Ruth Marcus begins her piece, The Perils of Legalized Marijuana, as follows:
Marijuana legalization may be the same-sex marriage of 2014 -- a trend that reveals itself in the course of the year as obvious and inexorable. At the risk of exposing myself as the fuddy-duddy I seem to have become, I hope not.
This is, I confess, not entirely logical and a tad hypocritical. At the risk of exposing myself as not the total fuddy-duddy of my children's dismissive imaginings, I have done my share of inhaling, though back in the age of bell-bottoms and polyester.
I fail to see what is illogical about Marcus's taking a position today that differs from the position she took back when she wore bell bottoms. Logic enjoins logical consistency, not such other types as consistency of beliefs over time. Here is a pair of logically contradictory propositions:
Marijuana ought to be legalized
Marijuana ought not be legalized.
Here is a pair of logically consistent propositions:
Marcus believed in 1970 that marijuana ought to be legalized
Marcus believes in 2014 that marijuana ought not be legalized.
There is nothing illogical about Marcus's change of views.
Related: On Diachronic or 'Emersonian' Consistency. (An outstanding entry!)
And surely there is nothing hypocritical about Marcus's wising up up and changing her view. To think otherwise is to fail to understand the concept of hypocrisy.
I once heard a radio advertisement by a group promoting a "drug-free America." A male voice announces that he is a hypocrite because he demands that his children not do what he once did, namely, use illegal drugs. The idea behind the ad is that it is sometimes good to be a hypocrite.
Surely this ad demonstrates a misunderstanding of the concept of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a moral defect. But one who preaches abstinence and is abstinent is morally praiseworthy regardless of what he did in his youth. Indeed, his change of behavior redounds to his moral credit.
A hypocrite is not someone who fails to live up to the ideals he espouses, but one who does not attempt to live up to the ideals he espouses. An adequate definition of hypocrisy must allow for moral failure. An adequate definition must also allow for moral change. One who did not attempt to live up to the ideals he now espouses cannot be called a hypocrite; the term applies to one who does not attempt to live up to the ideals he now espouses.
Companion post: Hypocrisy
Marcus embraces Pee-Cee lunacy in the following passage (emphasis added):
I'm not arguing that marijuana is riskier than other, already legal substances, namely alcohol and tobacco. Indeed, pot is less addictive; an occasional joint strikes me as no worse than an occasional drink. If you had a choice of which of the three substances to ban, tobacco would have to top the list. Unlike pot and alcohol, tobacco has no socially redeeming value; used properly, it is a killer.
Well, I suppose one cannot expect clear and independent and critical thinking and proper use of language from a mere journalist.
What, pray tell, is the proper use of tobacco? Smoked in pipes and in the form of cigars it is assuredly not a killer. One does not inhale pipe or cigar smoke. And while cigarette smoke is typically inhaled, no one ever killed himself by smoking a cigarette or a pack of cigarettes. (People have died, however, from just one drinking binge.) To contract a deadly disease such as lung cancer or emphysema, you must smoke many cigarettes daily over many years. And even then there is no causation, strictly speaking.
Smoking cigarettes is contraindicated if you desire to be optimally healthy: over the long haul it dramatically increases the probability that the smoker will contract a deadly disease. But don't confuse 'x raises the probability of y' with 'x causes y.' Cigarettes did not kill my aunts and uncles who smoked their heads off back in the day. They lived to ripe old ages. Aunt Ada to 90. I can see old Uncle Ray now, with his bald head and his pack of unfiltered Camels.
Why are liberals such suckers for misplaced moral enthusiasm?
Tobacco has no socially redeeming value? What a stupid thing to say! Miss Marcus ought to hang out with the boys at a high-end cigar emporium, or have breakfast with me and Peter and Mikey as we smoke and vape at a decidely low-end venue, Cindy's Greasy Spoon. For the record: I do not smoke cigarettes.
Just as alcohol in moderation is a delightful adjunct to a civilized life, a social lubricant and an aid to conviviality, the same is true of tobacco.
Which to ban if one of the three were to be banned? Alcohol obviously! Stop being a dumbassed liberal and try thinking for a change. How many auto accidents have been caused by smokers of tobacco as compared with drinkers of alcohol? Are you aware that the ingestion of nicotine increaases alertness? How many men beat their women and children under the influence of tobacco?