Mary Grabar writes at Pajamas:
A truly sad story about a 23-year-old Panama City man dying while being subdued by Bay County sheriff’s deputies has reawakened the debate about the legalization of marijuana. On December 11, 2009, Andrew Grande choked on a plastic bag full of marijuana as police attempted to arrest him on a violence charge. A video shows police valiantly trying to save his life once it became apparent that he was having difficulty breathing.
Mr. Grande is in line for the Darwin award. What kind of a fool tries to swallow a plastic bag?
Two talk show hosts in Panama City have been discussing the case in the early morning hours — and revealing a divide on the right. Burnie Thompson of WYOO, the libertarian, has called Grande “a casualty of the war on drugs” and contended that because marijuana is illegal, Grande felt “compelled” to swallow a bag of it to avoid punishment.
That's a bit of a stretch - plastic bag and all.
Nonsense, says Doc Washburn on station WFLF. He invited former Congressman Ernest Istook from the Heritage Foundation and Tina Trent, who blogs on crime, to speak about the dangers of marijuana to the user and to society. Trent indicated that Grande had faced probably only a misdemeanor charge; she pointed to studies showing that the illegal drug trade flourishes despite the legality of marijuana in certain states and other countries. And legalizing marijuana will remove the freedom employers now have to test for the judgment-impairing drug.
I'm not convinced that employers should be able to test you for what you do in your private time, which is what those tests amount to. That seems like an unreasonable intrusion, not a "freedom."
The position on the legalization of marijuana provides the point of departure from the traditional libertarianism of Barry Goldwater. In abandoning the duty to enforce social order, today’s libertarians have made a devil’s pact with the pro-drug forces of George Soros and company.
"[T]the duty to enforce social order"? Pact with the devil? Please.
My libertarian friends like to say, “I’m a libertarian, not a libertine.” But though many of the advocates of libertarianism lead socially conservative lives, their agendas promote libertinism — especially when it comes to legalizing drugs. They forget that the moral order they have inherited is put at even further risk as laws change to allow more destructive behavior.
Ah yes, I'm sure that smoking marijuana caused him to go into gay porn as a hobby. This is a case where a story not told in the media is appropriate because it is irrelevent. It's unfortunate that Mary Grabar felt the need to bring it up. The poor man is dead, after all.
To the libertarian, such a profession would also not present a problem, as prostitution does not. But the two — drug use and the self-debasement of prostitution and pornography — go hand in hand. Ask any strip club dancer how easy it is to get up on stage stone cold sober. Ask anyone who has been under the influence about the stupid things he did. Indeed, Grande probably started young, when he was impressionable. And recent reporting has shown that our “safe schools czar,” Kevin Jennings, was head of an organization that used the schools to promote homosexual sex between boys and men. Certainly the ability to engage in such destructive behavior is enhanced by the use of drugs.
Grabar is confusing the issue by tying the effort to legalize marijuana to prostitution and the promotion of homosexuality to young people.
And this is where the libertarian brings up the other “drug”: alcohol.
Libertarians are fond of pointing to the wreckage caused by the abuse of alcohol: deterioration of health, traffic deaths, and domestic violence. This is true, but it is an analogy that emerges from an abstraction. Libertarians argue that the only difference between the two is traditional: we have stamped alcohol consumption with a seal of social approval.
But I would argue that tradition should be a reason for its continued legal status and for denying legal status to marijuana.
Wrong again. Marijuana is an effective treatment for alcoholism and is far less damaging than alcohol. Only someone who has no experience with alcoholism could so blithely wave off its danger.
The sanction for alcohol use goes back to the Bible. In the New Testament, references to its use in ceremonies like the Last Supper and the wedding at Cana appear. But Jesus also warns about excessive use. In the Old Testament, alcohol is shown to cloud the judgment of Lot. The Bible, in this way, tells us when and how we can use alcohol.
Missing the point again. Not everyone can drink. It is NOT SAFE for alcoholics to have even one drink.
This means very little, though, in the arid moral climate of today’s libertarianism.
But I would argue that it should, not only from my position as a Christian, but from my position as a citizen of a country whose foundational values spring from the Judeo-Christian heritage. The sanction for alcohol use has lasted for millennia. It has become part of our rituals at meals, celebrations, and religious services. That is a large part of why Prohibition failed.
Marijuana, in contrast, has always been counter-cultural in the West. Every toke symbolizes a thumb in the eye of Western values. So it follows that in order to maintain our culture, we need to criminalize this drug.
"[A] thumb in the eye Western values? Oh please.
The prohibition against marijuana is one brick in the foundation of our society. On a practical level the use of marijuana also works to knock out other bricks, like the work ethic, emotional engagement, sexual inhibition, and the ability to reason. For example, when one of my college students leads off in defense of the legalization of marijuana, he invariably does so in a disjointed manner, unable to muster the resources of reason and conviction to his argument. (He also does this in his essays.) One caller, “Dave,” to the Doc Washburn program displayed the same apathetic, but friendly, attitude.
The reasons for prohibition of marijuana keep descending the scale of reasonableness. The last rung is the allegation that smoking marijuana will take away one's work ethic, whereas drinking won't. Right.
While one cannot come to class drunk without drawing attention, he can attend under the influence of marijuana, sitting in the back of the room with a glazed, though not unpleasant, expression.
Obviously written by someone with no experience of alcoholism.
But that’s exactly what the left wants: a nation of young zombies — indifferent, unengaged, and uncaring. They provide amenable subjects to indoctrination. Alcohol may fuel fights, but marijuana, as its advocates like to point out, makes the user mellow. The toker wants to make love, not war.
Removing the prohibition on marijuana is a leftist plot to make a nation of zombies! Who knew?
The libertarian maintains that values are the function of the private sphere: the family and church. But as Goldwater argued in the riot-plagued year of 1964, when safety and order are not maintained by the government, our freedoms are affected. In so many ways, the legalization of drugs will lead to the further breakdown of order.
It is still unclear how would the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana would lead to the breakdown of social order.
To give sanction to a drug that robs the individual of reason and conviction is to give up on our way of life. It is another surrender to the counter-culture. It sends a dangerous message to young people. A recent study shows that the creeping sanction through legalization of “medical” marijuana in certain states is giving young teenagers a sense of safety about marijuana use.
The hysteria mounts. Marijuana "robs the individual of reason and conviction!"
Marijuana killed Andrew Grande, not only in the literal sense, but in the sense that it abetted his descent into a very sad, counter-cultural lifestyle. Its legalization is supported by the same forces that promote Kevin Jennings, one-world government, Gaia worship, and legalized prostitution. All these elements work against the traditional libertarian values of initiative, freedom, and honor. Libertarians need to rethink their position on drug legalization.
Marijuana didn't kill Andrew Grande - it was the plastic bag that choked him. "Kevin Jennings, one-world government, Gaia worship, and legalized prostitution" are completely beside the point.
UPDATE: Comments at Pajamas are running 7 to 1 against Grabar and for some form of legalization.
Well, in the spirit of the many inaccuracies of Reefer Madness, my dear friends who endlessly smoke pot would be better for the revolution if they could rally energy against anything. But, editorial positions taken are positions taken, in fairness.
Hi Tina, Merry Christmas.
I'm sure Mary Grabar is a very nice person, but like Rachel Ehrenfeld, she is totally wrong about marijuana. The absurd lengths this article goes to make marijuana responsible for everything from homosexual porn to one world government is deserving of ridicule.
It ain't personal, it's politics.
Hi Rebecca, et al.
I am a friend and colleague of Mary Grabar's. I don't think she deserves this type of scorn. In many of her articles, she takes on issues that are easy to slot into reductionist standpoints, and she does a good job of articulating both contrary and consistent views.
In this case, the radio discussion in which I participated arose from libertarians' claims that the man who choked to death on a bag of pot was a "victim of the drug wars." That's a ridiculous claim in light of the facts of that evening and his prior record of violent incidents requiring police response: he was clearly an out-of-control person whose own friends called the police when he began attacking a woman.
But to some, he's now a benighted hero of the valiant war against enforcement of the law and a victim of police brutality. The latter theme is especially troubling in a year with a 26% increase in policemen being murdered on the job.
Relentless, groundless accusations of police brutality make policing more dangerous, and cops in America already put themselves in danger every time they respond to a call. The police who tried to save this man also put themselves in danger in two additional ways: they did not know if he was on some sort of methamphetamine that would render him more powerful and less controllable at close range, and they did not know if he had transmittable diseases common to drug users. Regardless of these dangers, in an effort to save his life, they put their hands in his mouth as he was struggling. The libertarian activists who not only denied this but also encouraged blame to be laid on the police are playing a dangerous game with officers' lives, and they should be called out for it.
On the legalization issue, I take a realpolitik approach. Legalization in America is not going to result in "less intrusion in our lives," as activists claim. For better or for worse, virtually all drugs except alcohol remain detectable long after intoxication has faded. Therefore, in our system of liability and employment law, it's going to fall upon every employer to repeatedly monitor employees for drug use in order to minimize their liability. This isn't a moral issue but a practical one, and I think everyone is denying the potential impact on all workers, regardless of industry.
We've also seen in Oregon and California how American-style legalization rapidly and unfortunately devolves into the creation of huge bureaucracies designed not merely to deliver legal pot but to build a positive, actionable, and taxpayer-subsidized "right" to the drug as a medical treatment -- not just for valid conditions like chemo-induced nausea and glaucoma, but for anything and anyone. I don't want my tax dollars going to create such bureaucracies, and I don't want the courts tied up with ridiculous fake disability and employment-rights litigation.
Other reasons claims by activists don't pass the smell test: our prisons aren't stuffed with drug users who were caught with a personal stash; more than 90% of those arrested for possession get diversion counseling, which doubtlessly helps many people who can be helped but are going down a bad road; minor drug arrests resulting in jail time are virtually always suspended unless there are other outstanding charges; legalization will not stop illegal drug trafficking or sales to minors, and legalization will likely increase driving and crime incidents arising from intoxication.
I do wish you would take a look at Mary Grabar's other writing: there is a lot of common ground. Her work on Bill Ayers and the radical left's insinuations into academia are second to none, documented the hard way as she works as an adjunct instructor. Many people with the protections afforded by tenure do far less.
I will stop wassailing on. Merry Christmas!
Mary Grabar is an intelligent woman, who often writes sensible stuff at PJM. But she has a tendency to see things in black and white, and doesn't realise that she has much to learn. And she has an irritating tendency to put down other women, as if she isn't one.
Of course some people abuse marijuana, just as some people abuse alcohol or cigarettes. Should the sensible user be deprived because of this?
Legalise it, I say, and tax it.
Confucious say, "Man who stand on kettle, high on pot."