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Post-Modern Civil Disobedience

November 18, 2010

I’m writing this with Saul William’s song Grippo playing in the background and it seems appropriate. Chaotic energy fueling my thoughts. “I wanna show you what the stars are made of, I wanna show you the stars!”

A few weeks ago our local sports journalist pundit John Canzano made mention of a group of college football players who were jeopardizing their NFL careers by openly admitting to smoking marijuana. His take was that they should suck it up and not indulge in drugs until their NFL careers were over, after which time they would be (rich and) free to do what they want. The phone lines immediately jammed with folk who wanted to express how wrong it was for pot to be illegal, and Canzano changed the subject.

I didn’t get through. But this is what I would have told him:

“John, I’m not going to tell you why I think marijuana should be legal. But I do think that these athletes are fulfilling their role as good Americans by practicing civil disobedience in the hopes of making changes to laws they find unjust. They’re using their social status to promote awareness. They’re not hiding behind medical or religious loopholes, and they’re definitely doing more for their cause than the likes of Damon Stoudamire. ”

Sitting in jail was enough of a statement in Thoreau’s time. It seems to have worked for Mandela too. Non-violent protest worked for Gandhi. I think it still can, but it’s going to look different. When was the last time a march on Washington forced policy change? When was the last time a hunger strike was successful?

There is one thing that motivates American folk. One thing which could cause us to change our thinking. In a word, it’s money. It’s already happening in California. They’ve realized what a boon to the economy legalized marijuana could be, both in taxation and in relief for law enforcement.

Now it’s happening in other arenas. High-profile athletes are risking careers to stand up for their truth. Hopefully that will make some folk think maybe there is something wrong with the law. Hopefully they don’t all take Canzano’s stance, because it won’t work for retired players. Nobody cares what they say. Only while money’s on the line is there a chance that people will listen.

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From → Rants

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