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Everyone seems to be up in arms about CU finally taking action against the outright display of lawlessness and moral trepidation known as Boulder 4/20.
Personally, I squealed with delight when I heard that I would have to show my BuffOne Card to get into campus. Gladly, officer. I was also pleased with their choice to spray fish based fertilizer on Norlin quad. It was a remarkable touch — a big middle finger to everyone who wants to toke up on the field.
I’m surprised it took the administration this long. The administration should have nipped the nascent movement in the bud back when it took place on Farrand Field. But they chose not to — maybe in an attempt to seem liberal and hip. And as the saying goes, if you give a pothead a cookie, he’s going to want to invite all of his friends and through a strange stoner alchemy, turn that cookie into 10,000 bong rips and declare it a display of civil disobedience.
Police officers watch as the 4/20 crowd begins to leave Norlin Quad in 2011. (CU Independent File/Robert R. Denton)
People seem to be forgetting that they are breaking the law. Sure, marijuana is legal in Colorado for myriad medical conditions like glaucoma, back pain, low appetite, night sweats, unusually moist mouth, and low levels of “urge to fight the man,” but for us common folk, it’s still against the law.
But according to the numerous opinion pieces that have been featured in the Daily Camera, the Denver Post, the Colorado Daily, and the Longmont Call-Times and even the CU Independent, this is a civil liberties issue. It’s no longer about wanting to get stoned into oblivion; it’s about the people’s right to dissent.
As a representative from the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Mark Silverstein said in the recent Daily Camera article that by closing campus, “The university does a disservice to the values that underlie the First Amendment and the constitutionally protected right to dissent.”
I call shenanigans.
Last time I checked, your constitutional rights stop when they start to encroach on my constitutional rights. You can go out and smoke as much weed as your lungs can facilitate. I don’t really care, but once you gather with every other anarchist in Colorado that thinks the illegality of marijuana is oppressive, and exhale all over my public space, I can make a citizen’s arrest and haul you off in my makeshift paddy wagon.
There is nothing wrong with dissent. Today there are a number or worthy causes where civil disobedience has been effective and applicable. In America it has been economic equality. In the past, it was the civil and women’s rights movements and the Vietnam War. In the Middle East, the Arab Spring has demonstrated (though not peacefully) the people’s desire for democracy. Civil disobedience is dandy, but most often begins with the oppression of basic human rights, not axing the “right” to consume illicit drugs in public.
Not surprisingly, the Occupy Boulder movement has mobilized to take back 4/20 on the grounds that their First Amendment Rights are being stifled. For a movement that wants to be taken seriously by the mainstream media, committing itself to marijuana legalization is not a way to legitimize the cause. Occupy Boulder should organize their march under the guise of a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) rally as not to undermine the actual goal of the real Occupy movement.
Another argument that has risen from our friend at the ACLU, Silverstein, is that it really isn’t that disruptive.
Again, I call shenanigans.
Talking to a graduate student who will remain unnamed, I learned that the CU Clinical and Translational Research Center, located in Wardenburg Health Center, will be closed on Friday. Instead of conducting research they will succumb to their subjects’ need to get high.
In addition, the free Wyclef Jean concert starts at 2 p.m. and the doors are locked at 4 p.m. How many professors aren’t going to bother holding class? How many classes will be skipped in order for students to attend the show? Even if the show wasn’t going on, how many people regularly skip class to attend the annual smokeout?
For an establishment committed to higher education, putting research and education on the back burner to let everyone smoke pot is the simplest form of irony.
For Silverstein to say that it’s not disruptive shows that he’s obviously never witnessed it. Campus is inundated with 10,000 people who would fit in effortlessly at The Gathering of the Juggalos. In the late afternoon traffic on Broadway stops so people adorned in marijuana themed clothing can drag their club-sized doobies across the street. If I wanted to walk to class through the quad I’d have to wade through these cavemen, nearly doubling my commute.
Either way, I’ll have to surrender to the fact that Wyclef Jean is going to turn the Coors Event Center into the nation’s biggest hot box. Jean even told the Daily Camera that it’s not an anti-4/20 event and that 4/20 is an “everyday holiday.” Way to go, CU.
The thing I’m struggling to understand is why everyone else thinks shutting down campus is a hostile move. If anyone remembers from freshman orientation, CU is a substance-free campus, and every other day of the year is staunchly against illegal activity on school grounds — obviously. Heck, a handful of kids just got in trouble for spray painting stencils on the sidewalk, but every year they let slide a few thousand people turning campus into a bong.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ryan Sterner at Ryan.email@example.com.
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