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.”
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 was 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 you pass from highness to being stoned, then 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 joint in the photo above ain’t no joint, but a form of what they call blunts. I guess …