Tuesday, June 9, 2015


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Tolerance is one of those words curiously flexible of definition when used by the politically correct: we are supposed to allow others have their say.

But it is somehow forbidden to suggest that those others are wrong. Nuts. Completely badgers. A few fries short of a Happy Meal. Even when it is clear that they are.

So, I suggest that we not use this ridiculous euphemism for what the speaker wants - and then I get asked:
"Okay, offer a solution. What word do you propose we use instead of "tolerance"?"

I thought this was more obvious; pardon me. Answer: rather than a term with arbitrary definition prone to abuse, we should first look to how we conduct public affairs, and then insist that government is a business with the unique duty of treating everyone equally before the law and to guarantee the same set of rights to every individual.

Note then that individuals have the freedom to associate - they can do what they wish so long as no law is violated.

These two things are seperate.

We should show that government has no business acknowledging religion, because the principle of equal treatment before the law, combined with the difficulty of defining a religion, would bring government to a stop if it were to commemorate every religious holiday and practice.

Some say that "tolerance" isn't a code-word for anything, that it just means, "live and let live".
Not really.

I get this from debate on online forums, where some ardent Christians show they are fearful of losing influence in American government. It's not enough for them to practice their religion freely. They must have endorsement, and official approval of their preaching everywhere they go. It would be useful to take another tack than tell them "tolerance, tolerance" for not only the above-stated reason, but to disallow the next logical leap: that only those in a superior position are empowered to "tolerate" anything - such as the practice of those faiths lesser than Christianity, i.e., all of those other weird ideas.
The above-cited organizations, regardless of what you might think about their efficacy, are special interests with the aim of increasing their influence. They have no real "divine" mandate to do anything, and the exercise of such power as they might accumulate in government will be (is) exclusive, not inclusive.

Since when should bowing and scraping to a particular invisible entity determine whether you have a voice in government - and the attendant command of government force?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Legalizing Marijuana

Want to get what you want? Show the benefits!

Here's the subject.

As you have seen, there is a tremendous argument going on about what should be done about the status of marijuana in the USA. I get that you might have strong opinions about this, but please take this advice:  
Show the benefits and risks in a manner that doesn't compare the issue to any other things we do as a country, unless you cite why you make the comparison.  
Show the return on investment for the legalization of marijuana ONLY.

Often, the venue of discussion - a Facebook page, Twitter feed or newspaper comment section - doesn't allow any room to explain this, so here goes:

Every argument for the legalization of marijuana is being used by its proponents. At least two things - the comparison of marijuana to alcohol and to tobacco - are fallacious at best.

1) Alcohol is legal in the majority of American locations. It got that way after activism resulting in a Constitutional amendment prohibiting alcohol anywhere in the USA was finally overturned. The justification at the time was that crime attending the illicit distribution and consumption of alcohol cost too much, and that the public demanded alcohol despite legal prohibition. (This argument does now apply to the marijuana trade.)
What alcohol does NOT share with any demonstrated or theoretical use of marijuana is its addictive qualities - profound for some people - and their tie to the physical debilitation drinkers suffer. This is why the alcohol argument should not be used.

2) Tobacco is legal in the majority of American locations. Yes, its use is prohibited in many places due to official decree or the declaration of a business owner, but its possession is legal. Public pressure has made it "uncool" to smoke tobacco due to gross behavior on the part of smokers and its horrible, easily demonstrated effects on health. You may recall that there was a "big tobacco" lawsuit? This was the end result of manufacturers adulterating tobacco to meet special goals and consumer demand, and therefore making themselves liable for the health effects. This industrial adulteration of the product and the resulting suit is why RJ Reynolds now admits, "There is no such thing as a 'safe' cigarette." The adulteration of the product, tobacco, is why the tobacco argument should not be used.

Somehow, states which subsidized, regulated and taxed tobacco were allowed to stand aside from prosecution, even as their own health departments had shown officials for decades that the practice was helping kill their own people.

Marijuana is NOT immediately "worse" than alcohol or tobacco; it's not even in the same league - so the immense existing costs to public health that alcohol and tobacco impose on the American public is a negative that should never be attached to marijuana.

A negative that should not be ignored is that the marijuana trade today enables violent and nonviolent crime. This is actually the major driver society should engage.

Police misconduct, often described as part of, "The War On Drugs™", is enabled by the money that attends the commission of crimes. The 2nd Amendment people can tell you about police vs. gun possession since before the USA was formed. Different problem, to be disposed of by changing laws.

If marijuana were commercially available, the following scenario could be established:
You could go into a convenience store and buy a five-pack of smokes for some price - say, $20. The source, because it is a commercial product, would have quality standards, and varieties would be available (the public will have to be wary of corporate adulteration of the product, as happened with tobacco). To protect employers, the purchase could be flagged for future use should the customer decide to put others at risk. This is exactly what California does with medical marijuana: the permit card includes a prohibition against performing some jobs while under the influence.

You would simply go back to the house and mellow out. No deals with shady characters (Carrying guns! Panic!), no drama. Peace.

Medical THC can be administered in an assortment of other ways. I bet you have seen some of these, and have more ideas. Research is not recreation, though. Some care in presenting each use, seperately, can defuse an argument by being specific about benefits. The general public is NOT going to be doing research, so combining arguments will look like a shady tactic to your audience. Be honest: admit that a lot of people just want to have fun.

Here is a short list of pros and cons for marijuana; note that they each have different values:
Pro: only physically addictive for about 9% of heavy users
Con: does alter user spatial perception which should prohibit vehicle use
Pro: does not produce unconsciousness, regardless of THC intoxication
Con: cannot at present show an impairment standard for critical-job employees or drivers
Pro: does relieve medical symptoms currently fought with expensive, sometimes customized prescription drugs
Con: subject to alteration by a supplier
Pro: can be produced commercially with almost no effort
Con: long-term health effects have yet to be determined
Pro: removing criminal penalties could allow those once convicted of possession to get jobs.

A conviction for selling or using pot keeps the convicted from getting a decent job comparable to selling more pot.

Pro: removing stigma would diminish the tendency for users to lie habitually. This hidden factor in drug use is an invisible cancer, in that once dishonesty is accepted, it is easily extended to every other situation in life. Lying is actually the factor that makes pot a "gateway" to more-serious drugs.

Pro: removing stigma would allow research. The potential? THC is one of 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 84 other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and cannabigerol (CBG).

This last "pro" is real. It's not just a buncha college kids on their couch wanting to get high. I don't smoke anything of any kind and I never have, and I am hideously uncomfortable with the idea that a law should be broken before it is changed -- because that is how governmental powers get swollen beyond any recognition of the Constitution!

Yes, if you buy and/or use pot today, you are funding criminal activity which gets people injured and killed. Sorry to "harsh your buzz", but the real solution here was to change the law so that you wouldn't be breaking it to start with. Unfortunately for us all, sitting on the couch getting high was more important to  pot smokers than real activism.

You might find more pro or con points upon reflection. You will notice that regardless of your personal position about the public's use of intoxicants, you may attempt to justify your point by employing a fallacy, inadvertently or not. Don't do that. A short list of those are here.

This issue is easily studied with an actual, evidentiary method. Give it a try.

Nobody's gonna drug you against your will.