Has-been actor and present-day irritant Ben Stein has been an asshole for a long time. He has called Barack Obama “the most racist president there has ever been in America.” He was spectacularly, repeatedly wrong about the lead-up to the recession in 2008. He wrote, and starred in, an anti-evolution documentary that was so brainless the American Association for the Advancement of Science was compelled to deride its “profound dishonesty.”
Now Ben Stein has turned his stupendous powers of ineptitude toward marijuana. This week in his titular “Ben Stein’s Diary,” a perennial compendium of stupidity published in the American Spectator, Stein begins with the premise that “Marijuana Is a Cancer,” and from there it gets really dumb.
Before we’re told how in God’s name marijuana is a cancer, Stein decides to compare it instead to ISIS weaponry. Later he tells us that pot is more like a soul-eating alien. Then he says no, it’s more of a poison. Throw a banana in there, Ben, and you’d have a metaphor smoothie.
Stein has personal reasons for his cannabis animus. Last year he freaked when the New York Times ran a pro-pot editorial, inspiring him to write an equally idiotic entry in his diary. What makes Stein think he has the expertise to opine on weed? Because, like a lot of ass clowns who rage against the herb, he bases his opinion on the worst kind of selective subjective experience. He writes:
“I have been in the drugs and alcohol recovery community in an extremely active way since 1987. The exact way is nobody’s business but my own and my wife’s. I have seen up close and personal what today’s marijuana does to young and old people.”
You’ll be shocked to hear that what Ben Stein sees, up close and personal, is not good. The proximate source of his dismay is a young man who is profiled—but not identified—in both of his diary diatribes. The young man smokes pot all day (“Literally there is no waking moment when he is not high”). He has no ambition. He is so damn high that he does not appreciate the 19th century ditties Stein plays for him on the car stereo. (Ben, not for nothing, but perhaps a 20-something person is not quite as enthralled with your “disk of Civil War songs” as you.)
Stein’s observations about his young friend are weird enough, but then he cannot resist the temptation to extrapolate the poor fellow’s experience into a sure sign of America’s downfall. The mass use of the devil’s weed is a more wicked “attack on society” than anything our most bitter foes could have dreamt up, he says. Dude, please chill.
But Stein’s jeremiad against ganja isn’t based on only anecdotal evidence. He did scholarly research into the matter as well, speaking with “a super-smart friend who has a Ph.D. in psychology” on the matter. This genius told Stein that studies of the effects of marijuana on motivation are not allowed anymore, and that one is not even allowed to question what cheeba is doing to young people.
You don’t have to be super-smart to debunk those assertions, about thirty seconds with Google Scholar should do it. Perhaps Stein is so anti-evolution that he resists using his opposable thumbs for that purpose, assuming he has them.