David Brooks On Pot
Brooks: “You shouldn’t cheat on your spouse.” Internet: “Brooks the fascist wants capital punishment for infidelity.”
— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterType) January 3, 2014
Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of drug use because that would imply that one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life.
But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.
In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.
The Internet is on a tear tonight making fun of Brooks. I hate that. It makes talking seriously about this stuff impossible. I don’t have a strong view one way or another about legal pot — though I agree with Brooks’s point quoted here, even as I think substantial decriminalization is probably necessary — but I hate the way many liberals and libertarians are so zealous about the issue, in a way that shuts down deliberation. Somebody on my Twitter feed today said that pot legalization is for the left what guns are for the right: the issue on which there can be no legitimate dissenting position.