Myths and Fallacies

I read with interest the recent (totally unsurprising) revelations that pot is America's biggest cash crop and 95% of Americans have has premarital sex. It occurs to me the two stories are intimately related by their efficient subversion of the "conventional wisdom" regularly disgorged by fighters of two of America's favorite Wars-On—the oft-referenced War on Drugs and the rarely name-dropped War on Recreational Sex. Lots (and lots and lots and lots) of people are using pot, and they're not all turning into insane drug fiends. And lots of people (like, almost everyone) are having sex outside the bounds of marriage, and they're not all turning into amoral lunatics with a chronic aversion to settling down and having families. (And, in fairness, approximately 10% of the population is having sex outside of marriage because, you know, they're legally prevented from getting married.)

Both of these stories expose the futility of using hyperbole as a cautionary tool, which has long been my (and many other progressives') biggest issue with the Wars-On. Casting pot as a drug that will ruin the average user's life is absurd. It's not true, for a start, which young experimenters will easily discern—and discovering that pot is hardly the addictive, life-altering, devastating drug they were taught only serves to undercut what they've heard about drugs that actually are addictive, life-altering, and devastating. I don't think anyone is helped by pretending that there's no difference between pot and meth.

Casting premarital sex as an activity that will ruin the average dallier's life is equally absurd. It's also untrue, for a start; the vast majority of people who have premarital sex are no worse for the wear, broken hearts—which aren't predicated on sex or prevented by its absence—notwithstanding. Most people who claim to regret premarital sex cite one of two reasons: Religiosity, generally entailing some judgment on the part of an eventual suitor or spouse, which still doesn't make premarital sex intrinsically bad or hurtful; or Unwanted Pregnancy, which usually results from foolishness and ignorance that could have been avoided via comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives, also not making premarital sex intrinsically bad or hurtful.

This is all decidedly inconvenient for the Warriors-On. It's no wonder they tend not to like "objective news" and "facts," as they have this terrible habit of undermining some of America's most entrenched myths about Things Some People Don't Like and Don't Want Anyone Else to Like, Either.

Anecdotally, the people I've known with addictions to hardcore drugs didn't start with pot, in spite of its reputation as a gateway drug. They started with either booze or cigarettes, both legal, and both more addictive than pot—and they were hooked on one or both long before they were hooked on any Schedule 1 drugs.

And, also anecdotally, were I to draw a conclusion about premarital sex from the people I know, it would be that the more promiscuous you were, the more likely you are to settle down and have kids. That goes for the men and the women, straight and gay. (Not compared to virgins-until-marriage—I don't know any of them—but as compared to people who have premarital sex rather infrequently, say, the 10 partners or less lane.) If fundies are really worried about people who don't marry and/or procreate, it's the teens and young adults who aren't freaking at the clubs they need to worry about. They're the ones who seem to do bizarre things like have 20-year-engagements or get married but never have kids, even with perfectly good sperm-producing balls and working uteri.

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