Reefer Mad Media, take note. Just because somebody might be a pot smoker and then something terrible happens to them, that doesn’t mean smoking pot led to something terrible. Witness this latest example from Kingport, Tennessee, news coverage of the shooting death of a local man, with the eye-catching headline:
Hawkins man fatally shot during argument over best method to grow marijuana
It’s those violent drug criminals! The illegal marijuana growers in Tennessee! Reporter Jeff Bobo then gives you the lede:
(Times-News.net) SURGOINSVILLE — Hawkins County investigators say an alcohol-fueled argument over marijuana growing techniques preceded a shooting early Friday morning that left one man dead and another charged with second-degree murder.
Ah. So two guys got drunk, had an argument, and one shot the other. In rural Tennessee.
The two reportedly hadn’t seen each other for three or four years and began drinking Thursday night. Beer and liquor, as well as a small amount of marijuana, were allegedly found at the Parker residence.
Ah. So the two guys got drunk at one guy’s house where he wasn’t even growing marijuana. Maybe one of the few people in rural Tennessee who isn’t growing some marijuana – the state is second only to California in production, but is about 1/4th the size and contains 1/6th the population. There were more marijuana plants seized in Tennessee than the state has people.
At some point during their reunion, Parker and Armstrong began looking up marijuana growing techniques on the Internet, and subsequently the two began to argue about that subject, Lawson said.
Ah. So, is this still a headline story if, say, two drunk guys got into an argument and one shot the other, but we don’t know what the argument is about? Does the word “alcohol” or “drunk” make it into the headline if “marijuana” isn’t there?
Alcohol leads to violence like this all the time. We openly accept – nay, celebrate – drinking alcohol in our culture. It promotes our sports, our entertainment, and it is ubiquitous, even in Utah. We accept the idea of parking lots at bars – bring your car here and drink! We accept that responsible people will bring a designated driver or just not get too drunk. We accept that some irresponsible drunks will get behind the wheel anyway and kill around 40,000 people.
And we’re fine with that. The vast majority of adults who consume alcohol do so responsibly and it greatly enhances their lives. We know from experience that the violence that resulted from criminalizing it was far worse that the violence inherent in its use. We’re just stunned that a society so tolerant of the most dangerous drugs (alcohol, nicotine) can be so terrorized about the most benign drug, Mary Jane, whose only deaths can be attributed to her prohibition.
But when the Reefer Mad Media are always so quick to put “marijuana” in an it-bleeds-it-leads headline, whether it is really germane to the story or not, you begin to understand.