Posts tagged Mary Grabar

Conservatism Vs. The Past

Over at PajamasMedia, Mary Grabar tells us that Libertarians Need to Rethink Support for Drug Legalization, thus:

Libertarians are fond of pointing to the wreckage caused by the abuse of alcohol: deterioration of health, traffic deaths, and domestic violence. This is true, but it is an analogy that emerges from an abstraction. Libertarians argue that the only difference between the two is traditional: we have stamped alcohol consumption with a seal of social approval.

But I would argue that tradition should be a reason for its continued legal status and for denying legal status to marijuana.

… But I would argue that it should, not only from my position as a Christian, but from my position as a citizen of a country whose foundational values spring from the Judeo-Christian heritage. The sanction for alcohol use has lasted for millennia. It has become part of our rituals at meals, celebrations, and religious services. That is a large part of why Prohibition failed.

Marijuana, in contrast, has always been counter-cultural in the West. Every toke symbolizes a thumb in the eye of Western values. So it follows that in order to maintain our culture, we need to criminalize this drug.

The prohibition against marijuana is one brick in the foundation of our society.

— Mary Grabar, PajamasMedia (2009-12-22): Libertarians Need to Rethink Support for Drug Legalization

This is an idiotic argument logically. Factually, it’s an exercise in politico-historical fantasy. The prohibition against marijuana in the United States dates back to A.D. 1937; my grandparents were older than marijuana prohibition. There is no such thing as a tradition of criminalizing pot; cannabis was well known throughout the Fertile Crescent, Central Asia, and the Far East for millennia, and it was completely legal everywhere in the world throughout all of human history, right up until a couple of decades into the 20th century.

Of course, the main thing to say here is really that maintaining our [sic] culture is not a good enough reason for criminalizing nonviolent people. If your culture can only be maintained at the point of a gun, then your culture sucks, and the sooner you stop maintaining it on the backs of harmless pot-smokers, the better.

But if you’re a frequent reader here, that much should, really, go without saying. Apply the usual libertarian defense of the liberty to decide how you use your own damned body, and the usual anarchist indictment of legally sanctioning police violence against harmless people.

The reason that I mention the story here[*] is that it’s another fine illustration of the mindset of a certain sort of conservative — for whom tradition means invincible ignorance about what actually happened in the past, for whom conservatism means a felt need to pretend that the peculiar legal conditions and parenting panics of your own childhood years are really civilizational norms stretching back into time out of mind, and for whom politics is the belligerent expression of an urge to use absolutely any means at your disposal, no matter how intrusive, police-statist or violent, to politically march us all back into a past which, fortunately for the people of Antiquity, never existed in the first place.

* Well, the main reason for most of it. The pull-quote about every toke being a thumb in the eye of Western civilization is something I just threw in for laughs.