Non-Sensical Syllogisms

Non-Sensical Syllogisms
Posted by CN Staff on July 04, 2002 at 14:02:51 PT
By Melissa Lewis
Source: Eugene Weekly 
In a $3.4 million ad campaign, the two latest anti-drug commercials use a new twist on the usual fear tactics used to scare kids from drugs. The ads also use every parent's secret tool of persuasion: the guilt trip. Perhaps the ads have positive intention, but they don't educate about intoxicants or addiction.Instead they misinform and may actually be destructive. The commercials use non-sensical syllogisms to convince kids that if they buy drugs, they are contributing to terrorism. 
It's a smart campaign, playing off the post-Sept.11th patriotism, but is simply not true. It would be like saying that if I once threw rice at a wedding, I am responsible for the extinction of a particular bird. A plus B does not equal C.Yes, some drug money may end up in the pocket of a terrorist, but terrorists may also earn their living in other ways. Are kids to understand that if they are given free drugs it's okay, seeing as how they paid no terrorists?The first commercial, "AK-47," uses MasterCard's "priceless" ad-style, showing various price listings, such as "Fake ID $3,000," "Explosives $,1200," and "AK-47 $250." The prices are in between odd images, like a house at dusk, a guy on a computer next to a briefcase, and a car trunk full of guns. The ad, at the end, asks "Where do terrorists get their money? If you buy drugs some of it might be from you."George W. Bush may be the inspiration for these ads. At -- -- (where you can view the commercials in the media gallery), there is a quote from the president stating "If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America." Wouldn't that also be true, then, if Americans quit flying, quit the stock market, quit pushy foreign service policies, all of which have had a more direct influence on terrorism in the US?The other commercial, "I Helped," has an odd, eerie tone and dark mood. It's filmed in black and white and shows various kids, each confessing to a different crime, such as "I helped kidnap peoples' dads -- hey some harmless fun," "I helped a bomber get a fake passport," and "I helped kill a judge," each said in monotone, guiltless voices.Neither commercial provides any anti-drug information, such as dependency, health consequences, or legal risks, all more vital topics than terrorism when concerning drugs. Furthermore, neither violence nor guilt are a helpful focus in teens who today are already higher in depression, and who already fear violence from their peers. Plus, some teens may take too seriously the guilt of contributing to terrorism after having once bought a bag of weed. In an age group with such high suicide rates (third cause of death among teens, and still rising), it's irresponsible to feed them a guilt trip.By focusing on street drugs, the commercials are further misleading. It sends a mixed message to a generation of pharmaceutically altered minds, the kids who are fed pill after pill by parents and doctors. The hidden message is that prescription drugs are not a problem (after all, they're purchased at a pharmacy), though dependency on them is a large risk to today's youth.Also, in these patriotic times, kids see the "all-American" ads and slogans for beer, and perhaps do not see the larger risk of alcohol abuse, the most deadly risk to American youth. According to MADD, alcohol kills 6.5 times more than all other illicit drugs combined and is the number one drug problem among young people. Anti-drug commercials would better inform kids if they focused on all intoxicants and their direct dangers, especially alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs. Street drugs are a smaller threat to American youth, since most kids have access to prescription pills and alcohol in their own homes.These latest anti-drug ads do a disservice to youth and provide no true information. It's time kids be told the truth about drugs, a much easier and greater deterrent, rather than being fed non-sensical syllogisms. Besides, leave the guilt trips for parents.Melissa Lewis, MA, is a Eugene writer and teacher. She's currently working on her first collection of short stories. Complete Title: Non-Sensical Syllogisms: Are The Latest Anti-Drug Commercials Bad for Kids?Source: Eugene Weekly (OR)Author: Melissa LewisPublished: July 4, 2002Copyright: 2002 Eugene WeeklyContact: editor eugeneweekly.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Crossfire Transcripts: Do Drug Ads Work? Gets Anti-Drug Ads Contract' Anti-Drug Ads Cost Almost $2 Billion Drug Czar Says Ad Campaign has Flopped 
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