American Spectator Article is a Helpful Reminder That Prohibitionists Never Stop Making the Same Stupid Arguments


In case you were feeling a little too optimistic about the future end of the drug war — if only because public opinion polls are moving in the right direction and the occasional fact of actual politicians like Reps. Ron Paul and Barney Frank who oppose it —take a look at this American Spectator article which is cheaply, lazily, and with great moralizing, in favor of the continued drug war. It's truly terrible work from Manon McKinnon and, among other blithely written incorrect facts, McKinnon declares that there are no non-violent, non-dealers in prison. Also, if you use stern italics then science doesn't count and medical marijuana isn't real:

…the imagined wrongful incarceration of simple users (no—such prisoners have plea bargained down from major trafficking and violent crimes); medical necessity (banned drugs are not medicine); and the existence of drug crime….

McKinnon also compares rape and slavery to drug use, because malum in se versus malum prohibitum are just too complicated of concepts when the children could be in peril (or something). Drug use is a moral issue to folks like McKinnon, but locking up people for victimless crimes obviously is not.

But don't take my word for it, read Scott Morgan's Huffington Post response headlined "How to Write a Cliched, Unpersuasive Argument Against Drug Legalization." Morgan is an associate editor at, so there's probably a reason he knows these cliches so well. According to Morgan, here are the steps to follow so that you, too, can write a prohibitionist screed:

Step 1: Attempt to marginalize supporters of drug policy reform by claiming they are "pot heads."…

Step 2: Frame legalization as a plan for "surrendering" or "giving up" and letting drugs defeat us….

Step 3: Insist confidently—but without citation—that no one actually gets in serious trouble for personal use….

Step 4: Insist that illegal drugs can never have medical value….

Step 5: Compare regulating drugs to legalizing rape….

Step 6: Mention something bad that happened involving drugs and ask smugly whether legalization would have prevented it….

Step 7: Close with a sweeping, apocalyptic generalization….

Read the whole thing here and enjoy how Morgan nicely skewers McKinnon's tiresome arguments. And though you may not always get such a fine "bingo" on your pro-prohibition articles except on rare occasions you can definitely find these arguments amongst your elected politicians or your own family members.  The only thing Morgan and McKinnon forgot, in my experience, was those who go straight to the being high and driving question. And though there's plenty of libertarian debate potential there, it's best just to say to people new to the idea of legalization that no, clearly that would endanger innocent people and that doing drugs and driving will be just as illegal as drinking and driving.

Reason on marijuana.

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  1. Reason trolls the right.

  2. McKinnon also compares rape and slavery to drug use, because malum in se versus malum prohibitum are just too complicated concepts to deal with when when the children are in peril (or something.)

    Birds of a feather… Bill O’Reilly just said today, on national television, that drug dealing is a violent crime.

    1. drug dealing often is. because it HAS to be.

      that says NOTHING about drugs qua drugs. it says a lot about how prohibiting drugs incentivizes dealers to be violent

      we saw the same thing with prohibition

      we don’t see “revenooers” shooting it out with anybody any more. because they don’t have to. liquor is readily available

      an immense amount of violent crime is initiated by drug dealers… USUALLY , it’s on other drug dealers (misdemeanor homicide 🙂 (cue: reasonoid outrage) but frequently innocents are caught in the crossfire.

      either way, the problem is the war on drugs.

  3. #1 argument I hear: “But I don’t want my kids using drugs.” People will often agree with you on almost every point you make about legalization, but then will hold that one out as the trump card, and that’s that.

    1. “But i dont want my kids using drugs.”

      Yeah, call my mom and ask her how how those laws worked out in that regard.

    2. I guess those same people must want their kids to be fat asses, have kids they can’t support, get married to an abusive jerk, join a cult and become an alcoholic.

  4. there’s plenty of libertarian debate potential there

    Only among the “I own myself, my body, and the entire road” segment of libertarianism.

    1. Do not underestimate our numbers, for we are legion.

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  6. Doing drugs and driving is already as illegal as drinking and driving. If we want to establish intoxicant levels for impairment I’m sure dozens of universities would be happy to do the research (and thousands would volunteer to be subjects) and if we want the equivalent of a Breathalyzer, American ingenuity will answer the call as soon as an RFP is published.
    And who’s going to be better at keeping it from kids: a legal retailer with a license to protect or a pusher who’s already committing a dozen felonies a day?

  7. Only 9 comments? Cool!

    This is my big chance to post my manifesto!

    If only…I had the energy…to…


    1. This comment is awesome.

  8. Almost no drug prohibitionist are, in this age, alcohol prohibitionists. This makes the following the final word on the “what if…” argument:

    “But what if you’re high and…”
    What if you’re drunk and do that?

    “But what if kids…”
    What if kids alcohol?

    “Look what drugs did to this person…”
    Look what alcohol did to this personx100

    “Would legalization stop this example…”
    Did alcohol legalization stop that example?

    “But drug gangs…”
    Hey, what happened to the alcohol gangs we used to have?

    1. and a lot of drug warriors will pull the ‘well look at all the problems alcohol abuse causes. do we want to legalize ANOTHER drug and increase that?”

      ignoring that

      1) those problems still exist when the drugs are illegal. the drug war just compounds them and adds another layer

      2) frankly, there are some drugs that if somebody HAD to abuse drugs, they’d be better off abusing than alcohol. i think pot is lame as fuck, but if you are going to abuse pot or alcohol, yer better off abusing pot. and potheads aren’t the ones assaulting cops, their spouses, or driving recklessly (gneerally speaking)


  9. How long do you need to shower when you know you’re on the same side as the Huffington Post? Just before you burn me at the stake I am too, but just askin’.

  10. Also, if you use stern italics than science doesn’t count and medical marijuana isn’t real

    Another drug-related typo.

    1. Actually the drug-related part was where I read that before and swore I fixed it, yet the typo remained! Gasp.

  11. I have ads on the side of my screen for NBA basketball and TV One.

  12. Look at the linked article’s comments, including my own, and you will see that even the readers of a mainstream conservative mag are pretty divided on the issue.

    The flawed logic of Prohibition is becoming clearer to more of them.

  13. Never really thought about it like that dude.

  14. I’ll take prohibitionists seriously the moment they start accepting responsibility for the thousands of deaths their policies intentionally cause every year. In other words, never.

  15. Speaking of Marijuana, I was very disappointed in Gary Johnson’s recent stance regrading employers’ rights. Under Johnson’s laws, employers would not be able to fire or not hire people who test positive for MJ.

    I wrote to the campaign to say that I think employers who do so are shooting themselves in the foot most likely, but they should absolutely have the right to fire or not hire anybody for any reason.

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