Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quote of the Day

"It seems to me that marijuana legalization is the only civil rights issue in America where it is still acceptable to mock the oppressed by questioning the selfish motives of those fighting for equality."

-- "Radical" Russ Belville, responding to my piece on marijuana legalization at the Huffington Post

Getting high is a civil right.

You know, I love it when I don't even have to do anything.

But just for shits-and-giggles I'll do it anyway -- later today at the Daily Banter.

By the way, in case you were asking yourself: Why yes, that is Radical Russ pictured at left.


Matt said...

"Hippies, hippies, hippies all around me. They say they want to save the world, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad. Hiiiiipppiiiieesssss....."

Mart said...

Think NORML and related groups blew it. I am old enough that I have pretty severe arthritic pain in my thumb, and the pain shoots through it just fine when I am stoned. (Don't know about chemo, pot and trying to eat; and hope I never have to.) Think only reason med dope passes at all is dirty old hippies like me vote for it to save us the hassle of trying to find pot on the street.

NORML and ilk should have focused on decriminalization. Use the arguments of Mayor Bloomberg - black vs. white incarceration rates, pay a $250 fine to the state versus the state paying $1,000/day to incarcerate, not ruin chance of youngster to go to college, etc. Just think it would work better for their overall goal than shooting for the full monty.

Also too, Amsterdam bitches.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

On a very slight tangent: this blog posts quotes from around the internet where people opine about "the last acceptable prejudice," which, naturally, is directed at themselves. Man, people love to claim that title of "last acceptable whippin' boy."

A quick Google search shows that right now the Catholics are hammering this trope the hardest, followed by redheads.

Catholics and redheads. Yeah. People are fucking strange.

Chez said...

It's interesting that there's an actual clearing house on the 'net for that particular claim. That was the first thing I thought when I read it: "Jesus, you're the last 'civil right' that can be openly mocked. Where have I heard that before?"

Matt Mangels said...

Well some of us can't afford/don't have access to chic drugs that the cool kids do, like heroin.

Chez said...

Uh-huh. Because heroin, which pretty much destroyed my life, is really cool. And it was so much more expensive and hard to get than weed: 20 bucks and a quick drive downtown.

But by all means, continue being a smart-ass.

J. Dack said...

This is what the expression 'facepalm' was invented for.

I find it genuinely amusing the stoners have developed a persecution complex.

Matt Mangels said...

Being a smart-ass does seem par for the course on this blog.

I don't mean to pick on you Chez, you seem like a good guy, but as crazy as it might sound this really is a civil rights issue. The term "civil rights" conjures up images of black people being sprayed with water hoses for a lot of people, and I can see why some would find offense in adopting that term for something like pot. It is unfortunate that the issue does not have as effective a messaging scheme as it could, but it doesn't change the fact that fighting for the right to control what we do with our bodies is a good fight that needs to be fought. Reproductive rights are civil rights too that also need defending from right-wing fascists. And no I'm not high, if you were wondering.

Chez said...

I didn't assume you were high, Matt. You're wrong, however, that your choice to get high is a civil right, on par with the struggle for equality fought by blacks, gays or women. That's just all kinds of ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

What is more interesting is that it took a full-blown constitutional amendment to ban alcohol, but banning controlled substances these days has been streamlined to a bureaucrat updating a list.

While I have no inclination to light up myself, I find the amount of money spent on drug-related investigation, prosecution, and incarceration to be staggering, and it is particularly disturbing how little oversight there is to any step of the process.

Eric said...

...but as crazy as it might sound this really is a civil rights issue.


Look, if I had my druthers, marijuana wouldn't just be decriminalized, it would be legalized and states would sell it the same way they do alcohol and tax the hell out of it. My state grows a lot of the stuff and we could use the revenue. And the War On Drugs corrupts law enforcement, ties up court systems with a lot of piddling horseshit, incarcerates a lot of non-violent "criminals", creates a lot of incidental violent crime via prohibition, and has all sorts of nasty effects.

There's lots of good arguments for decriminalization and/or legalization, in short. More arguments than there are for criminalization.

But "it's my civil right to do what I want with my body" isn't one of them. Because, you know, it's not really true: first, because society can forbid you from doing things that affect others. Second, because society can implement at least some restrictions to keep you from hurting yourself. And society can implement restrictions to protect people who can't protect themselves. So it is that society can regulate food additives, alcohol sales, smoking, seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, assorted drugs and all sorts of things that one might try and say "it's my body."

There are a number of incredibly irritating marijuana advocates in this country who will annoyingly overstate health benefits, understate health risks, and make all sorts of spurious arguments about incidental and industrial uses of hemp, when all they really want is to get high. If they confined themselves to making the argument that marijuana is almost certainly somewhere between tobacco and alcohol on the spectrum of health and public safety and that society just can't afford to keep processing minor drug offenders through the courts and incarcerating many of them, they'd be on to something. But no. They have to go on as if weed were a miracle plant and all they're concerned with is the general welfare and enlightenment of humanity, blah, blah, blah. You know what it does? It doesn't make anyone want to legalize pot, it fills people who might otherwise favor legalization an urge to fire potheads out of a very large cannon aimed at the middle of the ocean.

Chez said...

And as usual, Eric says what I'm thinking far better than I can. Comment of the week, right there. Thank you.

"Radical" Russ said...

So... we all agree here that marijuana needs to be legal, but you're upset that some of the people who agree with you do so for melodramatic, self-interested, inflated reasons?

Sounds like "hate the hippie" to me, and it's not too far removed from the folks who say the support gay rights, but why do those drag queens and leather boys have to ride in the Pride parades? - they turn the squares off to gay rights!

The reason I post the "Portland Pinner" picture of me backstage at Seattle Hempfest is to prove a point. There I am, your most caricatured stereotype of a "stoner", yet I'm also an IT geek, a former state Soldier of the Year, a professional musician, a corporate trainer, national talk radio host, independent businessman, a husband, a voter, and a citizen whose right to smoke pot is at least as valid as your right to beer and whose right to grow hemp is his American heritage.

You call it "melodrama", but I call it pretty damn dramatic when SWAT teams break down the door of your Missouri home, throw in a flash bang grenade, fire their weapons seven times, killing your dog in front of your young child, and all to serve a warrant that yielded a one-hitter and less pot than I smoked while writing this reply.

I also post the picture because, what, I'm going to hide who I am in the age of Google? Now, I can go find plenty of pictures of world leaders doing drugs in festival situations, but since it's beer, wine, or liquor, none of you would think twice about it. But it's pot, so, tee hee, stoner, easy to dismiss. 50,000 dead Mexicans, but ha ha, look at the stoner hat, no need to take him seriously.

And if some of us who evangelize marijuana seem a bit fervent, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for our excitement. 19,000 peer-reviewed studies have delved into the extensive medicinal properties of the cannabis plant that go way beyond THC. Google CBD sometime. And Hemcrete. And hemp biodiesel. And The Cash Hyde Foundation and The Unconventional Foundation for Autism.

If the cannabis plant weren't "pot" and we had just discovered it in an Amazon rain forest, the media would be proclaiming the discovery of a new miracle plant with a greater diversity of use than any other. So don't be too upset at the hippies who see it that way.

As for the "it's my body" argument, yours don't wash. My pot smoking does not harm others. My pot smoking does not harm myself, at least not as much as alcohol, which I can drink to puking in my home without a cop breaking down my door to stop me. The laws regarding food additives exist to prevent consumption of harmful substances in otherwise healthful food, and aren't worth a logical damn when we allow consumption of cigarettes. Seatbelts and motorcycle helmets concern protecting someone while driving on the public's roads - the public have a right to set minimum safety standards just as much as we can force the carnies to put the bar down on the roller coaster - however; you're free to ride seatbelt and helmet free all over the private roads on your private land, but I don't have the right to smoke a joint on my back porch?

And yes - I do want to "get high" as you call it. It is not a "frivolous" concern, just as you would not consider a return to alcohol prohibition "frivolous" if you like to drink beer. Just liking to drink beer or smoke cigarettes seems to be enough justification to allow those activities; why must marijuana smokers meet some lofty standard you set for justifiable advocacy?

P.S. If you're going to fire us potheads out a cannon into the ocean, please make sure Kathie Lee Gifford and Charlie Sheen go with us. You ought to have a drunk and a cokehead to spice things up a bit.

"Radical" Russ said...

And wait a minute... heroin almost ruined your life and we're having this discussion? Surreal!

Chez said...

First of all, Russ -- or should I call you Mr. Radical? -- I appreciate your taking the time to comment, and apparently quite a bit of it. It shows that if nothing else you're a good sport -- either that or you really can't control your activist urges when it comes to pot, but I'll assume the former. I can tell that you and I are never going to agree on this: I have a very strong set of beliefs on the issue and obviously so do you; yours in particular are informed by your experiences with weed and years of that activism I just mentioned. So yes, a constant back and forth is a waste. I've made my arguments pretty damn clear; if you believe differently I guarantee there's nothing more I could say or proffer to change your mind. I guess I would actually be curious to know why the fact that I used to do some very strong and dangerous drugs makes all of this surreal for you. I'll do you the favor of not assuming that your argument would be something like, "Well you did heroin, which was really, really dangerous and stuff and you obviously thought it was your civil right while all I want to do is exercise my God-given right to smoke the not-at-all-ill-affecting wonder weed known as marijuana." Please don't let it be that, man.

"Radical" Russ said...

Thanks, Chez. We do agree, actually, more than we disagree, I think. We both think pot ought to be as legal as booze, right?

Whether it's a right or just a waste of resources, caging me for pot or you for heroin is a failed government policy.

But because I can't resist... how is a right to pot different than a right to abortion or physician assisted suicide? All choices over one's body despised by moralists.

I know folks wince at calling pot use a civil rights issue, because that suggests a false equivalence with the oppression blacks, gays, or women have suffered. But I don't judge a civil right based on how many were oppressed or for how long. I think discrimination against left handers is violating their civil rights, even if they're not actively discriminated against anymore (mom and grandpa, though, had schoolteachers who tied their sinister hand behind their backs...)

Thanks for the discussion. I know many who think as you do and learning more about this POV helps my work.

Chez said...

Good talking to you as well, Russ. You're right that on the main points -- really the most important points -- we agree.