Mueller's Theory, Wilkinson's Practice
I’ve long remembered this passage from John Mueller’s Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery:
For generations (actually, for millenia) homosexuals have been persecuted both in democracies and nondemocracies, and their defining sexual activity has been routinely outlawed. This tiny minority is still held in open contempt, even disgust, by many members – probably most – of society. Nevertheless, it has gradually been able to undo a great deal of official persecution in democracies in the space of only a couple of decades.
It is significant that this change took place only after homosexuals came out of the closet and openly organized to advance their interests… [O]nce a minority organizes responsibly to put forward its demands, democratic governments are often remarkably responsive. And it is quite possible to imagine that other contemptuously dismissed groups whose principal activity has been outlawed – like drug addicts and prostitutes and, increasingly, it seems, cigarette smokers – could obtain similar redress if they organized and worked on it.
I was intrigued, then, to see Will Wilkinson come out of the grass closet:
If we’re to begin to roll back our stupid and deadly drug war, the
stigma of responsible drug use has got to end, and marijuana is the
best place to start. The super-savvy Barack Obama managed to turn a
buck by coming out of the cannabis (and cocaine) closet in a
bestselling memoir. That’s progress. But his admission came with the
politicians’ caveat of regret. We’ll make real progress when solid,
upstanding folk come out of the cannabis closet, heads held high.
So here we go. My name is Will Wilkinson. I smoke marijuana, and I like it.
As a guy who’s never smoked anything, I don’t have a closet to exit. But I can support Will’s brave move. So here we go:
My name is Bryan Caplan. I have many friends like Will who smoke marijuana, and I like them.
HT: Alexandre Padilla