America Is Severely Confused About Domestic Abuse

John Wayne paddling his wife (Maureen O'Hara) in "McClintock!" I love ya, Duke, but this isn't funny any more....if it ever was.

Violence inflicted by one partner in a relationship upon another is absolutely unethical, yet it is one of those embedded cultural habits from the bad old days that still flourishes. Over at the Whitney Houston post, where I am being over-run by the drug-legalization zealots, sicced on me by a sad website where people indulge their dreams of legally de-braining themselves on a regular basis, there is widespread contempt for the concept  that cultural norms of what is right, wrong and worthy of shame controls our worst impulses. That contempt is as crippling as it is ignorant, for controlling behavior is what cultures do, and why they are essential. And our culture is still giving confusing signals about domestic abuse. Two recent examples:

  • The Chris Brown tweets. After singer Chris Brown performed at the Grammys, the singer who notoriously beat up his girlfriend, super-singer Rihanna provoked these responses in the Twitterverse:

And many more in the same vein.

If women find abusers attractive, and worse, feel no shame in saying so in a public medium like Twitter, something has gone seriously astray with feminism, common sense, and values. An abusing pop star shouldn’t have any fans, much less get “He can beat me up” fan tweets. Domestic abuse will wane when the culture consistently sends a powerful message that love and abuse are incompatible, because one is the ultimate expression of ethical values, and the other is the extreme expression of unethical values. These tweeting women undermine that message.

It makes me want to belt them right in the mouth.

Kidding!

What, you didn’t think that was funny?

Good.

Then maybe you’ll understand the problem with this…

  • The Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt Commercial. It aired during the Super Bowl, and some thought it was the funniest ad of the day. In it, actor John Stamos cruelly teased his lady-love by hogging all the delicious yogurt for himself, until she seized control by viciously head-butting him off-his chair. I have to admit, I’m an unapologetic slapstick fan, but the naked violence took me by surprise and did not have me laughing. Perhaps it’s because I know that if the sexes had been reversed, NOW would have been screaming. I was reminded that during the California recall election that gave the Golden State the Governator, candidate Arianna Huffington actually criticized Ahhhnold as being hostile to women for slamming Kristianna Loken’s head into a toilet bowl, even though 1) she was playing a killer android, not a real woman 2) the android was beating the living daylights out of Arnold’s good Terminator and 3) it was a movie. Why is female on male abuse funny, and male on female abuse taboo, unless it’s Chris Brown or someone similarly hot? Male domestic abuse is believed to be widespread and under-reported, and one reason is that men are ashamed to report it…because, you know, it’s funny.

Like in this Super Bowl yogurt commercial.

There are some things that need to join slavery, rape, racism and child abuse as things that we no longer joke about, and I nominate spousal abuse—by either gender— for membership in the club.

[ Thanks to my friend Laura Quinn Anderson for the Tweet trail]

102 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

102 responses to “America Is Severely Confused About Domestic Abuse

  1. I thought it was the best commercial of the day. I thought it was just funny, not an endorsement of domestic violence.

  2. Francis

    “Alcohol use is also frequently associated with domestic and partner violence. According to a 2002 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by a partner reported that alcohol played a role, and among spouse victims, three out of four reported that the offender had been drinking.”

    and

    “The odds of any male-to-female physical aggression are eight times higher on days when these men drink alcohol than on days with no alcohol consumption, with the chances of severe male-to-female physical aggression on drinking days more than 11 times higher.

    Moreover, compared to days of no drinking, the odds of any male-to-female violence on days of heavy drinking by the male partners (drinking six or more drinks in 24 hours) are more than 18 times higher and the odds of severe violence are more than 19 times higher.”

    It’s too bad we don’t have a recreational intoxicant that’s NEVER been linked to violence that could serve as a safer, legal alternative to alcohol. (But that’s probably a “fatuous” argument, right?)

    • Fatuous? No, that’s not quite it. I like “desperate.” Since there’s no chance that alcohol is going away, it’s just a straw man. And alcohol abuse and pot abuse often go hand in hand…like, say, in Whitney Houston’s case! I like the imaginary headline though—”Pot Legalized on Fantastic Hopes That Violent Abusers Move From Social Drug To Non-Social Drug For No Discernible Reason!” And you get points for raising one of the key reasons for Prohibition.

      The best case for fatuous is that this is just another back-door “alcohol is legal, so it’s only fair that all destructive recreational drugs be legal too” argument, and all of those are indeed fatuous. Still, I’ve never heard this one before. If it resulted from a sincere concern for abuse victims rather than a pathetic obsession with getting high, it would even be admirable. But I know better, as do you.

      • strayan

        Alcohol is a ‘social’ drug? If by ‘social’ you mean “used when bashing your wife”, then I’ll stick to anti-social ones; presumably those “used when not in the mood to bash your wife”.

        By the way, how does drug prohibition reduce the incidence of family violence? By locking the male breadwinner up on a drugs charge? Perhaps by ‘rehabilitating’ drug offenders in violent prisons so they can return to their family as model dads.

      • Francis

        “If it resulted from a sincere concern for abuse victims rather than a pathetic obsession with getting high, it would even be admirable. But I know better, as do you.”

        Jack, impugning the (imagined) motives of your opponent is a classic example of the ad hominem logical fallacy. It’s (a) rude and (b) says nothing about the merits of the argument being presented. (I’d also note that resorting to ad hominem attacks is frequently a sign of “desperation.”) You’re better than that.

        The harm reduction argument for relegalizing cannabis is pretty straight-forward. (For present purposes, we’re focusing on violence, but cannabis is a much safer drug by numerous other metrics as well, e.g. overdose risk, long-term health consequences, addictiveness, etc.)
        1) Alcohol, as a disinhibitor, is a significant contributor to violent behavior.
        2) Cannabis does not significantly contribute to violent behavior.
        3) “There’s no chance that alcohol is going away,” i.e., bringing back alcohol prohibition is neither politically nor culturally feasible.
        4) Alcohol and cannabis are at least partial substitutes such that the increased availability of cannabis will tend to cause a corresponding decrease in the use of (and thus the harms associated with) alcohol.

        Correct me if I’m mistaken, but you don’t appear to be disputing items 1-3 and are instead taking issue with item 4. I think that’s silly. Cannabis and alcohol are CLEARLY substitutes. My own experience (and that of many people I’ve talked to) is that cannabis use tends to DISPLACE alcohol use. Do many people enjoy both alcohol and cannabis? Sure, and many people drink both Pepsi and Coke on occasion. That doesn’t mean that the two aren’t substitutes, or that the availability of one doesn’t tend to decrease the consumption of the other. Studies have also shown that for many alcoholics, cannabis substitution is an effective harm-reduction strategy for managing their addiction. I’d also note the results of a recent study that showed that medical marijuana laws were associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities (apparently due to the substitution effect):

        “Comparing traffic deaths over time in states with and without medical marijuana law changes, the researchers found that fatal car wrecks dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical use — which was largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving. The researchers controlled for other factors like changes in driving laws and the number of miles driven that could affect the results.

        Medical marijuana laws were not significantly linked with changes in daytime crash rates or those that didn’t involve alcohol. But the rate of fatal crashes in which a driver had consumed any alcohol dropped 12% after medical marijuana was legalized, and crashes involving high levels of alcohol consumption fell 14%.”

        • Francis: Your point about the debating technique of impugning motives is generally correct, and I endorse it, for Golden Rule reasons as well as others. But that is only a below-the-belt argument tactic when it is a tactic, used to discredit objective and fair opinions. It is legitimate to question motives when there is strong evidence, and in the case of most of those who flew in here via the exhortations of one website of pot enthusiasts, there was. I have been having versions of these same arguments since college; I know the heads when I hear them. I checked out the websites and Facebook pages of several. They were, it is fair to say, drug-use obsessed. Most were college or grad students. Many had information for pot-growing. Once knew a lot of NORML members. The majority, not all of them, but most, were pot enthusiasts, not social policy wonks. In the 60′s, rich kids were happy to promote drugs without giving a thought to how their recreation would be life-destroying to ghetto families and other Americans who didn’t have the support networks and resources to deal with a drug abuse problem once it gets out of control. When politicians start supporting drug legalization, I am suspicious of their motives as well..and it is naive not to be suspicious of the motives of politicians. In Barney Frank’s case, I think it is sincere. Ditto Ron Paul, but the way he gets to that position is pure, textbook libertarianism, which is theory divorced from experience and reality. Others just are seeking votes, or are concerned about short-term funds. There are sincere (and mistaken) advocates like Frank, but it is fair to be suspicious.

          My intent in characterizing the main motivations of the commenters, most of whom were not interested in honest discourse (while, for example, your post is) was not to imply that anyone opposing drug legalization was a user, but that the vast majority of the commenters in this thread fell into that category. All you had to do was read the threads to see that, with statements about how cannabis was the most useful plant on the planet and related nonsense, as well as direct references to the user’s personal drug use. And, yes, when an argument seems to me a xerox copy of the same rant I had to listen ad nauseum to from red-eyed, munchie-eating McGovern volunteers in 1972, I presume a similar motivation. The talking points–Prohibition, alcohol, Amsterdam, “no harm”— haven’t changed in all that time, and my patience is not inexhaustable.

          It is irresponsible for people of means who want to engage in a periodic consciousness-altering break to advocate a widespread policy change that risks terrible consequences for more vulnerable populations. As the cliche goes, when the elites get the sniffles, the economically-challenged catch pneumonia. The elites can afford to be irresponsible.

          I think the argument that pot will significantly reduce alcohol use is an interesting one that was only raised tangentially in the comments, and it is completely tangential to the original post, which was specifically about the result of pro-drug advocates undermining social consensus about the dangers and irresponsibility of drug use. This is not a drug policy blog, and I keep (stupidly) allowing myself to be goaded into debating the non-ethical issues in an effort to support open discussion. I ended up having to throw 4 obnoxious commenters off the site, a single post record, and a typical year’s total. No good deed goes unpunished.

          Your assertion is dubious, but worth exploring. Alcohol use on campuses hasn’t dropped since pot became widely used there, it has increased. So have rates of alcoholism. Your accident studies point in the other direction, and I had never seen them; obviously those alone don’t make the case.

          I’ll say this: alcohol is clearly a more dangerous drug than pot. My #1 argument against allowing pot (and other drugs) to be added to the list of legalized drugs will just multiply the societal problems that alcohol abuse already causes–2X, .5X, .35X–I don’t care how much, we don’t need the added misery. If it could be convincingly shown that the net abuse would go down, then sure, the ethical policy, in the best interests of all, would be to legalize pot.

          If I could make alcohol vanish and pot take its place, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

          You see? All it takes is a rational, well-presented point to advance the discussion! Yours makes, I’d say, about the 6th I read, out of about 150.

          • Francis

            Thanks, that helps me understand your position better. It sounds like I could win you over with sufficient empirical evidence demonstrating a strong substitution effect. I haven’t taken an economics class since high school, but my understanding is that substitution is normally thought of in terms of how price changes in one good affect consumption of the other (substitute) good. And I’d imagine the best way to measure that effect is to see what happens after a discrete price shock to one of the goods. Returning to the Coke and Pepsi example, if Coke suddenly doubled its price but Pepsi’s price remained unchanged, you could measure the consumer response fairly easily. Criminalizing pot increases its price in two ways. First, it increases the actual monetary price that consumers have to pay (due to the risk premium involved in supplying it). It also increases the “price” to the consumer in the sense that they’re forced to expose themselves to the risk of criminal sanction if they want to consume it. In suggesting that there’s no strong substitution effect, you make the following claim:

            “Alcohol use on campuses hasn’t dropped since pot became widely used there, it has increased. So have rates of alcoholism.”

            I’m not sure that’s a good way to determine the strength of the substitution effect. To me that’s sort of like saying that because total soda consumption increased over a period of several decades, that shows that Coke and Pepsi are not strong substitutes (and that criminalizing Pepsi wouldn’t increase Coke sales). Again, my understanding is that the best way to isolate the variables is to see what happens after a discrete price shock to one. With decriminalization and the passage of medical cannabis in several states, it seems to me that we have several examples of cannabis “price shocks” to mine for data. That’s why I find the accident study I cited to be more compelling — although I’d certainly like to see additional studies!

            Finally, (although I’m sure you understand this point) I’d note that the harm reduction argument I’ve made is just a tiny piece of the much larger argument that laws that criminalize cannabis (and in my view, other drugs) do more harm than good. Criminalizing certain drugs does raise their “price” as described above, but it seems to be a very screwy way of going about it, given the number of negative unintended consequences it unleashes. A much simpler way to discourage use that avoids those consequences (and actually raises revenue for the state instead of spending it!) is to simply tax drugs. Presumably those taxes would be set at different levels based on the drugs’ scientifically-determined harm levels. The taxes would need to be high enough to discourage use but not high enough to lead to the creation of a significant black market. Anyway, thanks for the forum and see you around (probably on your next drug policy-related post)! ;)

            • Anyway, thanks for the forum and see you around (probably on your next drug policy-related post)!

              The only ethical issue that interests you is drugs? Drugs don’t interest me at all. The fact that so many people waste so much of their productive life thinking about, promoting them, extolling them and using them interests me, because it is so pointless and tragic.

              • Francis

                We can’t all be generalists. I’m kind of a politics geek. I admit that I have considerably less interest in discussing ethics divorced from policy. (That’s not to knock those kind of discussions. It’s just not where my interests happen to lie.) And yes, drug policy does interest me a great deal. I’m sincerely convinced that the war on drugs is an INCREDIBLY destructive policy. You’re obviously not convinced of that, but if everyone agreed on everything, where would the fun be in that?

            • You’d have to come up with a much better comparison than soft drinks. Pot and alcohol are different in kind…ingestion, social uses, taste, smell, method of intoxication, part of brain affected. Pot stinks up the place, if its been smoked. I’m more than dubious.

              Yes, if there was convincing data that showed that pot—and we’re talking pot only—would replace alcohol and that the net number of drug-abusing individuals would fall, that would be a strong argument for legalization.I can’t imagine such data being honestly generated.

              Coke and Pepsi??

              • Francis

                Well, sure. Coke and Pepsi are obviously much closer substitutes. Coke and Mountain Dew would be a less close example. And Coke and fruit juice would be an even less close example. That wasn’t really the point of the analogy. And you “can’t imagine such data being honestly generated”?! C’mon, Jack, that makes it sound like your mind is made up and you’re unwilling to even consider contrary evidence. Talk to an economist. Evaluating and interpreting that data is what they do. I’m certainly open to the possibility that the substitution effect is much weaker than I believe it to be.

                • No, really: what data would sufficiently show that the alcohol-abusing population in the US would, in the event that pot was legal, switch drugs? Alcoholism, for example, is based on a genetic defect–the livers of alcoholics don’t process alcohol normally. It’s not a generic addiction. Their metabolism makes them vulnerable to alcohol, not pot. What study data would include factors like this? If you really think “drinks” is even vaguely a legitimate analogy, you’re the one suffering from confirmation bias. No study involving substituting pomegranate juice for Sprite has anything to tell us about alcoholics using pot instead of booze.

                  • Francis

                    “No study involving substituting pomegranate juice for Sprite has anything to tell us about alcoholics using pot instead of booze.”

                    Jack, I think you might be getting a little too hung up on the specific analogy, but I’m otherwise in complete agreement with that statement. But it is really so hard to imagine, for example, a placebo-controlled double-blind study of the effectiveness of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol for people with alcohol dependence? It seems like that would be the gold standard. I’m not aware of any studies meeting that “gold standard,” but they’re certainly possible (although not necessarily in the current legal climate). And other studies of cannabis substitution as a harm reduction strategy for alcoholics have been done with promising results, e.g.:

                    Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol
                    By Tod Mikuriya, MD

                    SUMMARY
                    Ninety-two Northern Californians using cannabis as an alternative to alcohol obtained letters of approval from the author. Their records were reviewed to determine characteristics of the cohort and efficacy of the treatment —defined as reduced harm to the patient. All patients reported benefit, indicating that for at least a subset of alcoholics, cannabis use is associated with reduced drinking. The cost of alcoholism to individual patients and society- at-large warrants testing of the cannabis-substitution approach and study of the drug-of-choice phenomenon.

                    As far as showing the likely effects of full legalization on alcohol-related harms in society more generally, again I think we already have the data points to mine. Several states have legalized medical cannabis or decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis for adults. It seems like we could very easily examine what effect, if any, those changes in legal status had on things like per-capita alcohol consumption, traffic fatalities, violent crime, incidents of domestic abuse, alcohol-related ER visits, etc. by comparing what happened in those states with states that don’t have medical marijuana programs or decriminalized cannabis.

                    • You could look for trends. I don’t think it would prove much at all, but hold out that hope if you like. It’s not being “hung up” to insist that showing that apples can be substituted for apples brings no illumination to the question of whether aspirin can be substituted for lasagna.

                      The drug debate is closed. I’m not allowing any more off-topic posts on it on other unrelated articles…like this one. Thanks for weighing in.

          • A Critic

            “If I could make alcohol vanish and pot take its place, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

            You say that, but you won’t do the one most effective thing to make that happen. If pot were legal then a significant number of drinkers would switch. Very few would use both, most people find….[remainder deleted for off-topic commentary]

            • Now why do you make me do this? I warned you. I just said that you could not post your pro-drug arguments on unrelated posts, that the comments on the drug threat was closed. I told you you could post, on topic, as you wished, but if you continued to use other posts as a pro-drug bulletin board, those posts would be trashed. It is disrespectful of this blog, and me, to just defy this. So you make me trash the posts….and to be especially obnoxious, there were four of them. The next time, you get banned. I’ll leave up the beginning of this one so its clear why it’s being trashed.

              Meanwhile, there is zero reason to believe that the substitution you assert would happen.

  3. These things used to be funny when mildly introduced into a plot or some irreverent scene. (Wayne & O’Hara- and MacLauglan- filmed some of the most hilarious “energetic” scenes ever.) But that was decades ago… when such things were rare in real life and people were more civilized and light hearted. Today, it’s no laughing matter. That’s because society and the culture have coarsened to such a low level since then. This never fails to impress me when I view films made in the early 1960′s and before to what has transpired since.

    • tgt

      So…it was funny when we were more civilized and woman couldn’t escape abusing husbands. It’s not like the actual abuse was rare…just the ability to talk about it.

      This is disgusting.

      • That’s what all the defenders of degeneracy say. “It was just as bad back then, only the (fill in the blank “minority group”) wasn’t then liberated (by enlightened liberals) and couldn’t report their travails.” That’s the continual spurious claim of the Left in order to dodge the self-evident truth that society has gotten more seamy, violent and degraded- not for lack of reporting- but because of the policies and attitudes they’ve enforced on American society. It WASN’T as bad back then. Far from it. In every sector possible, America has deteriorated as a decent place since the onset of the Great Society.

        • tgt

          So, you’re saying it was socially acceptable for women to leave their husbands in the 50s? I thought divorce was one of the ills that liberals created.

          Or maybe you’re saying that it wasn’t abuse until the women became liberalized?

          Also, the stats actually show that, almost across the board, crime has gone down. We’re supposed to throw out that trend and our knowledge that power imbalances lead to under reporting of domestic violence and our knowledge of the great power imbalance between men and women 60 years ago… to blame liberals?

          • You’re going way off into extremes… as usual. No-fault divorce WAS one of the greater social ills that the Left created in its eternal quest to create the Paternalistic State on the ruins of the American family. “Power Imbalance”? What kind of philosophy is it that defines the family and the relations between men and women in such terms? And yes, both crime AND divorce have edged down slightly. But from what levels? Take a quick look (if you will) at the rates during the 1950′s- along with the illegitimacy figures- and compare them to today’s. Prepare to be floored!

            • tgt

              You’re going way off into extremes… as usual. No-fault divorce WAS one of the greater social ills that the Left created in its eternal quest to create the Paternalistic State on the ruins of the American family.

              When all you have is a hammer…

              To mix up the metaphor a bit you’ve got a 6 inch wall, but you insist on banging a 10 inch nail into. When it sticks through the other side, you just bang it back. At some point you should realize that you need a different nail.

              Power Imbalance”? What kind of philosophy is it that defines the family and the relations between men and women in such terms?

              What are you talking about? I’m not defining family or relationships or using a philosophy here. I’m categorizing something accurately. The point stands, whether you like my words or not.

              I’m not defining family based on labels

              And yes, both crime AND divorce have edged down slightly. But from what levels? Take a quick look (if you will) at the rates during the 1950′s- along with the illegitimacy figures- and compare them to today’s. Prepare to be floored!

              Total divorces have gone down, but divorce rate has gone up. Minor drops aren’t a refutation of my case. Minor drops back the idea that the culture hasn’t gone insane. They also show the increase in domestic violence as an oddity that can be explained by increased reporting.

              Now, illegitimacy rates? I don’t see children as illegitimate. You mean out of wedlock, but wouldn’t it make more sense to use the more traditional meaning of unclaimed children or those without claim to the holdings of one of the parents? Also, what does that have to do with spousal abuse rates?

              • That “hammer yammer” was a neat way of avoiding the issue, Tiggy. You WERE defining male/female relationships in terms of Power. That’s a staple of the secular Left as well. No-fault divorce encouraged couples to break up on a basis of the stresses that any marriage occasionally incurs, thus encouraging selfishness, the dramatic increase of children from broken homes (and THEIR incurred stresses) along with the denegration of the very concept of marriage, family and vows made before God… another staple of the Leftist agenda.

                And of course, illegitimacy refers to siring children out of wedlock. Don’t try that ploy of accusing me of blaming the children. Certainly- and despite whatever term you choose to use- children are not to blame for their parentage… or MISparentage. It’s also true, however, that children born illegitimately- whether or not they suffer external degradation for their misfortune- are often self-degraded by their circumstance. This is reflected by their much increased likelihood of being criminals, perverts or drug users in later life. Families matter. So does the sacred status of marriage. It’s the most key element in decent, stable human society.

                • tgt

                  That “hammer yammer” was a neat way of avoiding the issue, Tiggy. You WERE defining male/female relationships in terms of Power. That’s a staple of the secular Left as well. No-fault divorce encouraged couples to break up on a basis of the stresses that any marriage occasionally incurs, thus encouraging selfishness, the dramatic increase of children from broken homes (and THEIR incurred stresses) along with the denegration of the very concept of marriage, family and vows made before God… another staple of the Leftist agenda.

                  This rant is unrelated to the topic at hand, and also a clear misrepresentation of what I said.

                  Also note, if you think that pointing out that men had more power than women in the 50s is a leftist idea, then consider me a leftist. Is there any other fact you would like to claim is a “staple of the secular left” implying that the right and religious are either mistaken or lying?

                  And of course, illegitimacy refers to siring children out of wedlock. Don’t try that ploy of accusing me of blaming the children. Certainly- and despite whatever term you choose to use- children are not to blame for their parentage… or MISparentage.

                  It’s just a stupid term to use, as it necessarily calls the children lesser. Of all people, I think you would want to get rid of it.

                  It’s also true, however, that children born illegitimately- whether or not they suffer external degradation for their misfortune- are often self-degraded by their circumstance.

                  Bull-shit. Sorry Jack, but that required cursing. Steven, you’re saying that when kids who are born to unmarried parents degrade themselves because they are upset about their parentage? That’s just too stupid for words.

                  This is reflected by their much increased likelihood of being criminals, perverts or drug users in later life.

                  That’s not evidence for what you claimed it’d be evidence of a difference, but not of what caused the difference. The difference could be people like you treating them differently. Also, when you account for socio economics, the difference disappears. *poof*. We’ve had this discussion on this blog. You’re using discredited generic evidence, that we know you’ve been informed of. As I used to say often, your opinions are not based on reality and you are not arguing in good faith.

                  Families matter. So does the sacred status of marriage. It’s the most key element in decent, stable human society.

                  Families matter? True, though that doesn’t back any of your points.
                  Sacredness matters? False.
                  A sacred state is a key ingredient for anything useful? False.

                  We’ve been over those last two previously as well. You tried to use human history as evidence, but human history is filled with “nontraditional” family groupings. You repeatedly ignored that. Seems you haven’t changed.

                  Also, you claim I am avoiding the issue, when you’ve somehow changed the conversation from your statements about abuse 50 years ago to the fate of single parent children, and non sequitor guilt by association attacks. You have no counter for the fact that abuse was greater in the 50s, so you talk about liberals and the secular left, in an attempt to confuse the issue to being about me and boogie men instead of about evidence.

                  • tgt

                    I forgot to note that children that were born in wedlock and who’s parents have since divorced do not fit your definition of illegitimate. Not only is a horrible word based on all the baggage, it wasn’t even the group of people you were talking about.

                    • Point One: It was completely relevant to your own words. If it deviates from the original topic, it’s because you introduced it. The rest is mislogic on your part.

                      Point Two: It IS a misfortunate term. However, it’s been long established and is here to stay. Any Christian or decent person would tell you that illegitimacy is a function of irresponsible parenthood and the tragic misfortune of the resultant child. This is why God commanded us, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”.

                      Point Three: Nonsense. The crime stats prove it again and again. A broken childhood increases the likelihood of a resultant dysfunctional adult. In some cases, dramatically. You’re in denial, here.

                      Point Four: Sheer nonsense. Your innate aversion to Christianity overrules both logic and common knowledge. Families are the fundamental foundation to all successful societies.

                      Point Five: Greater in the 1950′s than today?! I- think- not!!

                      Point Six: I never intended to refer to children from broken homes as “illegitimate”, Tiggy, as I’m sure you’re well aware. I was counting on your own perspicacity to make the distinction. Apparently, that was too much to expect. But, as you raise the ;point, I must also point out that the offspring of broken homes have increased capacity for adult dysfunction. Just not as severe as with children who’ve never had a family experience at all.

                      I was about to make a personal observation from my own extended family on both kinds of cases in point, but I’ll have to refrain due to their personal security. Suffice it to say that a loving extended family brought them through it. A decent and loving traditional family makes all the difference in the world- particularly in times of a child’s travail.

  4. strayan

    And sorry domestic violence is not a cultural habit. Domestic violence occurs across cultures. It is a problem grossly exacerbated by racist structural institutions, the mass incarceration of people of colour would be one example. Couldn’t possibly be the result of drug prohibition now, could it?

    “25% of children in much of Harlem and the South Bronx have had one of their parents imprisoned.” http://www.economist.com/node/21528221

    The real ‘victims’ are the people, families and communities who’ve had to endure the horrible reign of drug warriors like you. Try and work through the ethics of that without taking a long hard look at yourself.

  5. Jack, Strayan has presented you with many valid points!
    Alcohol is a factor in the following:

    * 73% of all felonies * 73% of child beating cases * 41% of rape cases * 80% of wife battering cases * 72% of stabbings * 83% of homicides.

    According to the Australian National Drug Research Institute (2003): “Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs are prematurely killing around seven million people worldwide each year, and robbing tens of millions more of a healthy life. The research into the global burden of disease attributable to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs found that in 2000, tobacco use was responsible for 4.9 million deaths worldwide, equating to 71 percent of all drug-related deaths. Around 1.8 million deaths were attributable to the use of alcohol (26 percent of all drug-related deaths), and illicit drugs (heroin, cocaine and amphetamines) caused approximately 223,000 deaths (3 percent of all drug-related deaths).”

    According to DrugRehabs.Org, national mortality figures for 2009 were: tobacco 435,000; poor diet and physical inactivity 365,000; alcohol 85,000; microbial agents 75,000; toxic agents 55,000; motor vehicle crashes 26,347; adverse reactions to prescription drugs 32,000; suicide 30,622; incidents involving firearms 29,000; homicide 20,308; sexual behaviors 20,000; all illicit drug use, direct and indirect 17,000; and marijuana 0.

    Researchers led by Professor David Nutt, a former chief drugs adviser to the British government, asked drug-harm experts to rank 20 drugs (legal and illegal) on 16 measures of harm to the user and to wider society, such as damage to health, drug dependency, economic costs and crime. Alcohol scored 72 out of a possible 100, far more damaging than heroin (55) or crack cocaine (54). It is the most harmful to others by a wide margin, and is ranked fourth behind heroin, crack, and methamphetamine (crystal meth) for harm to the individual.

    A great many of us are slowly but surely wising up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco, clearly two of our most dangerous mood altering substances.

    • No, he has offered irrelevant points. The link between alcohol and domestic abuse has no implication for drug legalization whatsoever. I thought you were smarter than this. Stipulated: Alcohol and tobacco are as dangerous and addictive or more so than many illegal drugs. So WHAT? We should make them illegal, but can’t—they have been imbedded in society at all levels for too long. How does that argue for adding more dangerous drugs, whether they are AS dangerous or less so? It doesn’t!!! It is not a valid point. It’s a stupid, stupid, stupid point that I have heard for nearly half a century, and it’s an embarrassment to anyone foolish enough to say it in public.

      • Jack, prohibition of a drug, whether it is alcohol, cocaine or cannabis, does not reduce its production, it’s supply or it’s demand. This phenomenon is amply and statistically supported. Countries with the least authoritarian approach have far lower usage and addiction rates than those who have blindly followed the United States over the abyss of prohibition. The Portuguese government decriminalized the personal possession of all drugs in 2001. Five years later, the number of deaths from overdoses had plummeted from 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006. Portugal now has one of the lowest rates of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the European Union: 10%. The most comparable figure in the United States is in people over 12: 39.8% – a staggeringly four times higher rate than in Portugal. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana. The only drug for which usage has recently significantly decreased in the United States is nicotine — the one we haven’t yet foolishly attempted to prohibit.

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

        Not only did alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s increase usage http://i.imgur.com/Ga1Gs.png it also exacerbated all other related problems while bootleggers, just like many of our present day drug lords, became rich and powerful folk heroes as a result.

        “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature.”

        – That was part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings on Alcohol Prohibition in 1926:

        http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/judgetalley.htm

        And the following paragraphs are from WALTER E. EDGE’s testimony, a Senator from New Jersey:

        “Any law that brings in its wake such wide corruption in the public service, increased alcoholic insanity, and deaths, increased arrests for drunkenness, home barrooms, and development among young boys and young women of the use of the flask never heard of before prohibition can not be successfully defended.”

        http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/walteredge.htm

        And here is Julien Codman’s testimony, who was a member of the Massachusetts bar.

        ” ..it has been a pitiable failure; that it has failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”

        http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/codman.htm

        Here are the main paragraphs from the address of His Eminence, Cardinal Dougherty, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, to the Catholic societies of the Archdiocese on New Year’s Day 1931:

        “Having heard the report on behalf of the members of the Total Abstinence Society, it occurs to me to say that when the law prohibiting alcoholic drink was passed, many thought that there would be no further need for our temperance or total-abstinence societies. Hence the practice of giving a pledge against intoxicating liquors to boys and girls at Confirmation was discontinued. There seemed to be no need of it.”

        “But, unfortunately. Prohibition has not performed the miracles that were expected. According to experts, such as judges, public officials, social service workers, and others, there is as much, perhaps even more, drunkenness and intemperance today than before the passage of the Volstead Act.”

        “When in the past did we see young men and women of respectable families carrying a flask of liquor when going to social events? When did we see young girls, not yet of age, drinking in public, perhaps to excess, cocktails and the strongest kind of intoxicating liquors, and perhaps being overcome by them? That, today, is not an uncommon sight.” 

        • AGAIN…Prohibition is not a good or fair comparison to drug laws, because liquor and its role in society is very different, has always been, and always will be. The constant flogging of a 1920′s social experiment—that actually accomplished some of its goals, though at a great cost, is a convenient but facile analogy, and frankly is proof in my mind of the thread-bare nature of the pro-drug case. The drug problem’s influence on society is nowhere near as damaging, corrupting or widespread as alcohol-related crime was during prohibition, nor are drugs as accepted or popular as alcohol…except within some insular circles who mistake, through the haze, their own obsession as universal. It isn’t.

          The last Prohibition related post to which I will bestow the dignity of a response.

    • No, he has offered irrelevant points. The link between alcohol and domestic abuse has no implication for drug legalization whatsoever. I thought you were smarter than this. Stipulated: Alcohol and tobacco are as dangerous and addictive or more so than many illegal drugs. So WHAT? We should make them illegal, but can’t—they have been imbedded in society at all levels for too long. How does that argue for adding more dangerous drugs, whether they are AS dangerous or less so? It doesn’t!!! It is not a valid point. It’s a stupid, stupid, stupid point that I have heard for nearly half a century, and it’s an embarrassment to anyone foolish enough to say it in public.

    • tgt

      They are valid points against most of society, but not against Jack’s position.

  6. interested Blogger

    I’ve read all your posts and I think the facts regarding the incidences of violence against women with regard to alcohol and drug abuse are quite relevant, however … there is something fundamental being left out of the discussion thus far. Most abusers learn to abuse by example. Children who witness abuse are FAR more likely to become abusers as adults. Who’s most at fault here? In divorces cases, when a woman has the courage and ability to get herself and her kids safely away – CLEARLY the probate and family courts. And I’ll tell you why. In an incredibly misguided view that lumps all children, no matter the circumstances, into the same category, the tact is taken that in all BUT THE MOST EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES (usually when a father has already killed a child’s mother) the courts rule that the child is ALWAYS better off maintaining a relationship with both parents – even when the dad is an abuser. I know there are cases where women abuse men, but they are few and far between, so my focus is on male on female violence here, though it applies both ways in my view. Father’s rights prevail in most situations. SOMETIMES supervised visitation is ordered (often for the protection of the mother – not the child). That doesn’t even mean, in most situations, that it happens in a supervised facility, merely that another party is present. A child who has endured countless incidents of watching mom being battered by dad is forced by a judge to visit with dad. Away from mom. But in most cases the dad still has contact with the mom at every drop off and pick up after the initial restraining order has expired. What kind of message is this sending to the children? How are mothers to keep their children safe? A man who attacks his wife in anger is likely to also attack his child in anger. But the courts don’t seem to get this concept. And father’s rights groups, often more interested in reducing alimony and support payments under the guise of more parenting time (that’s my own personal bias, I admit – but I’ve read more than my fair share of case law on parental alienation cases and they usually include dad wanting custody and a reversal of who pays support, and all too often are cases where there has been well-documented domestic violence) are ROUTINELY going into court and getting judges to change physical custody in cases where women have sought to protect themselves and their children against batterers. There is an ABUNDANCE of these cases, in my state alone, where abusive men have been successful in court, taking custody of their children from the mothers, because the lower court judges have bought parental alienation arguments from slick attorneys and DISREGARDED well-documented histories of spousal abuse. The rational is that the abuse happened to the wife, not the child. WHAT? Fortunately, some of these cases have been overturned on appeal. But not enough. For society to change, the legal system has to step up FIRST and do what it’s supposed to do. Protect innocent children and protect those who have been harmed. They need to do it consistently and willingly, not wait for a higher court to overturn decisions made by judges with their own biases against women.

    • Proam

      “Most abusers learn to abuse by example. Children who witness abuse are FAR more likely to become abusers as adults.”

      No disagreement with that here – just a wish that there was some way to count accurately how many n0n-abusers there are, who learned not to abuse because of (and despite) experiences with “exemplary” abusers.

  7. YoungPerson

    “I am being over-run by the drug-legalization zealots, sicced on me by a sad website where people indulge their dreams of legally de-braining themselves on a regular basis, there is widespread contempt for the concept that cultural norms of what is right, wrong and worthy of shame controls our worst impulses

    First of all, you wrote a post accusing drug users of killing Whitney Houston. You certainly should have expected a response, and you completely deserve all of the disdain and lampooning you are getting. To you, ethics seems to be about imposing your authoritarian sensibilities on others.

    You really like the idea of “cultural norms” as the explanation for everything. Well what about the fact that domestic violence has been higher since the recession, and that social and economic inequality exacerbates it? Addressing structural unfairness in society is so much more difficult than wagging your finger at people from your “ethical guru” post.

    • No, I accused drug advocates of weakening an anti-drug societal message such that people like Houston get sucked in. But, hey, I don’t expect you guys to follow the details and nuance, since you can’t stay on topic for three full paragraphs.

      Yes, I knew that treading on druggie illusions would provoke a response. My error was in expecting a primarily intelligent and relevant response. My bad.

      • Seriously? Cigarette use has declined because of a cultural shift that shames cigarette smokers! Stars that smoke are ostracized. Smoking is no longer regarded as cool or attractive, and the government has moved from full approval to visibly less approval by the year. That is a culture slowly determining that conduct is bad for society and wrong, and it that works. So smoking is becoming less prevalent, and less of a problem. You are advocating the OPPOSITE—laws that go the other way, that declare growing approval of drugs. And the result will be the opposite of what is happening with cigarettes.

        Tax! If you tax it heavily, then you open up the black market again, just as there is a black market for cigarettes. That’s the fallacy—you can’t separate crime from drugs unless you eliminate all regulation.

        • tgt

          You’re assuming the overall ideas are more important that the details. Is smoking down because the government doesn’t approve of it, or because the warnings on cigarettes actually work? Strayan was pointing out it could be the latter, but you ignore that and aver that it must be the former.

          You also are still making the silly claim that legalization = approval. That’s a major premise in your argument, and it just isn’t true.

          You can’t separate crime from anything. That’s a red herring. Decreasing crime, though, is doable. While there is a black market for cigarettes, it’s not nearly the scale of the black market for unlegalized drugs. Isn’t limitting black markets and the surrounding dangers a plus?

          • 1) All studies I have seen show that the warnings do nothing EXCEPT help tobacco companies avoid liability. And that’s really why they are there,
            2) The cultural reversal on cigarettes is clear and obvious, and nobody seriously questions it. It is like littering in the 50′s and 60′s.
            3.) Your denial is silly, not my assertion. From illegal to non-legal is moving from “This is bad and harmful” to “this is OK with Uncle Sam.” How can you deny that? I know you do and have, but it is simply contrariness.
            4.) The black market and criminal activities would probably be less, but then combine them with the health and social costs of grossly increased use by underaged,underclass, and the rest. I know…maybe it wouldn’t work out that way. Well, it’s an irresponsible risk to take.

            • tgt

              1) That’s a good counterpoint. Much better than ignoring the point.
              2) I didn’t deny this.
              3) You are of the belief that laws imply morality. I am of the belief that that isn’t true. Call me a libertarian. I’m willing to state that if the populace thinks laws imply morality, that I’ll withdraw my objections on this in practice, but still fight the point in abstract discussions about what should occur. Since you’re the one making the argument, I think the burden of proof is on you here.
              4) You don’t know which will occur, so you claim it’s an irresponsible risk. That’s the pseudocertainty effect or zero-risk bias.

              • Well, let’s say the law and morality link is well represented in the literature of government theory. “Law and Morality” is the book that holds up my computer screen. That doesn’t make it right, but I find it persuasive enough to be a core bulwark of my analytical process.

                4) That’s right. And when the risk is great enough, prudence is called for. In my case, I am almost certain the worst case scenario would occur, and that is not confirmation bias. Those who say otherwise, however, have an interest in a best case scenario, and I doubt their objectivity,.

                • tgt

                  3) Hmm…I’ve got War and Peace fictionally holding up my computer screen, I guess War actually is Peace. Who’d a thunk it?

                  If we did repeal marijuana laws, I’m sure we’d have demagogues complaining about how Obama (or Paul) was destroying the moral fabric of society, but would would the populace think? What would the actual effects on the populace be? I think the people claiming such are those that are least likely to use.

                  4) You saw the words psuedocertainty and bias, right? You don’t know what the risk is, so how can you say how great the risk is or be certain of the occurrence of the worst case scenario? You demonstrated the biases I called out quite well in your response, while managing to doubt the objectivity of your opponents. That’s got a fancy name, too, but I can’t think of it right now.

                  • Who ever knows for certain what any policy change will do? This is no different. I look to the gambling example as the best template we have. That’s as good as anything else, and there is NO template for the drug advocates’ assertions.

                    • tgt

                      Certainty is a red herring.

                      I don’t see how gambling supports your position. The part where it’s controlled? The part where the black market has ceased to exist where it’s legal?

                      Also, the legalization advocates do have templates. You just discount them for the nebulous reason that “Europe isn’t the like the US”.

                    • 1. What? You raised the certainty issue. I have exactly as much reason to think that legalization of drugs would be disaster as most justifications for policies with long term implications.

                      2. Gambling was illegal virtually everywhere, with underground operations and weak enforcement. The governments of the states capitulated and overwhelmingly went against traditional societal beliefs that it was wrong and harmful, also accepting bogus arguments that it “victimless.”The result has not been a reduction in gambling-related problems, but an increase….and there is no going back.
                      What’s so hard about that?

                      3. Europe isn’t like the US. Hell, Alaska isn’t even like New Jersey. Sociological comparisons between Sweden or Switzerland and the US are just compliance bias traps. It’s data, which is what you make of it. These people are arguing that studies of what happen in Sweden prove that it will happen here? Do you think that’s persuasive?

                    • tgt

                      1) I noted that you were improperly confident. That’s what the psuedocertainty fallacy is.

                      You tried to turn it around and say nothing is actually certain, and I correctly noted that that’s irrelevant.

                      2) What gambling related problems have increased?

                      3) I don’t think it proves what will happen here, but it disproves your premise that the consequences will necessarily bad. You demand real world examples and then dismiss them because they aren’t U.S. real world examples. That’s moving the goalposts. It’s also an impossible standard. You want evidence that it works in the US before you agree that it can be allowed in the US. You have different standards of evidence for your position and the opposition’s position.

                    • 1. That’s your opinion, of which I believe you are improperly confident. I’ve seen enough, know enough, thought enough, to be as confident as one can be about a future contingent event. Again, quibbles.
                      2. One of many: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700169522/Gambling-on-the-rise-Is-America-becoming-addicted.html?s_cid=s10 Naturally, some researchers reach different conclusions.
                      3. If you think the results on Venus or Oz disproves it. I’d say Sweden’s experience has no predicative value whatsoever. How does that “prove” anything?

                    • tgt

                      1) You believe I’m improperly confident that your arguments are textbook examples of known biases that we’re horrible at dealing with. Why? No reason. Oh, the irony.

                      2) That research shows increase in AVAILABILITY could cause increase in addiction. Since illegal drugs are already extremely available, it doesn’t support your side. Also, it doesn’t talk about any negative issues (increase in crime, deaths, dangerous neighborhoods, broken families, etc) so it’s doubly irrelevant.

                      3) Silly. You asked for real examples. We know humans living in today’s society can deal with legalization of drugs without horrible negative consequences. You claim Sweden doesn’t apply because of conditions you made up after the fact and vague differences that you have no evidence would actually affect the outcomes. Your logic doesn’t pass muster.

                    • 1. What biases?
                      2. Please. How tired I am of hearing how available illegal drugs are. They aren’t over-the-counter available. Gambling was always “available;, all you needed was dice and a floor. Legalization increases availability. Obviously.
                      3. Silly to conclude that little, racially undiverse Scandinavian countries have nothing in common with the US? US society isn’t Swedish or Swiss society. There is no “today’s society.”

                    • tgt

                      1) And around we go. How about the zero-risk bias?

                      2) Uh huh. If that’s a fair parallel, then since cigarettes can be bought at the store, designer drugs are also available. it’s also absolutely false that legalization necessarily increases availability. In middle school, it was hell to get alcohol, but I could get pot, LSD, or even PCP with no problem.

                      3) So, lack of racial diversity is the reason legalization works there and wouldn’t here? You really mean that?

                      Sure, there are tons of differences between these countries, but are those differences relevant to what we’re discussing? It’s on you to show that they are.

                    • 3. I cited racial diversity as one factor. There are about a thousand. And the burden is on you to show how two obviously dissimilar cultures can possibly be compared.

                      I closed comments on the drug thread for reasons I cited there, and I want to discuss the issues of this post here. I am sick of the effort being expended to rationalize a thoroughly useless and harmful activity.

                    • tgt

                      They are obviously incredibly similar (on the grand scale of things) as well. Should I talk about the democratic process, taste in movies and literature, parenting styles, sense of community, or internet habits?

                      Sweden is evidence that human beings can handle legalized drugs in modern society. (I’m talking about democracy, internet, access to knowledge, productive middle class, etc… as modern society here.) You claim that those humans are different from these humans. I want to know why you think that. Africans are obviously different from Europeans, but that doesn’t mean that European examples of the effectiveness of schools don’t apply to Africa.

                      As for your desire to skip the drugs discussion, I’m in. I’m not even debating legalization here; I’m attacking what I see as bad arguments and faulty logic. Heck, my first entry in this thread was calling out the bad argument on the other side… that just didn’t get challenged.

                    • I appreciate that.

                      I agree: human beings can handle drugs in society. It is those who can’t that pose the problem, and the US has many, many, many more of them.

                    • tgt

                      …and the US has many, many, many more of them.

                      Citation needed. Does the U.S. have more, or do the differences in drug laws and treatments actually cause these people to be maximized or minimized?

                    • US: 298,362,973 Sweden: 9,379,116 If the societies reacted exactly the same to drug legalization, the US would have 32X as many drug abusers. I think that’s “many more.”

                    • tgt

                      If you claim such, then the benefits have to scale the same. 32x as much less crime. Not 32x “less crime,” but “as much less crime.” If it’s a net benefit to society in Sweden, it’ll bet a net benefit to society in the U.S.

                      Addiction has been dropping in Sweden and rising in the U.S., so 32x as many addicts would actually be a DECREASE in the number of addicts in the U.S.

            • strayan

              “1) All studies I have seen show that the warnings do nothing EXCEPT help tobacco companies avoid liability. And that’s really why they are there”

              So tobacco companies voluntarily affixed health warnings to protect themselves from lawsuits? Ha, ahahahahahahahaha. Jack… stop… it hurts.

              Oh my, all the studies you have seen eh? When making such claims it is customary to include citations.

              It’s funny because everyone of the studies I have read (and I’ve read about 300 or so specific to tobacco control) indicate that health warnings and high taxes are effective deterrents.

              Here’s a few examples:

              http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.82.1.94

              http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.82.6.867

              http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/18/5/358.short

              http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/18/3/235.short

              http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.94.8.1442

              http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02508.x/full

              http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/3/248.short

              “2) The cultural reversal on cigarettes is clear and obvious, and nobody seriously questions it. It is like littering in the 50′s and 60′s.”

              See above. So much for your theory of ‘cultural reversal’.

              “3.) Your denial is silly, not my assertion. From illegal to non-legal is moving from “This is bad and harmful” to “this is OK with Uncle Sam.” How can you deny that? I know you do and have, but it is simply contrariness.”

              When I look at a packet of cigarettes I see this: http://healthland.time.com/2011/06/21/fda-unveils-final-cigarette-warning-labels/#tobacco1

              How do you interpret such imagery to mean “this is OK with Uncle Sam”?

              “4.) The black market and criminal activities would probably be less, but then combine them with the health and social costs of grossly increased use by underaged,underclass, and the rest. I know…maybe it wouldn’t work out that way. Well, it’s an irresponsible risk to take.”

              Criminal activities would reduce and the black market would shrink? Can’t have that now can we.

              Grossly increased use? Tobacco use has fallen over 40% in California since Prop 99 was passed in 1988. Prop 99 was the “tax and regulate tobacco” bill. It’s quite simple to earmark that tax revenue for health care and quit smoking campaigns. Virtually every study out there indicates that smokers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are just as price sensitive.

              You should know all this Jack. It is embarrassing.

              • You’re embarrassing. I worked with the trial lawyers on the warning issue. The studies on the new ugly warnings indicate that they have no effect at all, which is why they may get struck down in court. Tobacco use has fallen because of social rejection of smokes. Why is smoking banned in most stage productions? Rare in movies? Look at what people pay for drugs NOW…addictions aren’t defeated by price.

                You’re a pompous jackass, and I’ve had enough of your idiocy. You’re not bright, you’re not civil, and your train of thought makes no sense. I’ve benn more than patient.

                This thread has attracted more jerks than any 10 I can think of. On illegal drugs. I wonder why. Bye. Don’t come back. You’ve laughed your last here.

      • YoungPerson

        “These are the people that killed Whitney Houston, as surely as if they had shot her between the eyes.”

        Your words, not mine.

        But it surely doesn’t matter what I think, since the self-appointed representative of American culture, Jack Marshall, believes that I killed Whitney because I smoked a joint (nevermind the fact that she died drinking legal alcohol and taking legal prescription drugs). And since Jack said so, it must be true.

        You know what I think contributes to domestic violence? The cultural dominance of white males, black and white thinking and authoritarianism. Therefore, Jack, you have caused the deaths of helpless domestic violence victims, as surely as if you had beaten them yourself.

        • Well, you hit all the low points…misrepresentation, sarcasm, ridicule, insults, nonsense, non sequitur. Good work.

          • strayan

            Your argument is now in tatters. What he wrote makes you feel bad because it your argument is wrong and now you feel foolish.

            Please point out the examples (as you claim there are) of “ridicule, insult and nonsence” in his post (reposted below):

            ” You: “I am being over-run by the drug-legalization zealots, sicced on me by a sad website where people indulge their dreams of legally de-braining themselves on a regular basis, there is widespread contempt for the concept that cultural norms of what is right, wrong and worthy of shame controls our worst impulses

            Him: First of all, you wrote a post accusing drug users of killing Whitney Houston. You certainly should have expected a response, and you completely deserve all of the disdain and lampooning you are getting. To you, ethics seems to be about imposing your authoritarian sensibilities on others.

            You really like the idea of “cultural norms” as the explanation for everything. Well what about the fact that domestic violence has been higher since the recession, and that social and economic inequality exacerbates it? Addressing structural unfairness in society is so much more difficult than wagging your finger at people from your “ethical guru” post.”

            • Youdo alternate bizarrely between coherence and drivel. My argument hasn’t taken a single hit. Your attack consists of distorting my words. The use of illegal drugs has nothing to do with my post—the undermining of the law by pro-drug zealots, whether they use drugs or not, is the problem. People of supposed credibility teaching vulnerable people and populations that drug use is cool, safe, a legitimate and safe activity that “does no harm”—a lie. The false comparison with alcohol—a fallacy. The argument that because we have one deadly and destructive legal drug that we allowed to get too culturally entrenched to block we should have MORE—irrational. The comparisons with government complacent and homogenous cultures—invalid.Pretending that incarcerated dealers are common citizens rather than habitual and repeat criminals–a lie. The ridiculous claim that the solution to having some dangerous plants that are legal while others are not is to make them all legal…for “”consistency”—juvenile. The unsubstantiated, and I think clearly incorrect, argument that making drugs legal won’t cause abuse and use to explode—self-serving. The blather about”the other” and unrelated topics like domestic abuse, etc…confusion. Most of all, the delusion that drugs provide any value to society whatsoever, to justify the sad obsession with it that the commenters here exhibit…just plain sad. And the denial of the central power of culture on all human behavior…willful ignorance. When cigarette smoking has been reduced by clear signals from the culture that it is not acceptable…the exact opposite of where you are leading the culture now regarding drugs. When the legalization of gambling has caused a nationwide epidemic of gambling addiction, with the poor the primary victims…exactly as I predict will happen if we legalize pot and other drugs.

              You have nothing but certitude that flies in the face of logic and experience. I’ve read the same arguments, often the same words, over and over again, sometimes responding respectfully, sometimes disdainfully, to lazy, repetitive or obnoxious posts. Most of the commenters have never submitted their names, as my blog’s policies require.

              I’ve seen about 5 serious and respectable comments out of over 100, not counting those that agree with me, and yes, I lost may patience with the zombie-like repetition long ago. I feel like I’ve been having an extended argument with a class of grade-schoolers, to be completely honest.

  8. Proam

    From the Duke Wayne scene to the tweets about Chris Brown to the Super Bowl yogurt ad, I think what we have in almost all societies is tolerance of physically abusive, forceful person-to-person behavior that is even more deeply embedded (or imbedded – I noticed Jack use both terms) than the tolerance for the use (and abuse) of alcohol.

    I confess: just like Ethics Bob, I laughed when I saw the yogurt ad. I was oblivious to the in-my-face (or, in-HIS-face) domestic violence, though I did notice the emotional abuse (Teasing? Nah, it was more than that! Tut-tut!) that the ad seemed to aim to convey as the set-up for the violence.

  9. Elizabeth

    Because all the serious commentary has been made, I make following suggestion: Let all those Chris Brown tweeters see how they feel when their teeth are knocked out, their legs and arms broken, and are in intensive care… or the morgue. What a blast! Gee it would be fun to be beaten or killed… but only if by a celebrity!

    • Curmudgeon

      This is not exclusively an American nor a 20th–21st Century phenomenon. Even the Punch & Judy shows are not that old.

      You enjoy slapstick comedy? Google the derivation — in commedia del’arte the slapstick was an actual noisemaking device the comedians (and comediennes) used to beat up on each other.

      It’s even older — in ancient Greek theatre they would beat up each other with huge false phalluses (phalli?).

      And everybody laughed their fool heads off.

      • interested Blogger

        Not everybody laughed. Growing up, my parents didn’t allow us to watch “The Three Stooges”. We thought they were being ridiculous at the time. As an adult, I can see why they made the decision they did. Slapstick – when it involves demeaning others and hitting them IS NOT FUNNY. It’s certainly NOT behavior children should be watching on TV and copying. Shame on the networks and parents who thought/think it’s OK. Violence in video games – and parents who think it’s just fine to buy violent games that are clearly labeled for mature audiences – games their kids are not old enough to buy so they buy them for them (because all the other kids have them and “it’s cool” to see all the blood and gore shooting zombies not to mention all the violence and sexual exploitation of women in these “games”) make me sick. What message are parents sending their children when they allow these games into their homes? It’s NOT OK! Bad enough that these “mature” games encourage violent behavior and exploitation of women in adults – but in kids and teens?! Parents need to wake up and start being parents. They need to remember that the word “no” is not a bad word. It’s a four-letter word that spells LOVE. Too bad if your kids are resentful and hate you for it in the moment. They’ll get over it. And hopefully grow up to be better adults than they would otherwise be. Parenting, good parenting, is tough. It’s a lot easier to just say “yes”. We live in a culture where everyone wants to take the easiest road – and it’s led us down a path that has become more than destructive as a result.

        Now – as to legalizing Mary Jane …
        Personally, given the choice, I’d feel a whole lot safer in the company of someone calm and mellow who just smoked a joint than in the company of someone in an alcoholic rage. And my experience is that the people I know who, shall we say, indulge, are FAR less likely to get behind the wheel of a car while impaired than those who’ve have a drink too many at a bar and won’t admit it to themselves. But I don’t think the big issue with drugs in America is marijuana. I don’t know anyone whose life has been destroyed by it, nor do I know anyone who has destroyed anyone else’s life by using it. (I wish I could say the same about alcohol.) I also don’t know anyone who is a recreational marijuana user, much like a responsible drinker, who has crossed over to dangerous drugs and seriously doubt the arguments that legalizing it is such a threat for that reason alone. Do I think it should be controlled and legalized – maybe. But I’m still on the fence. And I would only apply it to marijuana, not the other (currently) illegal drugs.

        That said – there is ample evidence and support within the medical community that marijuana has clear benefits to many who suffer from specific health problems. I can speak from personal experience on this as well. I have a family member who has a life-threatening illness. He/she has a prescription for medical marijuana. The grade he/she CHOOSES to buy does not make him/her high. It does, however, help immensely with the nausea and migraines associated with his/her illness. Without this medication, he/she would be unable to keep his/her other medications down, nor would he/she have ANY quality of life. And the Feds are closing legal storefronts dispensing medical marijuana in CA, making it difficult for many, like my relative, to legally obtain this life-saving medicine. For someone like my relative, this really is life-saving. So the Feds need to decide to put it in drug stores or leave the legal storefronts alone, as far as I’m concerned. Do MDs write prescriptions to those they shouldn’t? Certainly. Just like with all the other narcotics many bad doctors routinely write scrips for to addicts. Go after the bad doctors and bad clinics and bad storefronts – NOT the patients who have a legitimate need for medication that allows them some quality of life.

        • Curmudgeon

          Re saying “no” to kids’ demands: I remember my precious angel raging at me when she was six years old, “I hate you, Daddy!”

          It did not ruin my life. Now she’s grown, and we have a wonderfully affectionate and loving relationship.

          About medical uses of cannabis: my 1st cousin Margy died of pancreatic cancer, and MJ was the only thing that gave her some respite, both from the cancer and the ravages of chemotherapy. It was illegal at that time and place.

          My Aunt Stella told me later, “So there I was, a respectable, middle-class grandmother, combing the mean streets of San Francisco for a dealer so I could get my poor sister some relief.”

  10. tgt

    http://consumerist.com/2012/02/peta-ad-warns-that-going-vegan-may-cause-you-to-be-so-good-in-bed-youll-hurt-your-girlfriend.html

    PETA, raising the bar. Let’s suggest that women enjoy being hurt, and that they keep coming back is evidence they like it.

  11. Proam

    “…as surely as if they had shot [Whitney Houston] between the eyes.”

    That choice of words immediately provoked me to use Explorer to search and find “gun” in this thread. Finding it unmentioned in the posts, I could not resist saying something.

    Jack, I believe I understand your position on drug control. But nevertheless I am troubled, because I am less sure about your position on gun control. At this time, while I can completely empathize with you if you are out of patience defending your position on drug control, I hope I won’t further frustrate and annoy you by trying to understand better your position on gun control, and your rationale for any similarities in or differences between your position on gun control laws compared to your position on drug control laws. I am presuming that the Second Amendment, by itself, is not sufficient to explain what seems to me to be your disproportionate support of restrictiveness on drugs, compared to your support for gun controls.

    With a presumption that reasonable people can have very similar (or, very divergent) positions on what laws should apply to control of guns vis-a-vis control of drugs (please trust me: this is off the top of my head only, and strictly to keep my own thoughts organized – not a parroting of any talking points from anywhere), I see the following parallels between guns and drugs:

    1. Both are dangerous, even deadly, both to individuals possessing them and others.
    2. Both can be, and are, easily misused or abused.
    3. Fact 2 aggravates the hazardousness of both that is alluded to in 1.
    4. Both are tangible kinds of commodities with widespread interest by individuals in acquiring and using them.
    5. Both are supplied and used widely in response to the demand alluded to in 4, to both beneficial and detrimental consequences to users and others.
    6. The possession and use of both, recreational and otherwise, are widely accepted as means for individuals to attain some intangible, psychic benefits (in addition to more tangible, even if not discernable, determinable or quantifiable benefits).
    7. The demand resulting from 4 through 6, in concert with 1 through 3, justifies an interest of any government in regulating both.

    So, speaking strictly with respect to the federal and state laws of the United States and the nation’s culture (such as it is), I would like to understand better your rationale for stricter drug control laws than gun control laws. I apologize if I am dredging-up “old fails.” I just read terribly slowly, and lack the energy to read as much as I’d prefer before joining this fray.

    • 1. I believe that the 2nd amendment guarantees a citizen’s right to own guns, though not any and all guns.
      2. I believe guns are a tool with a valid and important use (self-defense) in a free society. I do not believe, with the possible and arguable example of medical pot, recreational drugs can claim any similar value.
      3. The valid gun-drug comparison is, I suppose, recreational hunting. I am not aware of the use of guns for hunting causing bus accidents, educational failure, or domestic problems. Similarly, I know of no drug use that can produce Thanksgiving dinner.
      4. If there were a specific, drug endorsing amendment, I’d say the comparison would be worth while, though still invalid. There isn’t. So we have a constitutionally protected commodity that has specific uses that are legitimate vs. a commodity with no such protection and dubious legitimate societal benefits at best. Both have a downside.

      I guess I think the difference is pretty clear.

      • Proam

        1. That seems like a vague concession that it may be better if some drugs that are currently illegal were legalized.
        2. You allow the possible and arguable example of medical pot, but you compared the self-defense value of guns with a lack of similar value in recreational drugs, while dismissing all possibility of all currently illegal drugs being tools with “valid and important use” that are possibly and arguably as valuable as self-defense.
        3. Use of guns for recreation can and does cause bad things to happen. I will not claim to know of any drug use that can produce satiety identical to Thanksgiving dinner, but I am willing to believe some users would say that some currently illegal drugs affect them in ways different than, but more satisfying than, Thanksgiving dinner, and, that those drugs are needed, not just wanted, for that purpose, and, that those drugs do not impair or injure but rather heal.
        4. We have constitutionally protected people and behaviors before we have constitutionally protected (or “unprotected”) commodities. Societal benefits of many particular commodities seem to be a “mixed bag,” to me, ever varying, sometimes dubious. Guns and drugs keep seeming like that to me.

        I appreciate all you are saying (and have said) on the matter and admire your firm stance. The difference just isn’t as clear to me.

        • 1. I’m not sure how you derive that conclusion from a factual statement about the 2nd Amendment.
          2. Like what? Blowing a home invader away is lot more unequivocally useful than getting stoned stupid.
          3. I’m sure they’d say that, because they say even stranger things. That doesn’t mean I have to be impressed.
          4. Perhaps, but the decision was made for us in the case of guns.

  12. Sorry to leap in here with might appear like some kind of non-sequitur, but it appears that comments were closed on the other thread about Whitney’s death and it’s relevance to ethics, so I was not able to respond to your question to me.

    Jack, you said in reply to my question about it, that your post was about how the pro-drug advocates in the culture weaken the ETHICAL message sent by society via law (in the way that law states society’s values and ethics) so that drug abuse no longer sounds an automatic negative reaction. You really don’t see that, Nancy?

    I have to confess to being very new to ethical thinking, but I am not sure if the law does always state society’s values and ethics. Surely the law evolves as society’s values and ethics change? For instance, the law here in Australia makes it considerably harder to own guns than it is in the US, however, I am not sure what that says about the ethical message being sent by those in Australia who would challenge (or defend) those laws, any more than it says about those who might challenge (or defend) the less onerous laws regarding certain types of drugs in Europe.

    Or are you saying that it is not ethical to challenge a country’s laws?

    • I’m sorry about the comments, but they were getting out of hand.
      Laws in a democracy reflect values and social standards that can’t be enforced with ethics and social approval/disapproval alone, and they enforce those values. When the laws are out of whack with what society’s norms are, then the laws have to change. Which is why the real battle is at a cultural level, not in the legislatures. But the laws can hold the line against fads and short-lived shifts.

      A citizen has to obey all laws, not just the ones he likes or agrees with. If she’s going to oppose an unjust law, it has to be open defiance.

  13. Would open defiance in the case of drug laws include public support for the recommendations made in last year’s Global Commission on Drugs report? (The American members of that commission include Paul Volker and George Schultz). Those recommendations being as follows:-

    *Encourage governments to legally regulate drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens
    *Offer a variety of health and treatment services
    *Invest in serious drug education programs (not slogans like “Just Say No”)
    *Focus repressive actions on violent criminal organizations, not on individuals
    *Replace ideology-driven drug policies with policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security, and human rights

    • As for the recommendations, I find them objectionable—I’m not going to repeat what I’ve written in detail here before, except to say that the use of “repression” tells me that it’s a political document. I’d summarize this as “let’s encourage as many people as possible to develop crippling drug dependency, and then we all pay for it.” What a deal. I object to having to pay for self-administered maladies by others who either know what they’re doing or who have been enticed into it by users that the government encourages. Where’s the incentive to be responsible?

      As a college student on a campus crawling with drugs, it wasn’t enough to decline to use drugs…I had to send a substantial amount of time almost every day resisting people who were determined to get me to use drugs. That was my initial view of the drug culture generators. I find that conduct—feel better about your own irresponsible conduct by making sure everybody else does it, no matter what the consequences—as despicable now as it was then. The thing is, with most people, it works.

      • I know you don’t want to hear any more about drugs, Jack, so I shall steer clear of making any specifically drug related points if I can – given that my initial urge to post was due to my surprise at what I saw as an unusual link between Whitney Houston’s death and ethics. I am just trying to understand more about ethics and have been following your blog for a while, because it is one of the best.

        You say in your About Me ‘I don’t need you to agree with me; there are often many legitimate ways to judge an ethical problem.’ I am trying to understand what those legitimate ways might be.

        You have said that laws can reflect a society’s ethics, but that they also can be subject to change. You said in relation to the Global Commission’s report that it is a political document, in such a way that it implied a criticism. If political processes are not appropriate, what would be a legitimate way to address an issue and seek to reform laws?

        • “PoliticaL” probably should have been “ideological.” My point was intended to be that the language suggests that it was not an objective report, but a report that was designed to achieve a particular objective. That’s fine, and such reports serve a valid function, but I don’t want then cited to me or anyone as objective inquiries that examined the issues with an open mind and concluded that legalization is the way to go.

          To look at the problem ethically, apply the legal ethics decision-making process described here. Some aspects of it are especially helpful: for example, you have to separate out non-ethical considerations ( I’m frustrated and I hate spending all this money; I really like getting stoned; boy it would great if pot was cheaper) from ethical considerations (what’s the responsible policy for the nation?) and eliminate biases ( I’m not going to misuse drugs, and if I do, my insurance will cover rehab—a poor person? What’s that to me? ).

          • Thank you for that link. However, I am stuck at the first hurdle regarding the law and ethics, namely, ‘Eliminate patently impractical, illegal and improper alternatives’.

            This suggests alternatives that are illegal can never be legitimate, so I am still no wiser as to the appropriate way to seek to reform laws.

            For instance, according to what I have read, the purpose of The Global Commission on Drug Policy was ‘to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies’.

            That sounds open-minded and objective to me. It was global, non-political and chaired by one of America’s leading statesmen, who seems very unlikely to be ideologically pro-drugs. The commission’s findings were their considered recommendations for ‘reducing harm to people and societies’ and that sounds like your definition of an ethical consideration (responsible policy for a nation), or am I being naive?

            • Perhaps it was, and the phrasing was unfortunate. I haven’t read the whole report, only its conclusions. Naturally, I’m not obligated to yield to an international commission because George Schultz, who may have no direct experience with drugs or drug users for all I know, was a respected Sec. of State. I’ll concede that the words describe ethical rather than solely pragmatic goals. Whether they would actually achieve such goals, and not make things infinitely worse, is a matter of dispute…and opinion. I can’t fault an international commission for undermining US cultural disapproval of drug use.

  14. A Critic

    “people indulge their dreams of legally de-braining themselves on a regular basis,”

    Most people dream of expanding their consciousness without fear of barbarians knocking down the front door. Just because you kill your consciousness with booze doesn’t mean that’s what others want. Quit projecting.

    • I don’t kill my consciousness with booze. Alcohol again—You have one bullet, and it’s a dud, but you keep using it. “Expanding their consciousness” is a transparent euphemism, from when people really believed that nonsense and thought that disrupting brain function improved it.

      The “drug culture killed Whitney” post is closed. You can comment on any other post, but if it’s not germane to it and goes back over the drug debate, it will be trashed. Fair warning.

      • tgt

        This is your little fiefdom so you can do whatever you want, but closing comments on that post and refusing to allow arguments (not just refusing to engage with them) isn’t exactly ethical, and is against my understanding of the spirit of this site.

        • I disagree. The comments were contrary to the spirit of the site. This isn’t a pro-drug bulletin board. A disproportionate number of the posts were becoming insulting, and various pro-drug sites were starting to send more angry zealots here. I hate closing comments, but the attacks were increasingly personal, they were not, the majority of them, interested in fair discourse, and they were repetitious as hell. What so you think I do all day? I can monitor a civilized, intelligent discussion, involving many people, but I’m not an animal trainer. Your objection is noted, but I have to apportion my time. If enough rational commenters with differing opinions participated, I wouldn’t have had to be so involved. One guy just posted over and over again, about 30 times (a lot of sites won’t allow that.) I’m very accommodating to commenters.

          If I open my house to a gathering and they start breaking furniture, don’t tell me its unethical to tell them to leave.

          And the fiefdom comment is unfair. I give commenters more attention and respect that 90% of all blogs, because I’m trying to promote a colloquy. I try to share the site with those who share its mission. One of the banned drug-lovers said that I shouldn’t silence “opponents.” Contrary commenters aren’t opponents, they are participants in a shared inquiry. If they are going to treat me as an enemy to be attacked and destroyed, then they can get out. They aren’t interested in ethics, they have an agenda. I’m placing opinions up to be argued about and thought about, not offering myself as a punching bag.

        • One more thing on this, TGT, because I really hate having to close a thread. I’m the moderator. That’s the deal. This discussion was overwhelmingly populated by a single group, sent to my site by a single website with the specific assignment of harassing me. When I stated conditions of the discussion–OK, I’m tired of the stupid “we allow other harmful drugs, so its wrong to prohibit any of them” and I’ve explained what’s wrong with it—stop repeating it!—they refused to. When I said that it was clear that the use of “Prohibition” was a euphemism and a ploy, and I would not respond to posts that used it, they continued. It wasn’t a few, it was a coordinated mob. I have a right to apportion my time on the blog, and I have a right to moderate. That post was over-run with people who had no interest in being fair. And because I do not want rude and pointless comments to lead people to believe that this is what Ethics Alarms encourages and fosters, I had no choice, frankly.

          • Help!!! My email is being flooded with comments on this blog. Everything that could be sais has been said–twice.

            • tgt

              Help!!! My email is being flooded with comments on this blog. Everything that could be said has been said–twice…. and occasionally without typos!!!!

          • tgt

            All valid points. I intentionally avoided the original posts’ comments (as halfway through the post itself, I wanted to strangle you), so I didn’t see how horrible the comments were.

            My issue was that you were cutting off valid points along with the horrible ones. A Critic‘s comment that caused your explanation of closure, and my objection actually had a valid point: the de-braining assumption is pretty ugly. Of course, Critic’s expansion of consciousness idea and accusation of hypocrisy are more horrible, so I can see taking his comments as junk.

            I had the wrong facts, and so made the wrong call. Based on what actually occurred, and your prescience on what Critic was going to follow up with, I’m fully retracting my complaint. This really is a case where the nuclear option is the appropriate option.

            • Thanks. You are always thoughtful, so your criticism in this instance stung. I wrestled with the decision long and hard, and it felt cowardly to me, but I couldn’t see any other solution. Your understanding means a lot.

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