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Friday, March 12, 2010

4:20 Civil Disobedience? Good, Bad, or Both?

Terry Franklin reports on his WMDP email list on new planned marijuana civil disobedience actions in New England and their purpose while responding to some criticism of them. See the poll related and weigh in on it.

From what I've been hearing, there will be legalization- related civil disobedience (people publicly staging smoking pot protests) in at least 4 of New England's state capitals, later this spring.

Concord, NH -- April 20
Boston, MA -- April 20
Providence, RI -- May 1 (and possibly also Boston, again that date)
Hartford, CT -- May 5

Hi All,

There are pluses and minuses with any tactic.

Carl made a good point that opponents will spin Civil Disobedience in the most disparaging ways -- unrestrained hedonism, etc.

Yet there are positives as well:
* Inactive 'supporters' get inspired and join in with activism.
* Media shows people they are not alone -- reduces their fear to be open.
* Demonstrates to "powers that be" how unenforceable things can get. I remember that NH legislator commenting that observation to his colleagues on the State House floor, when the NH activists smoking on the town commons.

In any case, the civil disobedience WILL be happening. It started to spring up in a number of places around the country last year. This year, it is going to take off like a rocket.

That it the reality of the situation. Debating whether it is the best tactic isn't likely to change that reality. So, the duty of those of us who end up speaking to the press on this... is to anticipate the likely attacks, and to come up with ways to portray things to the public that are positive for our movement.

I thought I'd post a column I wrote a while back, which is related to this [below]



There have been a number of appeals, within the legalization movement, urging people to clean up their act. The targets of these pleas range from the recent civil disobedience actions in New Hampshire, to the large national hemp fests, such as those in Seattle, Boston, and outside the White House. The argument is, that what to the participants is noble defiance, can be depicted by opponents as hedonistic partying. It makes it tough for movement lawyers and lobbyists when dealing with Congressmen. It's a good point.

While the difficulty is real, the hoped for remedy of having all the nation's grassroots activists folding their tents and going home, is an absurdity.

Equally ridiculous is the desire that all marijuana activists be over the age of eighteen. Not only is high school a time of spiritual questing, it is the time of life when idealism is at its peak.

The drive for marijuana freedom is a broad social movement. Like all such social movements, there is no single leader. People are not marching in lockstep. There are a myriad of rival groups -- many of which do not get along with each other very well. Loose cannons are rolling all over the deck. Nobody pays much attention to the guys in the suits. This is how it always is.

Consider the earlier Civil Rights Movement. When Martin Luther King and the SCLC came on the scene, they rocked the boat, they made things difficult for their colleagues. The traditional organizations promoted civil rights advancement through education, and getting African Americans into the professions; and now you had a guy marching without permits, and provoking confrontations. Forget that everyone loves him, now that he is dead. When he was around, he was as big a pain to his allies as to his adversaries. Later on, King himself had the same kind of problems with people and groups more radical than he was.

Movements are like that. And as hard as it is for some to appreciate, this isn't a bad thing. If it were possible for some leader to get everyone on the same page, the whole movement would be in danger of that one person succumbing to threats, flattery, payoffs, etc. He would eventually be forced, in some way, to compromise the movement's goals. Better for our foes to be swinging their swords against an oncoming ocean tide.

Prohibition makes people angry. Understandably so. That anger will turn to action of all types. It is folly for the moderate organizations, those with the suited spokesmen, to strive for control. Their job is to frame the arguments in a positive way, taking into consideration the reality of their allies and the situation as a whole.

I'll leave that exercise as this week's assignment....

1 comment:

  1. greginvalley@gmailMarch 15, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    ok I get it.  There is a movement afoot to re-establish our right to self determination.  The right to figure out what is good for us individually, how we can relax in our own castles without fear of persecution.  The right to grow certain crops (right Monsanto?) the right to die when and how we say (hearing this NHO?) and the right to enjoy a little herb without the door being kicked in.  The problem I still see is the money factor.  Lots of money at stake, not only in who makes it if herb becomes legal (Philip Morris) but who lose out (anheiser/busch, Eli Lilly, et al).  This pot protest is the beginning of it, but there is still fear of smoking the ganja because our personal and financial security and freedom are constantly at stake.  This is a chipping away process and it needs to be done, and we need a unifying leader that will piss some people off, much like King, Malcom X, Martin Luther, Jesus, George Washington, Etc.  I believe that the money factor alone will cause such a fight that it will bomb the pot movement and allow the government to take away more of our rights.  The government can take your property if they deem the can make more money in taxes if it has resort possibilities; if they need more tax money for improvements and you cannot afford it; if the governors/mayor's/city council's brother/cousin/in-law's want to build a stadium,parking structure, condo project.  The government works for us, not the other way around, and it is time we woke up to that fact.


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