It’s tough these days supporting marijuana prohibition. Two states have already legalized the demon weed and two more are planning to this election. Even our nation’s capital is going to allow adults to smoke the devil’s lettuce. Few people still believe the “gateway drug” theory and scaring folks about medibles in their kid’s Halloween candy is a seasonal scare that will pass from memory by Election Day when it turns out no kids anywhere end up dosed by an unwrapped pot candy.
But radical Islamic jihad? Why, that’s the scare that keeps on scaring! So why not tell people that marijuana leads otherwise sane North American teens to commit radical acts of violence? Yeah, it means directly contradicting the long-held prohibition talking point that marijuana makes you a directionless amotivated loser, but that one kind of drowned with Michael Phelps’ gold medals wrapped around its neck.
Cliff Kincaid writes in the ironically named Accuracy in Media that “It may be too early to draw a direct connection between jihad, marijuana, and mass murder, but it is worth considering whether consumption of the drug can alter the mind to such an extent that jihad becomes appealing to some mentally unstable individuals.” From there, Kincaid writes about:
* “Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Canadian Islamic terrorist killer… [who] was an Islamist, as well as a pothead.”
* “…one of the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was not only a dope smoker but a dealer.”
* “Michael Brown, the black thug who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri…. he had marijuana in his system and had been a user for some time.”
* “Trayvon Martin, the black juvenile delinquent shot and killed after he assaulted anti-crime activist George Zimmerman, also smoked marijuana regularly.”
* “The latest White House fence-jumper, Dominic Adesanya… told officials he smoked marijuana “sometimes, but not everyday.”
What Kincaid is doing here is something called a post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy — because this happened, then that happened, this caused that. It’s the most basic of logical fallacies that any college freshman passing Logic 101 should be able to point out. (Leave aside for now the obvious bigotry in naming the race of a “thug” and a “juvenile delinquent” and considering George Zimmerman an “anti-crime activist” when Zimmerman’s committed at least three rage-based crimes since killing Trayvon Martin.)
It’s a pretty common fallacy among prohibitionists, though, and easy enough to understand. Have you ever really wanted a car, let’s say a Subaru, then as you’re on the bus you notice how many Subarus are in your town? Now, it’s most probable that your town has as many Subarus in it as any other, but you’re suffering from an observational bias. Since a Subaru is so important to you, you tend to notice other Subarus. Well, violent potheads are Cliff Kincaid’s Subaru.
If Kincaid wants to find a link between violence and drugs, he’s looking at the wrong drug. Perhaps he could dig into the link between prescription anti-depressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and violence.