Adults should be allowed to choose

This is a perspective from Mason Tvert in Colorado.

Amendment 44 poses a simple question: Should the adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana be legal under state law? Or, as our campaign prefers to phrase the question, should adults be punished for making the rational choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer?

On its face, there seems to be no logical reason to oppose this. What we have are two recreational substances. The difference is that alcohol is more addictive and more toxic. It is also associated with aggression and violence, which means it is far more likely to lead to the harm of someone other than the user.

In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 20,000 Americans die annually as the direct result of alcohol consumption. The comparable figure for marijuana: 0.

The marijuana debate has been framed the wrong way in the minds of Americans for too long. When asked to think about the subject, the first reaction for many is, “Why should we add another vice?”

The opponents of marijuana legalization have helped create this mindset by exaggerating and distorting the harms associated with marijuana. The list of discredited assertions about marijuana – from the “gateway” theory to a causal relationship with violence to links to lung cancer – is too long to review in this column.

Accepting marijuana for the relatively benign recreational substance it is, the appropriate question is not, “Why add a vice?” Instead, the question is, “Why prohibit a safer alternative for adults?”

Our opponents have no answer to this direct question. This is because it is not possible to defend allowing adults to use alcohol but not marijuana. One would have to call for a return to alcohol prohibition to make a rational argument against our initiative.

So instead, they want this debate to be about kids. They argue our initiative will make marijuana more available to teens, ignoring the fact that marijuana prohibition has created a situation in which 86 percent of high school seniors now say it is “very easy” or “fairly easy” to get marijuana.

They say we will send the wrong message to kids, hoping no one will notice that they have been so successful in their message that kids think it is safer to binge drink than to use marijuana.

This in no way suggests we advocate teen use of marijuana. But in the real world, kids will be exposed to both regardless of the outcome of this initiative. And if your kids engage in binge drinking, they could die of an overdose. If they use marijuana, they cannot. That’s reality.

Here is the message we should be sending our kids: “The plain honest truth is that marijuana is an intoxicating substance. As a minor, it is simply not appropriate to use any intoxicating substance for recreational purposes. But if you happen to be exposed to these substances, here is how each one can harm you.”

Amendment 44 has nothing to do with kids. If it passes, it will still be illegal for anyone under 21 to possess marijuana, and it will still be a felony to provide a minor with any amount of marijuana. Rates of use will be affected by education and guidance from parents, not marijuana’s legal status for adults.

I urge you to vote yes on Amendment 44 so that we can stop punishing adults in order to deceive children. A new policy based on logic and truth will benefit both groups in the long run.

Mason Tvert is campaign director for SAFER and the lead proponent for Amendment 44. More information on Amendment 44 is available at

Letter to Eben Moglen

As an outside observer to the negotiations over GPLv3 and the resistance in some quarters to its adoption, I think it is apparent that people do not typically act against their own interests. Free software is an end unto itself for the FSF and some other idealists, but it is not so with others. What has been established is a compromise position, an ecosystem founded upon the GPLv2 and the businesses that make money and support developers. It does not matter if the participants began as idealists, they have made a living and should not be asked to support what would disadvantage their own families today.

Let the Linux kernel and its developers, the companies that employ many of them, and the businesses that are their customers (for the average poor college student is not the one who pays the bills) have their operating system based on their own principles on which they have built an economy, even if those principles were once synonymous with your own and are based upon the GPLv2 itself.

Build a new software ecosystem using GPLv3 atop of HURD, and make that the next wave.

Update: A tip of the hat to PJ at Groklaw.

How’s your other war going?

A British soldier relates what the American media won’t report,

We had to manoeuvre across open ground for 200 metres. The scene was like a human abattoir. We fought off the Taliban, but were too late to save the French guys. All of us were shaking when we were flown back to base. One of the Afghan survivors said the French had been tied up, then gutted alive by the Taliban. It was one of the most shocking things I had ever heard.

Not so well, I gather.

Hat-tip to Ellroon.

You are the eyes of the world

06-17-91 East Rutherford, NJ


Read the rest of this entry »

Nixon the Second

Richard Milhouse Nixon was a very bad man, and a very bad president. He would have been impeached and removed from office, according to the conventional wisdom, but he first resigned, and was therefore pardoned by Gerald Ford.

Some members of his administration thought he should have toughed it out.

Cheney and Rumsfeld

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are the remnants of the Nixon the First administration. Nixon had tried to arrogate all power to himself and failed. Cheney and Rumsfeld believed he could have blackmailed everyone he’d been listening to with his plumbers, and force them all in line to support his executive power grab.

When George Bush was made president, it was with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld that he made his deal. They are the permanent members of the administration. They set about making Dick Nixon II, the sequel.

George Bush should have been impeached and removed from office some time ago, for the illegal wiretaps alone if nothing else: the plumbers have been restarted. And the fact that leaks are coming out fast and furious in the Republican Party is likely a purge. Wiretaps give you lots of abilities to maneuver politically, and accomplish all manner of things that would likely be thought inconceivable, like Congress granting all of its power, and the authority to torture innocent people, to the president who could roast them over a spit and make their deepest darkest secrets known to the world.

A few have to be sacrificed, just to show you know how to do it and will do it when you want. So here goes Mark Foley, and then all those uppity Republican “Leaders” that might have the power to betray the administration successfully before the administration could discredit them. Out with John Boehner and J. Dennis Hastert.

Speculation? Sure. But I’d bet on it, if I were a betting man.

Update: Looking at that picture, yonder Cassius has a lean and hungry look, don’t you think?