praise through faint damnation

I’ve been an opponent of national anti-drug propaganda for far longer than I’ve been ethically opposed to its funding. This isn’t just because of my just-say-maybe attitudes, but because the ads lied so blatantly.

Here’s something I wrote in 1994, during what was apparently one of my anti-drug (but still anti-Drug War) phases:

Subject: good guys lie

Why do they lie to us on anti-drug commercials?

“Getting wasted doesn’t make you cooler, doesn’t make you smarter or more popular and it just about ruins any chance of making something of your life? “

What!? It doesn’t make you more popular? These people didn’t go to my school. Ruins your future? How many ex-addicts are millionaires? How many more casual users from the 60s and 70s are living the middle-American dream? I’m sick of the lies of the good guys.

No one would ever think to prosecute such a spot under truth-in-advertising. The station probably wouldn’t even let me come on late at night and offer a counterpoint.

I like interviews with ex-addicts who refuse to say it wasn’t fun. “No, it was great to get high. It felt good. I loved it. I still miss it. But it doesn’t stay fun and you ruin your health and your soul, so…”

I will refuse to become a preaching teetotaler.

I can’t find it in my email archives, but I’ve also long claimed that anti-marijuana advertising probably encouraged marijuana use.

Why?

Because, aside from the blatant lies, which any kid will be able to spot, the arguments against are so damn weak. I imagine teenagers reacting to the ads the way I did: “If this is the best they can do, then it must not be all that bad for you.”

I still didn’t smoke weed, but it was a personal choice, not a fear of the dangers.

In today’s mailing from The Advocates for Self-Government, I found my suspicions confirmed:

“Now studies indicate that not only do these ads not work, they may actually backfire and make some teenagers more open to using marijuana.”

They go on to say

Prior to this study, five evaluations by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the ads have not reduced drug use. And two of them concluded, like this new study, that the ads might actually encourage some teenagers to start using drugs.

The more paranoid among us might conclude that this is a diabolical government plot to deliberately create new drug users, in order to continue to justify the billions of tax dollars wasted on the Drug War (including billions that flow to the prison industry and to private corporations) and the government’s destruction of our civil liberties.

A more reasonable assumption, however, is that this is just one more example of the utter incompetence of government.

(Sources: http://talbot.mrp.txstate.edu/currents/fullstory.jsp?sid=93 http://drugpolicy.org/news/051705stupid.cfm )


Not directly related, but also well worth looking over in the same mailing from The Advocates is Jacob Hornberger’s summary of “Conservatism vs. Libertarianism”:

The Conservative:

I’m a conservative. I believe in individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government, except for:

1. Social Security;
2. Medicare;
3. Medicaid;
4. Welfare;
5. Drug laws;
6. Public schooling;
7. Federal grants;
8. Economic regulations;
9. Minimum-wage laws and price controls;
10. Federal Reserve System;
11. Paper money;
12. Income taxation and the IRS;
13. Trade restrictions;
14. Immigration controls;
15. The postal monopoly;
16. Foreign aid;
17. Foreign wars of aggression;
18. Foreign occupations;
19. An overseas military empire;
20. A standing army and a military-industrial complex;
21. Infringements on civil liberties;
22. Military detentions and denial of due process and jury trials for citizens and non-citizens accused of crimes;
23. Torture and sex abuse of prisoners;
24. Secret kidnappings and “renditions” to brutal foreign regimes for purposes of torture;
25. Secret torture centers around the world;
26. Secret courts and secret judicial proceedings;
27. Warrantless wiretapping of citizens and non-citizens;
28. Violations of the Constitution and Bill of Rights for purposes of “national security”; and
29. Out-of-control federal spending to pay for all this.

The Libertarian:

I’m a libertarian. I believe in individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government. Period. No exceptions.

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