We All Live In A Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Society

By David VanThournout
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Now that we’ve improved the civil rights of those serving their country in the most dangerous capacity, as soldiers defending our constitution, don’t you think it’s time we extended this acceptance of who we are to the Civilian population?

If you are gay and an employee of a conservative company, coming out can be dangerous to your career. Or your life even. This I believe is effectively a form of don’t ask don’t tell in action.

If you are among the more than 40% of Americans that have used cannabis at least once, you probably live in a don’t ask, don’t tell situation as well.

If you’re an atheist and you say proudly, I’m an atheist, you can rest assured you will not win any elections from then on.

You can be a liberal and since we don’t generally wear our religion on our sleeves we might be safely ensconced within the confines of a work environment populated mostly by conservatives and if you start wearing your progressive spirituality on your sleeve like the others, you’ll find out pretty quickly that you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics at work (or anyplace else for that matter). But only because you’re a liberal.

So it appears the military is a comparative liberal paradise when held against the back drop of the rest of the fairly conservative whole of American culture. If you ask me the military is way ahead of the rest of us on social issues.

Every single issue I just listed are civil rights issues. Gays, weed heads, atheists, progressive Christians, etc., all are wrongly and manipulatively marginalized. Marginalized within our communities, our churches, our schools, and even our families. Marginalized by a vocal minority who have nothing to offer the conversation but fear. Fear of the other.

It often leaves a gay person today in a situation where they feel completely alone and unable to find anyone to reach out to. They suffer disenfranchisement and depression. They sometimes in despair even take their own lives.

Weed head parents sometimes are charged with child endangerment when they get caught growing a few plants. That seems more than a little extreme to me.

Think of what the parents must feel that find out their son or daughter is gay when they receive a telephone call from the police informing them that their child has killed themselves because of bullying in school.

I’m not normally taken by nationalistic tendencies and I do say that I love my country. I love America not because I think it’s better than other places because it isn’t. America to me means diversity. Diversity of people means we will never want for interesting conversation, food, and there is always a celebration going on. Our collective knowledge of solutions from so many cultures coming together and working toward the common good of everyone is something to be proud of. That’s what I think of when I think of America. And this vision of ours is alive and well.

We should bring this compassionate view of our diversity to main stream America and affirm federally that:

Obviously we can’t make a federal law that says the people have to elect atheist representatives. But a federal law guaranteeing that people have the right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation is possible. It’s also possible that we could pass a federal regulation guaranteeing Americans have a better choice when it comes to recreational drugs.

I bring this into the conversation for one reason. The push to make Marijuana illegal was driven entirely by hate. Anti-Hispanic racists in California passed the first state law against marijuana in 1913. [1] Racism towards African-Americans was used in the south and by 1937 it had gone federal. By 1961 it was being made illegal world wide through the U.N Single Convention Treaty on Narcotics. [2]

The legalization of marijuana is clearly a civil rights issue,

According to a study done by National Development and Research Institutes, Inc found:

This article examines the growth in marijuana misdemeanor arrests in New York City (NYC) from 1980 to 2003 and its differential impact on blacks and Hispanics. Since 1980, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) expanded its use of arrest and detention for minor offenses under its quality-of-life (QOL) policing initiative. Arrest data indicate that during the 1990s the primary focus of QOL policing became smoking marijuana in public view (MPV). By 2000, MPV had become the most common misdemeanor arrest, accounting for 15% of all NYC adult arrests and rivaling controlled substance arrests as the primary focus of drug abuse control. Of note, most MPV arrestees have been black or Hispanic. Furthermore, black and Hispanic MPV arrestees have been more likely to be detained prior to arraignment, convicted, and sentenced to jail than their white counterparts. [3]

This is only going to be resolved by legalizing marijuana for adults just like alcohol is now. More and more evidence is piling up that marijuana is more than just the safest drug ever discovered, it is also a strongly medicinal plant that is quite possibly the most therapeutic drug ever discovered as well.

Most research on this plant occurs outside the US because of our antiquated public policy regarding marijuana. What is currently being discovered in other countries is nothing short of amazing. Recently, on top of the already long list of ailments cannabinoids (the active drug in marijuana) actively and safely treats, it has also been shown to be active as an anti-cancer drug.

Taken from Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis and Cannabinoids:

Investigators are also studying the anti-cancer activities of cannabis, as a growing body of preclinical and clinical data concludes that cannabinoids can reduce the spread of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (programmed cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Arguably, these latter trends represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago. [4]

I believe Americans, who pay the highest prices in the developed world for substandard medical care, would be interested in a plant which they could grow in their back yard very cheaply, which could treat a large number of our most common diseases, as well as possibly preventing various cancers. Here are some of the diseases that cannabis is known to be effective against:

So, this one comes with a bonus, we stop the hate, and we gain a medicinal / recreational drug that is far safer than alcohol.

I keep hoping that in the end our diversity will inform our national outlook and result in compassionate American policies both foreign and domestic. Policies that represent our diversity and our values and addresses all the grievances of the people we have harmed in our ignorance, by not knowing what our country was turning into over the last several generations. Our American Empire has nearly destroyed any chances of a favorable outcome and yet I still believe that we can win this game. And I’m not alone. They say it is darkest before the dawn, and I expect the right wing to go kicking and screaming all the way. But clearly compassion won the day on capitol hill when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell went into the dust bin of history where it belongs.

Compassionate Americans will continue to fight for the rights that each and every one of us deserve regardless of our race, sex, sexual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), or even if we choose a recreational drug proven far safer than alcohol.

And we are clearly slowly but surely winning this fight.

* Alcohol is actually just a poison which has drug like effects. Drugs in general are all much safer than alcohol with very few exceptions.

[1] When and why was marijuana outlawed?

[2] U.N. Single Convention Treaty on Narcotics 1961

[3] THE RACE/ETHNICITY DISPARITY IN MISDEMEANOR MARIJUANA ARRESTS IN NEW YORK CITY

[4] Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids

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