Bill Murchison

Adults who Viewed with Alarm met rebuke. Why, you hypocrites -- don't you get drunk three days out of four?! The likeness of pot to alcohol, an entertainment and pastime of great antiquity, was frequently imputed. Rarely noticed was the oddness of adding -- if you saw alcohol as an escape, which probably only a minority did and do -- one brand new enticement to zoning out.

The need for withdrawal from reality grew exuberant in the '60s. Human kind, T. S. Eliot had noted wryly, can't bear much reality: meaning much seriousness of purpose, the human task of sorting out good from evil, right from wrong. The '60s saw Eliot and raised him. We disliked reality of all kinds. Nor was pot the only doorway leading out of the predicament. If it wasn't pot, it was LSD; if not LSD, cocaine; if not cocaine, heroin: anything for a quick kick, a drawing down of the blinds upon responsibility, duty and other such quaint conceits.

The drug culture was a fantasy culture in the '60s. It remains such. The quest for escape is inherently immature: not so much wrong, perhaps, as evasive, fugitive, emotionally suspect. You're supposed to get over most such temptations by age 16. That was the general assumption, anyway, prior to the emergence of Counterculture Chic and its inevitable accompaniment -- the disappearance of real-world norms.

We want to encourage erratic behavioral patterns by making pot legal for purely personal use? Why? Cui bono? Who's better off if we do it? Such questions lack resonance. The desire for escape at a moment's notice, for withdrawal into a world of private norms and outlooks -- if that's your thing, and maybe it is, you've come to the right country, at just the right moment.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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