Michael Massing, The War We Aren’t Debating

The war on drugs has sown misery across a vast swath of territory stretching from the coca fields of Peru to Mexico’s border with the United States. Billions have been spent on crop eradication, commando units, military training, unmanned surveillance drones, and helicopters. All the while, drugs continue to flow unabated into the United States. In 2010, 1.64 million people were arrested for drug violations—80 percent of them for possession. Exposing the madness of the US drug war is the aim of the new documentary ‘The House I Live In.’ Michael Massing on the film, and the changing political climate for legalization.

Photo: A soldier guarding a marijuana plantation discovered during military operations in northern Mexico, January 30, 2012 (Marco Ugarte/AP)

Michael Massing, The War We Aren’t Debating

The war on drugs has sown misery across a vast swath of territory stretching from the coca fields of Peru to Mexico’s border with the United States. Billions have been spent on crop eradication, commando units, military training, unmanned surveillance drones, and helicopters. All the while, drugs continue to flow unabated into the United States. In 2010, 1.64 million people were arrested for drug violations—80 percent of them for possession. Exposing the madness of the US drug war is the aim of the new documentary ‘The House I Live In.’ Michael Massing on the film, and the changing political climate for legalization.

Photo: A soldier guarding a marijuana plantation discovered during military operations in northern Mexico, January 30, 2012 (Marco Ugarte/AP)

Werner Herzogʼs latest film uses the camera as a geiger counter to locate some of the more toxic elements of the American cultural psyche as seen through the questing mind of a pseudo-squeamish European. Here the setting is small town Texas’s well-traveled road to death row. Once again, in his soft, Teutonic off-camera voice, Herzog insinuatingly and gently coaxes his interviewees while his camera registers a more ambiguous, startled fixation on people and places, plus a willingness to stare bluntly. Director and camera are like good cop, bad cop.
Peter Singer, The Troubled Life of Nim Chimpsky


  “Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
  —Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince


Perhaps Herbert Terrace, professor of psychology at Columbia University, and director of the experiment that is the subject of Project Nim, a new documentary by James Marsh, never read The Little Prince. The sad story of Terrace’s irresponsible treatment of Nim, the chimp he tamed—or more strictly, whose upbringing in a human family he organized—is the guiding thread of this revealing film, which raises important issues about the distinction between humans and animals, about our attitudes toward animals, and about scientific objectivity (or the lack thereof) in behavioral research.

Peter Singer, The Troubled Life of Nim Chimpsky

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
—Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince

Perhaps Herbert Terrace, professor of psychology at Columbia University, and director of the experiment that is the subject of Project Nim, a new documentary by James Marsh, never read The Little Prince. The sad story of Terrace’s irresponsible treatment of Nim, the chimp he tamed—or more strictly, whose upbringing in a human family he organized—is the guiding thread of this revealing film, which raises important issues about the distinction between humans and animals, about our attitudes toward animals, and about scientific objectivity (or the lack thereof) in behavioral research.