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Getting High and Assembling IKEA = Hikea

When I was growing up in the 1980s in the USA, the anti-drug hysteria which had gripped the country was at its peak. The massed forces of mainstream pop and political culture drummed a constant message into us youngsters: drugs are dangerous, they permanently damage your brain, they're for losers, one criminal conviction and your entire life will be ruined, you'll have flashbacks, the people you buy them from are dangerous predators.

At least once a week, some prime-time television show would feature a Very Special Episode in which a character took that first fateful toke and then dropped off the deep end, reappearing several episodes later as a scabby-faced ruin selling herself at the truck stop, snorting evil-looking granules through her Harvard diploma.

As might be expected, this drove the more adventurous among us young people to try all the drugs. But doing them was a frightening experience -- what if one of those warnings turned out to be true? What if we really were frying our brains forever? What if the trip would never end, and we'd end up gibbering in some mental ward?

And yet, every time we did drugs, it was fine. We had loads of fun, learned a lot, didn't get addicted, and there was no permanent damage. Even a bad trip was just an unpleasant few hours, afterwards everything was back to normal. In the early 2000s, American pop culture gradually changed, and began treating drug use as just a part of growing up. People noticed when the HBO series Six Feet Under featured characters doing drugs, having fun, and returning to their (relatively) normal lives, none the worse for wear. Just as I and all of my friends had done.

And now we've come full-circle. The two young folks above allow themselves to be filmed taking LSD, a crime which, in the worst-case scenario (which won't apply to nice middle-class kids like this), can still earn you a prison sentence in all American states. Yet I'm certain no police department is ever going to bother to track them down, arrest them, and get them to snitch on their dealer, threatening to destroy their entire fucking lives unless they cooperate. And after the trip is over and they've sort of tried to build that dresser, they're fine.

And despite modern America largely abandoning terrifying anti-drug propaganda, drug use among young Americans has declined steadily. You could almost conclude that the propaganda had the opposite of its intended effect.

There might be a lesson here for all of us, no?

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