Laughing at Pot Advocates? What's so Funny About Drug War?
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For all the progress that's been made towards bringing the drug policy debate into the political mainstream, there remains a tragic tendency among many in the press to burst out laughing at the idea of fixing our disastrous drug laws. The latest embarrassing example comes courtesy of Al Kamen in The Washington Post:
Yes, we know that jobs and the economy are the marquee issues for this campaign. Even major topics such as war and education are getting short shrift among the wannabe nominees.
Pass the chips, dude. This is some entertaining TV.
Pass the chips? Wow. I can't speak for Al Kamen, but there's nothing about the War on Drugs that makes me hungry for junk food. Eric Sterling didn't like Kamen's tone very much either and responded with a deservedly harsh letter to the editor:
Regarding Al Kamen’s Jan. 18 column “ ‘Reefer Madness’ for the YouTube Generation”:
This article is consistent with my hypothesis that the rules of professional conduct of journalists or some style manual require that articles about drug policy include a joke about chips, brownies or junk food. Can reporters and editors be so humor-deprived that they always have to joke about laws and policies that every year put hundreds of thousands of cannabis users in handcuffs, give them a criminal record and cost hundreds of millions of dollars on pointless police overtime. Ha, ha, ha, “pass the chips”; I’m dying with laughter.
Kamen's childishness is meant to be cute, I assume, but it plainly belittles a gutsy effort by a concerned group of young Americans to ask valid questions of candidates on the campaign trail. How odd it is that he calls attention to these young activists bravely confronting prominent politicians, only to turn around and insult them. For what…caring about something?
Is the arrest of close to a million Americans a year for marijuana a strange or entertaining thing to be upset about? For that matter, is our world-record incarceration rate and the spiraling costs that go along with it? Is the escalating violence in Mexico amusing to anyone? If these things aren't funny, then we should be applauding rather than laughing when someone works to ensure that we don't ignore these issues entirely when choosing our next president.
Scott Morgan is associate editor of StoptheDrugWar.org, and primary contributor to the site's Speakeasy Blog.