Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cocktails 4 Jesus

First, some medical marijuana news: Connecticut residents, please help bring medical marijuana to your state today! That was a long link, which I'm hoping will increase the likelihood of you taking urgent action. Also, rest in peace, Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya.

Now onto Cocktails 4 Jesus. Morse v. Frederick, the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case that will determine whether or not students have a right to speak freely about illicit drugs in school, was argued in March at the Supreme Court. You'll recall SSDP's continuing involvement in the case. As students, we all have a personal stake in this issue. Although I now enjoy the freedom of college, where I can get an article about marijuana policy published in the school newspaper, things were not always so peachy keen. The following is my personal testimony regarding limits on freedom of speech in my own high school.

Our high school newspaper was in its infancy when I enrolled in journalism class my senior year. Hurricane Katrina had just struck New Orleans the previous month, so we decided to release a special edition to raise funds for charity. The majority of articles fell within the hurricane/gulf coast theme. At the time I had not yet travelled to the part of the country affected by the hurricane, but my dad had worked in New Orleans, and once when I was 10 he brought home some fine recipes from the French Quarter. I remembered the excitement of watching him make bananas foster and the mouthwatering taste of the non-alcoholic hurricanes he fixed for us kids. So, I wrote an article that reported on the state of the restaurants he'd visited, provided recipes, and suggested holding a fundraiser/awareness-raising event.

Well, funny thing about bananas foster: it contains alcohol. However, the alcohol goes up in incredibly amusing flames during the dessert's execution, thus rendering the banana liquor and the dark rum called for in the recipe child-safe. I thought it would be enough to recommend parental supervision and explain that parents would have to provide ingredients, but administrators distrusted a recipe containing alcohol in the hands of high schoolers. That sh*t is bananas.

As for the hurricane, I provided a non-alcoholic recipe. One teacher, to whom I was asked to apologize due to the mortal offensiveness of my article, pointed out that students could figure out for themselves how to make my non-alcoholic drink alcoholic. Of course, they can do the same with a can of soda, so her point was lost on me. Nonetheless we were ordered to stop selling the papers (instead of simply issuing an apology and corrections).

I will be the first to admit it was a poorly written and badly edited article, not quite in the realm of stupidity as a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner, but pretty close. That's not the point. The point is, I got in trouble, the paper lost credibility, our best writers lost motivation, and the fundraiser stopped, all because administrators and our on-site policeman felt that the article condoned underage drinking. The paper thereafter endured heavy censorship and required approval from a bureaucratic review board before publication. Fellow students were both angry and amused, and we retaliated by publishing an underground parody paper, which only lasted one issue because we were afraid of it getting into the wrong hands.

Alas, if only I'd known about SSDP! As we the college students reunite with our high school friends this summer, let us spread the word and perhaps plant the seed of a new high school chapter. It takes courage and resolve to tackle drug policy issues under a strict high school regime, and for this reason I propose a toast of any legal beverage you deem to be pleasant in honor of our high school chapter leaders and members.

1 comment:

JT Barrie said...

You do realize that the lapdogs in the media will make the false association between reform efforts and advocacy of widespread use. They already focus on Timothy Leary rather than Walter Cronkite. Some members of the new high school reform group will be users and they will get all the media attention.
Editors of mainstream news operate in a bipolar world with false choices. It's either Al Qaeda or Bush's use of spying and wholesale kidnappings and extradition. It will be either free for all drug abuse or the authoritarian police state necessary to combat drug distribution networks. Drug free utopia seems pretty good when place next to the testimonial cases of severe drug abuse that are a side effect of drug prohibition.