Penn Jillete, the famous magician and entertainer of Penn & Teller, recently released a controversial rant on YouTube, in which he takes to task Obama’s demeanor towards drugs during a recent Jimmy Fallon appearance. Although his tone and language may be considered unprofessional, Penn makes some legitimate points.
Here is the video. Warning: it contains strong language.
Some of the arguments Penn makes, in his extremely blunt style, deserve attention.
1. Would Obama be president today if he were caught under his drug policies? In his book, Obama admits using both marijuana and cocaine. Penn points out that, if he were caught, under the current administratio9ns policies Obama would likely not be president. I believe this is true, as we don’t tend to elect convicts president.
To be fair, it needs to be stated that the policies of every president since the drug war began would have achieved a similar outcome and Obama is not unique in his policies. This being said, it is disturbing that the president refuses to take any significant stand against laws that could have unfairly prevented him from being president.
2. This brings up Penn’s next point. Obama is obviously capable of obtaining a good education, a good job, and, in spite of disagreements on policy, is capable of being president. If his admitted drug use was caught, would these things have been possible? Nope, he’d be in prison. How many other future professors, fathers, college graduates, and even presidents are currently locked up for drug use?
Every time Obama states that he supports treatment for these people, I have to wonder if Obama thinks the he needed treatment himself.
3. Penn correctly points out that there are disproportional amounts of African American and poor people imprisoned for drug use. I would hope this would be an issue close to Obama’s heart, being the first African American president, but his actions imply that it isn’t.
In my opinion, Penn makes a good argument for why people imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses should be “set free” and why our drug policies need to be reformed. I also think he is right to criticize Obama on how he treats the issue.
What do you think? Comment below and show your support or disagreement with Penn’s logic.