Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston

If you wrote a screenplay with the drug-ravaged pop diva dying at a post-Grammy party, it would be too moralistic, wouldn't it?  We don't know what caused Whitney Houston's death at age 48, but I think it's a pretty fair bet that alcohol, prescription medicines, or illegal drugs will be a big part of the answer.

I have had a few commenters assert that all drugs should be legal, because if someone kills himself with illegal drugs, it's just improving the gene pool.  I have a hard time seeing it that way, and most Americans agree with me--that's why drug legalization, for all its logic, does not enjoy general support.  We can see disasters like this, and tens of thousands of similar people who will never be famous, and find it hard to believe that legalization is going to stop these tragedies.


  1. Maybe legalization will not stop these tragedies, but one thing is absolutely sure - prohibition failed too, certainly to stop this one, or any of the others that occur every day. Prohibition has failed every time it gas been tried. Time to try something else.

  2. No one is saying that legalization will stop self-destruction and yet prohibition, which enriches some very bad people and corrupts government, didn't save her from herself either.

  3. The "War on Drugs" is incompatible with freedom and limited government; in addition it doesn't work.

    The reason our rights are being trampled every day is that too many people look at events like this and want to save these tragically flawed people from themselves.

    It didn't work, and we lost our freedom in the bargain.

  4. I agree that having some drugs illegal didn't save Whitney Houston (assuming, as it very possible, that this was an illegal drug problem). But a law only has to work at the margins to be productive, and fabulously rich rock stars are not likely to be one of the marginal cases.

    It is certainly true that the net loss from drug laws can be greater than net gain. But I get a little annoyed by "removing them from the gene pool" arguments. It is perilously close to Scrooge's remarks about "excess population."

  5. Are you sure that "removing them from the gene pool" argument is made all that often? Usually, the argument is the "cost and benefit" sort.

    In any case, you can refute the argument more easily by just noting that, in most cases, as in this one, the victim is passed child-bearing age anyway.

  6. I'm with Clayton on the latter part; the "removing from the gene pool" thing is both inaccurate [as demonstrably any number of people manage to reproduce BEFORE dying of crack abuse or whatnot] and a poor basis for policy.

    (I'm against, in that I think prohibition - just as with alcohol - does more harm than good and is essentially illiberal.

    It's not clear to me that the war on drugs works even on the margins; crack, meth, and heroin are all "popular" among the very poor more than among rock stars.

    Since people are using meth anyway, despite our best efforts to stop them for years on end and with massive use of paramilitary police power, I'd rather just make it legal and have my sudafed over the counter again, thank you.

    Millions of innocent Americans are being punished with ineffective cold relief, to not stop people doing methamphetamines.)

  7. I'm actually annoyed by "removing them from the gene pool" arguments, too.

    Indeed, it annoys me when I hear someone talk about how society is much better off when a criminal is shot and killed via righteous self-defense. Where others see a "low-life", I mourn the loss of life of someone who should have turned his life around before it came to this; and I also mourn for the person who had to shoot him, who will likely have nightmares of their own to deal with.

    (I'm also in favor of drug least, I will be, once we figure out how to dismantle the welfare state.)

  8. A commenter made that "remove them from the gene pool" argument here a week or two ago. It is not the most common argument made for legalization, but it is a profoundly mean approach.