Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Bob Beach, our resident New Yorker who provides insights into the his state’s twisted path to potential cannabis legalization. Beach is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Albany, SUNY.
On August 28, 2019, New York State officially decriminalized marijuana. Most saw decriminalization as an important step toward the even more equitable legalization measure that failed to pass the Democrat-led state legislature this year, but which seems inevitable given recent trends in legalizing (with the recent addition of Illinois this year). Particularly in light of the inevitable comparisons to Illinois, others are making connections to the “eerily similar” debates over decriminalization in New York in 1977 at the height of the state-level decriminalization wave that was then spreading throughout the country. During that year the New York State legislature passed, and then-Governor Hugh Carey signed, what was at the time the ninth state-level decriminalization measure in the country.
(Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and then-Governor Hugh Carey)
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Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Brooks Hudson, a PhD student in history at Southern Illinois University.
How do you make someone reluctant about supporting a policy? One strategy is to suggest people with clear answers do not appreciate just how complicated, complex, multifaceted—and my favorite — “nuanced” the situation really is. No one wants to view themselves as unsophisticated or unrefined and this plays on that insecurity. Unfortunately, major news outlets embraced this strategy, for some reason, and one can only speculate about motive.
What am I talking about? These constant nuance arguments. You’ve probably read them: the ones that muddy the waters but don’t seem to say anything. There’s even a term for it. It’s nuance-trolling; not the best term, but it works. Nuance-trolling is constructing a debate by evading and relying on rhetorical filibustering; it turns complexity into a virtue, a fetish for its own sake. Sociologist Kieran Healy of Duke University summed it up in his article “Fuck Nuance,” arguing that nuance, or rather what he called “actually existing nuance,” a pillar of academia and mainstream discourse, “is what one does when faced with a question for which one does not yet have a compelling or interesting answer. Thinking up compelling or interesting ideas is difficult, so it is often easier to embrace complexity than to cut through it.” In his essay, he writes about “nuance traps.” One is “the nuance of the fine-grain [ed],” an “empirical description… masquerading as increased accuracy.”
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Today, Alex Tepperman and Kyle Bridge bring you the third installment of the new podcast from Points.
On the third episode of Pointscast:
* Following a disorderly introduction, Kyle and Alex open with a discussion of Patrick Hilsman’s recent piece on drug decriminalization and Islamic terrorism in Vice Magazine.
* They then shift their focus to the inclusion, and subsequent exclusion, of an anti-vaccination documentary at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and the role scientific skepticism plays in our day-to-day lives.
* Later, Kyle interviews Points contributing editor Aron Ackerman, whose PhD research at SUNY-Stony Brook investigates the transatlantic movement drugs in colonial Britain.
* Finally, Alex tells Kyle about 1990’s Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue and the continuing uphill battle educators and parents alike struggle with when trying to teach pre-teens about drug abuse.
Enjoy! And you can let Alex and Kyle know what you think at email@example.com.