Vice Squad
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Link Potpourri

Yes, a lazy blog post....

(1) Randy Cohen, "The Ethicist" at the New York Times Magazine, is asked if it is unethical for a former federal prosecutor who has helped lock up drug offenders to use currently illicit drugs him or herself. Cohen reads the query as being motivated by a re-evaluation of the justice of the drug laws:
A major part of ethics is considering the effects of our actions on others. Yours did real harm to those you prosecuted. If you acted in service of policies you now consider unwarranted, you have an ethical obligation to undo that harm, perhaps by working to free those currently in jail as a consequence of your efforts, perhaps by helping to reform the laws that put them there. When you've done harm in the past -- and your query suggests that you now believe you have -- your duty isn't merely to lament, but to make amends.
The second query to The Ethicist this week might also be considered a vice topic, though I am not sure I would lend that dignity to the semi-public nudity the question concerns. (Incidentally, The Ethicist has met with some severe and, I think, frequently justified criticism in the blogosphere. Even his critics, I think, would have to admit that Randy Cohen is a really funny writer -- his old "News Quiz" columns at Slate were gems.)

(2) An Alabama schoolgirl was sent to an alternative school for 15 days for taking a Motrin to relieve menstrual cramps. It is not an aberration: at least 10 other students met a similar fate for over-the-counter medicines last Fall in Jefferson County, courtesy of the school system's zero-intelligence policy. Thanks to the Media Awareness Project for the pointer.

(3) If you are drinking so much alcohol that you are risking liver damage, you should cut back on your drinking. A complementary policy, it seems, is to increase your consumption of caffeinated beverages. Thanks to Newmark's Door for the pointer.

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