Monday, May 9, 2011

Democracy is Not a Farce

The original introduction ended with these paragraphs: 
On Friday our police chief, Rick Hanson, was quoted at a conference on  gangs by local writer Rick Bell of the daily Calgary Sun on page five. Regarding rich drug users he said, "These people are hypocrites. It's time they look inward and decide what they want more.  Do they want a safe community or are they going to contribute to the problem themselves?" says Hanson. "That's going to take some soul searching."

On the same page the justice minister said that when you make a choice to do drugs you are impacting others, and you are fueling gangs, gangs that have no loyalty to the rest of us.

On Saturday in the daily Calgary Herald the impact was made plain. Yankee drug users are fueling crime in Mexico, where since December of 2006, when President Calderon took office, violence has wounded many and killed 12,600 people.


...As I type this our U.S. cousins are working to make the Iraqis have the first democracy in the Arab world... I believe that teaching democracy, contrary to popular opinion, can't be reduced to a sound bite. I sure hope that Americans, unlike the letter writer below, "get it."

Meanwhile, at home, as U.S. citizens pursue their other war, they won't stop in mid-battle to second guess themselves. In Canada, though, it's peace time. No need, here, for temporary war time "cruel and unusual" measures, no need to replace a sliding scale with zero tolerance, or for prisons to become crowded then overcrowded. Since we here don't have a war on drugs I hope my dear U.S. readers will forgive me for "fraternizing" with an enemy drug user.

Democracy Is...

...In a letter to the editor of the newspaper someone angrily wrote that a poll showed that most Canadians believe that drugs should be legal. Since the laws don't reflect this poll, he wrote, "democracy is a farce."

My first reaction, after "What poll?" was: Methinks he needs his drugs too much. A farce? I am old enough to remember when you could confirm for yourself the results of a well known poll. Walk into any bar and most patrons would loudly tell you, "Hanging's too good for them! Keep the death penalty!" But a queer thing would happen in the privacy of the voting booth. When faced with the silent responsibility, most people would find that no... no, they just couldn't pull the switch to send a man plunging through the gallows. I wasn't going to the pubs myself at this time: I was in school and our principal explained these facts of life to us.

Polls are of value to a leader to indicate what most people think, but a full-time political leader can't substitute such "votes" for sober decisions. For one thing, having to "take responsibility," not just think, sharpens the mind. For another thing polls, as above, can be wrong. (Dewey defeats Truman) Those of us who have to work for a living can't take the time to be readers of briefings and commissions and committee reports and position papers and hey, we don't have the funding, as parliament does, to have staffers doing research for us. (Each party has separate taxpayer funding, with the most research cash going to the official opposition.)


I live on a planet that is warming up, within a nation that exports nuclear (CANDU) reactors, and in a province, Alberta, that exports oil world wide. This while Alberta fossil fuel—coal—goes up in smoke for power plants. If I want to reduce the invisible C02 and conserve coal for our children then I should know certain things. But I don't. What is the difference between a CANDU reactor and the one at Chernobyl or the ones powering U.S. submarines? I don't know. I don't even know the difference between fusion and fission. Heaven help us if I suddenly had to vote on all those questions... or if my "guesses" to a pollster were misinterpreted as "votes." Sad to say, I won't expect the "greens" and "leftists" to know those answers for me.

My regretful conclusion is this: the leftists are "thinking" in the spirit of a back seat driver, rather than trying to boldly imagine holding the wheel of final responsibility. If they answer a pollster about fusion reactors it won't be based on burning the midnight oil in the community college library. No, because "deciding" from slogans is easier for them.

I don't remember us consulting libraries very much even when we were school kids. Back then all of my male peers had long hair. The drug users, just like the smokers of the day, claimed to hold the moral high ground. To voice "anti" sentiment, for tobacco or weed, was to feel defensive, weak and uncool. For in the official judgment of our generation we baby boomers were destined to someday become the majority—but NOT "the establishment—" and then drugs would be nice and legal. Or so we claimed.

But who were we to judge? Except for the nerds, our world was only the school, the popular hang out, and the main street we cruised in between the two. As kids we didn't know the name of our alderman, and we didn't truly grok words like citizen or coping. We claimed we were the "now generation," and we didn't care that society existed before we ourselves were born. We didn't grasp that every civilization, in every space and time, had coped as best they could, each in their own way, with drugs.

A belief in "all or nothing," in "total prohibition or anything goes," was a common belief for children. We boys and girls of the 1960's, as an example of our black and white thinking, sometimes argued for a society of total nudity, (like in a commune, can you dig it?) but if we had checked the library we would have found that even societies with freedom and sunshine, like the cities of ancient Greece, or the African city of Timbuktu, had done otherwise. The world isn't perfect. We cope.


How queer that my peers grew up, cut their hair, and judged that our poor society could cope best under our current drug laws. For us, life was no longer the bright romance of a Johnny Rocker song; life also had the grit of a Johnny Cash drunkard song. We watched as peers became alcoholics. We found that most alcoholics are not in AA; they are not able to look in a mirror and admit, "I am an alcoholic."

As a child I may have believed that, "It isn't stealing if it's shoplifting." As an adult I have put childish ways behind me: theft is theft. Crime is crime. How embarassing to meet with a co-worker, a middle aged boomer who still hates the establishment. Thus he justifies his drugs. He recently talked to me angrily about using "guns!" and "cages!" for drug offenders although he seemed OK about mere "prisons" for bank robbers.

The sad thing about "needing" illegal drugs?
Propping up one's self respect by having to disparage your neighbors and their "farce" of democracy. Such isolation implies having alienation, having to avoid feeling part of society, avoid feeling part of something that will continue after you yourself are gone. How sad to be driven to desperately do anything rather than look in a mirror and admit, "I am a criminal."

Sean Crawford

on a Sunday morning sidewalk,

Summer 2008

For more on Democracy and folly, click on "newer post" at the bottom for a CBC radio interview of a Nebraska senator explaining how senators should know more (about, say, drugs and the death penalty) than the average citizen.

Note to dope-using criminal Trolls: before you troll (rudely comment) over the last paragraph first look up "implies" in the dictionary. It does not mean "forced to." Middle age implies putting on extra pounds.

I was going to follow convention to put a certain foreign word, a Martian one, in italics. Imagine my delight when my ROM English dictionary had "grok."

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