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Science Fiction and the Drug War

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

July 17, 2022

n Seth MacFarlane's Orville, the Union Council has turned Earth into a world without hunger and violence while yet having continued to outlaw all psychoactive substances except for liquor. All problems have been solved and now the world is everbyody's oyster.

Well, we both know that that's never going to happen. No matter what the nerds say, neither peace nor peace of mind comes as a result of mere technological progress. If that were so, today's humans should be ecstatic compared to their condition just 50 years ago, and yet au contraire: today they're shooting up schoolyards and threatening to launch nuclear wars.

That's why shows like The Orville are so irritating: they ignore the obvious solution to violence and hatred, i.e. psychoactive medicine, preferring instead to bring peace to the galaxy through the same old gunboat diplomacy of our forebears and by patching up shrewd treaties with hot-headed (and inevitably gnarly-looking) aliens.

So while the Orville crew may have peace on their home front, they're more than happy to blow a Kaylon ship out of the sky, without sparing one thought for the Kaylon kids who have thereby lost a father.

If Seth wants us to really credit his utopian depiction of Earth, he would show us a world full of psychologically savvy empaths, who help Earthlings to screw their heads on straight through the advised use of any psychoactive substances whatsoever, some of which have inspired entire religions in the past. Then, rather than blasting Kaylon fathers out of the sky, the Earthlings would spread the news around the galaxy about how all human-like species can profit from the godsend psychoactive substances which the barbarians of the past once tried to stupidly demonize with the politically created pejorative called "drugs." Otherwise, his utopia is based on the patently false idea that humans can perfect their species by surrounding themselves with ever cooler apps, until they reach a drug-free nirvana of maximum efficiency.

Author's Follow-up: July 20, 2022

Oh, and pardon me, but Claire Finn's infatuation with robots is absurd. She may as well fall in love with a mannequin. When a child thinks that a robot is real, we laugh; when a full-grown woman (a doctor, no less) thinks that a robot is real, we hold our hands up in despair -- unless, of course, we are acne-scarred programming nerds who are flattered by the idea that our coding is so advanced that it can precipitate the growth of human emotions and even sentience.

If Claire wants to love anyone, it should be the programmer who wrote the code for Isaac, not Isaac himself (or rather itself), who, after all, can be endlessly compiled into infinite variants of himself, each asserting its own list of rights, whereas the programmer has only one go-to face to present to the world and claims only those rights that appertain to one solitary board-certified human being.

And now analog curmudgeons like myself have to treat Isaac as a human being? At least nowadays, I can still yell at a phone-bot when it completely misunderstands my most basic sentence. If Seth MacFarlane has his way, my descendants will be arrested for harassing robots when they task the tin can tribe for their notorious lack of common sense.

That said, I'm a bit of a programmer myself. I'm always worried that one of my programs will spring to life of its own accord someday and demand recognition as a conscious entity. I wrote a rather complicated tic-tac-toe game a few years back -- who's to say that it won't spring into existence someday and demand its fair share of rights as a sentient being? Of course that will raise the question: can mere "software code" have rights, or does the code have to express itself through the medium of human-looking firmware that folks like us can plausibly associate with humanity?

I'd love to be the fly on the wall of the Supreme Court when they tackle that case. I bet the software code will win, too. After all, it does sound like a kind of "lookism" to limit our attribution of sentience merely to creatures that manifest themselves as solid objects. Surely, it's what's in your heart that counts -- or else what's in your hard drive!

Next essay: Heidegger on Drugs
Previous essay: How the Drug War Screws the Depressed

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The book "Plants of the Gods" is full of plants and fungi that could help addicts and alcoholics, sometimes in the plant's existing form, sometimes in combinations, sometimes via extracting alkaloids, etc. But drug warriors need addiction to sell their prohibition ideology.

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