Down With Dope, Booze, Junk Food, and Couches: An Open Letter To Nancy Grace

Firstly, Ms. Grace, congratulations on all of your success. Being a mother, wife, and public figure all at once is no small task, and your apparent ability to balance those roles deserves commendation. Although I have only seen a few segments of your HLN show over the years, I can still tell that your prior experience as a prosecutor has served you well on television, where you sensationalize current events (instead of the severity of alleged crimes) and spark debates that resonate with people regardless of whether they agree with you.

Hopefully by this point you recognize that I come to you with all due respect, as one hardworking American to another. That I am quite certain that our values differ significantly in certain areas does not matter. Even if we had the same stance on the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, I would still feel the need to identify the disconcerting flaws in the analogies you used on CNN recently to illustrate what a “horrible idea” legalization is.

Admittedly, applying the logic that you employed in asking whether people would approve of childcare or operating an airplane under the influence of marijuana succeeds in reaching the far end of the sensationalism spectrum, putting the issue in a context that would surely alarm the conservative audience for which you owe your popularity. However, the hyperbole you introduced immediately calls into question our nation’s attitude toward the legal consumption of alcohol. I trust that we agree that drunken babysitters and pilots would yield disastrous results despite the possibilities of those situations occurring. So to ignore the proven dangers of a legal substance used irresponsibly in order to lambaste the growing interest in an effort to legalize the responsible use of substance that cannot be attributed to even a fraction of the violence, crime, and death that alcohol has undermines the mastery of logic I presume that you had once upon a trial.

Later during the CNN segment, you also referred to the people you encountered as a prosecutor as examples of the evils of marijuana use, citing that its effects drove people to lose interest in their jobs. And while I will not disagree that marijuana use can cause lethargy and apathy, the sample population to which you referred is hardly a reflection of the Americans to whom you are broadcast every weeknight. While I will not pretend that all of the people whom you prosecuted were merely products of an environment that limited their opportunities, hence driving them to lives of crime, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the cycle of poverty that facilitates drug use. In the case of those defendants—guilty or innocent—the conditions that led to their arrests cannot solely be attributed to the influence of marijuana any more than alcohol can be the sole justification for committing a crime. Neither “I was drunk” nor “I was high” would be valid defenses in a court of law, yet one of them is legal while the other is generally not. Again, this lack of parity betrays the certainty with which you made your stand on CNN.

As for your claim of “studying it and reading every shred of scientific and research data out there,” presumably about the effects of marijuana use, sharing some of your compelling findings to support your view would have been truer to your roots as a mistress of debate. Although CNN is far from the beacon of straight journalism that it once was, you could have made a clear and informed argument for a viewership that may not normally see you, thus expanding your own audience. Alas, you relied instead on the words ‘lethargic,’ ‘fat,’ and ‘lazy’ as catalysts of fear of an issue that is gaining momentum against your judgment (according to a CNN/ORC International poll) instead of proving that any of the data you read should raise legitimate concerns.

It seemed as if you enjoyed yourself as you ended the segment on a glib note, calling the people who disagree with your thoughts on legalization fat and lazy. Hopefully, for your sake, the assumption that people who watch TV are fat and lazy won’t offend your own audience despite its correlation with the increasing obese population in this country. For those of your viewership who do not consume marijuana and are plagued by the disease of being overweight, the search for another excuse would hopefully be more extensive than your demonstrated knowledge of the effects of marijuana. Either way, for all of the factors that contribute to a lack of motivation and poor health, you would have a more solid foundation declaring war on the legal ones, like eating fast food, drinking alcohol, and working jobs that have no growth opportunity.

Naturally, criticizing any of those factors may annoy some of our corporate masters who no doubt are glad for the anti-marijuana distraction (except, maybe, for the fast food industry). Still, I implore you to do the right thing and present an argument with which pro-legalization advocates would want to engage. One of the great parts about being an American is the opportunity to peacefully coexist with those with whom we disagree. But the methods you used on CNN to make your argument suggest that respectful debate is beneath you. I hope that you do not truly feel such contempt and that someday you do something many current affairs show hosts do not: demonstrate the integrity and the importance of facts when making your case. That did not happen on CNN last Monday. And that it happens less and less in the hyper-sensationalized 24-hour news cycle is a most damning crime against us all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s