Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's talk about lies and exaggerations for a minute

Let's start by talking about gay marriage for a sec. Does any one really, really give a fuck? Seriously.

Oh, it's going to be mandatory. That's different. Oh, you were kidding; back to my original point.

Kah-lee-fohnia had a State Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to fully equal rights for same-sex marriage. In my opinion ho-and-indeed-hum. I'm married and I don't think that the ruling would affect anyone in my potential dating pool anyway, so...

The usual intellectual featherweights with pretensions of being lightweights have said the usual crap about overturning the will of the people or inventing rights out of whole cloth, or activist judges. The real issue is not adding a right to gay marriage; it's ending the restriction of the right of two consenting adults to form a legally recognized pair bond. Remember, this has no bearing on the religious institution of marriage - under freedom of religion provision in pretty much every western country religious practices cannot be coerced or mandated by the government.

Glenn Greenwald does a hell of a pre-emptive takedown of pretty much every ill-informed version of the argument at Salon.

A while back I noted that whatever talking points were trotted out concerning gays serving openly in the military were the same ones casually dropping out of peoples faces when the armed forces were facing integration. I may have made a post about that. I might have just been the drunk guy at the end of the bar. I can't really remember which it was.

Barry Eisler made the same point in the gay marriage debate in this post. I take it as some kind of vindication of my slightly unorganized thought processes.

To me all that crosses the border between lie and exaggeration. Little in this day and age seems to get lie and exaggeration as confused as talking about drugs.

Case and point: the move to upgrade mary-jane in the UK from Class C to Class B. Even Gordon The-British-Paul-Martin Brown's own advisors recommended not trying to make political hay out of this. But did he listen? Would he be a Labour politician (motto: Longing for Political Exile) if he did? No, he just let everyone make noise about skunk, a higher THC variant of marijuana that's available in the UK now.

The reason I call it an exaggeration bordering on a lie is amply expounded at Reason

According to Reuters, "Brown said he was particularly worried about the growing use of skunk cannabis, which he described as 'more lethal.'" There has never been a documented case of death by marijuana overdose. Based on extrapolations from animal studies, the ratio of marijuana's lethal dose to its effective dose is something like 40,000 to 1 (compared to between 10 and 20 to 1 for aspirin and between 4 and 10 to 1 for alcohol). So even if the average THC content of marijuana has increased as dramatically as drug warriors claim (and it hasn't), and even if pot smokers did not adjust their intake accordingly (and they do), there would be no practical effect on marijuana's toxicity. The chance of a lethal overdose remains, for all intents and purposes, zero. And no matter what kind of stoned logic Brown favours, zero is not more than zero.


See what I mean?

It's the same sort of thing that appears everytime people mention MPAA and file-sharing:

In 2005 the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) released a study of movie piracy that estimated how much money was being lost to copyright infringement. “The typical pirate is age 16–24 and male,” the MPAA reported, adding that “44 percent of MPAA company losses in the U.S. are attributable to college students.”


But it turns out the number was wildly off. In January 2008 the MPAA admitted that the share of movie pirating losses attributable to college students was more like 15 percent, about one-third the figure offered in the 2005 report.


The MPAA has apologized for the flawed report, but during the two and a half years that the incorrect information was touted, it was cited in at least two congressional hearings on intellectual property. Those hearings produced the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which requires colleges and universities to adopt strict antipiracy policies. Neither Congress nor the MPAA seems interested in revisiting that law.

Link (again from Reason)

Lying to lobby for a law that favours your position? Unheard of.

Let's face it. Life is like that. I hate to have my cynic bone so active just before dinner, but if we take FUD tactics at their face value we let ourselves be manipulated, worse yet controlled. We lose those dignities and rights that have been fought for over all those centuries.

This is the future...

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