Gore Vidal's argument for the legalization of Marijuana.

Essay by bettyboop85High School, 12th gradeA, May 2003

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In the 1970s, the drug issue was a very controversial subject, just as it is today, and there were many arguments presented. In his argument, Gore Vidal maintains a mocking, pessimistic attitude towards the opposition as he argues for the legalization of marijuana. However, the purpose of his argument, in fact, has little to do with the marijuana issue per say; it is mostly a way to capture his readers' attention as he laments American culture and all that is wrong with it. His argument is not flawless, neither is it extraordinary; nonetheless Vidal manages to capture the reader's attention and more importantly, he is able to persuade his reader that he is right.

In the first paragraph of his article, Vidal asserts, "It is possible to stop most drug addictions in the United States within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and sell them at cost."

As a way of capturing attention, Vidal could not have used a better technique. He gives the impression that he is saying something dramatic, when in reality, through the use of weasel words such as "possible," "most," and "very short time," he is not really defining what he truly means. He also oversimplifies his argument when he claims "simply make all drugs available and...label each drug with a precise description of what effect -good or bad- the drug will have on whoever takes it." Within this assertion, there is the hidden assumption that people will read labels and make a rational decision. However, history has proved that wrong - take tobacco for instance. It is now legal and readily available to those 19 years and older, and the packages are clearly labeled with Surgeon General warnings and graphic pictures describing the bad effects that smoking produces. Nevertheless, has that stopped...