Old Punks Never Die
Cannabis has no lethal dose, and its pharmacological effects have never caused a single death in over 5,000 years of recorded history. The (unseen) driving force against medical (or unrestricted adult) legalization of cannabis ("Grass Roots," March 27) is the fact that cannabis can't be patented. This precludes the need for big business to be involved, and that fact makes cannabis commercially unattractive to the pharmaceutical, tobacco, and alcohol industries (lobbies). If it can't be made profitable successfully, the government can't justify legalization, even for the sick and dying.
Furthermore, the war on cannabis drives the war on drugs. Without cannabis prohibition, the drug war would be reduced to a pillow fight. This is the politics and the economics of cannabis prohibition.
Maybe the corrupt politicians and media are required to adhere to the party line of cannabis prohibition because law enforcement, customs, the prison- and military-industrial complex, the drug-testing industry, the "drug treatment" industry, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the CIA, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the politicians themselves, et al. can't live without the budget justification, not to mention the invisible profits, bribery, corruption, and forfeiture benefits that prohibition affords them. The drug war also promotes, justifies, and perpetuates racist enforcement policies, and is diminishing many freedoms and liberties that are supposed to be inalienable according to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Myron Von Hollingsworth
Fort Worth, Texas
The March 13 edition of the City Paper published an article describing a program that targets people of color for sterilization (Mobtown Beat, March 13). The article was misleading, in that it downplayed the ethical implications of the program and the extent of opposition to it.
The program, called Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (CRACK), claims its intent is to help poor women and men who use drugs acquire birth control. It offers a small sum of money (usually $200) to those who will undertake long-term (three-month) Depo-Provera treatments, vasectomies, or tubal ligations. The program's effectiveness depends on the vulnerability of individuals in Baltimore addicted to crack cocaine--mostly African-Americans--to offers of quick cash. The small sum isn't intended to help anyone get off drugs. The goal of the program is to control the reproductive decisions of a certain group of people.
The article should have mentioned that not a single professional medical association, federal, state, or city department, or nonprofit group working with the poor finds CRACK to be a legitimate organization. CRACK has been driven out of Oakland, Calif., by public protests. A number of books and articles have been published that expose CRACK. A quick Internet search would have turned them up.
CRACK assumes most of us white City Paper readers won't protest its eugenic campaign. It assumes we agree that poor people of color who are substance abusers are the source of our city's problems. It assumes that we agree that it is appropriate to target certain demographic groups for sterilization. Is CRACK right?
Mao Tse Tongue-Lashing
Before I wrote this letter, I took a peek at my copy of Quotations From Chairman Mao (aka "the Little Red Book"). In the section on culture and art, Mao says, "There is no such thing as art for art's sake," and goes on to say that all art has a class content and class outlook. In a different quote, he says all art should be for the people. In a third quote, he says that if a work of art is correct politically and dull artistically, it is a bad work of art. He also says: "Everything reactionary is the same. If you don't hit it, it won't fall. This is like sweeping the floor. As a rule, where the broom does not reach the dust will not vanish itself."
The last quote empowered me to weigh in on the poetry scene as debated recently in the Mail. I have seen a steady decline in the spoken-word/performance-poetry scene. Five or 10 years ago, when there was a Word on Wednesday open-mic poetry night at what was either the Café Montage or the T.L.C., the poetry was of a more vibrant nature. Today when I go to open-mic poetry nights, I see less poetry that inspires me and more that just bores me. The poets move around the microphone like rock stars. They all do the same stylized moves as if they were on MTV or BET. It worked with the innovators. Now it's just boring. I mean, how many times can you watch a poet rub his or her face, breathe deeply, and say in a stage whisper, 'OK, which poem should I do next?"
Then there's the content of the poetry. I for one am getting bored with the self-centered nature of the spoken-word scene. There are the erotica poets who think that every time they make love or feel horny they have to put those feelings on paper. They all sound the same. They use words like "pulsating," "dripping," "vibrating," etc. There are the tired images of the garden of a woman's love, various forbidden fruits, throbbing manhood, etc. In spite of the intent of the author, the stuff is just so much drivel. Along with the erotica poets are the gibberish poets and the I-am-the-center-of-the-universe poets. Every female I-am-the-center-of-the-universe poet is Queen of the Nile. Every male I-am-the-center-of-the-universe poet is like I-95--laid all up and down the East Coast. The gibberish poets, meanwhile, just put words together for effect and put me to sleep faster than Sominex.
Today's poets, like today's rock stars, lack clear and controversial voices. There is too much staged emotion and no passion in their writing. There is no humor or satire in their work. In a time when people are looking for answers to the urgent political questions of the day, performance poets seem to be backing away from the challenge.
As the saying goes, one man's meat is another man's poison. Of course, I believe that everyone has a right to his or her opinion, but I don't think I would've gone so far as to call Nigel Assam ignorant because of his viewpoints. In a letter to City Paper, Shane Tanzymore accused Mr. Assam of being afraid of change without knowing that to be true (The Mail, March 6). I don't recall Nigel making such a statement in his letter (The Mail, Feb. 27). Also, if I read Nigel's letter correctly, I don't recall him directly saying anything against the Dri Fish, Komplex, Queen Sheba, or Grandma Dave, all of whose performances I've personally enjoyed. As with every art form, there's good stuff, bad stuff, and stuff in between. Regardless of anyone's opinions about written and/or spoken word, it's just that--an opinion.
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Baltimore, MD 21201