I've written before about the media's inability to talk about the issue of marijuana legalization without turning into eighth graders, peppering their stories with references to Cheech & Chong and making generally idiotic stoner references ("Put down those Doritos and turn down that Dead bootleg—a new policy statement from the Office of National Drug Control Policy could be a serious buzz-cruncher!"). Whether this is changing now that Washington and Colorado passed decriminalization schemes in the last election and momentum is building in other states for similar measures, I'm not sure. But Mark Kleiman, who has done extensive research on the potential consequences of drug legalization and is now acting as a consultant to the state of Washington as it finds its way toward implementing the law the voters there passed, found himself confronted with a smirking Erin Burnett on CNN, who wanted to know whether he's a pot smoker or not, and handled it perfectly. "I don't think there's any ill will involved in asking the question," he wrote afterward, "journalists simply want to 'place' their sources culturally on the hippie-to-jock spectrum. But I want to resist the whole idea that drug policy should be a clash of cultural identities rather than a serious discussion of harms and benefits." Lo and behold, once he set her straight she had actual substantive questions to ask him, so it worked out fine.
This raises an interesting question, though. Just how capable are we of divorcing our beliefs about the people involved in public debate from the content of their arguments? And should we?
I have to say that I really thought the Republican convention was going to have more hippie-bashing. After all, there's nothing a Republican loves more than telling a stupid hippie where to get off. But perhaps because the party decided that the culture war isn't going their way, they decided to leave that stuff behind and just focus on how much Democrats hate capitalism.
So to honor what was missing from the RNC, this week's music break is "Listen to the Flower People," from This Is Spinal Tap, the funniest movie ever made.
As the now historic Tahrir Square filled with protesters over the weekend, the tension between the hope and momentum of the February uprising that ended a 30 year dictatorship and the aggressive, violent military response to a mass civilian demonstration almost one year later was startling. After three days, 23 dead, and over 1500 wounded, it is clear that the transition to a new Egypt is not going to come easily.
As support for legalization of marijuana slowly increases, Keith Humphreys warns advocates that legalization may not turn out the way they imagine. Instead, he says, it would create an industry much like any other:
If we know one thing about Nancy Pelosi, it's that she's a hippie. Sure, she wears designer suits and lives in a really, really nice house in Pacific Heights, but you know where that is, don't you? San Francisco. As any good Republican knows, that's about as far as you can get from Real America. This is an argument Republicans make with some regularity, and here (via Ben Smith) is the latest attempt. Only this time, it comes from a Democrat, Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia:
I've written a few times in recent months about the issue of marijuana legalization (see here), and one of the points I've made repeatedly is that most otherwise serious reporters seem unable to write about the issue without throwing in a bunch of pot jokes, stoner slang, and tongue-in-cheek references to the Grateful Dead. What's really going on there?
I've often noted that the changing geographic distribution of immigrants has a lot to do with the "I want my country back!" sentiment that has become so visible in recent months. At one time, if you lived in a suburb or a small town, you were unlikely to encounter people speaking a language other than English very often, if at all. Now that people all over the country see immigrants in their communities, many feel as though something has been taken from them.