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

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.

Original Video

Everything You Need To Know About Marijuana

Jesus has risen, but how high did he get? While Easter and 4/20 falling on the same day is most definitely a weird coincidence, it will also highlight a pretty important public opinion on what’s more important: weed or candy eggs? Sto...

More In Politics

Politics Sean Levinson

Jews Have Been Ordered To Register In The Pro-Russian East Ukraine

The Ukrainian militants occupying the eastern city of Donetsk have revealed themselves as anti-Semites, forcing all Jews in the region to pay a fee for living there because of their religion. According to USA Today, Jews were given leaflets as they exited a Donetsk synagogue ordering them to provide the militants looking to make the […]

Also On Elite

Sports

This Is What It Costs To Propose At MLB Ballparks (Infographic)

Spring time is in the air (finally), and that means two things: baseball season and and the spring cycle of rebirth. If you are getting serious about your relationship and thinking about popping the question while at a lovely afternoon baseball game, here’s how hard it will hit your wallet. (Click to enlarge). For all […]

Videos

Dude Makes Epic Metal Song About Heart Disease For Final Project (Video)

Enemies of metal, your death is our reward! In a new video entitled “Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke in G Minor,” by a YouTube user named Veinrelapse, we’re treated to a heavy metal, educational song about what happens when it all goes wrong. It was a school project, a final project for Veinrelapse, but also, so […]

Women

New App Allows Users To Slim Their Faces Down In Selfies So They Look Better

All #selfie lovers take note — this new app offers personal Photoshopping for your face. With the help of a new app, SkinneePix, concerned selfie-takers can their edit photos so that they appear thinner (before posting to all social media channels, of course). The app, which costs $0.99, allows users to decide how much “weight” […]