Jillette vs. Obama

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

No one rants like the great Penn Jillette.

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34 Responses to “Jillette vs. Obama”

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    Pity the mainstream media doesnt come out and ask him the same question

  2. #2 |  nigmalg | 

    Awesome friggin rant. I sent this to everyone I know.

  3. #3 |  texx | 

    been watching this repeatedly for days, but one more time wont hurt

  4. #4 |  Jay | 

    Dang it! Saw the title of this post in my RSS feed, and thought, “Is Penn going to run for prez against Obama? How fucking awesome would that be?!”

    But no.

    Everyone should write in Penn for Prez on their ballots. Of course, he is far too intelligent… :P

  5. #5 |  SJE | 

    With Teller for VP. No more political speeches

  6. #6 |  Penn Jillette’s Rant on Obama’s Drug War Hypocrisy « Spatial Orientation | 

    […] is great stuff [h/t Radley Balko]: Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailDiggStumbleUponRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Seriously, this is an issue Obama should get in front of. No one is going to be able to pin drug-taking hypocrisy on Romney, but the GOP could use it on Obama.

  8. #8 |  Juice | 

    I’ve heard he also rants on people for drinking and smoking cigarettes. He’s a complete ass about it, from what I’ve read. He just doesn’t like being around it. People have stories of being on an airplane near him and ordering a drink, which would cause Jillette to not shut up about it. He just will not leave them alone and would be a complete ass to them.

    If I go out to dinner with you and you order wine, I leave. I won’t be around drugs and alcohol at all. -Penn Jillette

  9. #9 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    That’s his business, provided that he doesn’t expect Big Brother to ARREST you for drinking, smoking, etc. I believe that he does not. If his position is that doing drugs is silly behavior, and often offensive, then he has a point. As a tobacco addict, I won’t fall in line with that point, but he does have it.

  10. #10 |  Andrew S. | 

    The longer version of this rant in the 5/13 episode of Penn’s Sunday School is worth listening to. Actually the whole 90 minute episode (which includes a good discussion of gay marriage) is also worth listening to.

  11. #11 |  Juice | 

    It’s his business to get up and leave a restaurant, but no one can leave an airplane in flight. If he doesn’t like being near alcohol, that’s his problem and he has every right to leave, but it’s complete asshattery to incessantly berate someone near him on an airplane who merely ordered a drink.

  12. #12 |  Bobby Black | 

    Yup. The man speaks much truth. Get um Penn…time to twist one…

  13. #13 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    To quote the great Sean Connery, “The Penn is Mightier”. And to quote me… Penn ate his yogurt Sunday morning.

  14. #14 |  Caleb Turberville | 


    What the hell is your point in bringing this up?

    As has been stated before, Penn is a committed libertarian thinker. He opposes the drug war. He finds the criminalization of a non-violent recreational activity and its destructive side-effects to be evil and worth fighting against.

    IN ADDITION, he is also an outspoken person. He also does not agree with drug use, and it’s a topic he often likes to bring up in addition to his atheism and libertarianism. Depending on what he has actually said to people, I might agree with you that he was being rude. He might argue that he was just being open and up front about his feelings, and that anybody should be free to argue with him. Whatever the case, the fact remains that Penn was not employing force, either personal or by the government, to make his point.

    Which brings us back to my original question, which is “What is your point?”

  15. #15 |  Boyd Durkin | 


    You mean like at 3:19 where he says that and explains his position? Did you watch this video?

  16. #16 |  EH | 

    Juice: Obama is still a dick about pot. Try to focus.

  17. #17 |  Elliot | 

    Penn Jillette will probably be the first person to admit he’s a loudmouth asshole. That’s part of why I find him to be hilarious.

    I love the man for his philosophical viewpoints, from atheism to his principled libertarian positions (which he’s identified as anarcho-capitalist).

    Hell, I wish I had him next to me every time some collectivist idiot tries to have an argument with me in person. It would be rather entertaining to just sic him on their ignorant, control-freak asses instead of wasting my breath trying to convince them through reason.

  18. #18 |  marco73 | 

    Here’s an alternate history for you: While Obama was attending Columbia in New York City in the 1980’s, imagine that he were picked up for pot possession by the agressive tactics of the NYPD.
    Anyone think he would have gotten into Harvard, or been able to run for political office, with a drug conviction on his record?

  19. #19 |  Bee | 

    I think the sub-topic about him being perceived as a loudmouth is interesting, in that it shows he’s walking the libertarian-ish talk.

    If one is against governmental coercion, then personal, non-violent, verbal interactions can be a valuable tool to persuade or influence the behavior of others. Perhaps seeking governmental remedies to problems is an expression of passive-aggressive conflict avoidance. I’d be up for more interpersonal asshattery if it meant less state-sanctioned-violence asshattery.

  20. #20 |  Kilgore Trout | 

    I’m against the drug-war and all, but first offense possession of marijuana is not a serious crime. I’m a criminal defense lawyer, and in most first-offense cases the defendant gets a deferred judgment, which is not a conviction and there’s no jail time. So, Penn’s argument that if Obama got caught he would have served “hard jail time” is a fallacy.

    I would be interested to see the racial stats on that in my state (Iowa) however. Black/Hispanic/Asian v. White and deferred v. non-deferred on first-offense drug crimes? If anyone knows of a cite that keeps those stats, let me know.

    The people who are in jail or prison for marijuana or other drug crimes, and doing a significant amount of time, are either repeat offenders (terrible at getting caught) or they possessed enough of an amount of a certain drug that the law presumes they didn’t possess it for personal consumption. The presumption is that they possessed it illegal distribution.

    There are so many other things to criticize Obama about so why are we wasting this time and energy on something that will NEVER happen (legalizing marijuana). The States Rights argument is a whole other argument to be had altogether.

  21. #21 |  Elliot | 

    Good point, Bee.

    I’m generally for people minding their own business as a rule. But if we want the government to stop being the nanny and imposing the values of our betters on us through force, then private individuals will be faced with the task of handling what they consider to be problems, in their personal judgment, or just shutting up and living with them. It could be a neighbor who makes too much noise, won’t cut his lawn, or has a car on blocks in the front yard. Or, it could be someone who is preaching on a corner or passing out propaganda. Like you said, using reason to persuade, instead of force, is fine, even if you’re a loudmoth jerk.

  22. #22 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Excellent job of confronting the elitist mentality displayed by Obama and so many others on the issue of drugs. Obama and co. can laugh about this now because the pot and blow stuff occurred in their “wayward youth.” Heh heh it’s all a big joke because you can’t touch me know. Fuck all the rest of these little people. And that’s who these laws are for: little people. Even if Obama or other elitists are still smoking and using copius amounts of blow they are protected. As Mel Brooks might say, “it’s good to be the king.”

    I would love to see this video played on “Meet the Press” so that Obama could attempt to respond to it. Of course, that will never happen. Pay no attention to the president’s blatant hypocrisy. Just focus on his winning smile!

  23. #23 |  B | 

    Does anyone know where that “1 out of 6 people in prison” figure he rattles off comes from? Because while I love a good rant by Penn (and agree completely with his moral argument here) I’m pretty sure that number is bullshit.

    Which he of all people should be careful to avoid…

  24. #24 |  albatross | 


    Since I live in a country with a black president and a state that will start performing gay marriages at the beginning of the year, I’m a little reluctant to rule out something as relatively attainable as marijuana legalization. I can imagine that happening far more easily than I could have imagined either of those things happening.

  25. #25 |  jb | 

    Kilgore Trout: Shut the fuck up. In Idaho they’re locking folks up for selling glassware. What most certainly isn’t incorrect is that Obama’s future would be derailed even today for a marijuana arrest.

    As for legalizing marijuana, someday the citizens of a state will pass a law by referendum legalizing marijuana. Then the real drug wars will begin as the federal government finds itself attempting to enforce federal law without the legal support and resources of local authorities, against a weed. The passage of marijuana initiatives? Call it the modern day Domino Theory. One state, then two states, then thirty states. Federal law will be rewritten.

  26. #26 |  Leonson | 

    And not to mention the ‘little bit of blow’.

    And yeah, in Seattle it’s entirely possible it would get thrown to drug court and he’d get treatment in lieu of ‘hard time’, but he still would never be president, and his college plans would be completely derailed.

  27. #27 |  Nick T. | 

    #20 – I think the point still stands when we talk about repeat offenders. How many first time offenders take a CWOF or some other probation-like thing and then fail a drug test or get picked up again and now are screwed.

    From what I see, the system is set up to indeed let first time simple possessors get away with relatively little hassle (although the arrest alone can sometimes follow you) but to come down pretty hard on second-time offenders who violate som order or condition of their initial “lenient” treatment. That’s not any better, certainly not from a moral or utility perspective. People who are dumb or bad at not getting caught by the police (starngely correlated to their race) don’t deserve to be in jail. No one belongs in prison for being dumb or because their ability to avoid winding up their was not challenging or obvious.

    Also, I think you mean “factually inaccurate” rather than “a fallacy.” Do we know what pot laws were like in the 80s?

    Lastly, marijuana legalization will happen in our lifetimes. Public opinions is swinging pretty heavily in favor, and our policy of prohibition is becoming demonstrably self-destructive.

  28. #28 |  Nick T. | 

    their = there. Doh!

  29. #29 |  Zeb | 

    Kilgore Trout, note that he was talking about marijuana and “a little blow”. It is my understanding that simple possession of cocaine is a felony in most states (correct me if I am wrong).
    And I also think that Penn was talking mostly about the federal laws, which are what the president can do anything about and which are quite a bit harsher than state laws tend to be.
    Had Obama somehow been caught and charged federally for pot and “a little blow” (aren’t there enhanced penalties if you possess more than one kind of illicit drug at once?), it seems quite likely that he would have done some time.

  30. #30 |  Kilgore Trout | 

    The Federal Sentencing Guidelines were produced in 1984, which take into account virtually EVERYthing about your life when deciding how much prison time a person will do if convicted. Things such as prior arrests, level of education, family history, etc. Being caught with both, would certainly be a factor. The guidelines are calculated by months, not years, and each factor in your life could give you points (prior arrests) or take away points (providing substantial assistance) and then how many points you have, will categorize you into a level, I, II, III, etc. Then they take the level of offense and it’s a chart that matches up to this range of months the judge can sentence you to (18-30 mos.) That gives the judge some discretion. With minor first-time possession charges though, the Federal Government RARELY gets involved, they usually turn them over to the State.

    I never said Obama would still be able to be President if he were convicted of a drug crime, I just said he wouldn’t have done “hard jail time” as Penn suggested in his rant.

    I completely agree with the assertion that the system is rigged against someone who gets sucked in. They give you probation, but give all the power to the probation officer to decide if you’re in compliance or not. I always tell my clients if a P.O. is giving you hard time, call me and I’ll talk to them to see if I can stop a complaint to the Court before it starts. Once the Court gets it, the judge always believes the P.O. over the defendant.

    I always try to argue that a relapse shouldn’t result in prison time, because basically you’re putting someone in prison for being addicted to a chemical that is arbitrarily deemed illegal. Being addicted to prescription pills isn’t illegal, why should be addicted to marijuana?

    In Iowa (not Idaho) we have a recent Supreme Court ruling that gives defendants prison credit for time served while they’re on probation. So if they’re on probation for 2 years and their prison term was for 2 years, but they violate their probation in month 22, they usually will discharge the sentence right away because there’s no point in sending them to prison to only be released right away. Some judges and P.O.’s have been using the threat of prison (it’s still a scary word to some defendants who’ve never been) to coerce defendants into agreeing to a one-year extension of probation. I always tell my clients not to believe that. Legally, the Court cannot order more probation time unless the defendant agrees to it. And Procedurally, if s/he doesn’t agree to it, they’ll only do another week in custody being transferred to a classification facility and having their time calculated there.

    AND our State Medical Board last year recommended legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. So move to Iowa, get high, and get married, no matter your gender.

  31. #31 |  Weird Willy | 

    Kilgore Trout, can you explain your assumption that, in reflecting upon his personal drug use in the late 70s/early 80s, Obama definitely was not recalling his possession of quantities of both “blow” and marijuana sufficient to garner him “hard fucking time” under the sentencing guidelines that were then extant?

  32. #32 |  Weird Willy | 

    #29, Zeb

    In Indiana, simple possession of any quantity of cocaine of less than 3 grams is a Class D felony.

  33. #33 |  Kilgore Trout | 

    I can’t explain that assumption Willy, and neither can Penn. That’s my point.

  34. #34 |  Weird Willy | 

    No, Kilgore, your point was not simply that Penn failed to elaborate upon any assumptions he was making, it was that his assertion went beyond the pale of any factuality into the realm of “fallacy.”