Monday, July 20, 2009

Pot won't be legalized because of my wife

Pot won't be legalized because of my wife. She has a 140 IQ and is a pragmatic business manager--and a veteran scuba diver, so it's not like she's some stick in the mud.

But she's also a devout churchgoing Republican who has never had a cigarette or an alcoholic drink in her life (nor even a cup of coffee), much less marijuana or its ilk.

She opposes legalization of all drugs including marijuana--so firmly that she won't even discuss the topic with me.

And that's why none of the arguments raised by marijuana legalization advocates matter much. The prison-law enforcement industry has succeeded in making marijuana legalization a tribal issue.

"They" want to smoke pot. "They" aren't like you and me. "They" are bums, hippies, anarchists, people with bits of metal on their faces and tattoos on their necks and elsewhere. "They" threaten to overwhelm Society in a flood of boundary-less behavior. "They" are Dionysian. "We" are Apollonian.

None of this is openly articulated, mind you. But I think multiple generations of conservatives are still recoiling in horror at the Summer of Love and all the hijinks that flowed from it.

Unlike so many Republicans who oppose pot but drink liquor, my wife is not a hypocrite. She opposes all mind-altering substances (except chocolate). So I can't even accuse her of having a double standard.

But nobody reading comment threads on marijuana legalization should underestimate the power of tribal thinking, and the efficacy of the prison-law enforcement industry at invoking it. It's not the bogus rationales they offer up that are doing the trick. It's really this less-public but more effective campaign that has worked.

And because the real campaign doesn't use PowerPoint presentations and public debates to achieve its goals, it's harder to refute it or even claim that such a campaign is going on. It's like the way things were in the South after segregation was outlawed. Redneck politicians wouldn't say "Vote for me and I'll keep
the N_____s down." They'd just say "Y'all know what ah stand for."

That's what we're up against. Any suggestions?

I do have one, though I haven't gotten much traction with it yet: decriminalize marijuana (which would still make advertising it illegal ), but treat all crimes as premeditated if they were committed under the influence of a mind-altering substance (including alcohol) that was taken voluntarily by an adult. So a drunk driver mows down someone in a crosswalk--that's Murder One.

But I still don't know how to overcome the tribalism that this debate has gotten imbued with.

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