Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Pornographic Theater of Morality

Nobody’s in jail for smoking cigarettes, but hundreds of thousands are incarcerated for illegal drug use. Meanwhile, the use of tobacco has declined drastically with 40% fewer smokers and half as many cigarettes smoked per capita than 1960. Anti-drug efforts have not had anything like this success despite the obvious human suffering they inflict on drug users and their families. No mystery here: the anti-tobacco people want to improve public health while the anti-drug forces have allowed morality to get in the way of doing the right thing. If you’re in the business of putting on passion plays, the last thing you want to do is actually convert the devil. As Augustine almost said, “Save them, but not yet!”

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