Thursday, July 01, 2004
Hmmmm. Dog astrology.
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Oh just cave and admit it. Banning it was stupid in the first place, the legal and scientific contortions that have been undertaken to support this attempt at neo-prohibition haven't worked. It's a failure. Legalize it. These halfmeasures are just going to embarrass us all in the long run.
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt."
Selective enforcement and discretionary application of the law should have every civil libertarian quaking in their boots at the precedent. This denial, this refusal to admit the failure of the drug war, is just going to be more damaging to our civil institutions the longer we allow it to continue. The masses will use whatever intoxicants are widely available. This has held true for thousands of years. Humans have been messing with opium poppies for close to 5,000 years. Remember Roman orgies? That was just alcohol.
We may allow our superegos to deplore that fundamental human tendency, but that does not change its existence. Humans seek out altered states of consciousness. Of all the methods for doing so, marijuana is one of the most benign. Imagine the drug war without the element of mexican pot. Quite a different scene.
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The feeling of living in some Randian parable played out for me again this week. Benno was getting ready to go to Alaska and was removing a safety pin from his keychain. We found ourselves arguing about whether safety pins were banned from planes. Fucking safety pins! They're not. But the simple fact that it was even conceivable enough to either of us that safety pins might be prohibited, to argue over, just illustrates the absurdist character of airline security. This is ridiculous. Tweezers, clippers, knitting needles, scissors, bladed implements... not effective hijacking tools.
The character of hijacking changed on 9/11/01. Does anyone honestly entertain the idea that even hijackers armed with boxcutters could succeed today? So, to what purpose do we ban useful and minimally dangerous items? I could kill someone with a pencil. That's not a hypothetical statement. I know how to do it. You can't practically ban pencils and so you can never truly disarm me.
What are we actually trying to achieve in keeping weapons off planes? Are all black belts on a special "hands are deadly weapons" government watch-em fly list? If not, why not? If so, we better be watching for all those foreign black belts too. Oh yeah and anyone like me who's foolish enough to publicly admit any knowledge of the black pencil arts. "The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental." -John Steinbeck
What purpose does this practice serve? What practice do we want it to serve? Whose interests does it serve?
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I'm having the repeated impression that certain universal truths are manifesting themselves more starkly, more clearly than before. Maybe it's just that I'm looking, but really, some of the publicized beheadings, and mass graves, and a politician saying publicly "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Or a complete stranger coming to your home and saying, "Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money." It seems like a lot of the harsh truths behind the niceties of the world are being revealed quite nakedly since 9/11.
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Honestly I wrote the post below before reading this but it's nice to feel plugged in to the zeitgeist.
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I wonder if the advent of blogging and photoblogging as a function of the free marketplace of ideas, will by its very nature stave off the dehumanizing influence of technology that futuristic fiction always warns about?
Can inhumanity flourish in the face of a self-referential globally distributed agora? Will the ubiquity of cell-cameras and blogs mean a geometric information network along the lines of classic subversive organizations? Individual bloggers referenced to others that they have determined to be reliable reporters in an overlapping unbreakable web? As long as the internet remains under the jurisdiction of each individual country within its own borders, it will remain fairly well insulated from attack as a nearly-impossible to censor medium of information exchange.
Cool. Means there are different threats to watch for but it also offers an amazing advantage for global democracy. Knowledge is power. Access to the internet is more power than is contained in any physical library. That power is more focused by the efficiency of Google. No card catalogues or indices. You can buy a computer or time in an internet cafe for relatively little money in a growing portion of the third world. What will the force of that empowerment of the masses do to global power structures?
Who will benefit from controlling this medium? It can be the tool of big brother but it can also be the tool of the resistance/revolution. Neat.
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Sometimes it's necessary to step back, turn off the data tap and evaluate the overall situation.
Consider the cultural exchange and the lasting trade and military relationships that we have with the countries we've occupied in the past. We've established a diplomatic beach-head in the middle of the muslim middle east. Things are going fantastically well. That example next door is already stirring things up in several countries. The cause of international human rights has taken several huge steps forward by providing insanely well publicized comparisons to the people living under many dictatorial governments. (The advent of Farsi blogging is soooo thesis worthy.) The tyrants of the world are trembling. The power of action.
There have been setbacks and heartbreak but compared to even the best expectations before the war, we are doing amazingly well. I thing we're seeing the dawn of a new era. It's important to keep that in mind in the midst of this information overload of stupidity and horror. The bad guys are getting desperate. It's hard to see the intensity for what it is. The good stuff doesn't make the news.
I'm more hopeful than ever that the cultural clash can work itself out without mass destruction. These are historically significant years. Keep a diary.
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