After watching Ken Burns’ documentary on Prohibition, I had Mencken on the brain (I used him as my quote last week, you might’ve noticed), and so it seemed fortuitous that a friend sent me this piece on the Baltimore City Paper about marijuana and the new Jim Crow in the “free state” of Maryland. Read the Mencken quote in that piece, and then apply that sentiment to the current passage of HB 2 here in Austin. It seems to me that the weed and the abortion issues are actually two parts of the same phenomenon; both result from a superstitious, spiteful, cornered minority lashing out (legislatively) at the rest of society.
Both are also conspicuously anachronistic in a time after we’ve decoded the genome and sent an object out of our solar system—let alone a time after several social barriers have been completely demolished, and all demographic trends suggest a transition to a society in which no one cultural group will have hegemony.
Most people don’t have a problem with gay marriage, for example, according to polls. And we have the embryonic science to make rational statements—and choices—about women’s health.* And we have the botanical science to know that marijuana is (or should be) in a similar category as alcohol. And yet, the repressive, prohibitive legislation passes.
Most likely, just like Prohibition in the ’20s, this latest round of repressive and reactionary law-passing will be found to be a mistake. These kinds of laws don’t stop the activity they’re ostensibly aimed to stop (War on Drugs, anyone?), and in the meantime they create a whole host of negative side-effects. But in the meantime, while these laws are on the books, they cause real harm to real people, and so we must continue all efforts to highlight their hypocrisy, sobvert their authority, and hinder their enforcement. Check out the Feminist Justice League if you don’t know where/how to get started on the anti-aborition charge. On the weed front—well, um… anybody know of any organizations working on this in Austin?
* Note that even if the science suggested that an embryo or fetus felt pain at a certain stage of its development, I still side with the mother to make the decision, up to a reasonable limit (which has already been defined by women, medical doctors, and other experts).