confirm" his assertion. "The deeper sources of happiness," he says, "usually involve a state of going somewhere, becoming better at something, learning more about something, overcoming difficulty and experiencing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment." He says this as if people who choose marijuana over alcohol for example as a drug of choice, never do any of those things. He wouldn't say that a person who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner is then precluded from any other constructive activity in life. But presuming it to be true about marijuana makes just about as much sense.

By casually referring to his own pot use while advocating criminal penalties for others, he is obviously completely out of touch with the fact that the marijuana prohibition has allowed privileged whites such as himself to get away with doing what it throws blacks or the less privileged in prison for.

Preferring one intoxicant to another is not simply a matter of personal choice, it is a distinction that means the social group that drinks is supported by the law and those who smoke marijuana are criminalized. It doesn't make any sense, but Brooks is among those who want it to stay that way because it is that way.

There have been many fun responses, all taking aim at the many weak points in this article.

  • A tale of two pot users: OK for elites, illegal for others
  • David Brooks' and Ruth Marcus' Anti-Weed Columns Condensed for Maximum Stoner Hilarity
  • The real lesson of David Brooks' lame anti-pot column
  • MSNBC Rips NYT's David Brooks For His Stupid Anti-Weed Editori
  • Moments of Uninhibited Frolic

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