Suits or Stoners? Hippie Bigotry Lives
Cheryl Shuman sure knows how to work the promotion machine. She has been working overtime establishing herself as the go-to person on all things cannabis in Hollywood and gets $500 an hour to advise TV shows on how to imbibe cannabis, an incredible gig. Unfortunately, her style leaves a lot to be desired as her hippie bigotry is a big turnoff.
“The thought of being associated with the whole druggie loser scene is not appealing,” according to the puff piece that appeared on her in the Huff Post.
Seems like everyone is trying to find a way to cash in on cannabis these days, and stepping on the heads of anyone heading off to the Rainbow Gathering this week is not an original idea. The suits versus stoners divide has been around since NORML was founded and began steering membership away from the hippie counterculture. That counterculture was banished from the media around 1969 and also from most “polite” society, even though we represented an evolution in spiritual culture and kept chugging along building our communities and instilling our core values of non-violence and improvisational ritual.
In 1989, I got invited to appear on the Phil Donahue Show shortly after I created the Freedom Fighters. Terry Mitchell led a contingent of Alaska Freedom Fighters to confront the first Drug Czar, who’d gone on a speaking tour to support recrim in that state. The Freedom Fighters did their own tour to counter his efforts. I still have the flag that was carried throughout that campaign.
I wore a suit and tie on Donahue, wanting to put on a respectable appearance. It was my national TV debut. Of course, I was sandbagged from the start, sandwiched between two fanatics who would not let me open my mouth without both of them interrupting my every word. After watching the show I swore to be myself on TV after that and not let people goad me.
Of course, I got flak once I appeared on some shows looking like my normal self. A few people preferred the suit and tie, but I loved flashing my sun pendant Robin “the Hammer” had made and felt more comfortable talking in my everyday clothes. When Sonya Live tried to bushwhack me on a story about drug glamorization (like I was the bad guy), I hit them back instantly with “What about all your ads for alcohol, leading the kids to a lifelong addiction to that substance?” Man, they tried to cut me off, but I just kept motoring on about the hypocrisy of picking on pot when legal drugs killed so many more people. Pretty quick, they stopped inviting me back to television.
This attitude that people have to wear suits to be taken seriously is really hippie bigotry in disguise. And hippie bigotry may be the only form of cultural bigotry that is totally acceptable everywhere, especially on television and the bars of New York City, as well as just about everywhere else in America where suits gather. Just because you are talking about clothes and hairstyle (and not skin color) doesn’t make it any different from what it really is: bigotry. When you call someone a “loser” because they have dreads or long hair, that’s really not that much different from calling someone a “nigger” because they have dark skin. It’s a blatant attempt to dehumanize a culture. Really, it’s a verbal form of crusade or jihad, because you are declaring this culture a lowly form of existence not deserving respect.
But then, this wouldn’t be the first or last time someone will attempt advancing themselves by stepping on the heads of another culture. And that’s the problem. See, in reality many hippies are no different from monks or shamans or sadhus. These are holy people sworn to non-violence, and their culture actually holds real power and authority on the astral plane, if not in the media or the mind of Cheryl Shuman. And when you trash these magical beings, you trash the core values on which this country was founded. So why not drop the hippie bigotry, Cheryl? You can advance your career without resorting to it. It is, in fact, a cheap shot. Instead, I suggest you go to the Rainbow Gathering next week and learn something about the largest spiritual cultural in America that recognizes cannabis as a legitimate sacrament. The big ceremony is on July 4th at noon. Don’t miss it.