david brooks conservatives marijuana (“been there done that”)

DAVID BROOKS’ latest editorial (January 2, 2014) features the rather inane title of “Weed: Been There. Done That.” At least that’s how it appears on The New York Times website, the original publisher of Mr. Brooks’ columns. In our local Seattle Times it was altered to “Marijuana: been there, done that.” 

Instead of making jobs available, raising the minimum wage, or providing better schools, Brooks thinks the role of government should be to enforce conservative moral values.

Why? There is nothing objectionable or unprintable about the original title, nor is it grammatically incorrect as an editorial page title! Ho hum . . .

David Brooks‘ journalistic background includes stints with several well-known publications, including The Washington Times (founded and guided by the “reverend” Sun Myung Moon), The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard.

Ummmm, each of these newspapers (sic) is marked by a decidedly conservative editorial position/slant (pro-business, anti-union, pro-imperialism, anti-populism, etc).

Mr. Brook’s columns generally reflect a similar attitude towards politics and life. As does this one on weed. And I am being austere here in my editing of his piece: I encourage all my readers to click on over to the NYT site and become Mr. Brooks’ readers, if only for a day.


In ‘the sixties,’ getting totally high high high was often called “having your mind blown.” To have one’s mind blown, one must have a mind, something that may or may not be so for most teenagers.

I smoked marijuana

Brooks opens his piece on pot with nostalgia that after reading the article in its entirety, comes across as a sorta some of best friends are black (or gay or Jewish) but that we hear from self-consciously bigoted people:

“For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendship. Then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it.”

He then goes on to criticize weed and castigate smokers, proffering the oldest of lies concerning this physically innocuous substance: “that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers.” Read literally, that could mean that it is NOT addictive to non-teenagers, but of course that is NOT what Brooks meant.

And I make these statements keeping in mind that we live in a culture where the meaning of addictive has been so pabulumized (look it up) that anything done compulsively—hell, repetitively—is categorized as addictive (think the absurdity of sex addiction).

Another lie he reiterates is that “young people who smoke go on to suffer IQ loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.” Well, yes, if they smoke staggering amounts of weed daily and take these tests during their smoking time. Normal use has zero effect on said cognitive abilities and test scores.

Thankfully, he bypasses such other hilarious lies about marijuana that it causes male breasts to increase in size, leads to homosexuality, and is a “gateway” to harder drugs. The rest of his column is mere and pure jabberwocky . . .

And that sums up the marijuana experience for countless millions of Americans since at least the 1960s: silly people—usually under the age of 30—doing silly things under the influence of one of the most amazing substances found in the natural world.


Cartoon on medical marijuana use and its abuse by disdainful, un-American seniors by award-winning editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler for The Columbus Dispatch.

My experiences with weed

Needless to say, that was certainly NOT my experience with marijuana. My first experience was mind-manifesting (look it up), consciousness-altering, and life-changing. Regular smoking of good old fashioned Mexican weed in the early ’70s tempered my chronic insomnia, made me more aware of others’ feelings—especially my penchant for sarcasm, increased my ability to immerse myself in music, and a host of other things.

(Refer to my piece “the transmogrification of free will into jukin’ bone” on my other site, ratherrarerecords.com, for a bit of self-deprecation of my former condescending self.)

Perhaps most telling of this substance’s unheralded effects was the fact that it cured a lifelong affliction. Since as long as I could remember, I suffered what were called then debilitating migraine headaches. They came on suddenly and unpredictably.

As I lived at home, my mother would usually get me into my bed and close the venetian blinds and my door and make as little noise as possible. I would lie there, head held straight, eyes towards the ceiling.

If I moved my head an inch in any direction, the pain was so intense as to cause nausea and bring on the tears.

These began as a child and lasted into college. Until I began smoking weed on a regular basis. Like so many other wondrous effects this plant has, I really didn’t even notice that I wasn’t having them anymore. They had once been a regular part of my life, now they weren’t.

I have not had a migraine headache since 1970 and I don’t even remember what they felt like!


Government encourages pleasures

Mr Brooks’ final lines for his column typify conservative contradictions: he is in favor of individual freedoms except when he disagrees with them. Fortunately, he couches his meaning in the voice of what I assume is a form of compassionate conservatism:

“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.

In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.”

A brilliant rebuttal to Brooks’ piece is the first letter in the Comments section that follows the editorial on the NYT page. Credited to ‘gemli,’ it reads:

“This first-person confession of casual pot-smoking is designed to make us think that everyone is equally susceptible to temptations, and equally capable of brushing them aside to develop passions for science and literature and enlargements of the heart.

But nothing demonstrates more clearly the tone-deafness of Brooks and his like-minded conservative friends who think that everyone starts out on equal footing. This is a favorite theme of Mr. Brooks: People of Quality rise to the top, while lesser sorts wallow in a despair of their own making.

Instead of mollycoddling the disadvantaged by making jobs available, or raising the minimum wage or providing better schools in poor neighborhoods, Brooks thinks the role of government should be to enforce conservative moral values. See what happens when stoners grow up to write columns in the Times? Kids, please, don’t smoke!”


I used the phrase “physically innocuous” above meaning that the active “psychoactive cinstituents” in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary consciousness/spiritual shaker-upper) does no physical harm to the body in even moderately high doses. Of course, anything that is smoked draws smoke into the lungs, which is ALWAYS bad for the smoker.

Finally, getting high allowed me to overcome my anxieties and insecurities regarding the act of making love to a woman. It allowed me to relax into the joy of sex and connecting with another through the act of becoming one with the gods.

For that alone, I am forever indebted to the great god Ganja . . .


FEATURED IMAGE: For many of us, getting high and playing chess is a delightful combination. On the other hand, if pass from highness to stoned-dom, chess can be nigh on impossible an endeavor. Also, back in ‘my day,’ our joints were pinched off at both ends and called joints; the the joint in the photo above ain’t no joint, but a form of what they call blunts. I guess . . .

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4 Replies to “david brooks conservatives marijuana (“been there done that”)”

  1. For a while back when I was a teen my friends and I smoked dope.

    Then we gave up on weed and started drinking alcohol despite the obvious health reasons that it is addictive; that drinking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed; that young people who get regularly pissed go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.

    I’m not too sure because I’ve just downed a few dry Martinis, but we gave up because each of us had a few embarrassing moments when we were pot smokers and whereas alcohol kills people, destroys families and stunts lives, cannabis doesn’t kill anyone. Let me put that in some sort of context: EVER.

    We gave it up, second, I think, because someone told us that Carl Sagan was a stoner and scientists weren’t cool. Then we went on to develop higher pleasures – like single malt whiskies and because getting pissed isn’t repetitive and unlike dope alcohol made us funnier and more creative. Until I dropped out of university my academic studies and university grades confirmed this. All of us graduated to more satisfying pleasures and discovered a deeper source of happiness by getting better at something – like getting married and divorced.

    One of my close friends devoted himself to working long hours at a crappy job. Others to having kids that they never saw.

    Finally, I think (but not much) we had a vague sense that unlike drinking or taking prescription medication and pharmaceutical mind altering drugs, smoking weed was not exactly something you were proud of yourself for, but then again neither is having a meal or using the bathroom, so just like my life I’m not sure where that argument is going. We were in the stage, which I guess all of us are still in, of trying to become more debt ridden, stressed out and conformist sheeple. This process usually involves subverting the powers of observation and reason by drinking alcohol because alcohol is legal – not a quality one associates with marijuana.

    I think we had a sense, which all people have, or should have, that the actions you take change you inside, making you a little more or a little less coherent. That’s why as a drinker I opted to become an indecent, facile, reactionary caricature of myself. I can now call on Americans to fight and die in pointless wars that never touch me personally whilst I live a comfortable life in Washington D.C. As an opinionated media dick head, denigrating the poor and less fortunate.

    Smoking all the time, unlike drinking all the time, seemed likely to cumulatively fragment a person’s deep center, or at least not do much to enhance it. That said, to be honest, I’ve never been able to find my deep center because that would scare me.

    So, like the vast majority of people who try drugs, my friends and I moved on to alcohol and pharmaceuticals. We left marijuana behind. I don’t have any problem with somebody who gets high from time to time, but I guess, on the whole, I think being stoned is not as particularly uplifting a form of pleasure as vomiting alcohol into the toilet and should be discouraged more than encouraged.

    We now have a couple states — Colorado and Washington — that have gone into the business of effectively encouraging drug use. By making weed legal, they are creating a situation in which the price will drop substantially. One RAND study suggests that prices could plummet by up to 90 percent or if you’re smarter than me you could grow your own. As prices drop and legal fears go away, usage is bound to increase. This has happened before when the Prohibition era ended. It completely gutted organised crime.

    This is simple history, and it is confirmed by much research. Colorado and Washington, in other words, are diminishing the number of drinkers and the attendant misery, carnage and violence which comes from the bottle.
    The people who debate these policy changes usually cite the health risks users would face. In America every year many thousands of people die directly from prescription pain killers but not one – ever – from marijuana. Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of laws like three strikes and you’re out or increasing numbers of people living on the streets because that would imply that one sort of government you might choose is better than another.
    But, of course, there are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? I’m talking the Patriot Act in particular, but there are many others. What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. And the fact that in America thousands upon thousands of people are incarcerated for simply smoking dope shows how subtle our governments are. In those societies, societies like our own, governments subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying a few beers, some pharmacy purchased mood altering medications, or being in nature shooting animals, and discourages – through the use of criminal records, incarceration and social stigma – lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

    In legalizing weed, a God given plant with a myriad of uses, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be: uptight and with high blood pressure or vision impaired because of glaucoma. And by legalising cannabis states like Colorado are doing a great, indeed fundamental disservice to organised crime together with the big drug companies and all the employment these unnatural, chemical substances provide.

    Paul Krugman is off today, but David Brooks is always off.

  2. MR. FISH

    If you are not a professional writer or satirist (satyrist?), I suggest you consider either or both. If you don’t have a website of your own and feel the need to write more, please please me (oh yeah!) by visiting my site and contributing more brilliant work like the above.

    Sith agus Slainte bah!


    PS: If you enjoy rock and pop music and/or collect records, give my other blog a perusal: ratherrarerecords.com

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