Jun 15, 2012
By Leonard Hoffman
Gay marriage has been a high visibility news item these days. The news about President Obama “evolving” was the subject of controversy. Is it political? Is it timely? Does it make a difference? Coincidently, Mitt Romney had his past exposed from high school days in an extensive Washington Post article. The story about Romney leading a gang down the hall in high school to cut the hair of a gay classmate while he is crying and screaming on the floor was graphically detailed by four or five classmates. More troubling to me was the story about him walking a near blind professor into a closed-door and laughing about it. Combining these stories with his denial (denying that he remembered them) I have arrived at one conclusion. Mitt Romney exhibits sociopathic behavior, or put another way he is a sociopath.
As defined in the dictionary: 1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
This description of the former governor ties into many of the character traits he exhibited, famously the dog on the car but more famously the thousands of people thrown out of work by Bain Capital with no regard to leaving them jobless and the U.S. to pay their pension bills. Current sociopathic behavior includes support for the Republican-Ryan budget that will deprive hungry children of meals to give greater tax cuts to the wealthy. It also includes his inability to tell the truth or even appear that it actually matters as much as raising money to outspend his rival.
True to form, the right wing makes an attempt to find similarly reprehensible behavior by Obama at the same approximate age. They seized upon his drug use which is out of character for a president while very much in character for a teenager. Let’s compare adolescent drug use to other forms of behavior. While hard-core drug use for long periods of time is antisocial behavior, short-term recreational use of marijuana takes place with about one in three or four adolescents. It is a victimless crime. There are more reports coming out in a new book that Barack Obama actually smoked a good deal of pot with his high school buddies. Probably, most parents who hear about it will find it disturbingly excessive, particularly because they will hear it painted by those who hate the President already.
For some people, this is indeed self-destructive behavior. While some will argue that the user himself is a victim, and his or her drug use is manifestation of inner pain as is an eating disorder or a physical tick, it is still not doing harm to any other person.
What harm using marijuana is to that person, the user, is the question at hand. Smoking marijuana is a victimless crime; the problem is it is a crime. Over 850,000 arrests were made last year for marijuana possession. Only a small percentage of that was for possession with intent to sell. Almost all arrests were for possession of marijuana to use for personal pleasure. The issue I am focusing on is the destruction of youths. The destruction does not come from using marijuana. Lives are destroyed because of the sequence of events beginning with arrest for small possessions of marijuana, a weed.
Many arguments of concerned citizens against legalizing pot have some merit and we should examine them. Many adults know friends who smoked marijuana about the same time in life as President Obama (They and their friends did not become the editor of the Harvard Law Review, but only one person a year does). My cousin, who lived in Boro Park and was fifteen years older than me, did not do any drugs but he had a hard time finishing high school. Later on he became head of neurosurgery at a prestigious hospital.
There is a clear recognition among universities that adolescent behavior is not criminal by nature or an impediment to healthy maturity. They recognize alcohol and recreational drug use is among those adolescent activities. Princeton University provides 98 percent of the students accepted to attend with dormitories space. The students at Princeton are offered to choose either substance free dorms or non-substance free dorms. You commit to a complete ban of substances in the former and do not commit to the ban in the latter.
The folks who run Princeton at some point recognized that future leaders of business, politics, science, etc. are still teenagers coming in and at best young adults on exit. On the one hand you could ban all substances and punish the offenders, but the administration recognizes that any punishment for underage drinking or using marijuana would outweigh the seriousness of the offense. Proper punishment would include expulsion if the student is unable to complete coursework or if violent or deviant behavior resulted from substance abuse, (Remember, Mitt Romney did not appear to need drugs to exhibit deviant behavior.) but that same punishment is meted out if no drugs are involved.
Now look at the positive attributes of their policy. The university students do not feel compelled to go outside on the streets or alleys of New Jersey to occasionally blow off steam. Thus there is no driving while impaired and no overusing in an attempt to have one or two more for the road. Another important fact: no police enter campus grounds looking for people who are committing harmless misdemeanors.
Imagine your son or daughter driving with three friends when a police car flashes its lights behind for some infraction. The person sitting behind the driver panics and tries to discard a small amount of marijuana under the driver’s seat, but when the policeman looks in the car the contraband is visible or he thinks he sees something and asks everyone to get out of the car.
To be continued…
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