It's abundantly clear that Bill O'Reilly embraces his status as the elder derp of Fox News' prime time lineup. Many of his rants aren't really political missives, but more like paternalistic scoldings from a 1960s Catholic headmaster battening down the moral hatches as the Summer of Love encircles the campus.
Such was the case Monday night, when O'Reilly embarked on a preposterous tirade against the New York Times for its editorial calling for the legalization of marijuana -- a topic which turned the panel of a Very Serious News Show like Meet the Press into a cafeteria table full of giggling fifth graders. And if Headmaster O'Reilly had been there, he would've paddled them all.
Here's the opening segment from Monday night's The O'Reilly Factor:
"The great marijuana ruse. That is the subject of tonight's Talking Points Memo. Over the weekend the New York Times called for the U.S.A. to legalize marijuana all over the place."
All the Times did was advocate the repeal of federal marijuana laws, which account for a small percentage of marijuana-related arrests, fines, or other citations across the country. If every federal law restricting marijuana were repealed today, the drug would still be illegal for most people in 48 of 50 states, because states have their own drug laws. That's why when "your cousin" got busted that one time for weed, he probably didn't have to show up in federal court at any point.
The Times did say in its editorial that more marijuana op-eds would be forthcoming, so it's tough to tell what exactly they'll advocate on the state level, if anything.
"No surprise. That paper's far left on its editorial page, so its stance is predictable."
If the legalization of marijuana is a "far left" position as O'Reilly claims, then how come last October he didn't denounce the 58% of Americans who believe that "marijuana should be made legal" as far lefties?
"But the real reason -- the real reason -- many liberals want to legalize pot is not to put another intoxicant in the marketplace, although they generally don't object to that..."
Of course we want another intoxicant in the marketplace. It's a hangover-free alternative for coping with the continued existence of The O'Reilly Factor.
"The real reason -- the unspoken marijuana play -- is contained in the Times editorial:
"'The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.'
"There you have it. The Left believes American law enforcement targets African-Americans for drug prosecutions. Therefore, they want drug sales to be categorized as nonviolent offenses and marijuana to be legalized. It's about race, not drugs."
The Left believes African-Americans are targeted because it's reality -- demonstrable, verifiable reality. In 2010, whites and blacks used marijuana at similar rates, yet blacks were four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
"Now some facts, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, about 5,000 criminals were sentenced for marijuana offenses in 2013 at the federal level -- almost 98% of them, for sale. Average prison time: 41 months. And here's the kicker 63% of those convicted on the federal level were Hispanic. Just 11% black."
That's because the federal government typically gets involved in marijuana cases when large quantities of the plant -- and let's emphasize plant -- cross state lines as part of a drug running operation. And so it's no surprise that most were Hispanic, given that significant amounts of marijuana come from south of the border courtesy of drug mules who bring the product into the country.
However, this is starting to decline as state marijuana laws are becoming more relaxed. For example, that means medical marijuana users in the increasing number of states where it's legal, can get more easily get marijuana that didn't originate in a place with a violent drug cartel.
"The legalization of marijuana is still full of unintended consequences. It sends a signal to children that drug use is an acceptable part of life. That's big."
Invoking The Children is the political equivalent of posting photos of your actual children on Facebook. It's a cheap way get Likes and win people over. I am not impressed.
But even if we indulge this argument, what are we left with? Yes, it really would be terrible if The Children suddenly thought things like marijuana, tobacco, nicotine, alcohol, and AR-15s were acceptable parts of adult life.
"The Times says marijuana is not a gateway drug, that it does not lead to other drug use. That is false. According to a recent study by the Yale School of Medicine, adolescents who use pot or alcohol are three times more likely to abuse hard drugs than children who do not use intoxicants."
Kids start with marijuana because it's typically the easiest and softest illegal drug one can get. And if they use and abuse hard drugs, that's usually a sign that more serious than marijuana use is going on in their lives. But if O'Reilly really wants to play the gateway game, it turns out the alcohol is the real gateway drug.
"As for the poor precincts in America, does it make any sense at all to make intoxicants more available in those places? Drug use and sales have devastated poor neighborhoods in this country."
First off, illicit drugs are readily available in plenty of poor neighborhoods, and in pretty much every major city drug users can typically find what they're looking for. There's no question drug use has done serious damage not just to the lives of poor people, but middle class and rich ones as well. But the damage is greatly compounded by draconian drug laws and racist sentencing disparities that disproportionately affect these communities.
"Let's take New York City for example. In 1990, there were 2,245 homicides in this town -- an average of six per day. In 2013, there were 335 homicides. So what happened? Under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the New York City Police cracked down on open drug use and sales, and those convicted of selling drugs were given much harsher sentences by the state of New York.
"No one disputes the murder rate was driven by the drug trade as gangs shot it out all over the city. But now the Left wants to go soft on drug use and criminal sentencing. Apparently the New York Times and others want to go back to the good old days where there were six murders daily in the nation's largest city."
Unless O'Reilly can show that the NYPD was especially targeting marijuana users and dealers as part of this "crackdown," then this is irrelevant.
Also, may I ask what all those murders in New York City and across the country between 1920 and 1933 were about? I seem to remember a dramatic rise in crime rates, as well as the ascendance of an organization we loosely refer to as the mob. If I recall correctly, the mob was able to deliver something that was illegal but that the public nonetheless wanted. And so criminally-minded risk-takers enticed by the prospect of lucrative paydays, delivered it to them. But they tended to be highly protective of their operations and we were willing to kill over.
Oh yes, it was alcohol, which has since been made legal again.
"Drug use is a public menace. It helps no one."
Except anyone who suffers from these conditions.
"Same thing with alcoholism. Same thing with smoking tobacco. But you don't add to those problems by legalizing pot. That's stupid."
So why not make alcohol and tobacco illegal? If they're drugs and they cause problems, it stands to reason by O'Reilly's own logic that they're menaces too.
"America used to have standards of behavior in public. But today, they're collapsing all around us."
I'll give you this one, Bill. They really have. I think it started at some point in the early 1990s when people began thinking it was acceptable to behave like this:
"And that's the memo."
No, that's just bullshit.