The Corner

Re: Stuttaford & Adler

Andrew, I don’t disagree with your points at all. It’s entirely fair to ask Bennett why he thinks recreational gambling is alright but, say, Marijuana use is not. That is the sort of thing that a drug czar ought to be able to explain. And I agree that there are good arguments on both sides of that question. No doubt Bennett would point to drug use impairing, say, driving, in a way that gambling does not. I expect he would also argue that the slippery slope from casual drugs to hard drugs holds more potential danger than any slippery slope surrounding gambling. No doubt there are answers to those points. But I don’t think the fact that there is always a legitimate debate over where to draw the line between pleasure and social harm justifies the accusations of hypocrisy that the likes of Kinsley and Saletan have been making against Bennett. That is my point. And again, this argument would hold true even though Bennett himself, while not spending “the milk money,” may indeed have pushed toward excess.

And Jonathan, I think my points in response to Andrew speak to your points as well. I would add that, believing there is a legitimate debate is not incompatible with a zero tolerance view. Bennett believed that the proponents of legalization had a right to make their point. He just didn’t agree with them. I see the tough arguments on both sides, but I’m also sympathetic to the view that one legitimate resolution to a fuzzy problem is to draw a clear line. If the slippery slope arguments are more compelling in the case of drugs than they are for gambling, then despite the gray area between the two cases, society may have to treat them very differently.

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