David Brooks on Pot: Because This Is Not to My Taste, No One Else Should Be Able to Enjoy It

Matt Welch makes a couple of important points in

to David Brooks’ amazingly obtuse anti-pot
: Declining to ban somethiing is not the same as
endorsing it, and there is nothing “subtl[e]” about using violence
to stop people from consuming psychoactive substances that you fear
will prevent them from realizing their full potential. I would add
that the judgment Brooks pats himself on the back for passing
(since “many people these days shy away from talk about the moral
status of drug use”) cannot possibly justify the arbitrary
distinctions drawn by our drug laws, even if you share his
paternalistic premise.

“I don’t have any problem with somebody who gets high from time
to time,” Brooks says, but “smoking all the time” is “likely to
cumulatively fragment a person’s deep center, or at least not do
much to enhance it.” He thinks people should not smoke pot so much
that they forego the “more satisfying pleasures” and “the deeper
sources of happiness.” Instead they should be guided by “reason,
temperance and self-control.”

As I point out in my book
Saying Yes
, the same could be said of any enjoyable
activity that can be carried to excess. Drinking is the most
obvious example, but any pleasure can be the focus of an addiction
that crowds out more meaningful aspects of life. That is not an
argument for abstinence, let alone abstinence enforced by law. It
is an argument for temperance, in the original sense of the term.
Like most drug warriors, Brooks makes no effort to explain why the
possibility of excess justifies the prohibition of marijuana but
not the prohibition of alcohol and every other fun thing. His
argument brings to mind Marge Simpson’s case
against mixed martial arts competitions: “Call me a killjoy, but I
think that because this is not to my taste, no one else should be
able to enjoy it.”

That is the impulse underlying marijuana prohibition, which is
fundamentally a matter
of taste
. David Brooks is not satisfied with railing against
pot from his perch at The New York Times. He needs to
impose his pharmacological preferences by force. Because he
used to smoke pot but does not care for it anymore, he wants to
lock people in cages for supplying it. There is nothing moral about
that demand.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/03/david-brooks-on-pot-because-this-is-not

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