Michael Phelps Should Not Be Sorry

This Product Contains Cannabis [by me]
ZOMG, this product contains cannabis!

Michael Phelps has nothing to apologize for.  I understand the reality he faces, however, and why he has to say what he said.  But let’s go beyond the breathless theatrics and think about the core issue.  “He broke the law,” the pundits are saying, as if that is necessarily the end of the conversation.  Sorry, but Phelps was not wrong; our marijuana laws are wrong.  Really wrong.

Does anybody alive even remember why it was outlawed?  No, of course you don’t – but you’ll do yourself well to look over the historical – and hysterical – record.

Let’s take a few choice quotes from the era of marijuana criminalization, shall we?

“Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
[1934 newspaper editorial in favor of criminalization]

“All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff is what makes them crazy.”
[Texas legislator arguing for criminalization]

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Pacific Park Must Clarify Their Photography Policy

Before I get into this story I want to set the psychographic stage, because I’ve been through this enough now to know what kind of conversations these controversies stir up.

My 2007 incident in San Antonio [see An Accidental Interview With Lieutenant Phil Dreyer] – which was much scarier and more flagrant than the one I’m writing about today – made me realize how out-of-fashion standing up for your rights has become, and also how much it opens you up to criticism for being a troublemaker (and more).

People like Thomas Hawk and Carlos Miller have famously faced this as well. The assumption (often verbalized) is that we’re belligerent, in-your-face assholes who go to places sticking our cameras (and our laminated, marked-up copies of the First Amendment) in people’s faces, looking and hoping for a fight. Sorry, but that’s just not true.  I absolutely hate these confrontations and just want to make my  pictures and be left alone.  For instance, I had a terribly embarrassing and awkward police / photography incident at LAX a few months back and decided not to write about it because of the rather sensational issues it would raise.   So trust me, I am not in this for the fight.

Continue reading Pacific Park Must Clarify Their Photography Policy