[NOTE: No violin talk today. Maybe next time. Meanwhile, this post may not be suitable for younger readers. Or potential employers who might have googled me. ]
Shortly before the end of the show Saturday night, Carlos Santana made it known to the audience that he favors legalizing cannabis. At least one person in the audience thought his statement was offensive. Why?
Because there were kids in the park.
The “offense” made the paper. For the record, the audience did not agree with the offended party, indicating such by cheering. Loudly.
Of the things I found offensive at SITP, Santana’s stance on cannabis wasn’t one of them. Anyone who keeps up with Santana (and many other popular artists as well) already knew his position. The fact that a significant portion of our population favors legalization of marijuana isn’t news either. Even as a non-user, I can find more compelling logical reasons why cannabis should be legalized, regulated and taxed like nicotine and alcohol, than to continue the status quo.
So, let’s carry this a little further because I have questions about offensiveness. For example, if it’s not appropriate for a public figure to advocate legalization of a widespread activity from a public platform, then please tell me:
- Why it’s OK for children to be subjected to listening to their parents, politicians or other public figures (like radio and TV personalities) disrespect the office of the president of the United States or the man who holds it with a venom usually reserved for mass murderers and child molesters.
- Why is it OK to be ugly, mean, or dishonest when you disagree with someone?
- Why is it now acceptable to hint around at instigating treason or anarchy if you don’t like the government?
- Why is it acceptable for children to watch their parents drink alcohol? Or snuggle? After all, those things might lead to (shhh) casual, non-procreative sex.
- Or talk trash about their spouse, friends, neighbors or cubiemates?
- Or put on a show by constantly overconsuming and overspending?
- When did religious and political hypocrisy become a positive character trait?
- Since when is smoking pot more “wrong” than lying, cheating, stealing or coveting?
Where do you stop with the policing and legislating of morality? Isn’t there a point where the whole discussion becomes a farce? The fact that I have to ask questions like that deeply offends me. And Mr. Offended is worried about kids hearing the word “marijuana.”
You know what most offended me about SITP?
- Men (and women!) with various combinations of beer guts, back hair, farmer’s tans and badly-executed ink insisting on dancing shirtless. In groups.
- Countless people who didn’t say no to crack. (Old plumber’s joke. Think about it.)
- Teenage girls (and, unfortunately, grown women) dressed like they were going to a strip club. Except that strip clubs generally require more clothing.
- The obscene prices for food and beverages.
- The people directly behind me who talked loudly and in detail about their friends’ sexual proclivities. They also named names.
- And now that the Journal has given Mr. Offended a platform, people who think they know more than I do about protecting and nurturing my child, about what’s OK for him to be exposed to and hear. For that matter, deciding the same about everybody else’s kids, too. News flash! It’s not your job or responsibility.
I chose to overlook all the irritations because of the great free (!) music. Unless we’re planning to take a page from the Taliban and redefine offensive, the things on my list are never going to change. However, I can choose how to react. I can choose not to look, not to participate, not to let it ruin my day. I can focus my ears in a different direction. I can concentrate on the moment. On what’s important. On what really matters. The offenses were minor annoyances when you consider the bigger picture.
- People are losing their jobs and homes.
- Our financial, political, and judicial systems are being gutted by corporate greed not seen since the 1920s.
- We give corporate giants a pass even as they flagrantly violate laws and deliberately ignore basic human decency, in the name of “free markets” or “capitalism.”
- Civil rights and human rights are quickly becoming optional, and we are riding carelessly down the road of institutionalized discrimination.
- We are making a toxic soup out of our planet.
- Civility and decency have gone out the window.
- Our country is no longer welcoming and tolerant of diversity.
- Elected officials and ordinary citizens are treading dangerously close to treason and inciting anarchy by the positions they are supporting.
These are the things that will kill the United States. Yet depending on whose polls you read, people are more worried about whether gay people can buy marriage licenses or adopt children and whether women should continue to have access to safe and legal reproductive health care. Many of our problems would solve themselves if more people would start practicing Jesus’s admonitions to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
It seems pretty clear that we have more important things to worry about, things that are crucial to our survival and prosperity as a nation, than whether kids heard the word “marijuana” from a public stage?