Jillette’s Rant on Obama and Marijuana


Penn Jillette delivered a righteous rant about the Obama administration’s policies on medical marijuana on a radio show recently. All the stuff about Obama trying to be hip is pointless spitballing, but there’s a very important point in the middle of this rant:

Do we believe, even for a second, that if Obama had been busted for marijuana — under the laws that he condones — would his life have been better? If Obama had been caught with the marijuana that he says he uses, and ‘maybe a little blow’… if he had been busted under his laws, he would have done hard fucking time. And if he had done time in prison, time in federal prison, time for his ‘weed’ and ‘a little blow,’ he would not be President of the United States of America. He would not have gone to his fancy-ass college, he would not have sold books that sold millions and millions of copies and made millions and millions of dollars, he would not have a beautiful, smart wife, he would not have a great job. He would have been in fucking prison, and it’s not a goddamn joke. People who smoke marijuana must be set free. It is insane to lock people up.

He’s absolutely right about that, and not just for marijuana. The war on drugs destroys lives, it destroys families, it corrupts our law enforcement system at every level, and it is helping bankrupt state and local governments.

Comments

  1. cjtotalbro says

    He is 100% right in the bit you quoted.

    Penn is frustrating to me because he can have moments like this of absolute clarity and righteousness and it makes me love him.
    Then I remember the Penn who while still making Bullshit went on the Glenn Beck show and never called out that pseudo-libertarian on his bullshit and get a bit confused.

  2. Aratina Cage says

    The president’s failure to stop the war on people ingesting chemicals is his biggest failure in my eyes. Isn’t the drug war a religiously motivated ideology in the first place? I just can’t see skeptics and atheists caring too much what people ingest, provided there are regulations and that people are educated about the effects different chemicals have on the average human. It seems like just another area of law where religion creeped in and took over.

  3. says

    I might splice out that little bit and spread it around because that is pretty effective.

    I’ve been trying to figure out ways to get Democrats to lean on their party on important issues that are getting conveniently ignored while they are pounding on Republicans.

  4. Eric Ressner says

    and [the war on drugs] is helping bankrupt state and local governments.

    But there is asset forfeiture to compensate.</snark>

  5. says

    The war on drugs is very profitable for american companies. It won’t end until that reality ends. Those crop dusters and prisons aren’t free, the government pays for them and industry gets richer for their efforts in an unwinnable struggle. When elected officials talk about crop dusting other countries in our hemisphere they care about what state is going to get the contract, not what it does to the people they spray with chemicals.

    Jillette will never rail against the systems in place that make the war on drugs a reality, just select leaders, as if they are really able to change things on their own. He is so breath-takingly obtuse about the practical considerations of politics, it is amazing to me that anyone gives a shit about what he has to say at all.

  6. d cwilson says

    I have to agree with #1 and #5. There are so many external factors driving the war on drugs that it can’t be turned aroud on a dime. Not until it has the kind of groundswell support that same-sex marriage is receiving.

    Also, Jillette often makes a good case for personal liberty, but his extreme libertarian streak gives him a huge blindspot sometimes with regards to faux libertarians like Beck.

  7. pacal says

    Like so many Libertarians Penn Jillette seems to be unaware or simply obtuse to idea of private power. It appears in his view only government can coerce.

  8. spartan says

    skeptifem,

    Jillette will never rail against the systems in place that make the war on drugs a reality, just select leaders, as if they are really able to change things on their own.

    The executive branch has the power to reschedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, so yes, select leaders can theoretically change things on their own. Whether they have the political courage to do so I agree is entirely another matter.

  9. Homo Straminus says

    pacal–I’m…not sure you meant what you wrote.

    Are you actually saying that libertarians believe only government can fix problems in society?

    I ask because I’m pretty sure it’s not opposite day.

  10. Homo Straminus says

    “The fault, dear spartan, is not in our stars, but in our foolish belief in ‘political courage’, that we so wish existed.”

  11. krc106 says

    I was a fan of Jillettes for a long time. Thanks to a lot of his recent actions, from the stuff listed above to his recent misogynistic twitter rant, I really can’t stand to hear anything he has to say even when he has a good point.

    @10-I think pacal meant that Libertarians ignore the power of private entities to coerce people in a negative way, while railing about federal government coercion.

  12. Homo Straminus says

    krc–thanks for the interpretation. Not sure if it’s a straw man, but as they say I have no horse in this fight.

  13. lostintime says

    Ugh, spare me the fawning over Penn Jillette. He’s an unabashed libertarian who works shamelessly for the CATO Institute promoting an anti-science position on Climate Change and smoking, thinks it would be a good idea to scrap the Endangered Species Act, is opposed to animal welfare legislation, progressive taxation and gun control. He wants to effectively stop overseas aid to developing nations, cut worker’s rights, hates socialized medicine and is a free-market fundamentalist and disciple Ayn Rand (who wrote the disgusting tirade ‘the virtue of selfishness’). Why does it matter that he appears on radio stations and shouts obnoxiously for thirty minutes about subjects that he knows very little about? The atheist movement needs better role models.

  14. cjtotalbro says

    Yes. But that doesnt mean he is wrong here about drug policy.

    What are you missing?

  15. dorfl says

    Every time Penn Jillette talks, I end up thinking either “that’s a really good point” or “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”. I guess it’s nice to see him having a good point again after that streak of impossible dumbities.

  16. lostintime says

    I’m not missing anything, I think we should decriminalise cannabis and reform our drugs policy, but I want to listen to people who have an informed and evidence-based understanding of the subject, like Johann Hari, Geoffrey Robertson or David Eagleman. It’s annoying that Penn Jillette is regarded so highly in the media, and is invited as a key speaker to humanist conferences, when his position is undeniably anti-humanist on so many crucial issues. He may have a point to make about drugs, but I would rather not hear it from a wing-nut.

  17. cafink says

    I love Penn Jillette and typically agree with most of what he has to say on politics, science, and religion. He’s definitely made some dumb remarks on climate change in the past, but he’s backed down from them and as far as I know he accepts that it’s real and man-made.

    He’s definitely a nut when it comes to certain subjects, but he’s also willing to admit it!

  18. Michael Heath says

    d cwilson writes:

    There are so many external factors driving the war on drugs that it can’t be turned aroud on a dime. Not until it has the kind of groundswell support that same-sex marriage is receiving.

    I’m confident that the public is far more inclined to end the Drug War than they are to support gay marriage. In Michigan voters added a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage or the appearance of gay marriage while also strongly voting to legalize medical marijuana.

    I live in an area which is so ‘red state’ we frequently don’t have any Democrats running for local office, that the effective election is the primary. When the state recently cracked down on medical marijuana dispensaries that were popping up around in our town and throughout the state, the public saw that as an intrusion on liberty. The state garnered almost zero support from anyone except state and local government officials in law enforcement and regulatory affairs. The regional health dept. voiced frustration these dispensaries were selling food products with pot without having to get inspected like restaurants and grocery stores do.

  19. Michael Heath says

    On Penn’s Bullshit show he made an entire show that environmentalism is bullshit because some guys are attracted to the movement because dumb hot girls are active participants. He lost me forever on that one show.

  20. Pieter B, FCD says

    In one of the Bullshit episodes, called “Numbers” IIRC, a pollster named Frank Luntz demonstrates that the way questions are phrased and the order in which they are asked can influence the answers that people give. Penn uses this demonstration as “proof” that polls are Bullshit.

    My wife spent most of her working life in opinion research; these effects are well known and legitimate studies are designed to minimize these effects; the way questions are phrased is carefully scrutinized and the order in which the possible responses are given is randomized to minimize a bias toward picking the first or the last in a list. This but one example of the effort made to produce accurate data. A great deal of opinion research, perhaps the majority, is done for marketing purposes, and if you’re not giving your customers reliable information they’re not going to keep giving you business.

    Frank Luntz is not well thought of in the industry. He’s the guy you go to not to get an accurate result, but to get the number you want to “prove” a point; the GOP has used him for years. Despite this, whenever the media want an “expert” on polling, there’s Frank.

  21. Michael Heath says

    Frank Luntz is a major architect of the GOP message. He comes up with the set of specific words based on this polling results which Republicans use in their talking points to misinform the public and promote their partisan message.

  22. says

    “The executive branch has the power to reschedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, so yes, select leaders can theoretically change things on their own. Whether they have the political courage to do so I agree is entirely another matter.”

    It’s not political courage that’s lacking. It’s machiavellian math at work. Regardless Barack Obama’s personal feelings about drugs, sex and RNC (okay, not so much that one) he is painfully aware of what happens when he says or does something that pisses off the reichWWWingers and SCARES his party–he loses both the votes and the polls. He could have changed DADT by fiat, he could do lots of things that way and the election in November would be the GOP’s without their having to spend nearly a $B of their hardstolen money.

    “He’s definitely made some dumb remarks on climate change in the past, but he’s backed down from them and as far as I know he accepts that it’s real and man-made.”

    Backing down is hardly the same thing as ADMITTING that you were completely full of shit, which he was–and still is–on AGW and a number of other things.

    “On Penn’s Bullshit show he made an entire show that environmentalism is bullshit because some guys are attracted to the movement because dumb hot girls are active participants.”

    Michael Heath; do you have a link? I don’t want to read it or watch Jillette, I just want to see if there are any hotties’ pithcerz.

    BTW, will they have to change the political designation for that area to “‘Panama Red’ state”?

  23. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    On Penn’s Bullshit show he made an entire show that environmentalism is bullshit because some guys are attracted to the movement because dumb hot girls are active participants.

    Democommie:

    Michael Heath; do you have a link? I don’t want to read it or watch Jillette, I just want to see if there are any hotties’ pithcerz.

    Here’s a link to Penn and Teller’s Bullshit! episodes. The show I was citing was most likely Season 1, Episode 13 titled, “Environmental Hysteria”.

  24. says

    Penn has his good moments (the gun control episode was spot on) and his piss-poor ones (the global warming episode and environmental issues in general), but he damn sure hit the nail on the head here.

  25. says

    I think that marijuana laws are ridiculous, the drug laws make felons of people who have done no one, but maybe themselves, any harm and turn them into people who will have few if any prospects in life and that is unjustifiable.

    BUT, these are not policies that Obama enacted. They have been on the books for decades. So yah, I hope Obama is reelected, I think people need to let him know this is a subject that matters, but in the scope of things, I can see how it is a lower priority than some of the other matters that Obama has worked on.

    I don’t support everything that Obama does and I don’t have any issues with people rallying for causes that matter and letting their elected leaders know when they are unhappy, but I have some issue with Penn’s assertion that this is some sort of class warfare. To say that Obama hasn’t made this a high enough priority is a reasonable assumption. To say that Obama has used the “war on drugs” to laugh at people is conspiracy theory.

  26. cbailey says

    Wow. I dont even know what to say to you people.

    The so called war on drugs is a war on the american people and a war on the constitution. I have been saying so since reagan was pres, and I am saying so now. Curse every drug warrior that ever was. That Obama was a pothead in his youth ( and probably still is ) just adds hypocrisy into the assault. This thread is full of excuses for captain zero and his ilk ( such as that bitch hillary joking about the war on drugs never coming to an end because there is too much money in it ) and ad hominem arguments aimed at Jillette because he disagreed on other issues you love, such as the climate scam.

    Screw y’all.

  27. Michael Heath says

    c bailey writes:

    The so called war on drugs is a war on the american people and a war on the constitution. I have been saying so since reagan was pres, and I am saying so now. Curse every drug warrior that ever was.

    How’s the fight going with the enemy in your head, that’s given no one’s arguing otherwise here.

    c bailey writes:

    That Obama was a pothead in his youth ( and probably still is) . . .

    Citation requested the President is a “pothead”; this venue isn’t kind to those who believe what they like rather than presenting conclusions based on a sufficient set of empirical facts.

    c bailey writes:

    ad hominem arguments aimed at Jillette because he disagreed on other issues you love, such as the climate scam.

    I suggest you look up the definition of what an ad hominem is because you’re using it wrong here. Precisely because Mr. Jillette was called out on how he rejected the scientific consensus regarding the fact of climate change and the observed facts on why it’s changing, which was equivalent to how a YEC denies the fact of evolution – ignorant dismissal of what science understands while attributing it to the convenient and nefarious “they”. Also, citation requested from you that the theory of climate change is instead a scam rather than a confidently held consensus position held by 97% of all practicing climate scientists. Good luck with that.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply