The subtle touch of authority

John and many others have done an excellent job of skewering Bobo’s anti-pot piece. I’d like to focus on the part that bothers me:

I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

Throwing people in jail is just a way of subtly tipping the scales? (And, yes, there are plenty of states where you can be incarcerated for possession of any amount of marijuana.) Perhaps, yes, in a world where bombing countries is a way of subtly tipping the scales.

That’s what’s most terrifying about the modern pundit, the fact that their prudent, civil discourse contains so many euphemisms for mass imprisonment and murder.

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73 replies
  1. 1
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Bobo should try the arts or nature stoned. They’re even better that way.

  2. 2
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    That’s what’s most terrifying about the modern pundit, the fact that their prudent, civil discourse contains so many euphemisms for mass imprisonment and murder

    Closely seconded by the sheer lack of accountability for being flat wrong and, rather, the high tendency of failing upward.

  3. 3
    mclaren says:

    That’s what’s most terrifying about the modern pundit, the fact that their prudent, civil discourse contains so many euphemisms for mass imprisonment and murder.

    Hannah Arendt called this “the banality of evil.” We encounter it on this forum in the posts of burnspbesq, eemom, Mnemosyne, Yutsano, and a handful of others. Calm reasonable civil rationalizations for burning brown babies and beating nonviolent American protesters and assassinating teenage brides in third world countries with hellfire missiles.

  4. 4
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Now that he’s finally trying to make some sense
    He drinks in self-defense
    Give me temptation

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature

    Any Bobo aficionados know what “being in nature” means? Is it something like “being with child”?

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: Think Thoreau at Walden but with fleece vests.

  7. 7
    gwangung says:

    @mclaren: Mighty white of you, as someone who has some problems being a bigot yourself.

    Too being “more progressive than thou” to bother thinking about some of the embedded racism in your own thinking.

  8. 8
    Hunter Gathers says:

    That’s what’s most terrifying about the modern pundit, the fact that their prudent, civil discourse contains so many euphemisms for mass imprisonment and murder.

    Bobo knows his children will never go to jail for pot, and that bombs will never be dropped on his house, so why exactly should he give a fuck? Since when do rich white people who strike it rich failing upwards give a rat’s ass about anything other than themselves? It doesn’t matter how fucking hypocritical or downright stupid his output is, The Establishment would still hail him as a Great Man. He could call for the genocide of the entire southern hemisphere and there would still be a gaggle of stenographers and Big Thinkers who’ll line up outside the entrance to the Aspen Ideas Festival, dying for a chance to blow him.

    Because Burke.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You are a font of knowledge. Thanks, Omnes.

    ETA: If Bobo has ever “been in nature,” I’ll eat my hat.

  10. 10
    David in NY says:

    That’s what’s most terrifying about the modern pundit, the fact that their prudent, civil discourse contains so many euphemisms for mass imprisonment and murder.

    Orwell, Politics and the English Language:

    Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

  11. 11
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Baud:

    Any Bobo aficionados know what “being in nature” means? Is it something like “being with child”?

    It’s a small sparsely-wooded area with benches where one can sit and reflect on the subtle ways society can imprison and kill people before walking the couple blocks back home.

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    @mclaren: None of that is true, of course.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    Doesn’t Colorado tax pot? Don’t conservatives like Bobo believe that taxing inherently discourages the activity being taxed? Isn’t that sufficient subtle tipping of the scales?

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @aimai: Of course.

  15. 15
    Josie says:

    Only someone who has never been and will never be in danger of being sent to prison could call such a law a subtle way of discouraging pot use. Many years ago my husband defended a young college student accused of sale (he gave the undercover agent a small baggie of pot) and sent to prison for five years. He was repeatedly raped and mistreated in prison, his father died of a heart attack while he was there and he committed suicide shortly after being released. So much for subtly tipping the scales. This type of tragedy is still being repeated many times over today, and anyone who thinks it is a good idea simply has no clue.

  16. 16
    efgoldman says:

    @gwangung: Too being “more progressive than thou” to bother thinking about some of the embedded racism in your own thinking.
    Corrected.

    ETA: Not “progressive” at all in any sense I understand. Just likes pissing on people.

  17. 17
    aimai says:

    Its true that a DEMOCRATIC form of government, which needs a healthy, strong, intelligent, well informed, and well disposed electorate might want to “subtly encourage” a lot of stuff. I’d put it higher–unlike Aristocracies, which simply want to encourage a submissive, docile, even stupified population and Fascist states which want to encourage an angry, ready, easily manipulated, jingoistic population the governnet of a Democracy should be paying a shitload of money to encourage its children to be educated, healthy, well informed, loving, generous, balanced, civic minded, etc..etc…etc… We could do that through national health care, extensive and excellent free public education, a good safety net, unemployment insurance, high wages for labor, extensive accessible public parks and national programs of the arts–oh, thats right, all the things a liberal Democratic government wants to give people and the Republican party doesn’t want to give people.

    If you really thought, like Bobo does, that some forms of high culture are more valuable than low culture for the formation of a citizen–just as Michelle Obama and the nutritionists think that fresh vegetables and fruits are better for people than doritos and ketchup–then you would want not to penalize people for choosing what is cheap and available to them (duck dynasty or ketchup as a vegetable) but subsidize the production and dissemination of high culture/fruits and veg.

  18. 18
    raven says:

    @Josie: Buddy of mine (marine) got 7 years for selling 2 grams of hash. He was pretty small and the first guy that fucked with him had his ear bitten off. Nobody else messed with him and he got out in one.

  19. 19
    Elizabelle says:

    Is this doughouse j riley?

  20. 20
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Baud:

    The Big Tobacco settlement made participating state’s addicted to those revenues.

    I suspect a tsunami of add-ons in Co., and other states enviously considering that cash cow.

  21. 21
    DoghouseJ Riley says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Bingo!

  22. 22
    efgoldman says:

    DougJ, you almost gave me stroke by your choice of nym for this post. I’m sure you mean it as a tribute, but dayumm!

  23. 23
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @raven:

    He was pretty small and the first guy that fucked with him had his ear bitten off.

    That right there is why foreplay with yer prison sex is a BAD idea.

  24. 24
    Anton Sirius says:

    @mclaren:

    Trolly troll troll troll trolly troll

    You don’t say?

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @DoghouseJ Riley: My fave song on one of my fave Costello albums.

  26. 26
    PhilbertDesanex says:

    @Baud: And given the GOP attitude towards the arts and nature, this makes less sense than zero

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You got me to look it up. Here’s link to lyrics.

    Elvis Costello is in the house.

  28. 28
    Elizabelle says:

    @aimai:

    We could do that through national health care, extensive and excellent free public education, a good safety net, unemployment insurance, high wages for labor, extensive accessible public parks and national programs of the arts–oh, thats right, all the things a liberal Democratic government wants to give people and the Republican party doesn’t want to give people.

    Now if only we had some profession that could get the word out. Protect them constitutionally, even, to do so, since it aids a free people.

    Except “everyone knows it’s the liberals that are divisive.” (And benefit by being divisive? Actually, no. And there’s your tipoff.)

  29. 29

    So far this new year has brought us Bobo writing about his pot smoking days, a teahadist on a hunger strike because “the gays” now get to marry the person they love, and a piece on why “Obamacare Hates Babies”. The only thing missing is some cabbie wisdom from the Moustache of Understanding and I see the basic outline for a Mel Brooks film. Any suggestions for a title?

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Elizabelle: I’ll one up you with video of a live performance.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: “Just Fucking Die Already.” Not mainstream enough?

  32. 32
    Anton Sirius says:

    @PhilbertDesanex: I think you meant to say “the amount of sense this makes is less than zero”.

  33. 33
    efgoldman says:

    @PhilbertDesanex:

    And given the GOP attitude towards the arts and nature, this makes less sense than zero

    They have nothing against the arts – for them what can afford to pay for them. Nature, also too, if you can afford your own.

  34. 34
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur:

    “My Usual Flair”

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: Well, if it had value, people would pay to see it.

    /glibertarian

  37. 37
    efgoldman says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur:

    The only thing missing is some cabbie wisdom from the Moustache of Understanding and I see the basic outline for a Mel Brooks

    Naah, there are some things too ridiculous even for Mel Brooks (but not for David, apparently.)

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: You missed your aim there, my dear sir.

  39. 39
    Gex says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Kinda divisive. Not that I mind.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gex: Might not do well in the cinemaplexes, but the dvd sales will make up for it.

  41. 41
    Nicole says:

    @aimai:

    If you really thought, like Bobo does, that some forms of high culture are more valuable than low culture for the formation of a citizen–just as Michelle Obama and the nutritionists think that fresh vegetables and fruits are better for people than doritos and ketchup–then you would want not to penalize people for choosing what is cheap and available to them (duck dynasty or ketchup as a vegetable) but subsidize the production and dissemination of high culture/fruits and veg.

    Thank you for pointing out that Bobo’s idea of “culture” is “art forms only easily accessible to people like me.”

    Whether something is high culture or low culture really is determined by not much more than how much money it costs to partake of it.

  42. 42
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You missed your aim there, my dear sir.

    Fixed.
    My Aim is True!

  43. 43
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: Breakfast at Applebees.

  44. 44
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

    This, from the “reasonable” standard bearer of the party dedicated to wiping out the NEA as well as gutting any and everything to do with national conservancy.

    Fuck you, Bobo. Just fuck you.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Belafon says:

    self-governing citizenship

    And what if the citizens decide that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal? As has been said by others, this is about a few white men thinking they still need to be in control.

  47. 47
    bemused says:

    It must be so boring to be Bobo.

  48. 48
    efgoldman says:

    @Nicole:

    Whether something is high culture or low culture really is determined by not much more than how much money it costs to partake of it.

    One of the very few times I actually called a (very civil and erudite) conservative talk show, in the mid 70s, was when the host spoke against the city of Boston paying for tickets for high-schoolers to see the first road company of the fantastic Houston revival of Porgy & Bess. How the hell else, I argued, are they ever going to be exposed to it?

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Belafon:

    And what if the citizens decide that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal?

    That is when the Leaders(tm) step in to ensure that the populace has the freedom to do what is “right” and only what is “right.”

  50. 50
    efgoldman says:

    @bemused:

    It must be so boring to be Bobo.

    It’s never boring to be a Republican. Their whole ethos is a mixture of creating fear and being afraid. Being scared is never boring.

  51. 51
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT (but by all means, continue your Bobo bashing, preferably with tire irons and baseball bats) but I’m seeing an ad that says “Cancel Obama’s blank check: audit the Fed”. Sometimes it’s got a picture of the near sheriff, sometimes it’s got a picture of neofeudal douchecanoe Rand Paul, which tells you where it’s coming from. These guys wouldn’t understand an audit of the Fed in a million years, even if one was conducted, they’re too busy being ignorant fucks.

  52. 52
    dedc79 says:

    He could’ve taken the same intro and written a “There but for the grace of god go I” type piece, recognizing his good fortune at being born into a race/ethnicity/class where he and his friends were free to “experiment” without landing in jail, and therefore advocating for legalization. He COULD HAVE, but it would have necessitated some curiosity on his part about the life experiences of those Americans who have, through no fault of their own, been less fortunate than David Brooks.

  53. 53
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Sometimes it’s got a picture of the near sheriff, sometimes it’s got a picture of neofeudal douchecanoe Rand Paul,

    LOL. When I first read this, I asked myself “Why the hell would they be using Cleavon Little’s picture for an ad like that?”

    Jesus, I’m old.

  54. 54
    Lex says:

    With his long history of supporting policies such as the Iraq war and opposition to the ACA that have resulted in, you know, LARGE NUMBERS OF DEAD PEOPLE, David Effing Brooks has some chutzpah to be lecturing anyone on morality.

  55. 55
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Lex:

    I can picture Bobo, at the sentencing for the murder of his parents, asking the judge for leniency because he’s an orphan.

  56. 56
    efgoldman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    ….sometimes it’s got a picture of neofeudal douchecanoe Rand Paul

    These guys wouldn’t understand an audit of the Fed in a million years, even if one was conducted

    I bet they visualize a huge room (like an aircraft hanger) with thousands of perfectly straight rows of men (always!) on high stools, at high desks, with identical white shirts, green eyeshades, and black sleeve garters, writing in huge green cloth-bound ledgers with wood pens/nibs and inkwells.
    We’ll show that Fed, by cracky!

  57. 57
    efgoldman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    ….asking the judge for leniency because he’s an orphan.

    In multi-phrase sentences with too many adverbs.

  58. 58
    bemused says:

    @efgoldman:

    Which could explain how someone who writes condescending, smug drivel can look so unsure of himself and out of place.

  59. 59
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    @efgoldman: Knut- and sickle-based currency or bust!

  60. 60
    efgoldman says:

    @bemused:

    Which could explain how someone who writes condescending, smug drivel can look so unsure of himself and out of place.

    I always thought that was from a school lifetime of having towels snapped on him in the gym shower and being randomly punched, pushed, and having his lunch money taken in the halls.

  61. 61
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @efgoldman:

    having his lunch money taken in the halls.

    In front of the vice-principal, who did NOTHING to stop it.

  62. 62
    different-church-lady says:

    “Shut the fuck up, Donnie Bobo.”

  63. 63
    StringOnAStick says:

    That “audit the Fed” crap isn’t just libertoonian kant, the Black Bloc types are into it too. But yes, in this case it is an ad for the guy with a electrocuted squirrel on his head. Click it and take some of his campaign cash for BJ!

  64. 64
    chopper says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    we’re all paid shills working for the DoD. every one of us.

  65. 65
    Heliopause says:

    mass imprisonment

    Oh, but according to this pundit, you’re wrong.

  66. 66
    Suzanne says:

    Meanwhile, I will point out, it’s overwhelmingly Rethugs who, when I state that I enjoy going to museums, look at me as if I had just sprouted a forked tail and horns. These being the same people who don’t want to fund the arts and get their panties in a wad when Andres Serrano or Chris Ofili does something they don’t like. And think that preferring to look at a bunch of paintings or a ballet over watching a bunch of dudes in helmets crash into each other is “elitist” and “unamerican”.

    Yeah. Bobo has some solid ground to stand on here. Fuckwad.

  67. 67
    aimai says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: Actually I’m holding out for a right wing version of Bread and Puppet. We’ll know we’ve won when they are reduced to mime and enormous puppets in miserable parades.

  68. 68
    efgoldman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    In front of the vice-principal, who did NOTHING to stop it.

    The vice principal probably hated him, too.
    Nobody likes a whiner.

  69. 69
    Fred says:

    It’s always amazing when guys who indulged in whatever entertaining excess in their younger years decide they don’t like that any more so now they know how destructive it all is and everybody else should learn from their mistakes. All the world must abstain because their tight asses are tired of that kind of fun.
    Question is: ‘If pot (or whatever evil we are talking about) was so bad for you, how come you turned out smart enough to know what’s good/bad for everybody else?’
    Obviously the weed has so impaired Mr. Brook’s brain to such an extent that he can’t see how stupid he really is. Or wait, no, he’s really smart because of the pot he smoked so it should be banned because…uhh…umm…err… Well to keep the riff raff from getting an edge on him, maybe? Well just don’t do it ’cause it’s BAAAAAD! OK?

  70. 70
    sm*t cl*de says:

    ETA: If Bobo has ever “been in nature,” I’ll eat my hat.

    One target of Brooks’ contempt in Bobos in Paradise is “people who wear hiking boots”, because what kind of nutcase wants to leave the city for a natural environment?

    It’s always amazing when guys who indulged in whatever entertaining excess in their younger years decide they don’t like that any more so now they know how destructive it all is and everybody else should learn from their mistakes. All the world must abstain because their tight asses are tired of that kind of fun.

    And the proper role of the State is to subtly discourage him — and people from him — away from temptations, as a substitute for his lack of willpower. Because authoritarian douches.

  71. 71
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Fred:

    David, have you ever looked at your prose? I mean, really LOOKED at it??

  72. 72
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    “…In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature…

    Oh, so now Bobo and his party are IN FAVOR of expanding funding for the arts, humanities and museums, as well as the National Park system to make them free for all, regardless of income?

    And who says that smoking pot once a week–not unlike enjoying a few beers or a couple glasses of wine– doesn’t fall under the category of “temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship”? Has he been looping “Reefer Madness” over the holidays, or what?

    EDIT: OOPS, my bad. After I scrolled down a few stories I see I’m not the first one to wonder what the hell Bobo is watching.

  73. 73
    J R in WV says:

    Most of the people that I know that use cannabis are professionals or artistic talents, often better than famous professionals, but too shy to do it on a big stage. Doctors, engineers, physicists, nurses, musicians, artists, these are a lot of the people who smoke/eat/drink cannibis.

    Is David really Jewish? He doesn’t sound it. Most of my friends who are Jews are fond of arts, music, good food, and don’t mind those of us who use cannabis at all.

    So I think legalizing it is way overdue. It’s a crime that Willy Nelson gets arrested for using pot, he’s a musical genius. Didn’t David Crosby serve time for pot? Another crime, arresting artists like that!

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