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Drugs, Morality, and Peter Hitchens

So I ended up in a twitter exchange with Peter Hitchens…

It started with a note from Evert Rauwendaal…

@TransformDrugs @DrugWarRant Oh dear. Peter Hitchens in Australia to talk about the morality of drug taking http://t.co/7zg52v0UcA

Peter Hitchens noticed and chimed it.

@EvertRauwendaal @TransformDrugs @DrugWarRant Why’Oh dear’ ? Worried about the open expression of dissenting views , are we?

I tried to answer his question.

.@ClarkeMicah @EvertRauwendaal @TransformDrugs It’s not the expression of moral opinion, but the desire to impose the same on everyone else.

Hitchens replied, attempting to turn the tables…

@DrugWarRant Exactly.The imposition of your selfish moral opinion would endanger the health of millions, to suit a selfish few.

Up is down. Freedom is slavery. Tyranny is liberty.

So to Hitchens, it is free choice (legalization) that is the imposition of a moral opinion on the world. Once you believe that, then you believe that people as a whole are incapable of free choice and must be dealt with like livestock, with some self-appointed farmer (or guardian of morals) to care for them.

You see this delusion in people who have strong convictions that not only are their particular moral views the only correct choice, but that it’s acceptable to use power and violence to make others also “moral.”

Of course, that’s nonsense. Power and violence don’t make morality. They just make power and violence. (And it’s typical that they are uninterested in, or unwilling to believe, any information that shows either the failure of power and violence to achieve the stated moral goals, or the damage from that power and violence.)

There’s always someone with a moral opinion that they want to impose on others. There have been a ton of them out there, between people like Hitchens and the huge variety of religious prohibitions, such as

  • No eating pork
  • No dancing
  • No playing pool
  • No working on Saturday (or Sunday)
  • No drinking alcohol or using certain other drugs
  • No showing your face
  • No watching movies
  • No premarital sex
  • No cooking a goat in its mother’s milk
  • No tattoos
  • No nudity
  • No blasphemy
  • No wearing clothing made of more than one kind of cloth
  • etc., etc., etc.

Although some of these were grounded in practicality (not getting sick from eating undercooked pork), for any them (or any like them) to be enforced by the state for moral reasons (as opposed to scientifically supported public policy) is absurd in any kind of free society.

Which may be why you so often see advocates of legislated morality turning language on its head, like Hitchens with his tweet to me, or those who perversely demand religious freedom when what they’re really calling for is religious tyranny.

It’s startling to me how often these days tyranny against others is being described as a liberty right. In religious circles it turns up all the time as freedom to practice their religion… by imposing state-sponsored prayer on all children, by objecting to the teaching of science in schools that conflicts with their personal religious beliefs, by requiring that all people follow their own prohibition against making images of their religious leader, etc.

I have no problem if your religion requires you to not look at red hair, but that makes it your responsibility to avoid situations where you might see it, not my responsibility to wear a hat. Making me wear a hat in order to allow you the positive right of living in a red-head-free world is a complete bastardization of the notion of liberty.

Similarly, calling for the right to live in a drug-free world as a moral imperative is just as flawed. And this is why Evert Rauwendaal was right to say “Oh dear” at the notion of Peter Hitchens’ approach to drug policy, which is modeled on Professor Harold Hill’s discussions of pool.

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23 comments to Drugs, Morality, and Peter Hitchens

  • claygooding

    So Peter Hitchins admits that prohibition is morally wrong but because of health issues that “could” be caused by an increase in marijuana use it should be continued.. First..there are no recorded “extra” health costs from marijuana use except in the drug treatment field which depends on the 80% court or job ordered customers they receive as justification that marijuana is a lot more addictive than science reports it to be and second there are no statistics that support any increase in marijuana use.
    According to the statistics available marijuana use drops when it loses the allure of prohibition.

  • kaptinemo

    I’m waiting for The Moment. The Moment when a member of the opposition, in the heat of a rhetorical battle, realizes that they are losing control of the situation and goes full-on, flapjack flipped-out…and shows the authoritarian snarl under the happy-face mask.

    In the end, the prohibs have only had two things going for them: force and fraud. Up to now, they’ve been able to use the force of the government to achieve their ends (and maintain the fraud behind those ends) because of a now-dwindling former majority of the electorate favored using authoritarian methods.

    That once-majority is rapidly shrinking, and those taking their place don’t generally believe in either the goals (a ‘drug-free society’) or the methods used to try to achieve it.

    The old propaganda doesn’t work, and the prohibs can’t come up with any new lies; it’s all been said before. And hiring Kevvie to try to spruce up the old lies in new packaging isn’t working either; we’ve heard every variation of the theme wailing and blatting out from this sour-note, badly out-of-tune orchestra, before.

    The day is coming when a prohib will be literally laughed off the stage, for want of any new ‘material’. On that day, prohibition will get the ‘stake-through-the-heart’ it’s long needed. For the public will get a view of the prohibs stripped of that coagulated syrupy PR goo they’ve encrusted themselves with and then the fencesitting public will get a good look at the vicious, blood-dripping monster that’s always been there.

  • Servetus

    For people of Peter Hitchens’s ilk, freedom means the perceived right to victimize those they don’t like. Take that freedom away, and the sadomoralizers feel disenfranchised. They lose sense of any destructive purpose in their lives.

    Peter Hitchens, Joe Califano, Bill Bennett, Antonin Scalia, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, et al. prohibitorum, are all professional Catholics who never cease conspiring to incorporate Catholic canon law into the fabric of the U.S. Code. The Vatican’s rabid fear of being made obsolete by the selection and use of mind altering chemicals, along with birth control, is a clarion call to each and every sacerdotal knight to slay demonic drug consumers.

    The best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is for everyone to continue to use prohibited drugs. LSD enlightenment at $25 a hit will beat the pope’s buzz killers every time. No need to wait decades. No reason to fork over ten-percent of your income. Quick results are guaranteed.

  • DdC

    More Wacko’s everywhere, all around the town. Our town… right here in River City. Trouble I tell ya. Trouble with a capital “T” And that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pot!. Pot, right here in River City.

    Despite Legalization, Not Much Known About Effects

    A number of proponents believe marijuana could benefit people with everything from glaucoma to cancer, and it’s been legalized in Illinois to aid patients with some 40 medical conditions

    But opponents of its medicinal use believe the risks of smoking medical marijuana outweigh the benefits,

    while others question whether patients really improve or only feel like they improve.

    I haven’t actually imnproved osifer, I only feel like I have. I can do the things I could not do before but I may only feel like I am.

    Reform The Medical-Marijuana Markets

    The Legislature seemed as comfortable with the idea as if it was being forced to wear a hair shirt, chafing at making necessary tweaks to the law.

    Marijuana Likely To Be Decriminalized in D.C.
    Before long, smoking a joint in the nation’s capital might get you in even less trouble than parking on the wrong side of the street on street-cleaning day.

    as long as they aren’t caught with more than an ounce of the drug. Instead, they would have to pay a fine, perhaps as low as $25. (The mayor also wants criminal penalties to remain for anyone caught using it in public.)

    But why was it prohibited by Nixon in the first place?

    “You know, it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews?

    • DdC

      The immorality of making a little girl suffer supersedes any gossip by self appointed moralists like hitchens bitchins.

      N.J.’s Youngest MMJ Patient Gets Her Turn

    • Windy

      Here’s the link to the comments on the Seattle Times op-ed on reform. Please go, register (if you are not already) and comment and rate the other comments (currently there are only 31 comments). I ask this because there are a lot of good comments with higher down ratings than they should have, and (as always) there are lot of prohib commenters.

      • Windy

        And a bunch of posts by Steve Sarich. I never know how to take him, he is a unapologetic advocate for medical users, but he (IMNSHO) too often goes over the top in his descriptions of those in opposition and even on the same side. I like him, but i fear his comments may turn “fence sitters” off to the cause.

      • Paul McClancy

        Windy, the link doesn’t seem to show up.

  • N.T. Greene

    Note how he did not refute your point, instead choosing to wage what is essentially an ad hominem attack.

    He thinks he’s moral and you’re not.

  • N.T. Greene

    Oh, and restoring lost rights is hardly selfish.

  • Dano

    Autocrats love to have all the choices so they can tell you what you must do. You don’t need the choices, as they’ve already evaluated the facts and based on their moral compass they have divined the correct path for all of mankind. There is no other way…

    • N.T. Greene

      “The way that is called the way is not the true way.”

      At least that’s what a book told me. Society is more volatile and complex than most people realize. It is basically impossible For there to be a “right way” for every single person… At least an imposed one. Look at the drug war. Despite its aims, many of the problems it sought to solve got worse. The spread of disinformation was eventually stemmed by the internet and actual research… Which ultimately sowed seeds of discontent in the populace.

      Some ‘right way’.

  • allan

    I tell ya… all them Pawtuckets and Naragansetts and other various east side local indigenous gangs a few centuries back blew it.

    Another lesson from the Hindsight 101 textbook, “damn it, I knew it was a mistake to let them folks stay overnight.”

    I wonder if entheogenic therapy could be useful in treating Hyperactive Sado-Moralist Behavior Disorder ?

    The case could be made that the sufferers of HS-MBD have become a severe threat to public safety.

  • allan

    the drug war, live on Twitter, this is indeed a new millenium. I love any venue that allows the prohibs to publicly make asses of themselves. Go Peter Hitchens!

  • Evert Rauwendaal

    Speaking of ‘up is down’, Hitchens believes that selling drugs with no actual health warnings on the label sends a stronger health warning than umm… actual health warnings like these: http://goo.gl/50ytSl

    You can see the exchange here: https://twitter.com/ClarkeMicah/statuses/394504971263025153

  • divadab

    What’s up with those Hitchens brothers? Both serving as mouthpieces for evil dominionism. Pays the bills, I suppose…….

  • cy klebs

    Take away the MJ with the Darci Driggs case and there’s still the ethnic cleansing! From the state of Michigan http://fox17online.com/2013/09/06/injuries-discovered-on-brother-of-two-year-old-murdered-in-gr-mother-investigated/#axzz2j7tlK900

    • mr Ikasheeni

      What of the many cases of FAS fetal Alcohol syndrome, and child abuse? C’mon Cy if there was birth defects associated with MJ we’d see symptoms by now! I think we should be concerned with desirable offspring forced into foster care with the CSA prohib pretext.

  • mr Ikasheeni

    As captain Sheehan told me, There’s no limit to the stupidity of the public sometimes! Word to the wise…