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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Tribune's right—let's lock up the rich kids for smoking reefer

Posted By on 06.22.12 at 07:37 AM

Spotted in Naperville.
  • HighInBC
  • Spotted in Naperville.
I’d vowed not to take any potshots at the Tribune for the stuff they write on the grounds that everyone would assume it was sour grapes for the drubbing they gave us in media-league softball.

But then I read their editorial about reefer.

Before I get to that, let me say this . . .

The final score of that softball game was 35 to 7. That's not a typo. Yo, Jerome—or whoever's in charge of the Reader team—time to bring in the ringers.

Anyway, the Tribune felt compelled to weigh in on Mayor Emanuel's modest proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Here—read it yourself.

The passage that caught my eye was this: "We're glad to hear the ordinance would not apply to juveniles. Giving a kid a glimpse of the criminal justice system for a minor offense is not a waste of resources. It can provide him or her with a dose of tough love or a referral to substance abuse counseling. It sends a message that we take our laws seriously."

Well, in the abstract, I can’t say I disagree with this sentiment. But, of course, we don’t live in The Abstract.

We live in Chicago. Or I do anyway—not sure about those Tribune editorialists.

And when it comes to kids in Chicago—and its whole metropolitan area—the only beneficiaries of the "tough love" of the "criminal justice system" are the black ones.

For the others—white ones in particular—it's party like a rock star! Here—read all about that.

Back to the editorial.

Generations of Americans have argued over whether marijuana is a gateway to more serious drugs. They're still arguing. There's no doubt that it's a gateway to other kinds of trouble. It's illegal, remember? It makes lawbreakers out of law-abiding citizens and exposes them to other lawbreakers—not just the ones who smoke but the ones who traffic, speaking of slippery slopes. A law that winks at marijuana possession also invited risky behavior like driving while impaired which is doubly worrisome when inexperienced drivers are involved.

'Cause, you know—it's so much safer being around experienced drunk drivers.

I've got to agree with the Tribune on one thing: marijuana is illegal. Unfortunately, the mayor's ordinance won't do anything to change that.

As such, its illegality raises a fundamental challenge: What do we, a supposedly logical people, do when confronted with an illogical law?

Do we accede to it on the grounds that a law is a law and must be obeyed no matter what?

Or do we break that law? In this case by getting high, as do countless Chicagoans, including—brace yourself, editorial board—many Tribune readers?

I'm sure a lot of these potheads have concluded that there's just not enough time in the day—what with work, the kids, and other obligations—to lead an uphill crusade to change an exceedingly stupid law. Especially when they're destined to get pounded by the Tribune for doing so.

Finally, the editorial closes by raising several important questions: "What are we telling our kids by making possession a ticketing offense? That pot is harmless? That prosecuting people over a joint or two (or 20) is excessive? That sounds like an argument for legalization, not for lower penalties, but we're not ready to go there and we don't think Chicagoans are, either."

OK, so here's my proposal. If we're not ready to legalize reefer, then at least be consistent in how we enforce marijuana laws. Let's treat all smokers like they were west- or south-siders.

After all, why should only black kids benefit from the "tough love" that comes from "a glimpse of the criminal justice system"?

Let's have the cops randomly pull some white kids over. And pat them down. And lock them up. And make daddy and mommy bail them out. And give them a record that fucks them up good when they fill out a job application and apply to college.

Let’s send the police over to Wilmette's Gillson Park on a Friday night and haul in New Trier's pot smokers. Then let's move up the north lakefront through Kenilworth, Winnetka, Highland Park, and Lake Forest. After that, send the cops into DuPage County: Wheaton, Oak Brook, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Naperville—you know, the heart of Tribune country.

I got a feeling we might find a few pot smokers up there.

And when we're done in DuPage, come back to Chicago and bust the kids who go to Parker, Latin, Lab, and other prestigious private schools.

That'll teach them to smoke their reefer and wink at our law!

I'll tell you this—the fastest way to legalize marijuana is to start busting all the wealthy, white kids who smoke it.

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