Friday, November 04, 2005

Under the Influence of Propaganda

The White House Drug Czar's office is launching a new series of anti-drug ads, aimed at keeping teens "above the influence," rather than under the influence, of drugs.

One ridiculous example:
In one of the new Above the Influence TV spots, a boy through an interpreter tells teens that he's an idiot for allowing his friends to dupe him into smoking marijuana and accepting a dare that led to his fist being stuck in his mouth.
That's almost as priceless as the ad that says marijuana causes teens to construct hats out of ground beef, attempt to e-mail Uranus, and hear their hair grow. Yes, kids, you'd better stay away from drugs or you might end up wearing clothing made out of raw meat and choking on your own body parts.


Kris said...

I see no harm in trying to email Uranus, making a hat from ground beef (except to the cow), or hearing one's hair grow. None seems congrous with the experience of smoking marijuana.

The only true harm mentioned in the ad is spending a night in jail– particularly harmful for a teen. Does it happen because "mari-ju-ana's bad, m'kay" or because it is illegal?

I haven't seen the fist-in-mouth ad, but as a former jr. high school teacher (and former kid myself), I would suggest that all the ad will do is encourage kids to try to put their fist in their mouth.

Encouraging young people to make sensible choices regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a positive thing. However, these ads don't offer that encouragement. Instead they say, "You're an idiot if you smoke pot." That has never worked, especially not for young people more likely to experiment.

Anonymous said...

I saw one of the ads last night. It seemed different and better produced than their other ones. These will probably make more of a difference

Kris said...


I am interested in your perspective. Can you be more specific? What was the content of the ad? In what sense was it different, and better produced? How do you feel it will be more likely to make a difference, and a difference to what end?

Your ideas are important here. Please take a moment to give readers a clear idea of what you're thinking. Thanks.

Jonathan Perri said...

Instead of discrediting itself in the minds of American youth with misleading propaganda and outright foolish lies, the ONDCP should start using real-life examples to get the Anti-Drug message across to its target audience. How about an anti-industrial hemp poster with pictures of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson holding the U.S. Constitution and sitting behind bars with the caption "Spent night in jail for Cultivating Hemp"? Or a poster that shows the unaccomplishments of those EVIL Anti-Prohibitionists such as Albert Einstien, Milton Friedman, and William F. Buckley, Jr. Why not exemplify drug addicts and convicts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sigmuend Frued, and Sir Paul Mcartney?
Well that would be taking a rational look at the BIG picture, and some people might start to catch on; we don't want that now do we? As Bill Hicks once said "If you think all drug users belong in prison and nothing good comes from people who use them, go home, get all of your records, cd's, tapes, start a fire, and burn them all"!

Anonymous said...

I recently encountered on campus a flier asking something along the lines of marijuana leading to cocaine problems (not single use), which was backed up by the statistic of comparing what % of people used marijuana regularly before the age of 15 with the percent of them using cocaine once in their lifetimes, thus they claimed 62% of marijuana users went on to cocaine problems.
The organization that put up those fliers, which is sponsored by the dean of students, received a formal e-mail delineating the flaws of the gateway theory (citing 15+ reputable publications), and requesting the fliers either be removed or appended to include prevailing scientific wisdom, since they were deliberately misleading and undermined effective responses to drug problems in a variety of ways, this type of add being particularly offensive because of its abuse of statistics and sophisticated sounding language.
Of course, it's been several days and no reponse. Posting ONDCP propaganda about the (thoroughly discredited) gateway theory is just a step too far for a top tier university.

Tom Angell said...

Anonymous, thanks for sharing this. Can you tell us more about this organization that put up the flyers? Was it you who sent the formal e-mail requesting the mis-statements be amended?

Please shoot me an e-mail at tom[at] and we'll talk about what you can do to make sure this blatant misinformation gets corrected, on the ASAPer.

At the very least, we can create some alternate flyers you can exercise your first amendment rights with. ;-)

What does everyone else think anonymous should do to combat the misleading flyers?