David Brooks Goes One Toke Over The Line

I know John already hit this story, .  (ETA this, in response to a complaint that there’s a lot more wrong with Brooks et al. than my fixation on journalistic malpractice admits: The deep problems with David Brooks and Ruth Marcus and their takes on marijuana legalization lie with the actual policy — the racism built into drug prohibition in the US, the folly and cost of the drug war, the relative risks of cannibis vs. such legal drugs as tobacco and the demon rum and all that.  David Weigel nailed both Marcus and Brooks for many of those stupidities yesterday, and there’s plenty more good work showing just how awful was the work issuing from these supposed paladins of public intellection.  I’ve got another axe to grind, perhaps just a hatchet, though, and it doesn’t seem to have been given much internet notice, so I’m back on my David Brooks is Always Wrong™ beat.But there’s another angle here on Brooks’ column that the generally great internet response didn’t hit, so I’m back on my David Brooks is Always Wrong™ beat.

I have to admit, what first got me going on this one was Brooks relentless self-righteous self-congratulation — to wit:

We graduated to more satisfying pleasures. The deeper sources of happiness usually involve a state of going somewhere, becoming better at something, learning more about something, overcoming difficulty and experiencing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Adriaen_van_Ostade_024

I don’t have much to say there — others said it better* — and anyway, I couldn’t get much past thoughts of Brooks engaged in anatomically improbable auto-erotica, possibly involving oxidized farm implements.

Worse, to me anyway, was how swiftly this “moderate” least-government possible type went  for the jackboots.  He wrote about folks’ “deep center” and the moral decay that comes when we fail to do the right thing, like continuing to criminalize America’s favorite weed.  To Brooks, what’s wanted is

…government [that] subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

So much fail in so little space. You could fisk this almost word by word for the craptastic silliness on display.

I could go on.  As Weigel and many others pointed out, favoring prohibition is fundamentally racist; as Maia Szalavitz writes at Time.com, Marcus and Brooks are deeply, profoundly ignorant of basic science of marijuana use and its impacts.

Shooting one’s mouth off in the absence of any real understanding of a subject is the mark of the pundits that dominate so much of Washington discourse.  It’s a profound sin to me, a betrayal of the central obligation of any journalist: to get it right for their readers — where right doesn’t simply mean avoiding trivial errors of fact, but distortions of the frame of the story that leaves “accurate” quanta of knowledge utterly misrepresented.  Unfortunately, there’s no real penalty in modern elite journalism for simple deception, as long as Politifact doesn’t actually find out that you weigh less than a duck.

But Brooks did cross another journalistic line in this column.  In one six word phrase Brooks goes all Reefer Madness on his readers, emphasizing the damnable fury of ol’ Mary Jane.  He writes  in a list of the bad things about marijuana “that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers”…

That’s the complete quote, by the way.  I’m not leaving out any modifiers or expanded context.

And here’s the thing:  its simply wrong — and should have been obviously so.

I think I know where Brooks got his 1/6 figure.  One quick bit  of Googling led me to this summary from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  It states:

It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens)…

Already, you can see the error.  Brooks says marijuana is addictive for 1/6 teenagers, full stop.  Not so: it’s only 1/6 of those who use the stuff.

Neufchâtel_-_Bildnis_des_Nürnberger_Schreibmeisters_Johann_Neudörffer_und_eines_Schülers

Go one step deeper into the literature.  In the underlying paper [PDF/paywall] to which the NIDA document refers, it turns out

The lifetime risk of dependence in cannabis users has been estimated at about 9% rising to one in six in those who initiate use in adolescence.

Same problem: the risk of dependence is only for those who use.

Note one complication:  there’s an issue with what it means to use here.  Daily? Weekly? Annually? This paper implies that the term refers to at least a weekly date with Mssrs. Zig and Zag, but the underlying source for the figure on adolescent dependence is a book to which I don’t have ready access.  So take that as a bit of unfinished business.

In case a little more context might help, one more turn to the internet turns up the invaluable Monitoring the Future folks, who provide a wealth of data about what Kidz Theze Dayz are really thinking and doing.  (Thanks again to Maia Szalavitz for help getting to the right sources for this post.)There you find that regular (daily) teenage marijuana use (PDF) runs about 1% for 8th graders, and rises to about 7% for high school seniors.  Loosening the definition of user to all those who blow a little dope once a year, (PDF) you get the scarier numbers — about 17% for the younger cohort and close to 40 % of twelfth graders.  Those numbers still don’t get you close to any reasonable interpretation of Brooks’ throwaway remark.

This isn’t rocket science.  Rather, we’re talking journalism 101.   That line should have tickled any experienced newshound’s bullshit detector.   If you read Brooks as claiming that one in six teenagers will be addicted then you run up against the actual lifetime risk for marijuana dependence, which, depending on the study, runs between 4 and 8 % of the population.  You just can’t get from here to there.

And if you read him as saying that there’s some independent measure that whether or not they actually smoke, still, if they did, one in six kids would be unable to control their ganja jones, you have to ask, how could you know that?  What possible experiment could show how many of the majority of teenagers who do not use marijuana even once a year would nonetheless be utterly unable to control their urges after that irreversible first toke?  It’s just nonsense…

…which makes me wonder, first does no one edit the Op-Ed. pages anymore?  Even if Brooks can’t or won’t do the work needed to deliver a minimally competently reported piece, someone else had to have read it before it hit print.  If I were the boss of the Times, I’d be asking who missed what and why.

Quentin_Massys_030

The thing is, Brooks commits sins like this all the time, but usually disguises them better.  Here he just flat out blew it, which makes it easy to say that this is the kind of crap journalism a place like The New York Times simply shouldn’t allow to reach the outside world.  But don’t mistake this as an aberration; this is how Our David rolls.  The wonder is that the Times seems willing to trade little bits of its credibility with each new BoBo-ism for the clicks and visibility that the mysteriously but undeniably influential Brooks delivers.

Sad…and in the long run a bad bargain for the Grey Lady, if you ask me, which they didn’t — and won’t.

*Weigel really did nail it, but for sheer awesomeness, no one did better than Gary Greenberg, whose remembrance of bonging with Bobo had a lot of folks fooled earlier in the day.  Check this out:

…let’s just say that when Dave wrote this morning that in a healthy society “government subtly encourages the highest pleasures” I remembered a time we were parked out at French Creek and he stood up on top of the Vista Cruiser and gave a speech to us about what Jefferson really meant by the “pursuit of happiness,” and how a government should uphold our right to get as high as possible, and how George Washington grew pot and old Edmund Burke must have smoked it, and I wondered if Dave was sending his old posse a secret message.

Read the whole thing. Really. Just great stuff.  (Also — what’s great is the list of folks who believed Greenberg’s piece was true.  Andrew Sullivan, for one (appending a correction to his post after a bit) but my favorite reaction came from Tim Carney, who snapped at  those ridiculing the gullible, tweeting, “That’s about a dozen good journalist friends of mine you’re talking about.”

‘Bout sums up the state of the too much of the media, wouldn’t you say?

Images:  Adriaen van Ostade, Peasants Drinking and Making Music in a Barn, c. 1635.

Nicolaes Neufchatel,  Portrait of Nurenburg Schoolmaster Johann Neudörffer and a student, 1561.

Quentin Massys, An Allegory of Folly, early 16th century.

 

 

107 replies
  1. 1
    eemom says:

    When you google “most insufferable individual who ever walked the earth”, hits one through infinity are Brooks.

  2. 2
    Ejoiner says:

    Serious question – who the hell actually seriously reads Brooks and thinks he’s an informed/intelligent/perceptive pundit? I know of no one – conservative or liberal – who gives him any credibility. Most don’t even know who he is and the few who do openly mock and ridicule his asinine columns. Again – why does this man have a job? Who honestly likes his stuff?

  3. 3
    Comrade Jake says:

    Does anyone, I mean anyone at all, fact-check these pieces?

  4. 4
    The Dangerman says:

    …that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers…

    Brooks is concerned increased smoking of bush will decrease sales for Anheuser-Busch; I’d welcome hearing Brooks’ concern on underage drinking.

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    Already, you can see the error. Brooks says marijuana is addictive for 1/6 teenagers, full stop. Not so: it’s only 1/6 of those who use the stuff.

    FWIW, thanks for the clarification, but this seems like a fairly lame criticism of Brooks’s piece, especially when compared to the other serious problems with his worldview.

    ETA: This is a valid question

    there’s an issue with what it means to use here. Daily? Weekly? Annually?

  6. 6
    Cacti says:

    David Brooks is the walking embodiment of all of the worst traits of the Baby Boom generation.

  7. 7
    trollhattan says:

    If David Brooks is Always Wrong(TM) and Megan McArdle is Always Wrong(duh) would it be wrong for Megan McArdle to hit David Brooks with a two-by-four?

  8. 8
    fuzz says:

    Brooks and other analysts are always talking about “bad policy” or “failed policy” and yet the best examples of failed policy in the past few decades, like the drug war and/or the embargo on Cuba, they largely support. The point of criminalizing marijuana is to stop people from using it, and that has failed in every possible way, so why keep going with the same exact policy? I understand it won’t solve everything, because organized crime will simply move on to other things (in Mexico they already are making most of their money from harder drugs, kidnapping and protection rackets) but criminalizing this has failed to accomplish anything substantive what so ever, and it’s been decades. When something is failing this badly you don’t keep doing it for some vague reason that goes little beyond “I don’t personally approve.” You need real concrete reasons to continue and I just don’t see any.

  9. 9
    JoyfulA says:

    My local newspaper reporters keep saying, when corrected online, that they don’t have copyeditors or proofreaders anymore.

  10. 10
    J.Ty says:

    @Ejoiner: Old boss of mine does. Straight white male, 70-ish, PoliSci PHD, exactly the type of people who run the damn establishment.

    Anyway, this is a brilliant send-up of this column: https://twitter.com/leyawn/status/419133339828629504/photo/1

  11. 11
    MikeJ says:

    @trollhattan: David Brooks is always wrong. McMegan is more often not even wrong.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Ejoiner:
    Remember that a very prestigious university actually hired David Brooks to teach humility. Bobo’s not just any old kind of ignorant, stupid and oblivious; he’s the kind of pseudo-intellectual parasite that successfully disguises itself to the right host (a newspaper, a university, a political chat show) as informed, intelligent and perceptive.

  13. 13

    In his recollection of his stoner past, Mr. Brooks doesn’t tell us if he and his friends ever got busted. Given his background and skin color, chances are that if he had, he would have been given a stern talking-to from the constabulary, a Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” video, and turned over to his parents. Unlike a poor black kid who did the same thing, he would not have served time in jail and been branded for life with a felony conviction.

    That’s the real crime. The use of marijuana among African-Americans and whites is roughly same, but the disparity of punishment for drug use is astounding. So while youthful David Brooks and his buddies got baked while listening to Grand Funk Railroad and staring at their hand, knowing the worst thing that could happen to them was being grounded, black kids were being sent to Rikers Island and swallowed up.

    Being lectured on the evils of weed by some white middle class busybody because “in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship” is just plain stupid. Tell the guy serving five years for possession just how “subtle” this government can be. It also makes me wonder what Mr. Brooks was drinking when he wrote this drivel.

  14. 14
    MikeJ says:

    @fuzz:

    The point of criminalizing marijuana is to stop people from using it, and that has failed in every possible way, so why keep going with the same exact policy?

    It’s much like the people that want abortion to be illegal, but don’t want to put women or doctors in jail for it. They want society to express some sort of official distaste for an action, but they only have very blunt instruments to work with.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    @Baud: I don’t know, rather depends on your position on the importence of truth, facts and evidence et cetera. Seeing them as banal side issues to the ‘real’ issues of worldview rather dennigates the importence of mere reality and observable effects to debate and decision making. This sort of cavalier attitude toward precision in logic and facts can be seen as what allows unswerving obedience to preconcieved worldviews so possible and dangerous.

  16. 16
    low-tech cyclist says:

    …government [that] subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

    Apparently Brooks is seriously into the Nanny State, as long as it’s his Nanny State.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Hungry Joe says:

    What’s wanted is “government that discourages lesser pleasures”? Really? Wanted by whom? And why?

    Brooks seems to believe that kids can be directed away from pot and toward nature and the arts. After they serve their time, I guess; does he believe that he himself would have been better off had he been heaved in the slammer for a few months or years? I mean, you’d want to slap him silly if he weren’t already there.

  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    @JoyfulA:
    Any paper that would pay Brooks and not pay someone to fact check his work isn’t worth, you know I can’t think of anything with that little value. A used bandaid maybe, a bucket of warm spit.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mustang Bobby: If you were getting stoned at a private college in the early 80s (Bobo is Chicago, ’83), you did not get busted. The schools are private property and did not invite the cops on. Generally, as long as your neighbors didn’t complain to the administration, the administration did not interfere in anything students did behind closed doors. All in all, a great place to experiment with various types of interesting and/or stupid behaviors.

  21. 21
    raven says:

    Whoa, talk about Luck!

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    @scav:

    : I don’t know, rather depends on your position on the importence of truth, facts and evidence et cetera.

    Not really, unless you think people can be addicted to things they’ve never tried. This strikes me as sloppy copy-editing at most.

  23. 23

    @Hungry Joe:

    What’s wanted is “government that discourages lesser pleasures”? Really? Wanted by whom? And why?

    Yeah, I don’t remember the Declaration of Independence saying “life, liberty, and the pursuit of greater pleasures.”

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    They’re making it a game!

  25. 25

    Here’s the thing:  there is a certain percentage of marijuana users who will become addicted to it (or, if people prefer, psychologically dependent on it). This has nothing to do with the intrinsic properties of marijuana, though — it’s because those people have a propensity to become dependent on substances or actions that give them a certain brain thrill, whether it’s pot or gambling or shopping.

    Some of the current research indicates that the tendency to addiction shares some features with OCD and may be a related mental illness, but I won’t even suggest that maybe it would be helpful to come up with some kind of screening test that would let people know if they might have that propensity and should be careful with substance use, because that got me shouted down last night.

    (FYWP won’t let me include a link for the OCD/addiction study above, but a Google of “alcoholism OCD link yalemedlaw” should get you there.)

  26. 26
    trollhattan says:

    Trying to remember: was the KC/Indy over/under 100?

  27. 27
    Woodrowfan says:

    the press doesn’t even fact-check actual news articles anymore. Why would they fact-check editorials?

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    Sweet Jesus, can we just stop talking about one toke over the line. Truth be known, David Brooks column was probably read by more folk than ever before.

  29. 29
    scav says:

    @Baud: Blaming the copyeditors for something a trained, educated, grownup should be able to do for himself is passing the buck. Coding isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, left to QC and the debuggers, although recent x.0 releases do give one pause. Does his Kindergarden teacher stand-in still make sure he gets his nap and nice glass of milk at the correct time?

    ETA yes, I self-edit my confusing negatives.

  30. 30

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    My brother got expelled from USC in part because he left a bong sitting on the coffee table of his university apartment when they came to do an inspection. But he wasn’t arrested or charged with anything, just tossed out on his ear.

  31. 31
    Citizen_X says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    does he believe that he himself would have been better off had he been heaved in the slammer for a few months or years?

    Probably not, but does anyone here doubt that society would be better off had he been heaved in the slammer for a few months or years? Answer me that, O Brooks doubters!

  32. 32

    @Citizen_X:

    does anyone here doubt that society would be better off had he been heaved in the slammer for a few months or years?

    I would bet the loose change in my couch that he would have ended up married to the guy with the most cigarettes.

  33. 33
    sm*t cl*de says:

    “that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers”
    It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it.

    For anyone who cares about the meanings of words, and is not just throwing them about to mislead, “dependence” and “addiction” are different things.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: A couple years ago you mentioned a road bike (bicycle) you either used or would suggest as a possible entre bike into doing more cycling. Can you tell me again what model/brand that might have been?

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Let me amend it to private liberal arts colleges then. I would be willing bet a lot of money that UofC was not doing room inspections when Bobo was there. And if they did, they wold have turned a blind eye to a bong.

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @scav:

    I wasn’t blaming the copy-editors. I was blaming the copy-editing. A joint failure in all likelihood.

  37. 37
    Corner Stone says:

    @raven: That was just nuts.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    @Corner Stone: Funny shaped ball.

  39. 39
    scav says:

    @Baud: ah, got it. but that’s just still more evidence of his essential carelessness. Genteel BS, but BS (indifference to truth) all the same.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: I have a Cannondale Quick. It is considered a hybrid bike. Mountain bike style frame but road wheels, etc. I am pretty happy with it. It is decent for long rides, but also fine for just riding around town on errands.

  41. 41
    Corner Stone says:

    @raven: Luck has been torching them with his legs tonight. Or at least making them respect him a little more as an option. But that was one of those 2 or 3 plays a year type crazy.

  42. 42
    Culture of Truth says:

    So according to Bobo let’s fund museums and ban alcohol.

  43. 43
    raven says:

    @Corner Stone: And it’s the first time all year he has run.

  44. 44
    Elizabelle says:

    The Bad and the Beautiful on Turner Classic Movies at 8:00 p Eastern.

    Leonard Maltin’s review:

    D[irector]: Vincente Minnelli. Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Dick Powell, Gloria Grahame, Barry Sullivan, Walter Pidgeon, Gilbert Roland. Captivating Hollywood story of ambitious producer (Douglas) told via relationships with actress Turner, writer Powell, director Sullivan. Solid, insightful, witty, with Lana’s best performance ever. Five Oscars include Supporting Actress (Grahame), Screenplay (Charles Schnee). David Raksin’s wonderful score is another asset. Minnelli and Douglas followed this a decade later with TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN. Also shown in computer-colored version.

    Five Oscars. Witty.

    Content certified David Brooks free.

    Settling in on this icy first Saturday night of 2014.

  45. 45
    raven says:

    @trollhattan: Odds: Colts by 1 | Over/Under: 46

  46. 46
    cmorenc says:

    @eemom:

    When you google “most insufferable individual who ever walked the earth”, hits one through infinity are Brooks.

    I suspect Newt Gingrich owns a few spots on that list ahead of David Brooks. Brooks is indeed insufferable, but he has some really stiff competition for the title of “most insufferable person ever”.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @trollhattan:

    NORMAN….COORDINATE!

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cmorenc: Donald Trump too.

  49. 49

    @Omnes Omnibus: He wrote “For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana.” I assumed that he meant when he was in high school.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mustang Bobby: Could be.

  51. 51
    raven says:

    Holy smokes!

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I don’t think there is any version of Hell hot enough to adequately torment Bobo for his many misdeeds.

  53. 53
    Baud says:

    Wow.

    Alex Smith has a chance to be the hero.

  54. 54
    raven says:

    @Baud: The entire enchilada!

  55. 55
    Corner Stone says:

    Sha to the Zam.

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    That two deep shell defense didn’t seem to be quite deep enough after all.

  57. 57
    raven says:

    Don’t score too soon!

  58. 58
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Hungry Joe: I just want to slap him repeatedly. That’s probably not very nice of me.

  59. 59
    trollhattan says:

    @raven:

    I’ll, uh, take the over but give the point? Whoever has the ball last….

  60. 60
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    It’s nice to watch a good game I don’t care about.

  61. 61
    raven says:

    @Baud: I nearly bailed.

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mustang Bobby:

    It also makes me wonder what Mr. Brooks was drinking when he wrote this drivel.

    Alcohol doesn’t affect you brain in that way. He was smoking SOMETHING. Not sure what…perhaps some Panama Red or some Maui Wowie, but he was smoking SOMETHING.

  63. 63
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    I did for a while.

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    This is just nuts.

  65. 65
    JPL says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: In the words of that former Senator from MA.. Bqhatevwr

  66. 66
    Steeplejack says:

    @Ejoiner:

    For what it’s worth, he regularly shows up on the “most viewed” and “most e-mailed” lists on the Times site. He’s got a big totebagger constituency.

    ETA: Although maybe people are e-mailing links to their friends with “Look what this idiot wrote today!” comments.

  67. 67
    Steeplejack says:

    @trollhattan:

    Don’t cross the streams!

  68. 68
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @trollhattan:

    If David Brooks is Always Wrong(TM) and Megan McArdle is Always Wrong(duh) would it be wrong for Megan McArdle to hit David Brooks with a two-by-four?

    I believe you mean a twenty-by-forty.

    //signed// McMegan’s Calculator

  69. 69
    Gex says:

    @Baud: 1/6 of those who use does seem like a weak criticism. But I would think that those who use now despite the “difficulty” of obtaining it and the illegality of it would be a cohort of teens more likely to develop a problem. Should use among teens go up because weed becomes legal for adults, that 1/6th ratio could drop.

    I’d be curious to see what the addiction ratio is for teens who smoke cigarettes.

  70. 70
    Keith G says:

    Why talk about Brooks? He consistently puts out content chock full of what seems to be blind guesses at what the world of humans is like and how its systems operate. Though often incorrect it is always self-aggrandizing.

    A more worthwhile conversation would be about what public health and education official in those states might need to be doing to monitor and then confront what will likely be the increased drug use in teenagers.

    There you find that regular (daily) teenage marijuana use (PDF) runs about 1% for 8th graders, and rises to about 7% for high school seniors.

    Nationwide, 7% is just a bit over 1 million hs students. For Colorado, that would be 17,500.

    The Denver Post uses different numbers than shown above:

    Last week federal drug abuse officials released results of a national survey that found marijuana legalization efforts are changing teenagers’ attitudes about cannabis.

    Marijuana use by high school students has jumped the past five years, and the perceived risk by teens of using cannabis is plummeting, according to the annual report of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    Federal officials cited changes from 2008 to 2013: Past-month use by 12th-graders rose nationally from 19.4 percent to 22.7 percent; among 10th-graders, it rose from 13.8 percent to 18 percent.

    Meanwhile, the perceived risk of using pot is near an all-time low. High school seniors who view marijuana as a risk fell to just under 40 percent.

    It is certainly good that Nixon’s War on Drugs is slowly (quicker would be better) being relegated to the ash heap of history. Still, we have to be cognizant that there will be opportunity costs specific to this as well as other negative consequences.

  71. 71
    efgoldman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I believe you mean a twenty-by-forty.

    No, a two-by-four hand cut from the rarest sandalwood with specially-honed flint knives, then hand-polished by ancient samurai using Belgian blue whetstone, then wrapped in the finest ricepaper before being applied with exactly 450 lbs. of force precisely to Bobo’s occipital ridge.

    Or something.

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @efgoldman:

    Cured with Himalayan pink salt?

  73. 73
    efgoldman says:

    @Keith G:

    Why talk about Brooks? He consistently puts out content chock full of what seems to be blind guesses

    Because he possesses one of the most important megaphones in the US media.
    Whether he’s right or (always) wrong doesn’t matter. The fact that his drivel appears on the op-ed page of the Paper That Matters makes him important.

  74. 74
    jl says:

    I want to know what is going to be done about the Porto menace?

    When I was a lad, sure we had a sip of wine now and then, but it was, oh, maybe 10 or 14 percent booze. Now they have these mystery foreign fortified wines with hard likker in them. Do our youth understand the menace? I think not. I learned from my experience and wish to save future generations. One sip… and they are on their way to life on demon rum and destruction.

  75. 75
    efgoldman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Cured with Himalayan pink salt?

    Yes, probably.

  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @efgoldman:

    “All the news (and advertisements) that fits.”

  77. 77
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @efgoldman:

    I await your bechamel recipe.

  78. 78
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Tom I love your postings generally, and I agree with every slam that Bobo has taken on this ridiculous column, but I have to admit I find this a weak criticism.

    Writing that weed “….is addictive in about one in six teenagers” can easily be seen with “…who use it” implied.

    I agree that we then get into a muddle about what using it means precisely.

    In general however it strikes me as about as clear as writing something like “the taste of whiskey is off-putting to one in six people”. They have to taste it to be put off, and teens have to use marijuana to become addicted to it. That seems pretty clear.

  79. 79
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Baud: @Gex: Here’s the deal: this isn’t just sloppy copy editing, in my view. It’s another example of “useful” sloppiness. This is how false “facts” make it into public discourse — and Brooks has a history of doing this.

    The reason I pick up on something so seemingly minor is that this kind of error is easy for journalistic watchdogs to understand. Noting that he misses the entire context of drug addiction, dependency and social cost that includes, say knowledge of tobacco, alcohol, prosecutorial discretion and who knows what is equally valid — but less pointed than saying that he even makes up the little shit, and you can’t trust him on anything.

  80. 80
    Keith G says:

    @efgoldman: Yeah, well. I am not sure what his cultural penetration is, despite his enlarged megaphone. Even among those who know who he is, I am not sure that many would regard him as more than a gadfly whose probity is not anymore consistent than Maureen Dowd’s.

    I know it’s fun to jump on a thread where we get to call people (the usual suspects) names. It seems to me it would be even more gratifying to discuss policy in detail, but I guess I am just a quaint relic in that regard.

  81. 81
    Karen in GA says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: See, they can still both be wrong.

  82. 82

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I would be willing bet a lot of money that UofC was not doing room inspections when Bobo was there.

    Of course they did (and still do) room inspections in response to complaints about the residents of the rooms. We used to do them fairly often at USC, especially when morons would pass out and leave their music blaring. But if you at least did us the courtesy of hiding the bong before answering the door, we would just tell you to turn the music down.

  83. 83
    Mike in NC says:

    Back in the day we used to roll joints filled with stuff like oregano and light them up just to see the reaction of hopeless dorks like Bobo.

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Schools differ. My school’s rules required either a warrant or imminent danger to life or property.* And the rules specifically noted that anything found during a life or property saving intrusion was not admissible against the student in university proceedings. I am guessing that Chicago’s rules (UofC was in our conference at the time) were closer to Lawrence’s than USC’s.

    The school also reserved the right to look into rooms when school wasn’t in session to make sure irons weren’t plugged in and that windows were shut, etc. Again, they basically wouldn’t look at anything else. To forestall objections, I am sure they would call the cops if they found a pile of body parts.

  85. 85
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @trollhattan: Using a 2×4 on either Bobo or McMegan is a waste of good building material as both are so dense it would probably fracture the lumber.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Howard Beale IV: 4×8?

    ETA: Steel I-beam?

  87. 87
    kindness says:

    I really think that Brooks, Marcus and Village Elders think minorities going to jail (& losing voting rights if it’s a felony) for something white kids don’t is a feature not a bug of keeping drugs illegal. They’ll never say that but I’ve come to believe they are quiet bigots.

  88. 88
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @kindness: It is part and parcel of what I was saying above about what one can do and get away with at certain types of colleges. A little coke use or even small scale dealing is youthful hijinks at a good school – as long as you are selling to friends and not “professionally.” If the “wrong” sort of person does the same thing, a long prison sentence is the only appropriate response.

  89. 89
    JustRuss says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Writing that weed “….is addictive in about one in six teenagers” can easily be seen with “…who use it” implied.

    Perhaps, but it can also easily be interpreted as “one in 6 teens is addicted to pot”. That kind of sloppy ambiguity is inexcusable by someone who makes his living as a writer, and Brooks deserves to be called out for it.

  90. 90
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JustRuss: I think Bobo uses sloppy ambiguity intentionally. Lots of people grab the wrong interpretation, but he can defend himself by saying he was misread. OTOH, it is pretty shitty for a professional writer to consistently write such misinterpretable prose.

  91. 91
    HgMn says:

    I don’t really know how the intertubes work but when you google David Brooks it does not return
    David Brooks is a DickHead —
    and googling “most insufferable individual who ever walked the earth” does not return
    David “DickHead” Brooks

    I would offer to edit his Wikedpedia page but I fear I would be traced –
    However if everybody includes “David Brooks is a DickHead” in their posts does that not make the
    phrase prominent in the Google lexicon?
    Other than that is there any way to tell NYT to make this man just stop.

  92. 92
    magurakurin says:

    show me the money, David….because Colorado and Washington are getting ready to.

    Money. That’s what it will come down, like everything else. No way California stands by and watches Colorado and Washington suck down that sweet, sweet Mary Jane cash bonus for very long. California follows very soon, and probably Hawaii and Alaska and maybe Vermont, too. New York won’t be far behind. Pot is going to be legal more or less everywhere a lot sooner than David Brooks or a lot of other people think. And the world will follow quickly behind as well. The prohibition against marijuana is about to fall quicker than the Soviet Union did.

    oh, 1 in 6 are addicted to pot? well 2 in 6 are addicted to jacking off and I don’t here David complaining about that. I wonder why that is, Mr. Fistfucker?

  93. 93
    wenchacha says:

    I’d like to see regular people come out and say why they (may) prefer weed to alcohol. Surely Marcus, Brooksie, et al, have been to the DC cocktail parties and noted obnoxious drunks. Didn’t one even try to feel up Brooks’ thigh?

    Anyway, still lots of people who are pretty sure that weed is as bad as cocaine or heroin. It’s the “conventional wisdom” of the day. If you don’t understand that there are plenty of professionals who get high, you are clueless.

    Brooks really does get the totebag contingent. For the most part, he is bland and inoffensive, especially if the sound is turned down. He doesn’t look like a wild-eyed RWNJ. He’s reasonable! Look at him being all paternal and shit.

    The funny thing in my life is that my kid and many of her 25 yr old friends are reducing their weed use, or quitting altogether. Some are new parents, or starting some new business or degree. There are plenty of quite gnarly-looking young adults who are also “straight edge.”

    Everybody needs to calm the fuck down. I know how.

  94. 94
    Tripod says:

    The point isn’t a reasoned debate on drug policy. GOP hacks are floating this shit in the hopes next November suburban women will be convinced “that one” wants to shoot Heroin into their kids eyeballs.

    Given the long history of reactionary, racist temperance in this country, they’re probably on the right track.

  95. 95
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Ejoiner: President Obama reportedly reads Brooks and thinks he’s a serious person.

  96. 96
    Summer says:

    “…government [that] subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.”

    By, say, hosting pageantries of government-sponsored “pure” art and putting together exhibits of “degenerate art” to mold the public’s tastes? And by creating environmental policies based on assertions like: “This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.”

    What could POSSIBLY be wrong with that government? Sounds dreamy.

    (Do I, by losing, win?)

  97. 97
    poptartacus says:

    who is david brooks and why is he harshing my buzz

  98. 98
    Fred says:

    To be fair to Mr. Brooks, when I read his, ‘that it is addictive to one in six teens’ it seemed obvious to this reader his meaning was that one in six users are prone to addiction.
    What is most troubling to me is the free and easy use of the word, “addiction” not just by Brooks but in general. Are we talking addiction in the nicotine/heroin context or the Oreo Cookie way? I’m unaware of any alteration of body chemistry caused by pot use. Certainly pot can become a habit just like Oreo Cookies or coffee can. I say I can’t start my day without two or three cups of coffee but if I miss my fix I don’t curl up with withdrawal cramps so I would not call my “dependence” on coffee an addiction. On the other hand, I used to be addicted to cigarettes and I can tell you that was a true addiction that took me years of countless failed attempts to kick.

  99. 99
    geg6 says:

    Hmmm. David Brooks is not a journalist but is an opinion writer, as I’m sure he’d be happy to point out when confronted by his sloppy writing. He would, I’m sure, tell you that he is entitled to any opinion he wants. And if he wants to base those opinions on twisted facts, well, that’s the way that goes. After all, David Brooks is wealthy middle-aged white guy and no one gets more passes in life than wealthy middle-aged white guys.

    Anyway, this whole conversation is bullshit. I’ve used pot for over forty years. Almost every single day. In that time, I’ve gotten a BA in political science, graduating magna cum laude. I also got an MEd, with a GPA of 4.0. I’ve worked as a teacher, an education specialist, a case worker in mental health, and a higher ed administrator. I’ve gotten awards for my work and even got a volunteer of the year award from the PA Dept. of Corrections for my work with helping inmates at a state boot camp for non-violent offenders (read: convicted for drug offenses) who are about to be released and who wish to complete their GEDs and go on to higher ed. I am a dues-paying member of the Carnegie Museums here in Pittsburgh. I go to the ballet and symphony several times a year. I toke up every time I do. David Brooks is younger than I am and obviously hasn’t smoked pot in decades. Somehow, I think more people would prefer to hang out with me than David Brooks.

    And I’ll also give Sully some props here. He ran a series of reader posts a few years ago about regular people like me and how we have been “in the closet” all during the war on drugs. It was one of the best things he’s ever done on his blog. There are millions of us out there.

  100. 100
    Ken T says:

    “was how swiftly this “moderate” least-government possible type went for the jackboots.”

    I have never in my life met a “small-government” conservative who was not absolutely, unequivocally, unreservedly in favor of big authoritarian government. Their only limitations are: 1. Government has no right to control ME, and 2. Don’t you dare ask ME to pay for it.

  101. 101
    The Pale Scot says:

    @Citizen_X: I’ve always felt that flogging is the proper penance for white collars crimes or for just being a sniveling, brown nosing twit.

  102. 102
    burnspbesq says:

    the central obligation of any journalist: to get it right for their readers

    Tom Levenson, vox clamatis in deserto.

    The central obligation of the journalist is the same as it has been since entrepreneurs started imagining new uses for Guttenberg’s newfangled contraption: to sell newspapers. Circulation attracts advertisers, and advertising revenue keeps the enterprise afloat.

    Accurate journalism isn’t a sacred obligation. It’s a business model, and as such it will only be perpetuated if it delivers results.

    You can continue to believe otherwise if you wish. After all, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

  103. 103
    Anton Sirius says:

    @Tripod:

    GOP hacks are floating this shit in the hopes next November suburban women will be convinced “that one” wants to shoot Heroin into their kids eyeballs.

    Given the long history of reactionary, racist temperance in this country, they’re probably on the right track.

    Please proceed, GOP. If they want to drive a big wedge between the culture warriors and the libertarians while simultaneously boosting youth turnout in the midterms in the Dems’ favor, I won’t be complaining.

  104. 104
    sm*t cl*de says:

    @Ken T: But in this case, Brooks does want the State to control him, or rather to subtly* nudge him (and people like him) away from the temptations of dope smoking — and in the direction of ‘higher pleasures’ — as a substitute for his own volition.

    * For values of ‘subtlety’ which include ‘making an example of less-fortunate people, with arrests and imprisonment’.

  105. 105
    mclaren says:

    @Ejoiner:

    Serious question – who the hell actually seriously reads Brooks and thinks he’s an informed/intelligent/perceptive pundit?

    Barack Obama.

    “The presidential hack list: ranking Obama’s favorite columnists.”

  106. 106
    mclaren says:

    @burnspbesq:

    The central obligation of the journalist is the same as it has been since entrepreneurs started imagining new uses for Guttenberg’s newfangled contraption: to sell newspapers.

    Spoken like a true sociopath.

    Next, you’ll tell us that the central obligation of lawyers is to make $500 an hour. You know all those lawyer jokes, burnsie?

    They’re about you.

    Q: Why should burnspbesq be buried in a 50-foot-deep hole under 20 tons of concrete?

    A: Because deep down, he’s a really good guy.

  107. 107
    dopey-o says:

    @mclaren: late again, and wrong, as usual.

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