Ragnar insisted in a blog comment last week that I’d better darned well come up with a great post on 4/19. Nothing like a little pressure there, eh?
Well, the brain’s not working too well and neither is the cursed up-and-down Internet connection here in the high desert boondocks. And WordPress has also gone cranky on me and twice erased portions of this post. So sorry, Ragnar, there will be no Great Thoughts coming from this direction today. Perhaps you noble readers will leap in and supply some GTs of your own in the comments section.
I’ve just got this little bit to say.
It would be a wonderful thing if more of the people who celebrate 419 (here and here among others) and more of those who celebrate 420 (here and here for instance) could open their eyes to each other, to their common interests, and to the fact that we all face the same utterly ruthless and unprincipled enemy.
Both 419 and 420 have worked some miracles lately. Who would ever have thought, just a few years ago that gun-rights activists would be winning the day in state after state? And anybody who ever watched the drug war worsen over the decades has just got to be in awe that 420 is pushing back so hard. Both gun owners and cannabis advocates are overcoming hostile government and unjust image problems. And in those two areas (if few others), both common sense and uncommon justice are beginning to prevail.
Powerful voices try to drown out those who are doing nothing more than trying to restore the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The shrillest voices actually cry for we, the disrespectful minority, to be charged with sedition or treason, or even rounded up and shoved into torture camps. (And, as Kevin Wilmeth points out behind one of the above hyperlinks, many of these demands for our heads are coming from people who claimed to believe, just a few years ago that “dissent is patriotic.”)
If I were to put on my optimism hat (and I’m sure it must be around here someplace, perhaps under that pile of dusty old newspapers in the corner), I could think that the shrillness of all that public loathing is in a weird way an encouraging sign. I mean, Bill Clinton actually knows that Stewart Rhodes’ OathKeepers and Mike Vanderboegh’s Three Percenters exist. That’s pretty darned remarkable in itself.
And the fact that so many public ranters are terrified of people who want only to peacefully protest or assert their rights … that says we might just have them on the run. I don’t make a habit of quoting the loathsome Limbaugh, but he may be right when he says, “We are living in their heads rent free.”
(I can’t seem to find my optimism hat, unfortunately. Should we ever actually put “the establishment” on the run on any large scale, I have no doubt they’ll concoct yet another Reichstag fire to suppress dissent and go after dissenters.)
I find I’m leaning more to the 419 side of things as I hyperlink. But I don’t mean to neglect the prejudices against the 420 advocates. While the 419s are suffering loud, hysterical name-calling in the media, the 420s … well, far too many of them are still being busted. So which is worse? To be screeched at hysterically in the media or be raided and brutalized by thugs?
Thing is, those two perils go together. And we’re all in this together. We need 419 + 420 and all the other numbers of good people — people who know that torture is immoral and corrosive, people who know that warrantless wiretapping violates the Bill of Rights, people who value free speech, fair trials, freedom of association, freedom both of and from religion, people who want the government out of their faces enough to realize (finally!) that it should stay out of other people’s faces, as well — to come together and know that, when it gets right down to it, we’re all agitating for the same fundamental thing and all being threatened and bullied by the same irrational, self-serving, self-perpetuating, and utterly ruthless force.
419 is good. 420 is good. But 419 + 420 (you will no doubt have noticed, even if you’re as math-challenged as I) is about twice as much. Add a few more numbers … like 1 and 4 and 5 and 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 … and pretty soon … we’ve got a movement.