Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gotta Have My Weedies

A friend/colleague of mine sent two article links this morning to a group of us. The first deals with an area of interest to my friend - increased organized crime violence in Mexico. The second, from the WSJ, which might seem completely unrelated, is summarized as follows:
The nation is in a fury over the missteps of public figures like Alex Rodriguez and Tom Daschle (and Michael Phelps). Joe Queenan on why focusing on human foibles is more therapeutic than getting mad at Wall Street -- and why everyone should lighten up.
As someone who frequently seems to see patterns where none exist (could it be schizophrenia…or the DaColbert Code ?), I see a connection between the articles: Michael Phelps. Here’s where I’m seeing a connection. I quite agree with, for the most part, the author of the WSJ article. But I can’t get beyond his culturally-standard moral judgments, understood by Kohlberg for decades, based on the sadly simplistic “If it is illegal, it is wrong!” thinking. The author writes of Michael Phelps:
(He) violated an old-fashioned code of morality that we can all understand…(and) what (he) did is certainly wrong…
No doubt, what Phelps did was illegal. But on what grounds is it a “violation of a code or morality” and/or “certainly wrong”? Sure, I suppose what he did was immoral with the childlike decision that doing what is illegal is immoral and certainly wrong. Wouldn’t that mean, though, that what Rosa Parks did “violated a code of morality” and was thus “certainly wrong”? Anyone really want to defend that argument? So how does this relate to the article on violence in Mexico? Well, just last week, the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy released a report that begins:
Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade are critical problems in Latin America today. Confronted with a situation that is growing worse by the day, it is imperative to rectify the “war on drugs” strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years.
Wow, an increase in organized crime and violence associated with drug prohibition. As an American, I find that really hard to believe! It would never happen here Seriously, when eight college students get arrested because an Olympic athlete gets photographed smoking a bong, is it hard to imagine that pot smoking might become an underground activity with an organized crime system designed to help people get away with it? Disclaimer: I’ve said many times that I’ve no interest in pot because I found my drug of choice at a very young age, and that drug is, thankfully, legal.

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