What's So Funny About Trying to Legalize Marijuana?

Slightly less annoying than those who refuse to even debate marijuana policies are those who vaguely support our position, but still mock and insult us for caring about this. A good recent example was Glenn Beck's hostile interview with MPP's Rob Kampia, in which he treated Rob with utter contempt only to then announce that he's a libertarian and he gets it. It was just weird.

William Teach at Stop The ACLU put on a similar performance yesterday that I've read twice now and still don’t quite understand. He begins by framing the marijuana debate as the dumbest thing on the planet:

It seems like every few years we have to have this debate about marijuana, and sometimes other drugs. But, in the era of hopeNchange, it is becoming louder and more open. We know that Attorney General Eric Holder has told the DEA to stop raiding “medical marijuana” dealers, er, shops. We know that El Presidente Barack H. Obama thinks pot is a joke, and that lots of folks who voted for him thought the issue of legalizing ganja was a like, ya know, really, wow, cool, man….look, a quarter!

Then, once his condescension is fully indulged, he switches gears and says this:

I will say, I really do not think marijuana is that bad of a drug, there are certainly a lot worse, particularly alcohol, which is much more addictive, mentally and physically, than pot, and much more damaging to the body than pot. Personally, I couldn’t care less if it is legalized and taxed, I’ve done it, do not care for the affects. If someone wants to get high and it doesn’t affect anyone else, hey, we want government out of our private business, right?


Precisely. This is all perfectly simple and logical, so what was it that compelled Teach to begin with a barbed caricature of people who essentially feel exactly as he does? We keep seeing this kind of thing lately and I'm still trying to understand it.

The answer may be that we've reached a strange moment where the strength of our argument has outpaced the resolution of the cultural and political associations people attach to marijuana use. In other words, conservatives like Glenn Beck and the folks at Stop The ACLU might simultaneously agree that the war on marijuana is stupid, while also maintaining some animosity towards the stereotypical liberal hippie types that they generally identify the issue with.

If that's all this is about, that's fine, but I wonder if anyone would be surprised to learn that the founder of StoptheDrugWar.org, Dave Borden, has never gotten high once in his life. Or that one of the fastest growing constituencies in drug policy reform right now is former police officers who've gotten involved after becoming disgusted by the injustice and corruption they witnessed on a daily basis in the war on drugs.

To a tremendous extent, the movement to fix our drug laws is not even driven by a desire among its adherents to take drugs without legal consequence. It's about people like Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose dogs were shot dead in a botched police raid over some marijuana that he had nothing to do with. It's about cops choking innocent suspects, or selling drugs themselves, or framing innocent people to cover their incompetence. It's about horrible crazy fiascos you'd never even think about.

Since the effects of the drug war are never confined to those who choose to be involved, there's no easy way to stereotype people who want to change our laws. There are matters of life, liberty, and death at stake here that reach far beyond whether or not Joe Stoner can legally do as he pleases. That's why it's so hard for me to understand why people who ostensibly agree with our case nonetheless endeavor to turn this into something silly or frivolous.

Perhaps I shall email the folks at Stop The ACLU to request some further insight.

Update: I've heard back from both Jay Stephenson and William Teach at Stop The ACLU in regards to the post. Their take is that the tone of Teach's piece is intended to be humorous, while also taking a dig at naïve Obama supporters. Basically what I thought. It's always interesting to hear how peripheral observers view the issue. I appreciate that they took the time to read and respond.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Stop the ACLU: there was a time when the ACLU ignored us...

Maybe you should point out to them that the ACLU only got on board with drug policy reform in the past couple of years, when they saw which way the wind was blowing. I've been here for 10+ years and I got a lot of the Glenn Beck reaction from a lot "progressives" in the 90's.

Most of the serious drug policy reformers I've met are libertarians and conservatives. A lot of liberals want to push "treatment" for pot rather than personal choice.

So true

I remember when the ACLU used to think drug policy reform was big distraction from real issues, like Separation of Church and State, Civil Rights for people of color, and other "mainstream" battles acceptable to liberals. A lot has changed.

Hippies suck

ITHC soaked dopes in their tie-dye shirts and fake dreadlocks need to sit down and STFU and let sober people do the talking. US Prohibition was not repealed by wife beaters.

That wasn't a very nice

That wasn't a very nice thing to say. I actually agree with you a little, but there is no need to make such an offensive post.

In case you haven't noticed, these days we have a lot more than just stoned hippies in tie-dyed shirts advocating legalization. Representatives from NORML or the MPP or the DPA wear suits when they are interviewed, and they aren't making all these far out "marijuana is a wonderplant" or "it's good for you" arguments. The quality of the arguments has been increasing across the board. Even if you just look out on the Net at comments sections after news stories or opinion pieces where people will debate legalization we're seeing a lot of articulate people with well thought out arguments advocating legalization. Brain fried hippies and stoned teenagers are not leading this movement, and they aren't hurting us much at this point because no one takes them seriously and they've become the small minority of advocates for legalization anyway.

These stereotypes of weed

These stereotypes of weed smokers are just plain dumb. I use marijuana regularly, and I don't think I've ever worn a tie-dye shirt. I don't like Pink Floyd and loath Bob Marley. I say "dude" about five types a week maybe, and I wouldn't be caught dead using "righteous" as an exclamation. I don't think that if all the world leaders got together and smoked a joint there would be world peace. I'm not a liberal. I am reasonably well-groomed. I'm near the top of my high school class, and this fall I'll be attending one of US News and World Report's top 10 universities in the world.

The same could be said of many of those I smoke with. Pothead jokes were never funny, and to any culturally aware person under 40, they don't even make sense.

Excellent editorial

I'm with you on this one.

Precisely. This is all perfectly simple and logical, so what was it that compelled Teach to begin with a barbed caricature of people who essentially feel exactly as he does? We keep seeing this kind of thing lately and I'm still trying to understand it.

The answer may be that we've reached a strange moment where the strength of our argument has outpaced the resolution of the cultural and political associations people attach to marijuana use. In other words, conservatives like Glenn Beck and the folks at Stop The ACLU might simultaneously agree that the war on marijuana is stupid, while also maintaining some animosity towards the stereotypical liberal hippie types that they generally identify the issue with.

I think your assessment is pretty close to the reality. While I am frustrated by the terrible level of dialog by guys like Glen Beck, let's be fair: Hate and contempt are their gimmick. Their popularity is based on ridiculing and heaping contempt on anyone who doesn't toe their line. Generally it's easier to attack someone else's position than to defend one's own. That's particularly true when one has poorly thought out opinions based primarily on emotional reactions.

I think it must be very conflicting for them. I think the cognitive dischord goes something like this:

  1. Their politics and decisions are based on a sense of tribalism. Us vs. them.
  2. Drug legalisation == soft on crime
  3. soft on crime == liberal hippy types
  4. Marijuana == hippie drug
  5. Reagan == our generations prototypical drug warrior

But as soon as you start applying any of the concepts that they claim to care about: individual liberty, constitutional law, states rights, they have to question the standard Republican line. Add to that the fact that Marijuana is vastly less harmful than tolerated drugs, and the fact that they have all had experiences with grass and turned into the fine upstanding conservatives that they are, they have a hard time spewing the drug warrior line.

So they come out saying they are against the drug war, but they don't want to be lumped together with a bunch of hippies and liberals, or thought of as pot heads themselves. So they start out by abusing hippies, liberals and potheads before going on to say that yes indeed, our drug laws are harmful

So yeah, I think it's awesome. I see it as an unavoidable stage in the development. At least now many popular conservative pundits are willing to come out and oppose drug prohibition (conservative intellectuals have always been against prohibition). Hopefully in time they will be able to do so with more appropriately directed rancor.

As an aside, I think the internet is a major factor in the dramatic shift we are seeing in drug policies. The prohibitionists have used censorship and propaganda very effectively in the past, and it was difficult to convince people of the facts. The internet has made medical and social research, i.e. the facts in the issues, freely available, which makes it much easier to call bullshit on people.

www.glenstark.net

You are dead on here....

"So they come out saying they are against the drug war, but they don't want to be lumped together with a bunch of hippies and liberals, or thought of as pot heads themselves. So they start out by abusing hippies, liberals and potheads before going on to say that yes indeed, our drug laws are harmful

So yeah, I think it's awesome. I see it as an unavoidable stage in the development. At least now many popular conservative pundits are willing to come out and oppose drug prohibition (conservative intellectuals have always been against prohibition). Hopefully in time they will be able to do so with more appropriately directed rancor."

This is absolutely what is going on. These people don't like "hippies, liberals and potheads," or at least they know their target audience doesn't like hippies, liberals and potheads. So they say something their target audience can agree with, something abusive about liberals, hippies and potheads, and then go on to say something that we hope their target audience will agree with, that maybe we should legalize marijuana.

It is a common tactic for salespeople and even attorneys making a case in court to get their target audience to agree with them on a few things before they hit them with something they know will be a tough sell. They're just setting things up for the tough sell, getting their target audience in the mode of agreeing with them. That's what these conservative pundit types are doing when they bash liberals and hippies and potheads before they suggest that legalization might be our best option.

If you are a liberal, a hippy and/or a pothead this might rub you wrong, but don't let it get you bent out of shape. Liberals, potheads and hippies are already on our side. The majority are already for legalization. Who we really need to convince are the people who don't care much for liberals, potheads or hippies. We need more of them supporting legalization or it is not going to happen. It matters not what they think of potheads or liberals or hippies. All that matters is that they see that prohibition is doing more harm than good and that it makes sense to legalize. When enough of them see that, we win.

Dave Borden

Maybe you should keep this Morgan guy around that was one of the most well written articles that I have read in a really long time. Bravo.

Or as the intern that linked it to me said, "Holy Shit, that is deep!"

Robert
Va

I agree with Scott and Glen Stark

It pains these guys to have to support their stereotype of a cannabis user, but their libertarian and state's right philosophy and the reality of alcohol vs. cannabis, and the current trend of public opinion, push them in that direction. The contempt shown towards users is nothing special for them, they hate most of the country over one issue or another, and it's partly just entertainment for their hippie hating audience anyway.

I also strongly agree with Glen's last comment, that the internet has been indispensable in getting around the censorship and bad information governments and drug warriors throw at us. It makes it much easier for large numbers of people to point out, for example, that alcohol is undeniably far more deadly than cannabis, and for the people who read these claims of ours to notice that the alcohol supremacists pretty much don't have shit to say in reply. I suspect many a drug war supporter has felt and will be feeling blown out of the water during this debate.
It also really helped those of us who can't abide this stinking war on drugs to realize we're not alone and helps us share and refine arguments for change
-newageblues

Beck has how many brain cells?

I think he's down to one. There are many compelling reasons to end prohibition. The only reason to continue it is to protect the careers of politicians and law enforcers who make their livings endangering and abusing the people they are elected to serve and sworn to protect.

I wrote to the ACLU once about the illegal general search warrants and no-knock entries used by drug police and was informed that they only get involved when the US Constitution is being violated. Then when the Patriot Act was passed, the ACLU wanted me to get involved in their "protect the Fourth Amendment" campaign. If and when freedom and privacy are legalized, I don't believe it will be thanks to the ACLU.

Pavlovian Dogs & The Praise/Fear of Humans Over God

@ Scott, … so what was it that compelled Teach to begin with a barbed caricature of people who essentially feel exactly as he does? We keep seeing this kind of thing lately and I'm still trying to understand it.

That's why it's so hard for me to understand why people who ostensibly agree with our case nonetheless endeavor to turn this into something silly or frivolous.

Ahh, sooo gwasshoppa. :-)

Now open your Bibles and let us turn to … :-)

These people care more about the "praise of man" (aka peer pressure) than "praise of God." (truth)

Also put this way, they are afraid of humans more than they are afraid of God.

Perhaps also they know the derision they've poured out on others with regard to this issue and don't want to see it come back to them, thus they always begin with a caveat disclaimer, or some kind of put-down. But then try to end magnanimously.

Also, how one has used it in the past reflects on one's current perspective. This is why, I believe, I am attacked by some religious people who want to shout, "devil weed" when I tell them marijuana can be used for religious purposes. Perhaps this is the category S. Baldwin falls into.

They didn't start using marijuana while they were "believers." They started using marijuana while they were party animals living for every pleasure they could find, drinking lots of alcohol, and doing all sorts of things they now regret.

So like Pavlovian dogs, they have conditioned themselves to see marijuana as intrinsic to that "lifestyle."

To me this just shows that while they may have had a change of heart, their minds really haven't grown any. This is obvious, as has been pointed out here at StopTheDrugWar.org on another page, quoting S. Baldwin recently saying "only pot heads want marijuana to be legalized," just days/weeks after being thoroughly trounced by Ron Paul during a debate on this subject. And Ron Paul ain't no pot head!

They also overlook the fact that not everyone smokes/uses marijuana for its cognitive effects. For so many years they've been brainwashed, "it has no medical purpose" they have trouble seeing beyond that lie.

For some religious and non-religious perspectives, serious (short) essays and humor pieces, anyone is welcome to visit:
http://ChristiansAgainstProhibition.org/
(Currently running on woefully under-powered shared hosting, so be patient. :-)

50/50 split

I think some insight into the split personality take on ending prohibition can be gleaned from recent polling. People that are in the public limelight want to win over their audience, and when their audience is split evenly the message delivered can be schizophrenic. Legalization is stupid, but I'm for it... etc...etc...

Alcohol prohibition ended about 3 years into the last depression (1933), and my bet is 2011 for marijuana and hemp legalization in this depression. The issue is definitely accelerating. Politicians want to play to the majority on issues, and the majority now wants legal marijuana and hemp.

Glenn Beck's Lost Decade

Glenn Beck’s multi-faceted career has had its twists and turns, including a stint involving alcohol and drug use during what he describes in his biography as a “lost decade” where among other things he claims to have snorted lines of cocaine off the bare buttock-cheeks of pole dancers.

Just a comment

More people have crashed cars after drinking liqour than those who have smoked a couple joints. Stats can be gotten at any Police station records departments. This was just a nuetral observation.

I believe your assessment is accurate

"...the strength of our argument has outpaced the resolution of the cultural and political associations people attach to marijuana use. In other words, conservatives like Glenn Beck and the folks at Stop The ACLU might simultaneously agree that the war on marijuana is stupid, while also maintaining some animosity towards the stereotypical liberal hippie types that they generally identify the issue with..."

And I applaud you're insight.

Q: What's So Funny? A: Conservative Comedy

Scott you ask a reasonable question...What's so funny about trying to legalize marijuana? A: Not a whole lot, that's exactly why Conservatives think it funny.

Everyone now think about the conservative people they know maybe a relative, co-worker, neighbor…what jokes do they find funny? Exactly! Horrible ones that aren’t funny and are often racists or sexist.

The conservative mind can not comprehend good comedy, because good comedy mocks authority (Pryor, Carlon, Rock, Chappell, Stewart) Conservatives revere and protect authority in all its forms. Similar to how a child loves their mother.

Darrell

QUESTION AUTHORITY!

One HUGE problem they have is thinking. Questioning anything, let alone "authority," means you have to think!

They don't question themselves, and definitely they're an authority on something, if only their own misguided opinions.

I would even say some of them think it's a sign of disrespect to question God. "Rubbish" I say.

http://NewOldSalt.com/questionauthority

This is probably also why the have a religion of hate against marijuana and psychedelics. If they've ever tried them they know, like Ozzy sings, "you introduced me to my mind." :-)

In my essay (link above), I prove that questioning authority is a sign of respect. It's only the cowards who have unjust and undeserved authority who do not want to be questioned.

Youtube 'Run from the cure' Rick Simpson:Medical Cannabis

A whole lot of people have cured cancers both internal and skin,along with a long list of other ailments with natural health,including cannabis,proper hydration,healthy nutrition,discipline,and freedom to choose. No one has the right to prohibit common sense botany and healing. Take a closer look at the background and foreground of the people in charge of prohibitions and wars and you will see that those deviant corporations and government power mongers are exactly what they claim to be fighting against.

Whats so funny about peace,love,and understanding?

Peace,love,and understanding promote happiness,laughter,unity,and allow a chance to be funny. War,greed,hatred,and,sociopathy,by forced double standards make it tough to be happy for anyone who is sane enough to care.

I'm Not Alone

I am a retired techie, and also a retired cop! I have used MJ or black hashish (I even moved to Nepal for two years because I liked the hash!) daily for 40 years. I can assure you that my "drug" use never interfered in any way with my career or my personal life. I consider it the epitome of governmental oppression to sanction citizens for their choice of recreational drugs.

But I have a far more personal beef with the War On Drugs. My stepson was a lifelong cocaine/heroin addict. He was also a brilliant engineering student and competative bicycle racer. But because of his drug usage he was also a felon. As a result, even his masters degree in mechanical engineering (at the top of his class) could not get him a job! He committed suicide at age 35.

I blame every single politician and bureaucrat who has ever, in any way, supported drug prohibition for his death. I do not hesitate to label such functionaries as the murderers that they are. I believe that they should be indicted, tried and convicted for human rights violations. There is absolutely no justification for their inhuman violations of natural law.

Care to argue with this? I guarantee you that it is an argument that you cannot win, and that even trying will identify you as an idiot without logical underpinnings. But if you are brave, and stupid, enough to try, you can reach me at [email protected]. I more than welcome you to demonstrate your criminal ignorance.

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