February 20, 2002
6:55 PM   Subscribe

Ashcroft and his wacky antics. Internet Pornography - Medicinal Marijuana and Assisted Suicide
posted by Nauip (31 comments total)

 
In explicit terms, the attorney general told Congress this week that hardcore sex sites would no longer be selling peeks at balloon-breasted babes.

and

In a double-whammy, the Justice Department has announced that it intends to use federal legal muscle to negate citizen initiatives in California and Oregon.
posted by Nauip at 6:58 PM on February 20, 2002


The story is from June last year, and most likely a double post. He got derailed because of 9.11.
posted by owillis at 7:04 PM on February 20, 2002


from the 2nd article

A Times Editorial


Ashcroft's moral stand out of line
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 13, 2001


But I suppose since the 1st one is from before 9/11 and was temporarily derailed it won't be coming back to haunt us.
-
I suppose I'll ammend a question here. What's your opinion on states rights? Should they come before Federal Laws, or do the Feds have the final say-so in legal matters concerning the issues above? (or anything else for that matter)
posted by Nauip at 7:26 PM on February 20, 2002


Ashcroft is pretty spooky, but he's a rookie compared to Janet Reno (take the worst connotations of the words "Attorney" and "General", and you've pretty much summarized Janet Reno). Hell Ashcroft hasn't even had anyone taken out and shot yet (why else even be Attorney General?), let alone hit the true AG zone where you can burn buildings and storm the houses of fishermen.

Actually, buried in the first article was something about the other party as well:

"Spam wars: Democrats are kvetching about spam. In an essay distributed this week, the Democratic Leadership Council -- a group of centrist Dems -- complained about "cyber-libertarians" who are questioning a plan to require labels on sex-related e-mail. Last month, the House Judiciary committee approved a bill that requires labels on all e-mail advertisements related to sex -- not just unsolicited ones -- and promises criminal penalties if they're not there.
...
A DLC-affiliated group, the Progressive Policy Institute, is planning to release a report on Monday titled: "The Failure of Cyber-Libertarianism: Why We Need a National E-commerce Strategy."


Oh I do so love this. Note to Republicans and Democrats with a fundamental misunderstanding about what cyberspace is: Pass all the laws you want - the only thing you have the power to do is to make sure servers get moved 3 feet south of the Mexican border. Or to double the GNP of several small islands - who are already making a good deal from internet gambling - by adding porn hosting facilities.

(And, by the way, damn - I haven't been able to find out where to join the "Cyber-Libertarian" Party. Now there's something I'd even pay dues to ... of course there is no such Party - I do note the fact that what "Cyber-Libertarian" actually means is uncontrolled by people who believe the world cannot function without them having the ability to control it - only, of course, for it's own good ).
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:01 PM on February 20, 2002


David S. Broder (Washington Post) wrote a book, Democracy Derailed, about citizen initiatives in California and Oregon. He called them "alien to the spirit of the Constitution and its careful system of checks and balances." Haven't read it, and don't know how you feel about Broder (if at all), but there's one man's opinion.
posted by Dean King at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2002


Personally, I'm getting increasingly disturbed by how much religion is creeping into politics. From Ashcroft and his stance on assisted suicide & medical marijuana (and no doubt other issues), to the Alabama Chief Justice to Bush & Lieberman's "Faith-Based Initiative".

Because of the moral law imposed by Christian decree and other similar monotheistic religions (Judaism, Muslim etc) via the Bible, Torah, and Koran, religion should have no place in politics; AT ALL. It's completely detrimental to democracy.

Actually, let me rephrase that - because of the seriousness to which devoute followers of said religions take its decrees, religion should have no place in politics.

I think Kevin Smith had it right when he wrote Dogma:
"We are also told by Rufus that God’s “only real problem with mankind” is not idolatry or even unbelief, but the bad stuff “that gets carried out in his name — wars, bigotry, televangelism. The big one, though, is the factioning of all the religions. Mankind got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure out of it.” That’s right, God prefers “ideas” to “beliefs,” because ideas are easier to change. "

"And here we come to the heart of the gospel according to Kevin: “Faith” is good , but “religion” — systems of belief, dogma, ritual — these are not good (or “not so good,” as Smith himself amended when I saw him in person). “It’s not about who’s right or wrong,” Serendipity lectures Bethany, the heroine. “It doesn’t matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith.”"

"This, of course, is hardly “faith” at all, merely a vague, inclusive spirituality. What’s more, Smith isn’t content merely to promote his own generic “faith;” he has to tell us, again and again, what’s wrong with orthodox Catholic belief."

Source: Dogma, a Review by Steven D. Greydanus
posted by bkdelong at 8:32 PM on February 20, 2002


[aside]The weirdest thing about that Dogma review is that it gives it 3 of 4 stars in the artistic section, and nails it everywhere else [/aside]
posted by drezdn at 8:44 PM on February 20, 2002


Ahh .. yes, I've read Broder. This is interesting:

"Much of the book is devoted to the 1998 election cycle, with particular attention paid to California's Proposition 226—the paycheck-protection initiative that would have limited the ability of labor unions to spend members' dues on political activities. The fact that it ultimately failed doesn't undercut Broder's message, because so many other measures have been passed in California and elsewhere."

Note this ... it would have "limited the ability of labor unions to spend members' dues on political activities" ... in other words, if you are a Republican (or Libertarian, or anything else), and you work in a shop where you are required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, that union can use your dues not just to negotiate with the company on behalf of your "interests" (even if you don't perceive them to be acting in your interests), but can spend your dues actively campagining for a political candidate you intend to vote against at the polls.

And the effort to stop them from doing this is called a subversion of our political system by "special interests". What? What?!

Not only are citizen initiatives not "alien to the spirit of the Constitution and its careful system of checks and balances" ... they are nearly the ultimate form of "checks and balances" - exceedingly useful when our representatives forget they are representatives.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2002


[A digression- on the marijuana initiatives / puritanical attitudes / harassment.]

The realities of an aging population that went to college, went to Vietnam, or stayed home and partied through the 1960s, combined with the spread of HIV and the hardiness of the cannibis weed itself pretty much ensure that efforts to eradicate medical marijuana are doomed to failure. The most unfortunate thing about the campaign to keep marijuana illegal is that it turns so many otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals, just at the time when the Department of Justice needs every citizen's co-operation to deal with the problem of violent cells seeking weapons of mass destruction. A lot of the impulse for "Cyber-Libertarianism," "Privacy," and resistance to a sound national ID system comes from the fact that people are convinced the feds and the local cops will continue to harass them for small quantities of marijuana, for a non-Puritan love life, or for unpopular political opinions.
posted by sheauga at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2002


Ironic, as I sit here in Canada and watch a program on Global (nee CTV) about medical marijuana... a blatantly *pro* show.

I'm quite certain that medical marijuana is going to be legalized in this country within the next four years, and the compassion organizations that supply it will be legitimized.

Within the decade, I expect marijuana will be, if not completely legalized for all adults, legal to grow and possess in personal quantities.

Shame you guys are stuck with a DEA that is desperate to stay in business. It's all about the money...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 PM on February 20, 2002


Shame you guys are stuck with a DEA that is desperate to stay in business. It's all about the money...

Care to back that with proof?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:27 PM on February 20, 2002


You can have separation of CHURCH and state, but you can't have separation of ethics and state. You can't even have separation of beliefs in universal ethics and state.

Statutory law can't account for and influence all that we do, and all that we legislate and execute. It's always going to be deliberated on the basis of what is wrong and what is right. The source of universal ethics for most is religion, so I pretty much think y'all metafilter liberals are out of luck. Democracy too, for that matter.

If you want a religion-free democracy, you need at least a minimal set of ethics to go by that can be the foundation for moral decisioning. But, I'm sorry to say, I'm not going to adhere to any sort of minimal ethics unless I know the ultimate reason or source, and if there is a defined reason or source, you have dogma.

Dogma, the real definition: a definite authoritative truth.
posted by aaronshaf at 12:05 AM on February 21, 2002


aaronshaf: If you want a religion-free democracy, you need at least a minimal set of ethics to go by that can be the foundation for moral decisioning. But, I'm sorry to say, I'm not going to adhere to any sort of minimal ethics unless I know the ultimate reason or source, and if there is a defined reason or source, you have dogma.

What if those ethics come from inside you, and the source is your concience? And you find that most people's conciences lead them to similar ideas, and you codify those ideas into law? Did that law come from dogma? Or do you not believe such a situation is possible?
posted by bingo at 12:53 AM on February 21, 2002


Bingo, Bingo! The situation you are suggesting is in my world called Natural Law. I see codified law around the world, through and through, consistently, time and time again testifying that the human concience contains the basic knowledge of right and wrong. That is how we can hold people accountable!

The human race is haunted by the desire to do what is right. People invariably defend their actions by arguing that those actions do not really contradict a basic standard of behavior, or that the standard was violated for good reasons.

I'd invite you to read an excellent article on the matter.

Positive Law is human. Natural Law is of the truth, so yeah, since dogma is a definite authoritative truth, Natural is dogma.

The very nature of truth is obstinate, bigoted, and dogmatic.

Uh oh, I'm bound to get some heat for this...

Remember, anytime you make a statement (this IS this, that IS that) and assert it to be absolutely true, then you are speaking in the language of dogma.
posted by aaronshaf at 1:15 AM on February 21, 2002


aaronshaf: I respect what you're saying in terms of objective truth, because, as I've talked about in detail on a few other threads, I believe in an objective standard for aesthetic quality.

However, I do not think that my codification of widely-held moral ideas is the same as your Natural Law. I'm not saying that just because some moral ideas are widely held, they must be indicators of an objective truth that comes from outside humanity. I'm just saying that it's reasonable for the people with the morals in common to codify those morals in order to maintain the kind of society they would prefer to live in. Maybe the morals do come from God, maybe they come from humanism, maybe they are relativistic ideas developed in response to childhood trauma. You say:

I'm not going to adhere to any sort of minimal ethics unless I know the ultimate reason or source

...whereas, I don't feel the need to identify such a source, or even to make up my mind on whether there is one. I will adhere to "minimal ethics" because those ethics come from, or are indicated by, my own concience. I have a set of moral ideas that work for me, and some of them intersect with the moral ideas of a great many other people. We can codify that similarity in moral perspective, but in my view, when we obey that code, the important thing is that we're obeying the personal impetus that is why the code came into being, and not the other way around.
posted by bingo at 1:55 AM on February 21, 2002


aaronshaf: you're assuming that source matters more than content, which is itself quite contestable. I would urge that regardless of the source of an ethical principle, legal position, or public policy proposal, it is the content that matters. That's where we can reach agreement, regardless of our differing views (i.e., this is how diversity works). So the precept "love thy neighbor" either works or doesn't, either "makes sense" or doesn't, in and of itself, regardless of its source.

So you can bring any religious views you want to the table. But the fact that they are religious in origin is completely irrelevant to their being good or bad, feasible or fanciful.

I am concerned with your dismissive stance on democracy. do you really want the US to be a theocracy?
posted by yesster at 7:16 AM on February 21, 2002


BlueTrain:

Well, let's start off with the profitable, privately-run prison system. Those corporations have a deep, vested interest in imprisoning as many people as possible. Is it coincidence that after a decade of decreasing rates of incarceration for possession (1970sh-1980ish), the rates have skyrocketed since prisons became commercial enterprises?

Then look to the bureaucracy of the DEA. If marijuana were legalized, the DEA would be downsized. Naturally, not one employee in the organization wants that to happen! In order to remain employed, they must support anti-marijuana laws.

One might also look at the local law enforcement. Decriminalization of marijuana would, again, put their jobs at risk. Not to mention loss of funding: there'd be less money to buy toys and attend conferences and generally have fun.

Oh, and then there are the criminal organizations. The big grow and distribution operations are being run by motorcycle gangs, mafia gangs, triads, and other large criminal groups. Marijuana is big business.

So we have the big prison business, the big grow-op/distribution business, the big DEA business, and the big law enforcement business.

You can be damn sure that at least two and probably three of those groups are sending money to your duly elected and corporately-owned representatives in government, with the explicit message that marijuana had better remain illegal if they don't want that cash stream to dry up.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:30 AM on February 21, 2002


This is crazy. Just last week, Ashcroft came over to my place. We got crazy stoned, whacked off to some 'net porn, and then at his request, I killed him. What a hypocrite. That's the last time I kill that guy.
posted by Skot at 9:40 AM on February 21, 2002


What's your opinion on states rights?

In my opinion, the issue was settled pretty conclusively by The Civil War (or, if you prefer, The War for States Rights).

Should they come before Federal Laws, or do the Feds have the final say-so in legal matters concerning the issues above?
Article VI: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."

10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. "
posted by kirkaracha at 11:11 AM on February 21, 2002


five fresh fish, at the risk of derailment, I will counter your marijuana argument. Marijuana is a drug (i would hope there is no argument there). Instead of assuming that the DEA doesn't want to be downsized, discover the opposite viewpoint.

If marijuana was legalized, the percentage of the population using it would increase, dramatically. Assuming marijuana would gain the popularity of cigarettes, health care-related costs would skyrocket as well. Beyond that, legalizing any drugs within that "bad drug" spectrum of marijuana, cocaine, opium, crack, heroine, E, etc. would create a slippery slope. Why legalize one when we can legalize, AND REGULATE, all of them? Ah ha! So in fact, legalizing drugs would INCREASE jobs, simply in a different sector of the government.

The legalization of drugs, any drugs, are a path that we do not need to follow. Not only would we dramatically increase the health care costs with "helping" those who can afford drugs but not proper healthcare, we would set a dangerous precedent for the world that would allow the usage of drugs. The fact that we can afford to do drugs doesn't necessarily mean that we should.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:10 PM on February 21, 2002


Bluetrain:

If marijuana was legalized, the percentage of the population using it would increase, dramatically.

There is a lot of dispute about this. In the Netherlands, where it's essentially legal, there isn't nearly as much recreational use as you migh imagine (not from the Dutch anyway; the tourists are another matter). Did alcohol use increase dramatically after prohibition? Even if the use did increase dramatically, I think there's plenty of room to argue about whether or not that would be a bad thing.

Assuming marijuana would gain the popularity of cigarettes, health care-related costs would skyrocket as well.

I think that assumption is bogus, as there are very few habitual marijuana users who smoke pot with the frequency and compulsion that habitual smokers smoke cigarettes. Then, you are also assuming that marijuana use causes as many health problems as tobacco use, another area where there's plenty of room for debate.

Beyond that, legalizing any drugs within that "bad drug" spectrum of marijuana, cocaine, opium, crack, heroine, E, etc. would create a slippery slope.

Did alcohol and nicotine create this slippery slope? I think the world would not be such a terrible place if E was legal, either. I do not agree with your "bad drug" spectrum to begin with; I guess there is one, but I certainly wouldn't put marijuana on it, but Marlboros would be right up there.

Why legalize one when we can legalize, AND REGULATE, all of them? Ah ha! So in fact, legalizing drugs would INCREASE jobs, simply in a different sector of the government.

Now you're talking!
posted by bingo at 1:31 PM on February 21, 2002


Now you're talking!

Touche...though we both know exactly what I meant.

Did alcohol and nicotine create this slippery slope?

Alcohol and cigarettes have been used within our society, legally, for hundreds of years. Like caffeine, these drugs cannot be made illegal at this point. Therefore, the slope does not apply here.
posted by BlueTrain at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2002


Alcohol and cigarettes have been used within our society, legally, for hundreds of years. Like caffeine, these drugs cannot be made illegal at this point. Therefore, the slope does not apply here.

Actually, alcohol was illegal in America for a short period less than 100 years ago, and cocaine was legal and in common usage as recently as about 100 years ago. Opium was legal in many societies for thousands of years before the creation of the USA.

Also, marijuana may be illegal at present, but its use is quite widespread. People who want it can get it easily, quickly, and fairly cheaply, without placing themselves in danger or worrying about getting the wrong kind of stuff.

What's more, and I think this is really key in terms of your "slippery slope" idea, the type of people who smoke marijuana by and large do not derive their moral feelings about drug use from the legislative branch of the U.S. government. In other words, most people who want to use it are already using it. Legality would be mostly a matter of convenience.

Not only that, but most marijuana users, in my experience, don't use heroin, crack, or any other "hard" drugs. Again, to them, it's not a legal issue. They could get it if they wanted it, and if they wanted it, they could care less whether or not it was legal. They just don't want it. I also know a goodly number of people (including myself) who smoke marijuana but not cigarettes. It's a healthier "habit," and there is no slope involved.
posted by bingo at 4:33 PM on February 21, 2002


You can claim that most of the pot users you know don't use harder drugs. I could easily claim the opposite. They're both valid opinions. That point is moot.

I'm concerned with your concept that those who smoke pot now would do it regardless of legality. I disagree. I feel that a new group of users could be found in legalization. Again, neither of us could prove our points, though, because the situation is hypothetical.

It's a healthier "habit," and there is no slope involved.

It's a healthier habit, eh? I'm guessing you've never spoken to your doctor about the side effects of pot?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:11 PM on February 21, 2002


It's a healthier habit, eh? I'm guessing you've never spoken to your doctor about the side effects of pot?

Your guess is incorrect. Pot doesn't kill people, and it isn't chemically addictive. Cigarettes do, and they are.

You can claim that most of the pot users you know don't use harder drugs. I could easily claim the opposite. They're both valid opinions. That point is moot.

I have spent a lot of time around a lot of marijuana users in different parts of the U.S. as well as in many other countries, and the vast majority of those users were not, by all evidence, into harder drugs. Also, I have a certain amount of personal experience with various drugs that leads me to believe I have a pretty solid understanding of how chemical and emotional dependency works. Also, I have a pretty significant amout of experience with what you might call the culture of marijuana users. Now, I can't prove to you that I'm telling the truth, and I can't prove that my experiences are really representative of what's going on in general. But that doesn't make what I'm saying moot. We are not in court; we're having a conversation. Believe what you like.

I'm concerned with your concept that those who smoke pot now would do it regardless of legality. I disagree. I feel that a new group of users could be found in legalization.

I can only hope you're right about this, but I doubt it.
posted by bingo at 12:09 AM on February 22, 2002


We are not in court; we're having a conversation. Believe what you like.

You're trying to prove a point to me. Like a courtroom, I require evidence.

Your guess is incorrect. Pot doesn't kill people, and it isn't chemically addictive. Cigarettes do, and they are.

Apparently pot is chemically addictive. This is after a two second search. I could find you dozens of websites that thoroughly explain why pot is a harmful drug that can kill you. I'm not your physician, nor do I feel like wasting my time. You don't want to believe the negative aspects of pot? Fine. But don't try to prove me otherwise, because I've spoken to my physician, several people in the medical field, and users. I know the facts.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:17 AM on February 22, 2002


Here's my own two-second search. I could find you plenty of other links, as well. For me, my most convincing experience in this regard involved smoking pot pretty much all day, every day, for several months, and then not having any for more than a year. I did not experience any kind of physical withdrawal symptoms (and, having been chemically addicted to other substances, I have a general idea of what those feel like). I did suffer from a bit of emotional addiction, I suppose, but that wasn't very hard to get over.

You're trying to prove a point to me. Like a courtroom, I require evidence.

Then please consider my personal testimony as exhibit A. I'm not lying about it.

You don't want to believe the negative aspects of pot? Fine.

I didn't say there weren't any negative aspects. I said it isn't as bad as cigarettes or alcohol, that it doesn't kill, and that it isn't chemically addictive.

But don't try to prove me otherwise, because I've spoken to my physician, several people in the medical field, and users. I know the facts.

I have spoken to similar sets of people, and I have been a user myself. I am not trying to antagonize you, but I am telling the truth.
posted by bingo at 12:52 AM on February 22, 2002


I suppose the honorable thing to do is agree to disagree. So be it.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:11 AM on February 22, 2002


(A) during the period 1970 through 1979, 11 states took the first steps to decriminalizing pot; possession no longer a crime. Usage rates did not significantly rise. (B) Netherlands has basically legalized it. There's less usage there than in the USA. (C) 2 Aussie states partially decriminalized it. Rates did not increase.

Bottom line: rates don't increase significantly with legalization. Everyone who wants to use, already is.

Legalization would reduce health-care costs. (A) Marijuana is a legitimate drug in the treatment of a good half-dozen illnesses, including glaucoma, nausea, MS), far most cost-effective than the drugs offered by pharmaceuticals; (B) decriminalization would eliminate illness due to tainted weed (see next paragraph); (C) legalization would eliminate violence and accidents involved in the illegal growing and distribution network.

The government would undoubtedly take control of growing, delivery, and taxation. It would be a profitable revenue stream. The weed would be of guaranteed quality, quantity, and purity. Legalization of alcohol was a net boon to the government: it eliminated bathtub gin, the criminal element, and put money in the bank. Legalization of marijuana will do the same.

Marijuana is not physically addictive. This according to Robert M. Julien, of the Bethel Medical Centre, and about as authoritative an expert on the subject as you'll ever find.

The honorable thing to do would be to get educated, actually... quit buying the cock-and-bull story your school and government are feeding you, and get to the facts.

(Did you know alcohol is the leading "gateway drug"? That nicotine is considered to be one of the most physically-addicting drugs? That they are both "hard drugs"?)

Take the red pill, BlueTrain.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 AM on February 22, 2002


The honorable thing to do would be to get educated, actually... quit buying the cock-and-bull story your school and government are feeding you, and get to the facts.

I follow the cock-and-bull stories of the medical community, thanks. I don't care anymore. You're trying to convince someone who has already done that drug, and others. I believe the medical reports; that's why I don't smoke and drink casually. Do you honestly believe that a bunch of potheads are going to change my mind? As I said before, the honorable thing is to agree to disagree. Can't be honorable? As least be respectful of my opinion instead of assuming that I'm incorrect and you MUST crusade to enlighten me.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:12 AM on February 22, 2002


Does anyone else think that the lack of trust in the authorities by pot smokers is a potential problem in the post 9-11 world? (I'm not suggesting everyone who smokes pot is functional, but I've seen an awful lot of pot-smokers and alcohol-drinkers manage to hold onto jobs, get through school, etc. There are very few of us non-Mormon straight-edgers whose only vice is coffee!) It seems unfortunate that people who are reasonably functional citizens with no criminal inclinations besides smoking marijuana are classified as members of the underworld, just at the time when we need everyone to open up and be honest about their lives and their associations.
posted by sheauga at 10:39 AM on February 22, 2002


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