Bill O’Reilly’s Ignorance on Display

This 5 minute video clip from Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor is a little old but I just discovered it at the website. In this clip, O’Reilly confronts Reason Magazine’s Jacob Sullum who just wrote the book Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use. While don’t agree that recreational drug use is a positive thing, Sullum makes other very good points regarding the problems associated with the war on (some) drugs (I also suspect Sullum chose this provocative title to bait the media into bringing attention to his book. Good move!)

Anyone else notice how Mr. O’Reilly cut off Sullum when he had a valid point or would simply dismiss it as “spin”? I would so love to see O’Reilly debate Sullum or someone else who has a firm grasp of the issue in an Oxford style debate (such as NPR does in its Intelligence Squared program). In a format where O’Reilly cannot shout down, cut the mic, or interrupt his opponent, he would be torn to shreds by someone like Sullum (and thus very entertaining to observe).

I was also very annoyed when he described Mr. Sullum as “libertine” even as Mr. Sullum explained that liberty and responsibility for one’s own actions are inseparable. It seemed to me that they actually agreed that individuals should be free to do as they wish, provided that they do not infringe on the life, liberty, or property of others (though I think this was lost on O’Reilly).

Would you like some “no spin” facts regarding the war on (some) drugs Mr. O’Reilly? Here’s some statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons on the makeup of the prison population. You tell me if drug prohibition has not contributed to our problem of overcrowded prisons.

Types of Offenses

Drug Offenses: 98,675 (53.5 %)

Weapons, Explosives, Arson: 26,676 (14.5 %)

Immigration: 19,589 (10.6 %)

Robbery: 9,405 (5.1 %)

Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses: 6,836 (3.7 %)

Extortion, Fraud, Bribery: 8,201 (4.5 %)

Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses: 5,580 (3.0 %)

Miscellaneous: 2,082 (1.1 %)

Sex Offenses: 4,835 (2.6 %)

Banking and Insurance, Counterfeit, Embezzlement: 987 (0.5 %)

Courts or Corrections: 753 (0.4 %)

Continuing Criminal Enterprise: 572 (0.3 %)

National Security: 99 (0.1 %)