Monday, November 29, 2010

The Right Skeptics

     Over the past few months, atheist gadfly Christopher Hitchens has been dying of cancer. Mr. Hitchens is facing his terminal illness with great courage and insight. If the way we face death is a sign of character, Hitchens has added to the moral credit column in his balance sheet. In fact, Hitchens appears to have the kind of courage normally associated with the Stoic sage of antiquity, given that he is staring down death without benefit of religion. Though far from a Stoic in his daily living before now, Hitchens reminds us that there are alternatives to religion as a solace for mortality. Hitchens’ ability to accept his own mortal end proves it can be done. Others, like Corporal Patrick Daniel Tillman, prove that unbelievers are capable of highly idealistic behavior. Tillman turned down a $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist as an Army Ranger. He felt the same patriotic zeal that motivated many religious and nonreligious people to volunteer for military service after 9/11. Nonetheless, despite these and other instances of courage and devotion by unbelievers, some religious conservatives continue to deny even the possibility of sincere Skeptical Conservatives. They blame their rejection of the secular right wing on the impossibility of moral absolutes among atheists. Ironically, their behavior shows them just as guilty of accepting consensus as the basis for morality.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Dangerous Appeal of Appeasement

Lights out in North Korea.
Image credit:  NASA
     Thursday’s post on North Korea requires a sequel. The news yesterday confirmed threats of further attacks by the North and the opposition of China to American naval exercises off the Korean coast. It is as if the principals were reading from an old script: Act I, Scene 1: North Korea tests the resolve of the U.S. and South Korea; Act I, Scene 2: The U.S. and the South condemn the North’s actions; Act I, Scene 3: China backs the North and condemns the condemnations; Act I, Scene 4: the North issues new threats. So far, there has been no Act II, in which either the Americans and South Koreans answer force with force or the North finally attacks the South in earnest. However, our ability to postpone a second act until the North implodes from its internal economic contradictions is increasingly in question. Moreover, every time the U.S. accepts violence from the North without reprisal, another blemish appears in American credibility as a deterrent power. While every day that war is avoided counts as a victory, the sum of such victories may very well be disaster. Making this case to a skeptical public is a particular difficulty for American leadership.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks for the Sound, at Least

     The shelling by North Korea of a South Korean island on Tuesday has confirmed the intransigence of the North Korean regime, the irresolution of the United States and South Korea, and the realpolitik agenda of the People’s Republic of China.  As reported in The New York Times, the response by the U.S. and South Korea has been words, not action:  “‘North Korea’s artillery stronghold should have been destroyed three minutes after the attack,’ said one lawmaker, Song Kwang-ho. ‘South Korea’s air force sallied forth but did not attack. The gong sounded, and it’s too late now. Where were our resolute measures?’”  While we can all be thankful on this Thanksgiving that our 1953 cease-fire remains in effect, at least on our side, the civilized world has little realistic hope that North Korea will respond to any argument not made with high explosives.  And the failure of both South Korea and the U.S. to have made such an argument by now reveals the insignificance of the bluster coming from Seoul and the blather coming from Washington.  They amount to sound without fury.  They signify nothing, apart from weakness of will.  They foretell nothing except the continuing appeasement of both North Korea and China.  We can be thankful if this record of weakness does not encourage the Iranian regime and its ilk.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Your Father’s Poet Laureate

     With the engagement of Prince William to Kate (now Catherine) Middleton, Buckingham Palace has received no promise from British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy of a poem to commemorate the event.  The Telegraph reports that according to the terms of her employment contract, Duffy is apparently within her rights to insist that family life in the House of Windsor is an insufficient muse.  Mysteriously appointed by the Queen herself, though apparently on the advice of disloyal ministers, Duffy is reputedly an angry critic of U.K. society and traditions.  Eighteen months after her appointment to the £5,000 per year gig, the angry poetess manifestly still resists coöptation by the Establishment.  One wonders only why such a rebel scribbler would have accepted the job in the first place.  One wonders even more why the Royal Family would have chosen her.  Poets Laureate past were able to find the courtesy and inspiration to doodle an occasional piece for their employers.  Duffy’s snub of the royal lovebirds is self-indulgent and juvenile.  The modern monarchy having submitted to constitutional restraints that effectively make the institution powerless, Duffy is free to be rude to the personification of British values.  It remains to be seen whether the sovereign British subjects will rise in defense of the institution to which they still seem attached.

     The British Crown exercises a fascination over many American conservatives.  On the one hand, conservatives who take liberty seriously are mindful of the attitude of our Founding Fathers.  American patriots fought a long war against a king to seize freedom and bequeath it to us.  We, none of us, should kneel or bow to any monarch anywhere.  On the other hand, like the British themselves, American conservatives can’t help liking Queen Elizabeth.  As a young girl she was an inspiration on radio to the British population during World War II.  She has conducted herself without fault, being the exemplar of old fashioned values conservatives tend to appreciate.  Those (and there are still a few) who cherish refinement in dress, speech, and manners remain fond of Her Majesty.  It may be that the existence of a decorous, constitutionally restrained monarch has contributed to some of the subtle differences between the U.K. and the U.S.  For instance, a television presenter in the U.K. will occasionally apologize for not knowing a word.  In the U.S., anchorpersons are more likely to apologize for a large vocabulary than a small one.

     It is likely that what Jacques Barzun calls demotic values will continue to erode refinement in both the U.K. and the U.S.  Besides, the U.K. is one unpopular monarch away from dispensing with the institution altogether.  Once they have lost enough power to be unobjectionable, kings and queens lack the authority to remain necessary.  Or to command a short piece of doggerel from the national poetaster.  For the sake of courtesy, if nothing else, one hopes the residual U.K. decency will show itself once more, perhaps in a showering of sonnets.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Junk Law

     With a maelstrom of stunning news today, it is hard to decide where to begin.  The Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole or the near acquittal of Ahmed Ghailani?  Both events are being well reported, but there may be a bit of synergy from considering them together.  Regarding the TSA chief, we have a federal bureaucrat imposing a choice on millions of air travelers:  Star in a peepshow or get groped.  Regarding the court case of Ghailani, a judge appears to have abused the rules of evidence and nearly procured a full acquittal of a genuine terrorist.  The events seem to be inspiring similar rage among the citizens of the republic.  Apart from that thoroughly justified rage, the common element in these two travesties is hyperactive government.  There could hardly be higher-octane fuel for the argument to curtail government power.

     The more significant event from a legal perspective may be the precedent set in the Ghailani case.  Facing over 200 charges, Ghailani eluded all but one.  In 1998, a suicide bomb attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed dozens.  Ghailani obtained the truck and the fuel tanks that exploded when the driver plowed into his target.  It appears the judge at trial excluded vital evidence, including testimony of a prosecution witness who sold Ghailani the fuel tanks, because it was obtained by investigators using enhanced interrogation techniques.  It is unlikely such techniques were any worse than water boarding, which does no permanent harm to the terrorist and can only be called “torture” by a radical re-interpretation of the original meaning of “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Once again, we have a judge re-interpreting the Constitution based on his or her own moral principles, not the intent of the drafters.  In their day, cruel punishment included cutting off hands or stoning.  Given the continuing existence of such measures in some parts of the world, the original understanding remains relevant and contemporary.  In any event, water boarding has been used on only three men, including the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.  If Ghailani was not water boarded, then the judge excluded vital evidence of guilt on even flimsier grounds.  It is to be hoped that the judge’s ruling does not become precedent in other cases.

     On the other hand, perhaps Ghailani received rough treatment in foreign hands before he arrived at Guantanamo Bay.  Perhaps the judge decided rightly on the Eighth Amendment question.  Perhaps.  At the end of the day, the government evidently holds classified evidence against Ghailani that confirms his direct involvement with the attack.  Such evidence cannot be introduced in civilian court without compromising U.S. intelligence sources and methods, thereby endangering even more people.  If the judge did decide the evidence question correctly, doubtful though that seems, then the decision to take this case to trial in civilian court was all the more dubious.  In that case, the hyperactivity of government would be located at a higher level than a mere trial judge.

     Compared with the judicial (or prosecutorial) hyperactivity in the Ghailani case, the astounding decision of TSA chief John Pistole to impose new search procedures on airline passengers carries little legal heft.  Two pilots have apparently already filed suit against TSA, but so far, the biggest effect has been the rhetorical detonations from Left and Right.  The Pistole rule requires passengers to submit either to a full-body scan revealing them effectively nude or to a ridiculously euphemized “pat-down” that includes an actual, open-palmed genital grope.  As one fully justified passenger remarked, “If you touch my junk I’ll have you arrested.”

     There are many reasons to oppose the Pistole rule, and it won’t be long before loud voices call for him to be fired.  This rule is, in itself, a victory for the terrorists ultimately more widespread than the Ghailani outcome.  Part of what terrorist organizations want to do is to inhibit our liberty.  Doing so is next best to killing us.  By frightening us into giving away our dignity, they score points against millions of us whom they can never reach with direct harm.  All the more rich material for their dark laughter is the probability that the scanners do not even detect the plastique and powdered explosives they have been using in recent attempts.  We are, then, giving away our dignity for nothing.

     When has there been a terrorist attempt foiled by a scanner?  All the recent success against these attempts has come from good intelligence, the coöperation of foreign governments, or the swift action of airline passengers and crew.  TSA’s efforts may be preventing many attempts on flights that originate in the U.S.  Indeed, they probably are.  On the other hand, no amount of security will ever make us completely safe.  We are already, on the numbers, still safer in the air than on the highway.  There is simply no reason to impose these new affronts to dignity and liberty, especially since they will ultimately prove ineffective.  The current rule exempts children under 12 from the full-body search.  In Vietnam, the Viet Cong used children as unwitting suicide bombers.  What is to prevent al-Qaida from doing so today?

     The worst piece of this Pistole rule is that Pistole’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, is actually considering some accommodation for Muslim women—and only Muslim women—who object to the pat-downs.  Has the world gone mad?  Rather than follow the effective example of the Israelis, who spend more effort looking for the terrorist rather than the device, our hyperactive government is on the verge of adopting reverse-profiling in selecting victims for indecent assault.

     It was a day for junk law indeed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Judicial Oligarchy Extends Grip

     Once again, a federal judge has set aside the will of a sovereign state.  In this case, over 70% of Oklahoma voters approved an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting Oklahoma courts from importing Sharia law as a basis for deciding cases in court.  Even such conservative luminaries as Michael Medved have endorsed the judge’s ruling.  Whether or not it was advisable for the voters of Oklahoma to single out Islam for special treatment is not at issue.  However, whether doing so comports with the U.S. Constitution must be resolved on the narrow grounds of legal analysis.  So far, no compelling analysis against the amendment has appeared.

     The amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution is State Question 755, which adds some provisions to Article VII, Section 1.  That portion of the state constitution creates state courts and establishes their jurisdiction.  The relevant text added to Article VII, Section 1, is as follows:  “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures.  Specifically, the courts shall not consider international or Sharia Law.”

     Within days of the voters’ adopting the amendment, the executive director of the Council for American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma filed suit in federal court.  Mr. Muneer Awad, the plaintiff, asked the federal judge to stop the Board of Elections from certifying the vote on State Question 755.  Mr. Awad argued that the ban on importing Sharia into Oklahoma courts amounted to an establishment of Judeo-Christian faiths.  In particular, he argued that the Oklahoma amendment violated the legal test of Lemon v. Kurtzman, which articulates a three-part analysis of government actions regarding religion.  The analysis poses three questions:  (1) Does the government action have a secular purpose? (2) Is its primary effect to either advance or inhibit religion?  (3) Does it foster excessive government entanglement with religion?  (If you are interested, the citation is 403 U.S. 602, 612-613 (1971).)

     To begin with, the measure has an obviously secular purpose.  How could a measure that bans formal religious law from court have anything other than a secular purpose?  As for advancing or inhibiting religion, it does not inhibit Islam to any extent it is not already limited by existing laws.  Muslims may go to their temples, may pray five times a day, may follow the teachings of their prophet.  However, Muslim men in Oklahoma may not marry four wives.  They may also not employ stoning or the other cruel and unusual punishments prescribed in the Koran for various religious crimes.  In prohibiting such practices, Oklahoma is already refusing to base its law on Sharia.  State Question 755 merely codifies the existing practice.

     It is settled law that there is no universal exemption from the criminal code based on religious principles.  For example, the shamanistic tradition of using peyote is nonetheless a violation of federal drug laws.  On the other hand, Muslims in Oklahoma may practice their religion freely, as long as they do not violate existing law in doing so.  In his brief, Mr. Awad states that Sharia provides guidance for him in conducting much of his personal business.  He argues that the amendment denies him and his fellow Muslims the support of Sharia in business transactions.  However, nothing prevents him and a business partner from following the principles of Sharia in concluding a transaction, so long as such principles also conform to the laws of Oklahoma.  Enforcement of such business arrangements would be based on contract law, not Sharia per se.  In denying Sharia enfranchisement in Oklahoma courts, the voters have simply drawn a bright line against any creeping accommodation of practices already disallowed.

     What about advancing Judeo-Christian principles at the expense of Sharia?  Does prohibiting Sharia alone as a legal precedent have the effect of privileging Christianity?  Not at all.  Here, it is important to distinguish between a formal religious code, such as Sharia, and the general traditions of a given faith.  At some level, all secular law has its origin in religious traditions.  Long before American states had laws against murder the Jews had prohibited it as part of the Ten Commandments.  But the Jews were not alone.  All the major religious traditions prohibit murder (and all allow exemptions and exceptions).  To the extent Oklahoma’s law against murder may be said to derive from Judeo-Christian principles, it may also be said to derive from essentially universal moral principles.  Look carefully at Oklahoma jurisprudence.  There are no doubt cases in which judges have appealed generally to Christian principles of morality.  However, it would be highly unusual—and, in your author’s view, a clear violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendmentfor an Oklahoma judge to base a court ruling on a specific principle of, for instance, Catholic Canon Law.  In this context, the prohibition in State Question 755 is unnecessary.

     It would have been better if Oklahoma had passed an amendment declaring that court decisions could not be based on any formal religious code, whether the Sharia of Islam or the Canon Law of the Catholic Church.  As noted, such a measure would in effect simply restate the principles of the First Amendment.  Consider the obverse of State Question 755:  Oklahoma courts shall base their decisions on Sharia (or Canon Law, or the codified pronouncements of the Dalai Lama).  Would such a measure be constitutional?  Clearly not.  Why then should a declaration against using religious law as a basis for court cases be considered to advance religion, under the Lemon test?

     Still, the Oklahoma amendment does not ban all religious codes from court.  It bans only Sharia.  Or does it?  The amendment also prevents basing Oklahoma decisions on international law, not just Islam.  Because the Ten Commandments did not arise in the United States, some have already argued that the Oklahoma amendment may have the presumably unintended consequence of banning the Ten Commandments from court as well as Sharia.  To the extent such analysis is correct, it serves to blunt the force of the argument about singling out Sharia among religious codes.

     The final part of the Lemon test is whether the amendment entangles the state in religion.  It should go without saying that a measure prohibiting the importation of religion into court can hardly be taken to entangle the courts in religion.  Let us not take a thing for its opposite.

     Banning the use of Sharia as a basis for court cases in effect just restates the First Amendment prohibition on establishing religion.  At the same time, refusing to base court decisions on Sharia does not prohibit the exercise of Islam outside court to the limit of the secular law.  Moreover, the fact that Oklahoma is silent on other religious formal law does not establish such formal law as the law of the state.  Thus, given existing First Amendment jurisprudence, the Oklahoma amendment is unnecessary.  It is also provocative.  But it is certainly within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.  In light of this analysis, the judge’s decision to override the will of the people is more and more clearly an act of judicial overreaching.  A pessimist would declare that we live under a judicial oligarchy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bigger than the 2010 Election

Image credit:  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
     With all the excitement of last week’s Republican electoral triumph, which jaded experience suggests owed more to unemployment than to ideological conversion, it is worth noting that NASA has announced something much, much bigger than a 67-seat swing in the House of Representatives. While here in the United States very little can compare to the welcome political shift, above and below the center of our Milky Way galaxy astronomers have identified stupendously large twin globes of bubbling energy that simply dwarf our entire planet.

     These energy globes redefine huge. Extending about 25,000 light years above and below the center of the Milky Way, they were completely unsuspected until their recent discovery. They appear to be composed of gamma ray radiation, the most energetic form of light we know. We don’t know what caused them, but plausible theories might include the consumption of whole stars by the galaxy’s central black hole. Black hole feeding is thought to be the cause of the quasars, the most energetic objects known to science. Perhaps the gamma bubbles are remnants of some messy eating as the black hole slurped down a few extra suns, like an afternoon snack. Science has no definitive answer—yet.

     The best news? The bubbles are too far away to do us any harm, but near enough to be interesting. It’s a little like watching a volcanic eruption from a safe distance—riveting, but harmless. And once more, we must agree with Hamlet that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

     Of no immediate practical value, the discovery nonetheless will sharpen humanity’s knowledge of nature. Who knows where that will lead? In the meantime, the sheer immensity of the objects might serve to blunt the political hyperbole by reminding some of us just how tiny our little world is, with its ebb and flow of political fortune. At the same time, the immense globes of energy are also sterile features of a nearly lifeless universe. We here on Earth, with our petty politics and culture wars and fast-food toys (except in San Francisco), are the only (arguably) intelligent life known to us. For religious skeptics, then, this latest discovery should help create the perspective necessary for sound judgment of our affairs and remind us how important it is to get things right. Too bad there are not more religious skeptics in power.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest Post: Against the Lotos

     On the tenth day we made the land of the Lotos-eaters, men who browse on a food of flowers. We landed there to fill our water-butts, while my crews snatched a meal on the shore, beside their likely vessels. As soon as the first hunger for food and drink had passed, I chose out two fellows and added to them a third, as runner, that they might go inland to spy out and enquire what were the human beings there existing. Off they went at once and met a party of these Lotos-eaters, who had no notion of slaying my emissaries: instead they gave them a dish of their Lotos-flower. And so it was that as each tasted of this honey-sweet plant, the wish to bring news or return grew faint in him: rather he preferred to dwell for ever with the Lotos-eating men, feeding upon Lotos and letting fade from his mind all memory of home. I had to seek them and drag them back on board. They wept: yet into the ships we brought them perforce and chained them beneath the thwarts deep in the well, while I constrained the rest of my adherents to hurry aboard, lest perhaps more of them might eat Lotos and lose their longing for home.

—Homer, The Odyssey, Book IX (T. E. Lawrence translation)

     On Tuesday, Californians defeated Proposition 19, which had proposed the legalization of marijuana. The margin was 53.9% opposed, 46.1% in favor. Recently, your author noticed some interesting comments on the issue on another site. The consensus there, unlike in California, was in favor of legalization. These comments, used with permission of the commentator on condition of anonymity, were against.

     “What most of us want is a society of peaceful people most of whom will not commit crimes, who go to their work everyday although in most cases the work is not very interesting, who will not want to attack their neighbors for reasons of class or ethnicity or religion, and who will be able to cooperate with each other to build a library or park. We want people who on voting day will not machine gun the voters or bomb the polls. To get to all this is not easy. It sounds like nothing, but a lot of cultures can’t do it. A lot of hard work must be done in terms of instilling values and attitudes that create all this. Sobriety is a large part of it. So is a certain amount of sexual repression. It matters that a child has a father and a father can claim his child for instance.

     “For people to live together as a community or nation, there must be an underlying philosophy which nearly everyone shares. People have to agree on most things. We talk about freedom a lot, so we don’t always realize that. But when the agreement stops and we can’t get along with our neighbors or fellow citizens, when we can’t agree what text books should teach our children or what language we should all speak, then we notice that something has changed.

     “Libertarians want a society that creates prosperity and that is tolerant. For this to happen, the people in the society have to share certain values. The Libertarian thinking is that people can share the values that create wealth and not other values. But that is ultimately not possible. The wealth creation itself is linked to other things, including the ability to trust others, which has a lot to do with how similar people are. In theory, a group of monogamists should be able to deal economically with a group of polygamists. But in reality it does not work. For one thing the different groups don’t act the same. And that not acting the same is manifested in economic conduct as well as other spheres. There are profound differences between monogamous and polygamous cultures. The kind of culture where one man can get lots of young women and other men have a hard time getting any is generally poor and undemocratic and has all sorts of ills we prefer not to have here.

     “Work hard, study, be on time, pay your bills, honor your contracts, if you lose take it in stride and don’t go burn down someone’s house, all the result of other qualities that most of us cannot even begin to identify.

     “Libertarians imagine that the underlying philosophy can stop at Be Tolerant. That is not enough. Even the tolerance aspect comes out of something else. For one thing, tolerance itself requires that everyone agree tolerance is good. Furthermore, everything can’t be tolerated. Most people, no matter how liberal/libertarian, would chose not to live next door to a brothel, no matter how well regulated. Most of us don’t want that our neighbor, no matter how nice he is, borrow our lawn mower without asking. No one wants to live in a dirty neighborhood. Even the people who are littering want to live in a clean one. But they don’t want to do the acts that would make theirs clean. And what makes some people but not others agree (and it is an agreement though not on paper) that they won’t litter and that their area will be clean? What is the underlying ethos that leads to such agreements?

     “The Libertarian viewpoint seems to be some will litter and some won’t and all will be happy. But the non-littering part of the populace won’t be happy. They will have to move if they can afford to.

     “Some divergence has to be tolerated. But even in a free society, tolerance is limited. We expect that most won’t take advantage of the freedom to indulge in anti-social actions. I can do everything, but I won’t is the mantra of the free. Libertarians, like liberals, are always messing with the ‘I won’t’ part. Libertarians think drugs should not be banned by the government. Okay. But Libertarians also want to interfere with private morals by forcing everyone to accept what they want to do. Libertarians should stick to the ‘it’s none of Uncle Sam’s business’ aspect and not preach that society needs to accept this or that.

     “About a year ago, on John Stossel’s show, the host argued, as he always does, that the government has no business telling people what drugs they can or can’t take and no business telling them what sex they can have. So one guest argued that drugs were good. A woman said that she used to be a prostitute and that it was a fine profession. This example shows everything that is wrong with Libertarianism and why people don’t distinguish between them and leftwingers who believe that so much of the rules and morality of western culture are oppressive. The government should not have laws telling people they can’t sell themselves is one argument. Advocating that becoming a prostitute is just another job option, like becoming a doctor or teacher, well that is something entirely different.

    “If prostitution was made illegal, would a brothel owner be able to open one next to my house or my kids’ school or in the local strip mall where the drugstore and coffee shop and ice cream store are? A Libertarian should be able to say, the brothel can operate but not in this place or that, because of morality and decorum and decency. Libertarians fight against a common inclination of humans to have their morality inscribed in the law. If Libertarians confined their arguments to small government, they might have more success. Instead, Libertarians say morality is stupid, or that morality is entirely private. But it is not possible for morality to be entirely private.

     “The more a society demands of its people in terms of discipline and restraint the less it can afford to have them high. It is not good to be high. That is why neighborhoods where a lot of people are high a lot of the time don’t like drug usage. There is nothing liberating about a woman who is on crack who neglects her children or a man who can’t work because of drugs. There is nothing liberating about the messiness and lack of self control and the stupidity of drug users. To those who witness it, it is horrible and disgusting. The Libertarian can say, regardless of all that, it is none of the government’s business. But Libertarians go further and try to argue that drug taking is not that bad or that it even has some benefits or that it should not be strongly discouraged. The reason that so many are opposed to Libertarianism is that they associate it with license.

     “There are some places, as in East Africa, where people are high a lot. People, mostly men, chew chat pretty consistently. It relaxes them. Yet, the people themselves will tell you that chat interferes with work and what they think is good conduct and it is the reason the place is so ‘backward.’

     “Libertarians always make a big deal out of the alcohol comparison. Yes, it is inconsistent. Society long ago made a compromise with alcohol. So Libertarians look at this compromise and seem to argue, if at Thanksgiving dinner the family has a toast of wine, perhaps the family should also have a toast of cocaine. Supposedly it is all the same, but this is not true. In any case, society must have limits. We limit drugs to alcohol. We draw the line at other drugs. All drugs need not be treated the same.

     “So we tolerate alcohol. We discourage drunkenness with various degrees of success. We don’t need to start tolerating other drugs in the same way.”