Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's worth it

By Capt. Fogg

“I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me.”

-Hunter S. Thompson-

They used to tell us that we hadn't studied tobacco long enough to know whether it caused lung disease or not. They still tell us we haven't studied Marijuana long enough to stop jailing people for having any. Both positions are as dishonest as most mutually contradictory arguments are; as dishonest as most fundamentally religious arguments are.

People in Central America have been using Salvia Divornum for thousands of years without apparent harm, so it's a bit hard to sell the idea that we should make possession a felony. It does make some people queasy and sometimes giggly they say and it sounds like more of a trip than I feel like going on these days, but it's not toxic or dangerous to your health like Meth or Coke or Jack Daniels or Cigarettes or undercooked hamburger or talking on the phone while driving your Hummer. It's never been a problem in the places that have been using it in religious ceremonies since shortly after the Ice Age ended and it's never been a problem in the US. None the less, someone noticed that some people think it feels good and that's enough to get the Christians in a uproar.

Nobody has ever got around to making it illegal and probably because hardly anybody uses the stuff other than some Mayan shamans in the wilds of Oaxaca or the very occasional beat poet from New York. It's the mission of these merciless missionaries of course, to protect us from the sin of not being eternally miserable and the crusade to ban it is on. They can't really ban anything without scaring you first, however and the usual argument is being made. You shouldn't drive while high and you shouldn't give it to children - therefore you should go to jail for having a bag of leaves in your possession, cars or kids notwithstanding.

I love fallacies, but I hate people who are too stupid, or too dishonest to admit that they use them or fall for them. There are at least three in this argument, the first and most transparent is that because some people shouldn't use it all the time, it should be criminalised. The second, which deserves a chapter of it's own in Fogg's Cornucopia of Fallacies, is also widely used by other purveyors of tyranny from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the sad sacks who gave us our war on drugs.
"You save one child and it's worth it"
says Mike Strain, Louisiana's Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner and former legislator, without favoring us with any incidents of any child - or adult for that matter being harmed. He helped his backward State to become one of the first places to make Salvia illegal. I'll drink to that - and I'm sure he will too.

Try Reductio on this one if you will.: if it only saves one child from (your bogeyman here) it's worth it. You'll notice that a 24 hour curfew, the criminalization of hamburgers, bicycles, roller skates, and all other means of transportation; even the closing of schools and churches and shopping malls would save many children, yet we have long known that it's not worth it. A second test might have you asking if jailing another million kids and creating a new revenue stream for violent gangs would be called "saving" anyone. Both arguments contain a demonstrably false assumption: that prohibitions work in the first place.

The third is the fallacious argument that if we allow adults to do it, children will do it. Non-sequitur of course, and reducing it again to absurdity: should we ban cars, alcohol, cigarettes, bungee jumping, sports, swimming pools for adult use? It would save at least one child. It would save a lot of children. It's not worth it. Obviously the ban bullies don't believe their own arguments.

A fourth gem, of course is that although banning alcohol should certainly have saved many lives and thus must have been worth it, it didn't. It cost a lot of them and it created massive crime and it actually increased alcoholism and the social status of drinking.

I'm whistling in the wind of course. We're a nation of Christians and with that especially crepuscular and not entirely honest ethic the shamans of that Pithicanthropic tribe flaunt, they will make sure that the tired, the weary and the adventurous have no other recourse or solace than the churches they make the taxpayer support.

I think we should ban moralizers. After all if you save one civil right, it's worth it.

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