Breaking Bad Normalizes Idea of Meth, Draws Margins of Society In, Prosecutor Argues

new normal?AMCBlake Ewing, an assistant district attorney near Austin, Texas, penned an opinion piece explaining why he thinks the AMC television show Breaking Bad, about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher turned meth cook and kingpin normalizes the use of meth and makes the police’s job harder. Via Time Magazine:

Law-enforcement officers’ duties bring them into contact with the drug-addled on a daily basis, so the proliferation of dangerous drugs directly affects their lives and families more than it might affect yours or mine. And while Breaking Bad may not glorify meth in the sense of making it attractive to the average viewer, it does normalize the idea of meth for a broad segment of society that might otherwise have no knowledge of that dark and dangerous world.

Before Breaking Bad, relatively few people knew someone whose life had been touched by meth, but now millions more people have an intense emotional connection with at least two: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. And suddenly, for those spellbound viewers, the idea of people using meth is a little less foreign, a little more familiar. And that false sense of familiarity is inherently dangerous.

Ewing stresses that he’s not arguing in favor of censorship in the name of public safety, but that “sometimes great art affects culture negatively,” suggesting that some “people on the margins of society” will certainly be attracted to the use of meth by the show. That idea seems ridiculous. It’s doubtful people “on the margins” will be any more interested in being like Skinny Pete or Wendy, or even Jesse Pinkman. Notably, the main character Walter White only uses drugs once through the run of the show but is probably the most loathsome character in the Breaking Bad world.

Ewing’s assumptions about people on the margins of society is illustrative of the attitude law enforcement takes toward a population  it considers more an enemy than people who should also be served and protected. Meth became the media’s drug panic of choice years ago, before Breaking Bad ever premiered, and, more importantly, crystal meth would likely never have become a recreational drug in the first place if it weren’t for the drug war increasing the costs of safer alternatives.

More Reason on meth here, and watch Reason TV’s “The Real Breaking Bad: How the Drug War Creates Collateral Damage” below:

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Breaking Bad: Not Even Once.

  • codest||

    Most loathsome character on the show is hard to pin on Walter; the neo-nazis are much worse. The point about him being bad while not "getting high on his own supply" is pertinent though.

  • Ed||

    I was referring to the main-ish cast. I guess Todd is pretty loathsome too. But Walter White started as a high school teacher and ended as someone who paid neo-Nazis to kill people, so...

  • Almanian!||

    Personally, I love Walter White. He's a fucking badass who's not to be toyed with.

    But then, I always rooted for Lex Luthor, so...

  • UnCivilServant||

    Well, To be fair, villains (good ones at least) tend to be smarter than the 'heroes' and in cases like Luthor, often working from a severe disadvantage where their only option is to outwit the opposition.

    I've never seen Breaking Bad, so I can't comment on Walter White, or his opposition.

  • ||

    Only he's not a badass. He's actually a total fuck-up that thinks he deserves to be king-of-the-world.

    Consider how much smarter and more able Gus was. He had to go kill the guy running the perfectly smooth drug operation that was making everyone millions because he had to be #1.

    The whole thing is driven by his jealousy of his ex-partner's business success, and his relationship with his ex-girlfriend.

  • The_Mangatang||

    Okay, I'm calling BS on the Gus thing. He killed Gus because Gus was already moving to kill him, both in Season 3 AND Season 4. It wasn't just because he wanted to be #1 (though I agree Walt has a serious ego problem). That's a lazy generalization.

  • The_Mangatang||

    And unfortunately, Gus wasn't smarter than Walt. At the least, Walt outwitted him and proved to be more clever and resourceful after killing him in Season 4. Walt was constantly being outsmarted by Gus throughout that season, but was just clever enough to come out on top in the end.

    Walt IS a badass. He's a bonafied screw-up with severe jealousy and ego issues after what happened w/ Grey Matter, yes. But just because you don't like him doesn't stop his Heisenberg persona from killing a top drug kingpin and running a drug empire in the space of just a couple years. It was doomed to fail though, which just underscored the Ozymandias parallel in this last episode. The bitter irony.

  • Libertarius||

    Why do people always blame weakness, stupidity and depravity on the ego? It's lack of a strong ego, and consonant rationality, that makes people fuck themselves up.

  • KPres||

    Yep. Walt's only fuck-up was his loyalty to Jessie.

  • Drake||

    Todd is kind of amusing. He often has a puzzled look on his dumb face while getting ready to do absolute evil.

  • sarcasmic||

    I thought Todd was an unfeeling sociopath, then he says to Walt "Sorry for your loss." Maybe he's just dumb. I dunno.

  • Tony||

    What are you talking about? He didn't actually feel sorry, he was just saying words he thought were appropriate, except they weren't. That was classic psychopath.

  • ||

    I like how Todd looks like an absolutely unsuspicious boy-next-door even right when he's about to shoot a little kid.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So, it would have been better if he'd hired a multi-ethnic, culturally diverse, group of assassins with progressive politics and an appropriate mix of men, women and transgender killers?

  • UnCivilServant||

    They tried - that group killed each other before they got the the meet to learn who they were supposed to hit, so they went with the neo-nazis instead.

  • ||

    Walter wins most loathsome character for me.

    The other characters are more honest about what they are after and don't pretend to have a conscience. I.e. the skinhead uncle and Hank both understand the rules of the game they are playing, and accept them.

    By comparison, Walter is the guy who wants to play at being a big drug king, and thinks that's only going to affect bad guys, and even when it hurts the innocent he doesn't really take any responsibility for it. He didn't MEAN for that little kid to get killed, and he TRIED to save Hank, so that makes him innocent? No, it just makes him someone who has never really accepted responsibility for his decisions, but wants to keep being THE BOSS anyway.

  • John||

    I never found this show interesting enough to watch. But maybe the cop might want to consider that millions of people are taking pharmaceutical grade meth every day. It is called Aderall. Just me that would seem to normalize meth more than some stupid TV show.

  • jasno||

    Meth != aderall. Meth hits a whole separate set of brain receptors and it hits them a lot harder.

    Both are uppers, but one makes you euphoric and the other just makes you alert.

  • sarcasmic||

    I dunno. I tried meth a couple times and all it did was keep me awake. No euphoria at all. Cocaine on the other hand... Ah, my misspent youth.

  • Brett L||

    Well, adderall is a mixture of dexadrine and meth. But those are the two amphetamine salts in adderall.

  • jasno||

    No meth in adderall, although another drug that is sometimes prescribed for ADHD is indeed meth.

  • Brett L||

    Ah, you're right, they don't use the methylated, just d- and l-.

  • Zeb||

    Desoxyn is the one that is meth. Adderall is regular amphetamines.

  • Tony||

    Breaking Bad is possibly the greatest TV show of all time. Get with the program.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I didn't like it. Get with the program.

  • daveInAustin||

    "familiarity is inherently dangerous".

  • sarcasmic||

    I couldn't listen to the whole thing. So many false premises and lies. Yet I'm sure she believes what she says.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You want to make law enforcement's job easier? Stop criminalizing everything.

  • Almanian!||

    This.

    I continues to amaze me - although it probably shouldn't - that people like Blake never consider that most all of this goes away if the drugs are not made illegal.

    Oh, yes - there'd be the odd domestic dispute or other erratic behavior to deal with - no different than alcohol. But none of the crime syndicate, druglord bullshit that results in thousands of murders every year.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Prosecutors, DEA agents, and narcs want a permanent WOD because, for them, it satisfies the most powerful and dangerous addiction of all: libido dominandi.

  • John||

    But if meth is legal, people will get high on meth and drive. I have kids.

    This is pretty much the only argument drug warriors have left. It is the only one I ever hear them make. And they make it in pretty much those words.

  • sarcasmic||

    They'll say that if drugs are legal, then everyone will use them. So I ask if they would use drugs if they were legal. They say of course not. So I ask why everyone else would. I've never gotten a coherent answer.

    The other tack I take is to ask for a reason to keep drugs illegal that is not also a good reason to reinstate Prohibition. I've never gotten a coherent answer to that one either, except maybe that drugs are immoral and somehow alcohol is not.

  • Almanian!||

    As always, you have it exactly.

    "EVeryone's going to do drugs!" "Would you?" "Well...."

    I would personally do MORE drugs...but I'm not "most people" :)

  • Brandon||

    I would use a lot fewer. Because they just wouldn't make me feel as edgy and cool. I would have to move on to recreational murder to get my thrills.

  • Almanian!||

    Your ideas intrigue me, and I am interested in subscribing to any newsletters you may publish.

  • Zeb||

    If I'm honest, I'd probably be a morphine addict if everything were legalized. But that's really not such a terrible thing if you have a clean, cheap, reliable supply. But even if it weren't, that's no one else's problem.

  • Robert||

    The answer they usually give is that it's too late for alcohol, because liquor has long since been normalized, most people using it, but that it's not too late for other bioaffecting substances because most people don't use them yet.

  • John Jay.||

    That might be the most logically consistent answer, since it at least implies that they would ban alcohol if it was politically viable. But a lot of prohibitionists have to convince themselves that other drugs are somehow different, because they like drinking alcohol and are perfectly capable of doing so safely and responsibly, and they certainly aren't so hypocritical as to disfavor certain substances merely out of contempt for the sort of people who might use them.

  • John||

    I have never gotten a coherent answer to the "if you wouldn't use them, so why would other people?" question either. At this point it is its own little culture war. The drug warriors hate drug users and are happy to see them go to jail. That is really all there is to it.

    For this reason, my tact with drug warriors is to not appeal to any sense of justice or compassion. I always ask them, "why should I have to pay taxes to try and make sure some degenerate doesn't kill himself on drugs?" Or "I hate drugs, but I am tired of spending money to keep drugs out of drug user's hands. Let them have all the drugs they want, so they will die or get smarter."

    They always kind of look at me like a dog that just heard a high pitched noise. They really have no idea how to respond. They think I am one of them since I profess a hate of drug users. But I am for making drugs legal. So it just doesn't compute.

  • sarcasmic||

    There are lowlife losers who are going to be lowlife losers with or without drugs. Then there are many professionals who you'd never think of as drug users, but do so regularly. You just don't know because they keep it in the closet.

    Irresponsible people will use drugs irresponsibly. Drugs don't make them irresponsible. They started out that way.

  • John||

    Exactly, the drugs are just an excuse to act irresponsible. You don't steal from your parents because you are a drug addict. You steal from your parents because you are a low life thief. The fact that you used the money for drugs doesn't make it any worse or any better.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Since even the warrior will admit that the vast majority of people who would use drugs already are using them, what they're ultimately arguing is that we need the WoD to keep the few dilettantes - who are more scared of arrest or becoming a crime victim to use - from using drugs.

  • Almanian!||

    Same reason most poor people are poor. "Cause they got 'poor person' thinking." Give 'em a million dollars, they'd be broke again in a year. Cause they're not smart about money and making/keeping it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Same reason most poor people are poor. "Cause they got 'poor person' thinking." Give 'em a million dollars, they'd be broke again in a year. Cause they're not smart about money and making/keeping it.

    Yep. I've actually lost friends by pointing that out. They were so offended. I mean, people are poor because the corporations are holding them down, not by any fault of their own!

  • Zeb||

    The poor person thinking often isn't their own fault either. If you have never had any money, and your parents also suffered from "poor person thinking", you don't have any reason or opportunity to learn how to deal well with money. The people who get all bent out of shape when you make the observation are idiots who by denying this fairly simple fact are completely ignoring one big thing that could be done to help people escape cycles of poverty. Whereas welfare and forcing employers to pay more will just work to keep poor and ignorant people where they are now.

  • sarcasmic||

    My wife suffers from "poor person thinking." If she has money she spends it. All of it. That's why I'm in charge of the household budget.

  • Zeb||

    I can definitely sympathize with that.

  • CatoTheElder||

    If she only spends 100% of it, she isn't so bad. Real "poor person thinking" is to use that money for a down payment on a rent-to-own flat screen TV, a new smartphone with a 2-year data contract, or new leased car, or a new house [depending on how much money we're talking about].

  • CatoTheElder||

    That's a new house mortgaged to the hilt.

  • ||

    If you have never had any money, and your parents also suffered from "poor person thinking", you don't have any reason or opportunity to learn how to deal well with money.

    I pointed out to a friend that making middle school math classes about personal finance with year-long finance role-playing games would do more to alleviate poverty in America than a $3 dollar hike to the minimum wage would. He was horrified at first but eventually agreed with the premise. I know adults who have NO IDEA what interest is, let alone how it works AND THEY HAVE CREDIT CARDS.

  • sarcasmic||

    year-long finance role-playing games

    Kinky!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Actually, tactics aside, this isn't an entirely illegitimate argument. If people want to do stupid, destructive things, then why should I be concerned for their outcomes?

  • John||

    You mean legitimate argument?

  • Zeb||

    I think it is a good argument to make to convince people that ending prohibition wouldn't be diaster. But from a libertarian point of view, drugs should be legalized even if doing so would mean that everyone would start doing meth. But that line of argument is not going to convince anyone who is not already entirely opposed to prohibition simply on principle.

  • ||

    IIRC doesn't Portugal have a higher rate of drug experimentation and a much lower rate of chronic addiction?

  • Brandon||

    What is this? Actual evidence?! HERESY!!! WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN???!!!!!!

    -Blake Ewing

  • UnCivilServant||

    Well, on account of the Children, most were introduced to drugs by the DARE program, and wouldn't have started using if not for that exposure.

  • Zeb||

    I'm not so sure about that claim. My class in school somehow missed out on DARE because they changed which grade it was given in and we had quite the healthy level of drug use by 8th grade.
    Still, DARE is at best utterly useless and pointless.

  • gaoxiaen||

    All that the drug education pamphlets in junior high school did was make drugs interesting.

  • Robert||

    Won't it make them drive better?

  • Brett L||

    Depends on how long they've been awake. After about 30 hours your reflexes slow and your attention wanders no matter how spun you are.

  • John||

    Speed will, yes.

  • Zeb||

    I'd much rather have someone driving on meth than driving while falling asleep or drunk or dealing with children in the back seat.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I have never met anyone currently taking meth who wasn't a rock bottom loser. Doesn't mean those people don't exist, but meth doesn't exactly strike me as the type of drug that people on the fence about using drugs would take because it suddenly becomes legal. It is not a drug about which you say, "gee, I'd like to try meth but shucks it's illegal".

    I can see the argument behind the claim that marijuana and cocaine usage will go up upon legalization, since there's already an interest among the normals for such drugs, but meth? Come on.

  • John||

    I am pretty sure only the really stupid dregs would touch meth if pharmaceutical grade cocaine or speed were legal and available. At that point, using meth really would just be putting yourself in for a Darwin award.

  • Zeb||

    You know, I bet you have met users of meth who weren't total losers. You just didn't notice because they weren't losers.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    As I said, it's possible I missed them. Still, I know lots of successful folk who use coke, horse, etc who are successful (I can't imagine there's a Math program in the country not fueled by recreational drug usage), and not one successful professional who uses meth. Take that informal poll for what it's worth, which is not much.

  • CatoTheElder||

    In low dosages, meth can be quite handy for an all-nighter during final exams.

  • Dr. Frankenstien||

    The usage may go up but the dosage will come down. Most people when they get home from work will have a beer or a glass of wine. They don't down 10 shots of everclear.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Speak for yourself.

  • Brett L||

    It was popular when I was in college when Adderall was still hard to find and you sometimes had to fall back on meth when you needed 3 days of studying without sleep.

  • Zeb||

    I always liked Ritalin better anyway. Though I managed my time well enough in college that I never had to stay up all night studying.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "You want to make law enforcement's job easier? Stop criminalizing everything."

    NO! Law enforcement's job to apprehend and convict criminals. It is hard work to apprehend and convict real criminals. You have to find evidence linking the criminal to crime and witnesses, and you have to use that evidence to prove to a jury that the accused committed that crime.

    Drug crimes are easy to prove since the simple possession of a particular substance in sufficient quantities defines the crime itself, identifies the criminal, and proves the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

    Same applies to other victimless crimes. They make law enforcement's job much easier than the hard work required to solve murders, rapes, burglaries and so forth.

  • Jon Lester||

    Meth was ubiquitous throughout rural America long before the show ever premiered.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but life imitates art! No one ever heard of meth until Breaking Bad!

  • Almanian!||

    No one ever heard of New Mexico until Breaking Bad!

  • Brett L||

    What? Its that place between El Paso and LA on I-10.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I thought that was Arizona.

  • Almanian!||

    I thought Arizona was at the bottom of Pearl Harbor? Is Hawaii between Cali and Texas?

    Now I'm all confused...

  • UnCivilServant||

    It must be a drydock.

  • Libertarius||

    Not funny.

  • Spartacus||

    Illegal New Mexican immigrants are taking our jobs and sitting around getting welfare and food stamps, all at the same time. Our do-nothing politicians need to extend the border fence to the four corners.

    Oh yeah, and more drones.

  • UnCivilServant||

    The only impact Meth had on my life before or after the show was the hiding of the Sudafed.

  • John C. Randolph||

    If someone can give me a recipe for turning meth back into sudafed, I could make a fortune. There sure as hell isn't any shortage of meth in California.

    -jcr

  • Brett L||

    I don't have the link, but there's a paper floating around the internet that sure as hell does turn meth into psuedoephedrine.

  • Spartacus||

  • Brett L||

    Not something I can google at work since I stopped doing chemical process simulations.

  • Spartacus||

    I wasn't trying to imply you were lazy or anything, I just wanted to put it up there since it's amusing.

  • Robert||

    Isn't this true of crime drama in general? And of war drama?

  • ||

    Goddamnit it Texas. I am so fucking tired of the socon gnashing of teeth over teh drugzzz. It almost makes me hope that we're stupid enough to elect a democrat governor. Almost.

  • ||

    And while Breaking Bad Dragnet, Columbo, Matlock may not glorify meth crime in the sense of making it attractive to the average viewer, it does normalize the idea of meth crime for a broad segment of society that might otherwise have no knowledge of that dark and dangerous world.

  • Robert||

    And people have said this of crime & war drama for eons.

  • Brett L||

    Statistically, Breaking Bad portrays drugs as far more dangerous than they actually are. Jesse's gf died of an overdose (not of meth), which is unlikely as she wasn't clean and getting back into opiates. Everyone essentially is a full-time meth addict or doesn't use at all. There are no weekenders. Nobody ever gets and stays clean after having a problem. In the real world, 95% of meth users use it occassionally.

  • Robert||

    No, it was implied that the young lady at the gas station was an occasional user. The implication was that she would use it to make her boring job more tolerable, and had no reason to use it other times.

  • Brett L||

    Oh, yeah. Okay, I forgot about her.

  • Drake||

    Are you talking about the brown teeth hooker?

  • Brett L||

    The fat girl at the gas station who gives up the blue meth in one of the middle seasons is who I'm thinking of. Right after Jesse decides he's a bad guy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    She occasionally smoked pot. Jesse had to coax her into trying meth, which she didn't like - and was caught because she gave it to someone who narced on her.

  • Ed||

    Badger seems like a weekender

  • BakedPenguin||

    Even Skinny Pete character doesn't seem like an addict, despite his weight.

  • gaoxiaen||

    The only regular meth user I knew was an obese Bush supporter.

  • Almanian!||

    "Boardwalk Empire" anybody?

    IF WE MAKE BOOZE ILLEGAL AGAIN, EVERYONE WILL BECOME AL CAPONE AND NUCKY THOMSON!!11 WOMEN HOOKING! CHILDREN LOSING PARENTS!

  • John||

    The more I think about this, the more I can see why a drug warrior would worry about the normalization of drug users. The drug war really is a culture war. I don't think you can under state how much people in this country hate drug users. This is why appeals to justice and utilitarian arguments about how bad the drug war is have fallen on deaf ears for so long. Most people don't care because they are so happy to see drug users go to jail. Drug users are the "other".

    It is no coincidence that all of the sudden people started being okay with legalizing marijuana right about the time that medical marijuana became an issue. It took that part of the drug war out of the culture war. Sick people needing help are not "drug users" in the traditional sense. So people stopped objecting so much to legalization.

    If you want to end the drug war, one of the first and most urgent things that needs to be done is to take every pro hemp loser and tell them to go home, stop having rallies, and stay out of politics, because it is people like them that people hate and are happy to see in prison. Go find sympathetic people who use these drugs and defuse the culture war. That is the only way the drug war is going to end.

  • Almanian!||

    I'm just going to wait till I retire - I've already warned my wife. Ima grow pot and smoke the shit out of it and not care what happens at that point - legal or illegal.

    Like that retired sheriff on "Sons of Anarchy". "Fuck it - I'm retired. Ima smoke pot and hang out with a biker gang."

    Like that.

    OMG - life imitating art AGAIN! We must ban TV shows!

  • John||

    It beats drinking yourself to death. The only convincing science I have ever seen regarding the ill effects of marijuana is the obvious effects any kind of smoking has on your lungs over the long term (not much of a concern when you are old) and that it does seem to affect the cognitive development of some adolescents who use it. The whole dumb stoner myth may in fact have a kernel of truth to it. But, I have long since moved past adolescence.

    I can neither confirm or deny my retirement plans. But I will say, your plan is not without its merits.

  • sarcasmic||

    The war on drug users is a war against people who do not blindly accept authority. Thing is, drug laws are counterproductive in that respect. When people see friends use drugs and not turn into raving lunatics or die or become addicts, they realize they've been fed a line of bullshit. Then they begin to lose respect for drug laws. That can lead to a loss of respect for the law in general, and that is not a good thing. Especially if the person doesn't have a hard moral footing to begin with. That's how you end up with gang-bangers shooting infants in the face.
    The best way to have people respect the law is to have the law be respectable. Not to come down like a ton of bricks when people don't respect unjust and immoral laws.

  • John||

    That is the other problem. Drug warriors have managed to invest so much of the law's credibility in drugs being illegal, it is very hard for them to back down. And if they ever do, people might start questioning a lot of other laws.

    I think a good number of prog nanny state types realize this and go along with the drug war because they fear ending it will cause people to want to end a few other things.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's about authority. Drug users don't respect their authority. They take it personally.

  • ChrisO||

    There's something to that, but it's more complex with hard drugs.

    The classic profile of a junkie is someone who got in over their head and would love to be able to quit doing heroin or meth. The initial period of use has an overpowering high, but it doesn't last long, and then it's just about not feeling bad.

    Maybe it's just me, but I find these people inherently sympathetic and would love to help them. The problem is, junkies also come with many undesirable tendencies--minor criminality to support the habit, along with lots of recidivism and lying/cheating to family and friends.

    Selling legalization of hard drugs is going to require a different approach than selling pot legalization.

  • ChrisO||

    This was in reply to John's comment, not to sarcasmic's also-sensible point.

  • John||

    Sure you find them sympathetic. And thus you are for legalization. Most people don't. Most people hate them and want them in prison.

    If you find them sympathetic, you are probably going to quickly realize who stupid and evil the drug war is.

  • sarcasmic||

    The first step is dehumanizing the enemy. Drug users aren't human beings. They're, well, drug users.

    That's until a family member gets busted for a minor drug infraction and has their entire life ruined. Ruined not by drugs, but by the system.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I hate the junkies, but I don't want to see my money spend rounding and locking them up.

  • Zeb||

    You shouldn't hate people you don't know. I hate junky behavior, but a lot of junkies are still good people in other ways. And most would probably be fine if they didn't always have to be scheming to afford their next fix at black market prices.

  • Zeb||

    And I don't want my money spent on that either. But even more than that I don't want anyone to get locked up for a non-crime like drug use, possession or dealing.

  • ChrisO||

    That may be where the education starts. Showing that it's "your people," and not just "those people," who do hard drugs.

    Not everyone who does hard drugs becomes a junkie. Not every junkie becomes a homeless dropout. Bringing it out into the open is the only way the legitimate problems with hard drug use can be properly addressed.

    Of course, we all know that the powers that be have an active financial interest in prohibition, so it's not going away anytime soon.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Sadly, one of the best drugs to help them is also illegal. Ibogaine has been shown to "reset" the brain chemistry of heroin addicts. They can quit without withdrawal. (I don't know if it works with other drugs.)

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    There are a lot of ways in which this profile is wrong. Prisons are full of addicts who will continue to be crappy parents and crappy citizens, but who shouldn't be put in prison solely on account of that condition. Wish I could say that everyone in prison for the WoD is a wonderful human being just trying to get by, but the truth is that there are plenty of folk in there who aren't sympathetic -- but who nonetheless have no business being there. I kind of am a John-styled hardass on these folks; fundamentally they aren't going to change unless they want to, and prison really, really isn't a good place for positive change much as prison ministries try to make it the opposite. We shouldn't be paying to lock up people solely because they are ruining their own lives.

    Hard drugs are going to be a tougher sell (depending on how you define "hard drug"); cocaine is about as far as most people would go given current views IMO.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Fucking hippies have crippled the legalization movement. I am 100% for legalization. Even so, last year when Reason posted a video of some hempfest in Washington I felt a palpable need to punch those damn morons in the mouth. Wouldn't have been civilized of me, but damn them -- those are the folks who would rather be high than vote in favor of a ballot measure on legalization. It is difficult for most people to be sympathetic when it is seen that superficially, so people don't even get to the point where they consider whether it is 1) an unwise policy and 2) an unethical one.

    Consider: alcohol prohibition lasted 14 years. Pot prohibition, depending on how you want to count it, is coming on its 100th anniversary and is almost certainly continued by the hippie stereotype. I completely agree with you: it is a cultural thing that is fortunately dying off, both in terms of the number of dumb hippies out there and the people who had direct experience with the subculture of the 60s.

  • Zeb||

    I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for hippies (though I think I am getting over it). But I agree that the "pot is OK" argument for legalization is annoying. While I think it is mostly true, that should not be the basis on which you base laws that can seriously fuck up a person's life.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Oh, I have no problem with people who are sympathetic to hippies (so long as it isn't the type of generalized political sympathy for any movement on the political left, be it dumb hippies or murderous communists). I just have an instinctive dislike of them. Hell, I hated them even when I was a leftist. Some people just don't like the aesthetics of hippies or the bohemian lifestyle.

  • sarcasmic||

  • Zeb||

    A friend of mine in high school had a great t-shirt with a picture of Charlie Manson and the text "never trust a hippie".

  • sarcasmic||

  • sarcasmic||

  • ChrisO||

    Did this fucknut actually watch Breaking Bad? Everyone in the show who uses meth (as opposed to making/selling it) is portrayed as either an unpredictable maniac (Tuco Salamanca) or a vacant lump of flesh (Spooge the ATM Thief and his girlfriend).

  • Killazontherun||

  • Killazontherun||

    Could be unsafe for work, the language is hearty and sailory.

  • ||

    Law-enforcement officers’ duties bring them into contact with the drug-addled on a daily basis, so the proliferation of dangerous drugs directly affects their lives and families more than it might affect yours or mine.

    Hey, I bet we can all simultaneously scream the answer to that one.

    If law-enforcement officers' duties make them more directly affected by dangerous drugs than the average joe, then I feel a great sense of guilt at what our drug laws are putting them through. Let's legalize all drugs, so that poor, humble police officers don't have to deal with it any more than normal families. If we save just one cop's life, don't we have to try?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Has anyone mentioned that meth became a "thing" because the American smugglers, who used to run cocaine across the border from Mexico, lost their access to their smuggling routes when the Mexican gangs decided to take over those smuggling routes?

    The former smugglers on the American side of the border decided to start cooking and distributing meth because they didn't have to rely on those smuggling networks in Mexico--they could just cook it up here in the U.S.

    ...which is another way of saying that the drug war is what "normalized" meth. If it hadn't been for the drug war, most of us would never even have heard of meth. Oh yeah, and the drug war normalized the vicious street gangs that eventually took over meth distribution here in the U.S., too.

    But go ahead and point fingers at TV shows. They're the cause of the problem.

  • Zeb||

    That is true. But it is also important to remind people that meth is not a new thing at all. It has been around for a long time. It just used to be called "speed" or "crank" instead of "meth" or "crystal".

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, but it was something bomber pilots used to stay awake during World War II--not something average people had ever heard of.

    Coming from D.C., I'd never heard of meth before I moved to San Diego in the mid '80s. It was a really big thing in North County San Diego--being right across the border from Mexico.

    Meth has existed for a long time, but high school kids wouldn't be partying with the stuff--it wouldn't be available like it has been.

    Alcohol has been around for a long time too, and when there are legitimate channels to distribute it, there's no market for stuff that might make you go blind...

    I thought meth was the most destructive thing I ever saw. People mostly stayed away from things like Heroin, but meth screwed people up much worse than cocaine. ...and when it hit the streets in the '80s, it was so cheap.

    It was cheaper than ganja, and the high would last for half of forever. Chicks liked it because it made them lose weight, and everybody was doin' it because it was so cheap.

    It's always seemed to me that people who just snorted cocaine had a much easier time of it than tweekers. ...but that may in part be due to the fact that meth was so pervasive because it was being manufactured locally and because it was so inexpensive.

    P.S. Tweekers suck.

  • John||

    See also crack cocaine. They only reason dealers started making crack is that after the feds cracked down in the early 80s, it was expensive to move cocaine into the country. So their solution was to make crack, which gave a bigger high for a smaller amount and thus made more money per pound of coke smuggled into the country.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "The drug war is what "normalized" meth"

    and heroin, cocaine, "bath salts", PCP, and ultra-high THC pot for that matter.

    Were it not for the WOD, people inclined to abuse drugs would be mostly be toking garden-variety pot and opium. The prevalence of highly potent and addictive drugs are largely the result of the WOD.

  • SugarFree||

    Legalizing meth seems to be a more effective strategy in the War on Obesity than drinking tap water.

  • John||

    Just legalize speed again. People were not fat in the 50s. Amazing that. It wasn't because they were starving.

  • Zeb||

    I think amphetamines have gotten a much worse reputation than they deserve.

  • John||

    They have. And indeed, most of the ADHD drugs people are taking are just amphetamines. Yes, if you are driving a long hall truck or working the night shift as a book keeper or code writer, coffee isn't going to cut it. You need something a bit stronger to not just wake you up but to focus your mind. It is called speed.

  • Zeb||

    I had access to adderall for a while. It was very useful when I wanted it to be and was not at all difficult to put aside when I didn't. Of course, it probably helps that I don't like recreational doses of stimulants very much in general. I like sleep too much and I like to relax and be mellow at the end of the day. To me it is just a utility drug which helps when you have a lot to do or need to concentrate on something difficult for a long time.

  • ChrisO||

    This story highlights one of the biggest fallacies of the drug war as it stands now: the idea that there is this huge group of people out there who would be doing drugs if they were legal.

    Illegal drugs are so readily available, that it's really only a handful of people on the margins who are swayed by their legal status. In terms of selling legalization, I think this has to be emphasized, as well. The "return on investment" for the War on Drugs is shockingly small.

  • BakedPenguin||

    And this means that the War on Drugs is ultimately fought to keep about 5% of the potential population of drug users from using.

  • gaoxiaen||

    That's because it pays negative interest.

  • sarcasmic||

    Here's another thing. Marijuana is indeed a gateway drug. It's a gateway to the black market. And it's everywhere. Hard drugs are not everywhere, or at least not to the same extent as marijuana. Now if marijuana was legal and above the board, would legal marijuana dealers refer customers to meth or cocaine dealers? I think not. No more than a guy behind the counter at a liquor store would.

    So if you want to lower hard drug use, make hard drugs more difficult to find by closing the gateway to the black market.

  • Zeb||

    That is certainly true. Though I am hesitant to make that argument too much because everything should be legalized. But I suppose that from a practical point of view, pot legalization is all we are likely to see any time soon, so it is best to use whatever arguments can convince people who are still on the fence about pot being legal.

  • ||

    The best anti-drug movie I have ever seen was Requiem for a Dream.

    The good thing is it gets it's targets right. Meth and Heroin.

  • Dave Krueger||

    Mr. Ewing suffers from the same tunnel vision as most drug warriors. He's nitpicking about the minor impact of some detail of the drug war while the devastating impact of the war itself completely escapes him.

    Breaking Bad is fiction passing itself off as fiction. Most drug propaganda coming from official sources is fiction passing itself off as truth. There is no question as to which one is more destructive.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Blake Ewing is a moron if he thinks that Breaking Bad "does normalize the idea of meth". Does he even know what "normalize" means? Does he think that the typical viewer's "intense emotional connection with ... Walter White and Jesse Pinkman" creates a favorable impression with the meth trade? Really?

    Breaking Bad is more like a very sophisticated Reefer Madness with extraordinarily high production values. Walter White is the most disturbing villian in the history of TV, and Jesse Pinkman is a stereotypical good kid from a good family whose life has been utterly corrupted and ruined by drugs. All those involved in the drug trade are pure evil ... well, the show's libertarian chemist isn't so much evil as he is naive. And, of course, DEA agents, the most pernicious of drug warriors, are the heroes of Breaking Bad.

    Breaking Bad is a great story, but it in no way glamorizes methamphetamine production, distribution, retailing or use.

    BTW, the body count of Breaking Bad is vastly exaggerated vis-a-vis real life. This website puts it at 247 so far. In all of New Mexico, there were 140 murders in 2010.

  • Wintermute||

    These would-be career-enhancing "narcotics"-persecuting pigs can all just drop dead. Prohibition is a bigger evil than any substance. The pigs are selling meth as the latest, worst "devil"; but I'm not buying: I did it decades ago and know more about its effect than any "narc." Piss on 'em. Sorry, I'm an old hippie who is approaching natural death age; and I just don't give a fuck: I'm gonna tell the truth.

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