Drug Policy

David Brooks' Anti-Pot NY Times Col No Dumber Than His Paper's Editorial


So we all had a good laff last week over David Brooks' anti-pot column in the New York Times (read Jacob Sullum and Matt Welch for complementary smackdowns).

Russ "Mugger" Smith of the invaluable Splice Today points out something worth remembering. The Times' house editorial, which was published just two days after Brooks' piece, is even worse, and not just because it supposedly carries the imprimatur of the wise folks at the Gray Lady. Writes Smith:

[The Times' editorial] "The Marijuana Experiment" … [takes] a very critical stance on the rapidly moving trend in states across the country that have either legalized pot or are in the process of doing so. The Times editorial board is clearly against such a populist movement—even though: abortion, check, gay marriage, check, unisex bathrooms, coming up—and it's my guess that one of Brooks' superiors at the paper suggested he write such an essay to gauge opinion. Otherwise, why would the editor who presumably reads Brooks' columns before they're published leave him open for such scorn?

Marijuana legalization—or decriminalization—is an issue that gains supporters every day, so the Times triumvirate of publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (62), executive editor Jill Abramson (59) and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal (57) knows the paper will have to take a more definitive stand in the coming months, particularly since New York's governor and possible Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo has proposed the very minor step of allowing medicinal marijuana in 20 hospitals across the state.

I don't buy Smith's suggestion that Brooks was strongarmed into writing a column he didn't believe in, but Smith is right that the Times house editorial is suffused with a slow-twitch, pre-senility panic about all the terrors that might be unleashed upon the world now that weed can be smoked without a potential arrest harshing the buzz. Curiously, the Times editorial doesn't comment on whether the Colorado law is a good or bad thing, choosing instead to lay out a litany of things that might go terribly, terribly wrong.

The Times list of "what to watch for in the early stages of this experiment" include under-age smoking, marketing to youths, driving while drunk and high, and interstate trafficking. About the only thing missing from the list is  a Harry Anslinger-inspired anxiety about whether easy access to dope will increase the desire among "white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others."

What does it tell you about the state of mainstream establishment journalism when the liberal New York Times is tut-tutting about "what to watch" for in Colorado at the same time that the conservative National Review is editorializing that "Colorado has become the first state to make the prudent choice of legalizing the consumption and sale of marijuana…"?

It tells you a lot—and nothing that reflects well on the New York Times.

NEXT: Leader of Al Qaeda-Linked Group in Syria Calls For Ceasefire Within Assad's Opposition

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. William F. Buckley – right again.

    1. I guarantee he’s rolling in his grave right now at the new pope though. He was a very devout Catholic. He would probably voluntarily ex-communicate himself over that idiot.

    2. I think the writers of Barney Miller were channeling Buckley for Marty’s pot bust

    3. That’s him being right? A utilitarian argument? Not that humans own there own bodies and the government has no business dictating what they may or may not smoke or ingest. Buckley was a fucking dick and an authoritarian CIA shill and an early version of the neo-cons.

      1. Their own bodies. Jesus, why can’t you edit your comments here?

      2. If I had to live my life under someone elses rules, I’d take my chances with Buckley over any typical progtard pundit.

      3. Because, of course, listing one argument for something is a rejection of all other arguments for the same thing.

  2. The issue in this early stage is the NYT (unwittingly) connects marijuana legalization with a rollback of the state. The NYT, like so many major newspapers in this country is reflexively pro-state, so their inclination is to be skeptical when someone essentially yells “Deregulaton!” Once the NYT looks to Washington State and Colorado and realizes that with “legalization” comes entire new bureaucracies, rules and regulations, they’ll come on board for the big win.

    1. New tax revenue!!!! The monorail can be funded!!

    2. This is basically it. Once the statists fully realize that legal weed gives them equal or greater control over the great unwashed than prohibition, they’ll jump on the bandwagon.

      There will always be those who truly believe that legalization betrays the State’s sacred duty to make straight the crooked timber of man, but most statists just lay awake at night in terror that someone, somewhere is doing something that is not duly licensed by the benevolent omnistate.

    3. The NYT…is reflexively pro-state

      Just like most Americans then? Your revelation is somewhat underwhelming.

    4. Yep, not legalization, just reregulation.

    5. Yep, not legalization, just reregulation.

  3. What does it tell you about the state of mainstream establishment journalism when the liberal New York Times is tut-tutting about “what to watch” for in Colorado

    It tells me when the New York Times warns agents of the government to keep their laws off of our bodies it is only talking about one law. When it comes to laws about prostitution, drug use, wages, organ sales, assisted suicide and dozens of other non-NYT approved activities the more laws infringing on self-ownership the better they will sleep at night.

    1. Apparently the only parts of the body the NYT wants freedom for are the parts the FCC doesn’t allow to be shown.

    2. Well, sure. “My body, my choice” is only a sometimes rule.

      1. Well, she didn’t say “your body, your choice” now did she Mr. smarty pants?

  4. “I don’t buy Smith’s suggestion that Brooks was strongarmed into writing a column he didn’t believe in”

    That’s not really what Smith suggested.

    “Smith – ..and it’s my guess that one of Brooks’ superiors at the paper suggested he write such an essay to gauge opinion. ”

    Brooks is a classic useful idiot. There was no need for strong arming. Just point him in the direction and watch him write something stupid.

    1. Yeah somehow I think Brooks opinion about the legalization of pot was no secret.

      Smith: Hey brooks why don’t you write about the legalization of pot?

      Brooks: Ok derpy derp.

      1. opps i mean brooks superiors at the paper not smith.

    2. Yeah, but Brooks should have been suspicious when the NYT replaces MS Word on his laptop with a copy of Mannlicher-Carcano WordPro.

    3. “Brooksie, you’re doing a heck of a job”

  5. and nothing that reflects well on the New York Times.

    The NYT has a long list of stupid wars they supported…may as well add in the war on drugs to the list.

  6. It’s funny how they still make believe that everyone who wants to smoke pot isn’t already doing so. How far do you have to stick your head up your ass to be that clueless about reality.

    1. What to watch for: People still getting high. Nannies still being dicks.

    2. It’s funny how they still make believe that everyone who wants to smoke pot isn’t already doing so.

      And that everyone who supports legalization is just a stoner-hippie.

  7. There are people and entities who’ve painted themselves into a corner and simply cannot admit that they were wrong as they’ve invested too much emotions and ‘reasoning’ into their entrenched views.

    Pot. WMDs in Iraq. So on.

    1. Conceal-and-Carry (Wild West shootouts!!). Gay marriage.

  8. “publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (62), executive editor Jill Abramson (59) and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal (57)…”

    These people are my age. I’ve run into people I went to school with, smoked dope with, who have the same attitude.


    1. They had kids, I bet. From what I can tell, having kids makes many people remarkably stupid.

      1. It is a give and take.

        Sure they forget about their pot days but they also stop being feminists and become less economically illiterate.

  9. It tells you a lot – and nothing that reflects well on the New York Times.

    The NYTs just hates to see one of FDR’s progressive policies rolled back. Mayor Fiorello Laguardia was a big drug warrior too

    1. I thought LaGuardia was strongly opposed to criminalizing marijuana. (I’ve never heard his position on other drugs, though. He may very well have been a staunch drug-warrior in regard to cocaine or opiates for all I know.)

      1. The LaGuardia commission found marijuana to be benign but I thought the mayor was as anti-drug as he was anti-pinball and anti-burlesque.

        1. He was. Fucking dopeheads editing wikipedia and writing elsewhere claim LaGuardia opposed the Marihuana Tax Act and cite something on the LaGuardia Commission. Anslinger and LaGuardia were political allies dating back to when the future mayor (as a congressman) supported Anslinger as the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics

  10. now that weed can be smoked without a potential arrest

    Nick, what is this “now” to which you refer?

  11. A big smoke-out might lead to people having…uncontrolled thoughts. Pravda on the Hudson can’t go for that.

  12. Colorado is probably not a good state to start this legalization experiment. They had some mass shootings there, and smoking pot is known for heightening the video game experience.

    The media loves human stories, which is why they chased down every story about ACA website glitches and every person who lost their healthcare. They’ll be circling around Colorado like a hawk. You just know Some doe eyed teen will drive stoned and crash into a senior center.

    Who’s actually convinced that the government will be able to regulate the market? Not me. Black market stuff will exist, and the drug cartels may infiltrate CO to muscle in on the business. What’s the police going to do, stop a pot smoker and ask them “Did you buy this from a well regulated legal pot shop?”

    They’ll blame even the slightest mishap on the GOP, so Rand Paul must be ready. First Christie, and now this.

  13. I have never injested any form of “illicit substance” but I fully support legalization of pot for a number of reasons.

    Its use is already deeply woven into America’s cultural fabric so we are waging a schizophrenic war against ourselves in continuing to enforce its prohibition. This really wastes too much energy, capital, and lives to continue it. The racist edge in how it is prosecuted is also embarrasing.

    1. It costs money.

      It prevents people from doing what they want and the only “harm” is to themselves.

      It costs money.

      It hits minorities far harder than whites.

      It costs money.

      It incarcerates otherwise law abiding citizens and severely impacts the rest of their lives from employment to crime. It directly contributes to the number of single parent homes, a primary factor in poverty and a major hindrance to the supposedly valued social mobility and equality.

      Have I mentioned it costs money?

      Fucking get rid of it.

  14. That Anslinger quote again? I remember doing a Google search and finding no evidence he said an a lot of evidence he didn’t.

    Do I have to add that doubting the quote doesn’t make me pro -Anslinger?

  15. It’s good that we have the Times to point out what to watch for.
    OK. We’ll watch for these things.
    I’m sure 12 months is long enough.
    If Colorado, Washington and Uruguay have decended into drug zombie mayhem we’ll know we made a mistake.
    If nothing much has changed we’ll know that legalization has not been a disaster.
    But the indications from 20+yrs of decriminalization and medical marijuana is that this last step will prove no more a problem than all the reforms that led to full legalization.

  16. I think the actual reason for the panic by the New York Times is that Colorado has officially nullified federal law. Now Governor Jindal of Louisiana can point to this in his fight with the DOJ over school choice and say – “Colorado isn’t paying any attention to your drug laws, Louisiana isn’t going to pay any attention to your silly educational rules!”.

    This process will continue and the feral government will gradually be reduced to its historical size, about 3% – 5% of the nation’s GDP http://www.usgovernmentspendin…..011mcn_F0t .

    Atlas Shrugged was supposed to be a warning, Not A Newspaper!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.