I Want to Know Where WaPo's Michael Gerson Buys His Drugs

Of all the foolish talking points to come out of last week's GOP debate in South Carolina, Rick Santorum screeching about Islam "reform" and his Italian immigrant grandmother's refusal to learn English seem the most deserving of contempt. Or maybe the honor should be shared by Pawlenty, Cain, and Santorum for endorsing the use of waterboarding under "any circumstances" they could imagine. ("Bring me some Bagel Bites, or I'm going to drown you.") 

But if you're "compassionate conservative" and former Bush 43 speechwriter Michael Gerson, you go after Rep. Ron Paul for his First Amendment defense of illicit drug use, and you do so with lies:

This argument is strangely framed: If you tolerate Zoroastrianism, you must be able to buy heroin at the quickie mart. But it is an authentic application of libertarianism, which reduces the whole of political philosophy to a single slogan: Do what you will — pray or inject or turn a trick — as long as no one else gets hurt.

Even by this permissive standard, drug legalization fails. The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction. Children, freed from the care of their addicted parents, have the liberty to play in parks decorated by used needles. Addicts are liberated into lives of prostitution and homelessness. Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their “personal habits.”

Leaving aside the polemical wet whick of needle-strewn playgrounds, I want to know where in D.C. one can get away with slinging or using in front of a cop. The 2,874 people arrested by the MPD for narcotics violations between Jan. 1 and April 9 of this year would probably like to know, too.

Icing on the cake: 

Paul is not content to condemn a portion of his fellow citizens to self-destruction; he must mock them in their decline. Such are the manners found in Paulsville. This is not “The Wealth of Nations” or the “Second Treatise of Government.” It is Social Darwinism. It is the arrogance of the strong. It is contempt for the vulnerable and suffering.

I need someone to explain to me how it's more compassionate to sentence someone to life in prison for his fourth marijuana conviction.

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  • val||

    Well if in some alternate universe drugs were legalized, all those cops that currectly spend their days enforcing the prohibition, could instead be out and about in the parks writing littering tickets.

  • Matt Felch||

    I support officers writing tickets for littering more than minor drug offenses. They could still wait for the heroin addicts to drop their needles, then nail them.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Leaving aside the polemical wet whick of needle-strewn playgrounds, I want to know where in D.C. one can get away with slinging or using in front of a cop.

    The unexamined flipside of Gerson's coin. How many harmless citizens are imprisoned by a system that refuses to differentiate between victimless self-indulgence and harmful criminality.

  • ||

    Despite my strong support for human rights, I support hourly waterboarding for Michael Gerson for the remainder of his "life."

  • Phil N. DeBlanc||

    Paul is not content to condemn a portion of his fellow citizens to self-destruction; he must mock them in their decline.

    This utterance is ________________.

  • Rich||

    "mockingly condemning Michael Gerson to self-destruction."

  • Herb O'Vore||

    written by the same befuddled brain that brought you "If you tolerate Zoroastrianism, you must be able to buy heroin at the quickie mart".

  • Fiscal Meth||

    ...Intended as a tranquilizer dart for the social conservatives who have been troubled for days about the fact that Paul's point made way too much sense to be ignored.

  • CatoTheElder||

    was written by a Bush speechwriter.

  • Joe M||

    He's conflating the actual use of drugs with a ton of other crap. I don't recall Paul saying child abuse should be legal.

  • Michael Gerson||

    I don't recall Paul saying child abuse should be legal.

    I'm pretty sure I recall that.

  • ||

    where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their “personal habits.”

    Yes, fuckstain, this is precisely what we want. And why the scare quotes around personal habits? Gerson's personal habit appears to be moralizing the choices of others.

    Goddamn this was a big pile of stupid.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Unfortunately, it's a big pile of stupid that over a hundred million people in this country hold as absolute truth.

  • ||

    Of late, the fact that Team Red is depressingly stupid has been overshadowed by the fact that Team Blue is depressingly stupid.

    Never forget the culture war talking points, conservatives. Without them, you might be marginally less stupid than Team Blue, and we can't have that.

  • Brandybuck||

    Of late...


    What is this "of late" to which you speak? I am wracking my brain to recall a time when the Stupid Party on the left was less stupid than the Stupid Party on the right. Both take stupidity to scales are are impossible to compare.

  • omg||

    It seems to be a long-running belief among statists that they are "helping" their fellow citizens. I wonder if guards in "re-education" camps in southeast Asia thought the same thing. 9 millimeters of compassion!

  • robc||

    Prior to 1914, no one in the USA had a soul to be destroyed, apparently.

  • robc||

    Noting the timing:

    Woodrow Fucking Wilson.

    The Simpson's were wrong about Carter.

  • ||

    Watch where you place that apostrophe.

  • ||

    Pre-1914 American history is shrouded by an impenetrable veil of darkness. All that we know is that it was a time of rapacious Dickensian exploitation and sheer misery for 99.8% of the population until the enlightened rule of the progressives came along to save us all from it.

  • ||

    Prior to 1914, most of the people addicted to opiates were women...hmmm...in 1914, just as today, the Puritan Police were out in force in a general atmosphere of Prohibition, e.g., the prohibition of alcohol a few years later. The criminalization of the Doctors that prescribed narcotics started at the 1914 drug act, as the decades rolled by, the abusers themselves were targeted and severe penalties imposed rather than figure out how to treat addicts who wanted treatment, or deal with long term users who clearly resist treatment--a study done a few years ago suggests that the number of long term drug abusers has remained roughly the same for nearly 100 years. And as sad as drug abuse is, and as tragic as overdoses are, the numbers of people who die from drug overdoses every year is a fraction of those who die from alcohol abuse, poor eating habits, smoking etc.

  • GILMORE||

    I need someone to explain to me how it's more compassionate to sentence someone to life in prison for his fourth marijuana conviction.

    You fail to appreciate the notion of "soul" as conceived by Compassionate Conservatives

    In this framework, the concept of Nous never really caught on; your soul is basically rented Property Of God and your job is to keep it in premium shape for the next end-user-being. Should you lose the plot and start mainlining goofballs and parachuting Bovine muscle relaxers, well then the appropriate thing for a compassionate citizen to do is to lock you in a dungeon and throw away the key, to *keep you from doing further damage to yourself*, which, following the above corollary, is doing damage to The Lord's Rental Soul, and which you should be bloody embarrassed and ashamed about and the fact that you're not just shows what inverted degenerate human trash you are, so god bless those jails for keeping you off
    the streets and away from my children, you poor, poor bastard.

    I believe it goes something like that.

  • God||

    *keep you from doing further damage to yourself*

    Actually: *no pain, no gain*.

  • Yahweh||

    If there's going to be any damage done, *I'm* the one doing it.

    Just ask Job.

  • ||

    Marijuana use leads to armed robbery, rape and murder. Duh!

  • ||

    Don't forget the large consumption of porn, which eventually leads to bestiality (read: having sex with Sugarfree). It also lead to spics and niggers having sex with honorable white women.

    And government has a limited but important role in reinforcing social norms and expectations — including laws against drugs and against the exploitation of men and women in the sex trade.

    By golly he is right. It would never have occured to me that treating fellow human beings as chattels is NOT kosher. Thank god for the government.

    Seriously, this dude is a fucking douchebag. I wish I could shit on his porch. The problem is as stated somewhere else on this board....as long as a considerable number of people consider getting anally raped as a morally acceptable consequence of smoking some weed, it will be hard to change things.

  • Progressive Health Dept.||

    In this framework, the concept of Nous never really caught on; your soul is basically rented Property Of God The State and your job is to keep it in premium shape for the next end-user-being. Should you lose the plot and start mainlining goofballs and parachuting Bovine muscle relaxers, well then the appropriate thing for a compassionate citizen to do is to lock you in a dungeon and throw away the key

    We're still working on getting the word "externalities" inserted into that statement, but for now, it's close enough.

  • ||

    Congratulations Michael Gerson!
    You're an asshole!

  • Paul||

    This is why the War on Drugs will be nigh impossible (difficult seems too understated) to overturn, let alone even reform.

    When a sizable chunk of the electorate finds smoking a joint morally repugnant when held up against torture, you have to square your shoulders and admit you're on the losing side.

  • ||

    The bad part is "regulated and taxed" is the most likely way the war on Drugs will end. Governments will have to need the revenue more than they need to be paternalistic assholes.

  • Brandybuck||

    It's worse than that. Drugs will be regulated and taxed to such an extent, that even though they might become legal, the violent black market will not go away.

  • Mendelism||

    Thus proving drug legalization doesn't work.

    See also: utilities "deregulation".

  • ||

    Yeah, just like alcohol. After prohibition was replaced with regulation and taxes, the gangsters kept on killing for control of the liquor trade. Why just last week some Anheuser-Busch goons shot up a Coors warehouse.

    Oh wait, come to think of it that didn't happen. Even with all those darn taxes, most folks still go to the liquor store instead of buying untaxed, black-market moonshine.

    We can expect the same when currently illicit drugs are legalized. For your prediction to be correct, taxes on recreational drugs would need to be in excess of 10,000% -i.e. not going to happen.

  • ||

    Gerson's always good for a laff.

  • ||

    The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction.

    De facto decriminalization, is still criminalization. Just because you may not be arrested for something that is "technically" illegal, does not mean that drug gangs will cease to exist, or that the violence associated with the drug trade goes away.

    Drug legalization does not mean that all of the negative consequences related to drug usage, will magically disappear. Big picture, the negatives related to the illegal drug trade, out weight the negatives that would result from legalization.

  • Paul||

    Drug legalization does not mean that all of the negative consequences related to drug usage, will magically disappear.

    No, they won't. And libertarians need to face up to that. Shooting heroin is bad for you. Taking meth is bad for you. What libertarians have to do is continue to craft their argument in a way by continuing to show that the consequences of the War on Drugs are far worse than the consequences of drug addiction absent the WOD-- which despite the WOD are still with us.

  • ||

    A lot of people feel the need for someone to constantly be shouting the obvious. If it really makes people feel better to have legalization come with a side of DON'T FORGET, DRUGS ARE BAD, I'll take it. But it's unnecessary, infantilizing, and dangerously close to the state medicalizing the issue.

  • Paul||

    You're probably right. However, in the scope of reality, there'd be no way that Heroin would ever be scheduled below a II. It literally wouldn't make sense. As long as we have a schedule system for narcotics, Heroin will never land in the same zone as aspirin. So some medicalization is bound to occur. Especially considering that Heroin has been used medicinally before.

    I'm a long-time, vocal hater of marijuana medicalization, because in my opinion it should be seen in the same light as distilled spirits.

  • robc||

    As long as we have a schedule system for narcotics

    Congratulations! You found the problem.

  • Paul||

    You're not going to eliminate the schedule system for narcotics, WOD be damned. Any more than you're not going to eliminate liquor licenses for selling Whiskey.

    Or, shorter: How's that workin' out for ya?

  • robc||

    All it takes is 5 men* in black robes once.

    *you know or women

  • kinnath||

    Overdosing on a depressant can lead to death. But the vast majority of the physical ailments produced by heroin use are caused by impurities that are introduced by the black market that results FROM MAKING HEROIN FUCKING ILLEGAL!

  • robc||

    Thanks kinnath, good point.

  • kinnath||

    This has been known for decades.

    I had a Psyche professor talk about it at length when I was in college back in the dark ages.

    Several jurisdictions in Europe experimented with giving pharmaceutical grade heroin to addicts for free. They found crime plummeted in those locations almost immediately; the addicts got healthy almost immediately; and the vast majority kicked the habit on their own accord within a year or so.

    The WoD destroys the lives of the people it purports to care so much about.

  • Paul||

    Overdosing on a depressant can lead to death. But the vast majority of the physical ailments produced by heroin use are caused by impurities that are introduced by the black market that results

    Citation needed.

  • kinnath||

    Try Google, dipshit.

    You made the first unsupported claim; you prove it first.

  • Paul||

    You do realize you're arguing with someone who supports drug legalization, right?

  • kinnath||

    Shooting heroin is bad for you.

    Drinking alcohol is bad for you.

    Taking tylenol is bad for you.

    Taking tylenol while drinking can lead to death from liver failure.

    Eating sugar is bad for you.

    Eating fat is bad for you.

    Eating a lot sugar and fat can lead to death from heart attack.

    Getting out of fucking bed in the morning is bad for you -- you could be run over by a truck.

  • Paul||

    Hell, I'll do one better: The more pure the heroin, the more dangerous it can be.

    The biggest risk is death from overdose. It's impossible to judge the purity of street heroin. Many accidental overdoses have occurred when a batch of particularly pure heroin is released onto the streets, overwhelming the built-up tolerances of regular users.

    However, none of this is to suggest that Heroin and other drugs shouldn't be legalized. But you're swimming upstream if you think you're going to eliminate the drug scheduling system, and it has nothing to do with my opinion.

  • kinnath||

    Hell, I'll do one better: The more pure the heroin, the more dangerous it can be.

    Pure heroin is far and away the safest thing you could give people. Accidental overdoses occur because the purity from one batch to another is not known. The people that rely on black markets to satisfy their addictions are one dose away from death because they can't know the purity of the dose until they use it.

    If you're going to help argue for legalization then try to use correct information.

  • Paul||

    So you're contending that an addiction to pure heroin is "the safest thing you could give people?"

    Take your european example of pharmaceutical grade heroin in Europe. Why would anyone need treatment for addiction to heroin?

    Here's the bottom line. We dearly need to reform our drug scheduling system, but there is no medical organization with any clout that I know of that will ever eliminate the drug scheduling system. You might reform it, but it will always exist. Becaused heroin isn't the only drug you can be addicted to. There are already pharmaceuticals that aren't produced "on the street" which are addictive. You and I can nitpick over the "real" negative effects of heroin addiction all day, and none of this addresses any number of pain medications or other narcotics which are equally addictive and may have side effects which are considerably worse. We can look at alcohol addiction as our guide.

  • kinnath||

    "Addiction" in an of itself is not dangerous. An addiction that interferes with everyday life is a problem. There are many fully functioning heroins users, just like there are many fully functioning alcohol users.

    Addiction to black market drugs is life threatening because of the black market, not because of the drugs.

  • Paul||

    Addiction to black market drugs is life threatening because of the black market, not because of the drugs.

    This is a woefully inadequate statement.

    You're completely blinded by scope of drugs produced on the street. There's an entire world of drug addiction which occurs with over the counter medication, produced with the highest standards at pharmaceutical grades. Do you really believe that all the negative effects of addiction go away when we legalize drugs?

    No, they don't. What we eliminate is the drug/gang violence related to the black market and the long prison sentences given to users who merely posessed said narcotic. This is a huge bonus, to say the least.

    Remember, drug prohibtion didn't appear in a vacuum.

  • kinnath||

    There's an entire world of drug addiction which occurs with over the counter medication

    So fucking what? This is what doctors are for, not policemen.

  • ||

    If drugs were legal, and sold in the same manor as tobacco, alcohol, and over the counter meds, then the individuals enjoying the drug would know exactly what was going into their body. This, for reasons already mentioned above, would be a positive to reducing some of the risk involved with drug use.

    If/when drugs become legal, it would be foolish to think that the companies who manufacture and/or sell the product, wouldn't try to tweak their product, in order to increase it's safety.

    We do fucked up shit to our bodies on a daily basis. The danger isn't so much what you put into your body, rather than the level of judgement an individual practices in the moment.

  • Paul||

    If drugs were legal, and sold in the same manor as tobacco, alcohol, and over the counter meds, then the individuals enjoying the drug would know exactly what was going into their body.

    Not according to progressive doctrine.

  • Ray Pew||

    Addiction to black market drugs is life threatening because of the black market, not because of the drugs.

    Sweeping generalities like this are counterproductive (as well as false). Addiction is not an inherent product of the market, but the drug and it's pharmacology. Black market Oxycontins are (generally) pharmaceutical grade preparations, no different than those prescribed by a physician. An overdose can cause death from respiratory depression, regardless of where the drug was obtained.

  • kinnath||

    Stupid is a stupid does.

  • kinnath||

    People kill themselves on a regular basis seeking thrills of all kinds. This is not a legal or moral basis for preventing the vast majority of people from engaging in potentially dangerous activities.

  • CatoTheElder||

    There are tens of millions of fully functioning nicotine addicts.

    However, governments are doing their level best (worst?) in making their lives miserable.

  • kinnath||

    It is my understanding that nicotine is far more addictive than heroin and long term tobacco use is more deadly than long term narcotic use (assuming pharmaceutical grade narcotics).

  • kinnath||

    Many accidental overdoses have occurred when a batch of particularly pure heroin is released onto the streets, overwhelming the built-up tolerances of regular users.

    This is strictly a function of the black market and not a function of heroin.

    Lots and lots of people died during prohibition because they could only get black market booze.

  • Paul||

    Lots and lots of people died during prohibition because they could only get black market booze.

    This is absolutely correct, and we overturned alcohol prohibition. And yet drug prohibition not only continues unabated, it's expanded dramatically. Is it possible that our experience is informed by the vast and complex array of narcotics and their varying effects?

  • kinnath||

    You are unteachable.

  • Paul||

    You are unteachable.

    So you know of reasonable, winnable strategy to eliminate the entire drug system of drug scheduling?

    If you do, then name the system!

  • Fluffy||

    Paul,

    I think the problem is that you don't understand the pretty simple and straightforward word "legalization".

    If heroin is legalized, who cares HOW you schedule it?

    You can sit in a corner and schedule it as the King of France.

    I think you are thinking in your head that it will somehow be "legalized" while still being illegal to buy , and that's not really "legalization".

  • Paul||

    I think you are thinking in your head that it will somehow be "legalized" while still being illegal to buy , and that's not really "legalization".

    Ok, so work with me here. Serious question.

    Is Percocet "legal"?

  • kinnath||

    There is one and only one class of "medicines" that should be restricted -- anti-biotics. This is because indescriminate use of anti-biotics leads to drug-resistant disease which threatens everyone.

    So percocet should be available over the counter to all adults without restriction.

  • Paul||

    So percocet should be available over the counter to all adults without restriction.

    A fair response.

    But you guys have to understand that I'm trying to see this from the wall of forces that you're going to contend with in a real fight over serious overhaul to these systems which make up the WOD.

    The second someone dies or gets sick or suffers some side effect from an over-the-counter narcotic, NPR is going to do a year-long investigative report about how consumers might need some sort of regulatory/protection body of experts to keep them from acquiring these dangerous chemical compounds.

    The next thing you know...

  • kinnath||

    The only effective response to nannies that wring their hands over the thought of some unfortunate slob that hurts himself or herself is to say that is what it means to be free.

    If the nannies want to live in a guilded bird cage; so be it. Just leave the rest of us alone.

  • Paul||

    The only effective response to nannies that wring their hands over the thought of some unfortunate slob that hurts himself or herself is to say that is what it means to be free.

    Now we're having a conversation.

    I'd like to go on record by noting that my disdain for marijuana medicalization has been accused of being "too pure" and fighting the "possible" by clinging to the "perfect".

    Now I'm essentially being accused of selling out the "perfect" by discussing the "possible".

    The only thing I have faith in at this point is that the creeping regulatory state is always creeping.

  • robc||

    Fuck the "wall of forces".

  • Ton of Bricks||

    Fuck the "wall of forces".

    Try it. No, go ahead. Try it.

  • Fluffy||

    Heroin by prescription can only work if the criteria for getting a prescription is "I really want some heroin".

    Having a doctor control dosage, etc. is all well and good, but if prescriptions are handed out on a pain medication model you've just moved the prohibition five feet to the left and not changed anything.

    Duplicating the Oxycontin situation under some trademarked brand name for heroin won't solve anything.

  • ||

    Is it possible that our experience is informed by the vast and complex array of narcotics and their varying effects?

    More likely that our reactions are the result of ignorance and manipulation.

  • Paul||

    Another serious question which I've been googling and can't find straight, clear data on:

    Is there a country in the world (no, Somalia doesn't count) where narcotics of any kind are completely legal and unscheduled? If so, what's their experience?

  • Fluffy||

    Most of the world prior to the First World War.

    You know that morally upright past we're all supposed to aspire to? Anyone who wanted could buy cocaine or morphine or anything else.

    Strangely, their civilization did not collapse.

    The morally upright legislators of the world destroyed that civilization completely without the assistance of drugs.

  • Paul||

    Most of the world prior to the First World War

    I know that, but this kind of makes the point I made above. Drug prohibition didn't occur in a vacuum. At some point the entire fucking world decided that something needed to be done about drug menace. I find it difficult to believe (as much as it makes my loins tingle) that we're going to move our regulatory state to a pre-WWI level.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    If you do, then name the system!

    Dantooine! The base is on Dantooine.

  • Paul||

    Dantooine! The base is on Dantooine.

    You got it.

  • ||

    Exactly. Not only were their no standards for producing moon shine; anyone who was harmed by a bad batch, had no legal recourse to hold the producer responsible. Their is no incentive for quality control when competing in an illegal market.

  • ||

    If and how heroin should be legalized might be an interesting academic question, but for the most part it's like debating the merits of the jet engine at the beginning of the steam age. The path to ending Prohibition will start in marijuana, continue through the likes of psilocybin and amphetamines, then finally end at "hard drugs" like cocaine and heroin. This isn't only a political inevitability but has practical benefits, as the empirical results of each step will inform our choice to make the next one.

  • robc||

    Consequences only matter to consequentialists.

    Shooting heroin is bad for you.

    [citation needed]

    Note: Im sure it is bad, most of the time, but I dont think it can be made as an absolute statement.

  • skr||

    fucking consequentialists

  • Paul||

    Yeah, look, I get what you're saying. See my post to Dagney above. Heroin can be used medicinally, so at the right dose, carefully administered by a medical professional, it's not bad for you. Just like Hydrocodone isn't bad for you, until you take too much. But I think you got my point.

  • SIV||

    You realize that when we say "legalize drugs" that there is no prescription requirement unless mandated by the retail pharmacy or manufacturer?
    If someone is willing to sell you a "therapeutic" drug and you want to buy it there will be no prescription involved. Steroids,antibiotics,heart medicine,yeastacide snatch cream, whatever

  • Paul||

    Yep. Where are we on that?

  • robc||

    Heroin can be used medicinally, so at the right dose, carefully administered by a medical professional, it's not bad for you.

    That was only part of what I was referring to. There are heroin users that use it the same way I use alcohol.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    ...the consequences of the War on Drugs...

    These are features, not bugs. All the right people are getting money(local, state and federal law enforcement, state and federal prisons, drug courts, probation and parole departments, prosecutors, drug rehab facilities, etc.) and Soccer Moms around America screech their battle-cry "For The Children" as they medicate themselves with alcohol and prescription pills. Meanwhile, little Johnny is perpetually finding new and creative ways to stick a thumb in mommy and daddy's eyes by finding new ways of getting high (The Choking Game).

  • proegg antichicken||

    Can't I just shoot up a little? After I get all my homework done? Please?

  • ||

    Ron Paul needs to say that he would not legalize heroin and the question is stupid.

  • nobody||

    But heroin should be legal.

  • ||

    But, he isn't going to do it. Even if he wins. Which he won't. And he certainly won't if non-libertarians (hate to break it to you, about 99% of the voters) think that legalizing heroin is even a remote possibility. Is purity a requirement?

  • ||

    Not purity of the heroin.

  • robc||

    If "purity" were a requirement, neither Paul nor Johnson would be getting support.

  • ||

    Paul's answer was perfect. He challenged the drug war and the nanny state, all in one fail swoop.

  • Joe M||

    ...all in one fail fell swoop.

    fixed

  • ||

    Dam public skools.

  • robc||

    tow the lion.

  • GILMORE||

    From Brass Eye's Drugs episode.

    Christopher Morris: Luckily, the amount of heroin I use is harmless, I inject about once a month on a purely recreational basis. Fine. But what about other people less stable, less educated, less middle-class than me? Builders or blacks for example. If you're one of those, my advice is leave well alone. Good luck.

  • affenkopf||

    +100 for Brass Eye quote.

    The show should also be quoted on every story about peadophilia.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    How can there be "de facto decriminalization"? The activity is a crime because the law says it is. Criminalization and decriminalization can only be de jure, not de facto.

  • Joe M||

    I was thinking the same thing. By definition, de facto has nothing to do with the law.

  • Paul||

    Hmm, I'm reading the definitions of de jure and de facto and now I'm more confused than I was before I started.

  • ||

    De jure means "in law", de facto means "in practice".

    An easy example of the two. Jim Crow laws were an example of de jour segregation. "White flight" in the North, would be an example of de facto segregation.

  • Paul||

    So then we can have de facto decriminalization?

  • Joe M||

    No, because at any moment, you can still be arrested for possession in D.C.

  • Robert||

    It's what Holland has for cannabis sales. Still illegal, but the policy is to not enforce that law.

  • skr||

    jure as in jury or jurisprudence.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    He perhaps should have written, "a de facto legal narcotics market in Washington, DC..."

  • Zeb||

    Well, I think it is reasonable to say that the Netherlands has de facto legalization of cannabis. But the situation in DC is not comparable.

  • ||

    It's a thunderous bellyflop into a kiddie-pool filled with fail.

  • ||

    Rick Santorum screeching about Islam "reform"

    Not the guy I want to see in the White House. However, this was maybe his best moment. I think he was saying that we should support muslim moderates, who would reform islam the way christianity was reformed over the last couple hundred years. Don't see why that is screeching.

  • Rich||

    to condemn [a person] ... to self-destruction

    That concept is so wonderful I find myself wasting time trying to coin a word.

    Heavens, have I "gersoned" *myself*?

  • Zeb||

    So, does Gerson actually believe that what he writes makes sense? He seems to believe that if heroin were made legal that everything else would stay exactly the same, including the drug gangs, the price, etc.

  • Virginia||

    Gerson must be a hey-let's-give-500-words-to-some-idiot-off-the-street joke to the editors over there. I admit, he's funny.

  • ||

    Prolly down on the street corner in crack town or crack alley lol.

    www.anon-web.es.tc

  • FlyoverCountry||

    LOL indeed, anonbot.

  • Virginia||

    The WaPo is still in circulation? I thought that family cut their losses after their for-profit education business got creamed. It's inevitable.

  • Zeb||

    "Do what you will — pray or inject or turn a trick — as long as no one else gets hurt."

    Sounds about right.

    Where the fuck do people get the idea that the law should say anything else?

  • Joe M||

    Because sex is dirty, and drugs are bad, mkay?

  • NoVAHockey||

    So does Gerson see Paul as a legit threat, or was this just another opportunity to cart out the "libertarians are immoral column" that he's got in rotation

  • ||

    Anyone who suggests that the rule of law, and the police state aren't necessary to enforce "conservative" values, is a threat.

  • Ray Pew||

    Even by this permissive standard, drug legalization fails. The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction. Children, freed from the care of their addicted parents, have the liberty to play in parks decorated by used needles. Addicts are liberated into lives of prostitution and homelessness. Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their “personal habits.”

    Gerson's intellectual prowess is on par with one who is smashed on the most psychotropic substances. Leaving aside the fact that "de-facto decriminalization" is a fucking retarded assertion, he proposes that Gersontown is superior to Paulsville, because it has all the issues described AND it also throws in incarceration as well, along with the financial ruin and legal stigmatism that goes with it.

    Gerson is an intellectual hack.

  • Joe M||

    The stupidity boggles the mind. He's talking about a city in which drugs are illegal, and using that as an argument against legalization.

  • Bill||

    People always do this. They ignore the current problems are here or take it for granted and then assume it will be worse with it legal.

    They are more scared of the unknown future they imagine than all of the current things that are already terrible. Most of the arguments/insults he used against Paul can be turned around. Gerson's is the heartless arrogance of someone who does not have to worry about his kids being around drug violence or being put in jail for life, it's in those other neighborhoods and he does not have to deal with it, etc.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Even by this permissive standard, drug legalization fails. The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction. Children, freed from the care of their addicted parents, have the liberty to play in parks decorated by used needles. Addicts are liberated into lives of prostitution and homelessness. Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their “personal habits.”

    Doom. Doom! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!

  • alan||

    The sad part about this is that our actual policy is built upon such poorly thought out rationales as Gerson provides here. We should be much better than this, but we are not.

    Personally, I'll just try to grow a thicker skin so the alienation caused by the shit for brains commonality that infests our general weal doesn't get under it enough to ruin my breaks when I read this type of garbage.

  • Bradley||

    Hell, most people don't even make it as far as a rationale. Our current drug policy is a knee-jerk emotional response writ large.

  • cynical||

    So putting people in PMITA prison is compassion? Go figure.

  • skr||

    It's for the greater good.

  • Contemplationist||

    There was nothing wrong with Santorum's point about Islam, and I loathe the guy and his big gubmint conservatism. Would you like to debate the issue with Robert Spencer, Mr. Riggs? He is unfailingly polite and sticks to substance in debate. But I suppose regurgitating left-wing political correctness is more important than defending liberty

  • juris imprudent||

    I'm thinking that Gerson is gunning for a Friedman-esque slot at NYT - and he has got a real shot at it.

  • ||

    Fucking statists. They want their Perfect World, and they're willing to do anything to get it, no matter how evil or ridiculous.

  • Kristen||

    People like this sclub don't trust themselves not to refrain from using should drugs become legal (but they're too afraid to do it when it's illegal). And since they're convinced they'll be smoking trays on the playground when little Timmy is on the jungle gym, they're convinced everyone else will do the same.

  • ||

    Paul is not content to condemn a portion of his fellow citizens to self-destruction;

    WHereas Gersen enthusiastically endorse the destruction of citizens by the Almighty State.

    The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction.

    I have a feeling the neighborhoods where drugs are de facto legalized are the upscale, tony neighborhoods, where the number of people with life-impairing addictions is also the lowest.

  • Zeb||

    "I have a feeling the neighborhoods where drugs are de facto legalized are the upscale, tony neighborhoods, where the number of people with life-impairing addictions is also the lowest."

    That's what I was just thinking. If there is de facto legalization in this country, it is for white people who otherwise behave themselves.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    C'mon guys, get serious. Drug legalizers are living in a fantasy world. The heroin vending machines that populate our streets bodies of addled junkies on my driveway are bad enough, but I live in inner-city Tucson, and I can hardly walk out of my house without stepping on an infected AIDs needle. That wouldn't be a problem except that as we all know, drug use is not just harmless fun: it is a potent mixture of DRUG and EVIL that takes good churched boys and turns them into butt-sex obsessed zombies who will without fail murder your family and rape your children. That's the real world, not your fantasy where 90% of drug users are peaceful and present no threat.

  • ||

    WOD supporters are just insufferably dumb! We are doomed... doooommmmed!

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Gerson is, and forever will be, a moist and seamy bottom for the state. I have never read anything from him that didn't end in me retching, and he has never thought anything that didn't end in "but the state could do it for me, and so much better".

  • ||

    "The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction."

    This may be one of the dumbest things I've ever read in a major newspaper. Is he confusing the phrase "de facto" with something else?

    The statement is massive dumb regardless of your opinions on drug legalization.

  • ola||

    In Gerson's article he writes "The freedom to enslave oneself with drugs is the freedom of the fish to live on land or the freedom of birds to inhabit the ocean — which is to say, it is not freedom at all."
    Well, quite a number of birds make a good living below the surface of the ocean, and in nearby Maryland, he can catch a northern snakehead, which is a fish that does is an air-breathing, land-crawling, voracious predator. And as far as Washington D.C. have "de facto decriminalization of drugs....",there is nothing decriminal about the arrest stats written in the article.

  • Ray Pew||

    "The freedom to enslave oneself with drugs is the freedom of the fish to live on land or the freedom of birds to inhabit the ocean — which is to say, it is not freedom at all."

    The claim is absurd, because he is forced to use the fake description "enslave", which does NOT describe all drug use. Gerson is one of the imbeciles who actually believe that all who have used heroin are addicts.

    I would assume, though from the stupidity of this column, I may be wrong, that Gerson would reject the prohibition of alcohol, even though it also entails "the freedom to enslave oneself".

  • ||

    Gerson needs to have at least one of the Iron Laws tattooed on his forehead:

    You aren't free unless you are free to be wrong.

  • juris imprudent||

    Gerson's brand of stupid is much more than skin deep.

  • dennis||

    I think that as a general rule one shouldn't attribute to evil what can be explained by ignorance and/or stupidity, but does there come a point where we can just call Gerson and his ilk evil? Seriously, this isn't an academic discussion, people are dying and being locked in cages where they are raped and people like Gerson are largely to blame. Utilitarian arguments about the drug war are great and all, but it's time to go on the offensive. Prohibition advocates don't deserve the respect one would offer a well intentioned advocate of a wrong headed cause. They deserve to be treated the way we'd treat neo-Nazis, except that neo-Nazis are typically relatively harmless, these guys hold positions of (dwindling) ifluence. It's times like these I wish there was an afterlife, so that Gerson and people like him could be made to suffer the infernal machinations of hell's grim tyrant.

  • robc||

    I think that as a general rule one shouldn't attribute to evil what can be explained by ignorance and/or stupidity, but does there come a point where we can just call Gerson and his ilk evil?

    The rule is backwards. Ive gotten to the point that I just assume evil. It seems Occam points that way.

  • ||

    Which way to Paulsville, man? -- I wanna listen to some negro jazz and cop a feel offa some choice bit of calico.

  • ||

    Which is worse for you:

    (1) A lifetime as a low-motivated stoner, working a dead-end job and giggling with your buddies at the Cartoon Network while eating Doritos?

    or

    (2) A spell in the penitentiary, and a lifetime at the margins of society because having a criminal record means most jobs are off-limits for as long as you live.

    I don't think its a close call, personally. The worst-case scenario for legal pot is better than the intended outcome under prohibition.

  • ||

    Well said Mr. RC. I think one problem is that as a culture, you expected to go to school to make something of yourself, to buy televisions, buy cars, buy a house, etc. Well what if that isn't what you want?

    I think jerks like this Gerson guy are jealous of stoners. They wish they could get out of the rat race, smoke some weed, and watch cartoons.

  • What Hayek Said||

    Agreed! I don't know the total number of lives ruined by drugs compared to the total number of lives ruined by the War on Drugs, but I imagine they are not even close.

  • Fluffy||

    R C Dean's post here is the most important one in the thread.

    The neighborhoods with de facto decriminalization are the neighborhoods with the least arrests - namely, the white, affluent neighborhoods.

    Because there are just as many drug abusers there as in the inner city.

    Gerson doesn't even consider that, because to Gerson it goes without saying that white people shouldn't be arrested. His paternalism is racist at both ends, and not just on the pointy end.

  • ||

    Exactly. Cops catch people they have interaction wiht. If you are living in the burbs and working a job, you can use drugs for years and never get caught unless you are very unlucky. Where does this guy think the billions of dollars in the drug trade come from?

  • ||

    The problem, of course, is that even people in the room may have sons or daughters who have struggled with addiction. Or maybe even have personal experience with the freedom that comes from alcohol and drug abuse.

    Christ this dude is an idiot. Not the "for the children" argument? Secondly, what douchebags like these don't seem to get is that yes, we libertarians understand that there will be some addicts, and they indeed might have shitty lives, but way more lives are disrupted and ruined by the state. And in our universe, there wouldn't be anything (Read: prison) stopping people from seeking assistance if they indeed wanted to stop. 3rd, I question really how bad being and "addict" is. I've know some heroin addicts. After a while it isn't about the buzz, it is about stalling withdraw symptoms.... exactly what almost every cigarette smoker does eery fucking day. And many of them seem to lead productive lives.

    They cite Locke, Smith and Mill as advocates of a peaceable kingdom — a utopia of cooperation and spontaneous order.

    Where do idiots like these get the idea that libertarians are Utopians? No douchebags, we don't cite Mill as an example of what we seek to achieve but as a starting principle. From there, through voluntary means.... oh i don't through charity like the red cross, (some of) we libertarians (and non-libertarians alike) would seek to ameliorate problems that exist.

  • ||

    "Paul is not content to condemn a portion of his fellow citizens to self-destruction"

    So condeming them to criminality and prison is better? Stupid doesn't do this guy justice.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, stupid isn't the right word. The only conclusions I can make about people like this is that they are either willfully misrepresenting things because they know a lot of people will just swallow it, or they are just plain evil and really think that it is preferable to lock people in a cage than to let them voluntarily use drugs that might complicate their lives.

  • What Hayek Said||

    Gerson condemning Paul for the ravages of these neighborhoods is like a communist condemning capitalism for poverty in North Korea. Ignoring the fact that pretty much everyone who has crafted drug/crime policy in his city and state and nation has agreed with him, and that we have waged a savage War on Drugs for decades, and that drug criminalization is the cause of the various problems he cites, Gerson blames Ron Paul for people who are currently addicted to drugs.

    It's an elementary school-level argument ("Drugs are bad, ummkay"), from an elementary school-level thinker. Gerson was a leading light of compassionate conservatism ("We need to help people, ummkay"), who only fell out with Bush when he thought Bush wasn't spending enough money on social crap.

    So I think I understand the logic of the prohibitionists: drugs inescapably trap people, so we need to put them in inescapable traps for the rest of their lives; people are currently addicted to drugs, therefore anyone who wants to change our current drug policy is an evil ass.

  • ChrisO||

    The current version of Prohibition has persisted for so many decades precisely because only a low percentage of the population actually wants to use the banned substances in question. Alcohol prohibition hit at something that the vast majority of the population was interested in doing, so it never had a chance of lasting very long.

    In other words, the "drug use will be widespread" argument against legalization is complete crap.

    At most, prohibition affects only the behavior of a small percentage of the population, and certainly not that of the folks most likely to become hardcore addicts--since those people are becoming addicts regardless of the law.

    In the end, prohibition is really about "making a statement" and not accomplishing anything tangible. Nowhere does Gerson claim the War on Drugs has been successful. He merely prattles on about "values."

  • Zeb||

    The "prattlis on about values" is a good point. Way too many people, left and right, are far too concerned about appearing to do the right thing, even if the results are horrible and destructive (as with drug prohibition, or a lot of public education). As long as you say the right words and appear to have the right values, you're OK, even if your policies hurt far more than they help.

  • ||

    Right on Chris, and it is a point that Ron Paul himself made during the debate (ignored by Gerson and his ilk), most people would not become drug addicts even if drug use was decriminalized or somehow made legal--same thing with gay marriage, the vast majority of Americans have no desire to marry someone of their own sex, and are unlikely to be prodded to do so if homosexuals could marry--the argument apparently being that heterosexual marriage will be destroyed by the temptation? Meanwhile, chronic pain patients are the real victims in the drug hysteria as they go un, or undertreated because many Doctors simply will not prescribe for fear of their office door being kicked in by jack booted thugs. Politicians talk a big game about Freedom from a Nanny Government, but in the end--especially with the "Drug War" that is all it is--talk.

  • ||

    Gerson writes like Ellsworth Toohey without the wit and subtletly.

  • pmains||

    for endorsing the use of waterboarding under "any circumstances" they could imagine. ("Bring me some Bagel Bites, or I'm going to drown you.")

    Watch the debate again. The candidates -- all of the candidates -- seemed generally confused at the terrible phrasing of the question. When the questioner clarified, it seemed that he was asking if there were some circumstances under which they might approve of waterboarding. Presumably, they could have had the apocryphal ticking timebomb scenario in mind.

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