Why Journalists And The Media Have To Become More Informed About Weed Before Passing Judgment

Why Journalists And The Media Have To Become More Informed About Weed Before Passing Judgment
Politics
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, hosts MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” a talk show that, while not very popular among certain viewers, is beloved by media elites in New York and Washington DC.

Salon’s Alex Pareene described the spectacle as, “Scarborough’s wacky morning show cocktail party — are they or aren’t they spiking their coffee, is a question they are all really hoping anyone is asking — isn’t just an endless parade of conventional wisdom-spouting morons feebly discussing the day’s political news.” Two days after Colorado became the newest state to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, Scarborough proved Pareene right when he said, “I don’t get the legalization thing. I don’t want to get too much into it, I mean, seriously, it just makes you dumb. Pot just makes you dumb.” But, what if Scarborough’s diagnosis is true?

Last year, Duke University researchers released a study that reported “persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife.” But researchers in Norway dispute the Duke report and claim it did not take into account several components like how poverty may have affected a subject’s neuropsychological status.

The Duke study also used IQ, a highly controversial vehicle for measuring intelligence, as a baseline. But, Scarborough did not employ the disputed study in his ramblings. Instead, he said that weed makes you dumb because his friends who lit up in college and played musical instruments were dumb.

And when asked by someone on set if drinking alcohol makes a person dumb, Scarborough was confused (which he is often), before he admitted, “I think in large amounts it makes you dumb.” The University of Alabama graduate did not, apparently, pick up on the incoherence of his argument. To be clear, there is no definitive evidence — absolutely none — to support Scarborough’s unlettered and lazy claim that smoking weed makes one dumb.

Scarborough was not the only media character to embarrass himself with specious and irrelevant claims about marijuana use. New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote that Colorado had enhanced “individual freedom” by legalizing recreational cannabis. “But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be,” Brooks added. Who is David Brooks to declare that a person who fires up occasionally is not being the person he or she wants to be?

Brooks also admitted to smoking weed as a younger man; His weed smoking did not prevent him from becoming a smug newspaper columnist. Brooks is dead wrong when he implies that weed ruins lives. The unjust and racist enforcement of stupid prohibition laws, which disproportionately puts young black and Latino people in jail, is more responsible for destroying the futures than any recreational drug could.

Outgoing Daily Beast editor Tina Brown joined the marijuana prohibition club when she tweeted “legal weed contributes to us [sic] being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.” Yes, weed – not processed sugar and toxic fast-food, or subpar education and schools, or working more than 40 hours per week for poor wages – plays an instrumental role in America ceding its global shot-caller status to the dastardly Chinese.

I was in Boston visiting some friends the first time I smoked weed. We were all sitting around watching a rerun of “Seinfeld” – the episode when Jon Voigt bites Kramer – when our host unveiled his three-foot ice bong. I swore then and I swear now it was the most hilarious television viewing experience of my life.

I had never fully appreciated “Seinfeld’s” humor until that night. I did not feel dumb, but the musings of tired baby boomers like Scarborough, Brooks and Brown cannot be ignored, given the role these people play in shaping the metanarrative surrounding a host of issues — not merely marijuana prohibition. Journalists have an obligation to be knowledgeable about the issues on which they write, speak and tweet.

Otherwise very little separates the ignorant loudmouth on the street from the ignorant loudmouth on the silver screen and in the papers.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Share Tweet
React
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

Juan Thompson

Juan Thompson is a graduate of Vassar College who is taking a break from law school while he gives journalism and writing, his first passions, a shot. His freelance work and opinions have appeared on DNAinfo, Daily Kos and in Chicago Mag. When he's not reading the news or watching Danish political dramas, he is writing his memoir, It Hurts Even More in French, which was recently picked up by Crown Publishing.

More In Politics

Politics John Flynn

Debunking Every Reason You Have For Not Voting In This Year’s Election

Millennials are historically apathetic. Today, pretty much every human creation ever conceived is on the Internet. Access to every novel, film, artwork, TV show, essay, article, song and event is literally sitting in a small black rectangle in our pockets. We must believe that anything and everything we are doing is better than any of […]

Politics Jandra Sutton

The Short And Long Reasons Why Millennials Hate Politics

It’s no secret that Millennials appear disinterested in politics today, especially in the United States. In fact, a recent Pew study concluded that Millennials aren’t fans of political parties, with half of Millennials describing themselves as politically independent. Here’s why: Long Version Politics has become an old boys’ club and there isn’t much room for younger generations […]

Also On Elite

Dating

4 Ways To Know You’re Free And Independent Within Your Relationship

Have you ever noticed that when you’re single, you want to be in a relationship, and when you’re in a relationship, you want the freedom you had when you were single? There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s healthy. Why? Relationships are about sharing our individualities, differences and teaching […]

World

Disgusting: Jewish Fraternity Vandalized With Swastikas Following Yom Kippur

A Jewish fraternity house at Emory University was painted with swastikas early Sunday morning. Officials at the prestigious Atlanta institution told local news station WSB-TV that Alpha Epsilon Pi was vandalized with “crude, offensive graffiti, including swastikas.” The act of anti-Semitism took place right after Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish […]

Envision

This Is What A $95-Million Apartment Looks Like In New York City (Photos)

Unfortunately, not too many of us will be able to experience a $95-million view of New York City. Not long ago, we introduced you to a 17-year-old kid named Demid Lebedev who made it his duty to climb New York City’s tallest building-to-be. The daredevil photographer just wanted to get a glimpse of what a multi-million-dollar […]

Women

6 Things Holding The Millennial Female Back From Finding Love

Love: It’s something we all think about. It’s something we all secretly yearn for the in the furthest corners of our young hearts, whether or not we want to admit it. We’re genetically inclined to want to fall in love, to find a partner and to find someone with whom we can share our lives […]