Juxtaposing two posts by Ann Althouse made me wonder.
The war against tobacco is proceeding like a relentless juggernaut — to the point now where law professors are being forced to act as anti-tobacco narcs:

They will be armed with small cards that detail the school’s impending ban on smoking or using tobacco products anywhere on campus, indoors and outdoors. If that’s not enough to keep people from lighting up on campus, repeat offenders might be fined…

In a growing number of communities, smoking is being banned everywhere.
But meanwhile, marijuana smoking is being winked at:

basically, in California, anybody who wants to use marijuana and is willing to be mildly deceitful to do it, can now do it legally… almost. You have to be — if not actually sick — willing to go through the medical dance and to accept the not-quite-completely legal aspect of it.
Does that state of affairs make marijuana all but completely legal in your way of thinking or all but completely illegal? I would find myself in the second category, and I think there’s something really unfair about that.

I don’t believe in drug laws, and I think the things that people put in their bodies should be their own business.
But I find myself wondering whether there is some poorly understood mechanism at work here. It’s so much what is made illegal, but what it is that fills the social disapproval niche.
Another classic example involves dog genitalia. Mickey Rourke wants to make dog testicles uncool, and of course, laws soon come, biting on the heels of social disapproval. Those who cut off their dogs’ balls think it’s “unfair” when they see your dog’s balls swinging freely, and they are being conditioned to point to the balls and gasp in horror. They do not realize that their morality has been remanufactured for them.
It’s eerily reminiscent of the way the remanufactured Donald Sutherland in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers reacts when he spots a normal human being:

Might people have a basic emotional need to stigmatize others? And if such a need exists, might it be that whenever it is uprooted in one place, it will just sprout up in whatever new place it can? If that’s the case, then all that needs to happen is whenever an old enemy is de-stigmatized, the forces that be have only to point the finger at the new enemy, and the need is met again, via collective agreement. (And it makes no difference whether the old enemy was “better” or more “conventional” than the new one.)
I wish people thought more about how their unconscious needs can influence them, because I worry that they’re being manipulated and herded too easily — before they have even had time to think.
On the bright side, those who drive these endless cycles of remanufactured morality tend to forget two things:

1. Some people don’t like being told what to do;
2. What is persecuted can become cool.