high satire

God made wee, man made beer, in god we trustShould marijuana be legalized? No, of course not. Why? Because of the drug’s downside. And because of its upside.

First the upside. Let’s face it: the weed is huge fun. But people, what are you thinking? That it’s okay to have a bag of fun just lying around the house? To be indulged in whenever? What’s happened to our puritan heritage? You remember when H. L. Mencken said that puritanism is the fear that somebody, somewhere, is having more fun than you are? Well, what the great sage of Baltimore apparently failed to appreciate was that this is a good fear, an important fear, a society-stabilizing fear.

Most important, it’s a motivating fear. After all, the puritan doesn’t respond to this fear by going out and having more fun. He goes out and works harder, accomplishes more, makes more money, and sneers more fiercely at the free-gigglers. In other words, he keeps the world moving, and I think we can all agree that that’s an essential chore.

So the upside, fun, is problematical. Not that fun, per se, is bad. But fun is the reward state, not the perpetual state. First we do something useful and productive, something to serve the public good, like thanking veterans for their service. Point is—we earn fun. It’s not complicated. And the people who say that “dope” can transform the things we do to earn fun into . . . fun? Well, we’re not listening to those people. OK? Because that’s crazy.

Now, the downside. It ain’t pretty. First we’re going to have to take a candid look at the effects of marijuana, chief of which by any measurement is raging paranoia. Of course, this is another fear, and an equally useful one. What would you do if could get high and not worry about being high, not even think about the worst possible person knocking on the door or the horrible news a telephone call might bring. Of course you would, and so would everybody else. Can you imagine it? All that fun on the loose? Scary. But that’s what we’ll have if pot is legalized.

A final point, a bit personal, about us older folks. Another universally recognized effect of marijuana is that it makes you stupid. Believe me, we geezers don’t need any help in that department. If you’re going to put your old people on a sofa in front of the TV, fine, give ‘em a little pot. Otherwise, no. I already spend enough time wandering from room to room, picking up magazine here, opening a drawer there. So don’t count on us oldsters to get behind your legalization thing. We’ll lose our dignity soon enough without your help.

Well, hell. It’s a young people’s game anyway. All those millionaire hippie kids at Apple and Facebook and Google, blowing the world away with their gizmos and gewgaws. Probably got joint dispensers in the break room. What does a nattering old man know?

Just this: There’s a bigger picture here. The prospect of legal marijuana, alarming as it is, merely illustrates a much larger sociocultural phenomenon: funcreep. Think about it: Sunday alcohol sales, legal gambling, gay marriage, gay Boy Scout leaders. Wow! People are having fun in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

Hey, I know we got a lot of problems in this country: racial unease, injustice, economic inequality, war. I almost hate to add to the list. But, frankly, I’m worried. Fun is out of control.

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John Yow

John Yow

John Yow has written two books about birds, both published by UNC Press: The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds (2009) and The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal: The Secret Lives of Birds of the Southeastern Shore (2012). His blog, "From Pumpkinvine Creek" (frompumpkinvinecreek.blogtspot.com) is generally concerned with the fate that awaits birds and all other species if we don't stop trashing the planet. Yow and his wife Dede live in the woods in northeast Paulding County.