I Smoked Pot with David Brooks

Well, no, actually I didn’t smoke pot with David Brooks. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I could bear to have a drink with him. It’s work enough to get through one of his columns without being alternately irritated and bored by his smug middlebrow brand of thinking.

But Gary Greenberg did smoke pot with David Brooks during the latter’s period of “uninhibited” youthful folly. Well, no, actually he didn’t smoke pot with David Brooks either. But like many others, he was disgusted by Brooks’ column about cannabis in reaction to the fact that this month legal cannabis has gone on sale in Colorado. In Greenberg’s case, however, disgust led to inspiration, and the result is a brilliant bit of satire, which you can read here. Here’s a teaser:

I remembered a time we were parked out at French Creek and he stood up on top of the Vista Cruiser and gave a speech to us about what Jefferson really meant by the “pursuit of happiness,” and how a government should uphold our right to get as high as possible, and how George Washington grew pot and old Edmund Burke must have smoked it, and I wondered if Dave was sending his old posse a secret message. I wondered if, especially now that he’s past fifty and divorced and all that, he’s getting a little tired of maturity, of  being harnessed to “the powers of reason, temperance, and self-control,” not to mention to the New York Times, he wanted us to come take him out and apply some subtle peer group pressure to his “moral ecology.”

What makes the satire even more delicious is that for a brief time after Greenberg posted it, many media outlets thought it wasn’t a satire but a juicy exposé by one of Brooks’ aggrieved pot-smoking pals. Greenberg’s follow-up posts describing the ensuing media frenzy are as entertaining as the satire itself. Not to mention instructive.

Not so long ago, mouthpieces for the establishment could write such fatuous fare as what Brooks of the NYT and Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post have recently written about cannabis and get away with it. But no longer. Not only have the readers’ comments sections of both columns (1637 comments so far on Brooks column) taken the columnists to task for their misinformed, intellectually lazy pieces, but myriad different sources on the internet have showed by example what it means to actually reflect seriously on complex social issues. Thank god we now have an alternative to the mainstream media.

Update.  Here’s an amusing footnote—literally—to Mr. Brooks’ now infamous little opinion piece in the NYT. A couple days after it appeared I read through the entry about him on Wikipedia. Under the subheading “Social Views” I found this: “Brooks was a former marijuana smoker, but quit after a traumatic event during English class.” [42]  (The footnote refers to his recent column.) I suspect this captures the hidden psychological motivations of Mr. Brooks’ piece about cannabis—an opinion published by an affluent white man that completely ignored the enormous social harm (not to mention financial harm) done by the war on drugs and the war on cannabis in particular—especially harmful if you’re unfortunate enough not to be an affluent white man. But Brooks overlooked all this because he was still traumatized by what he did during a high school English class.

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