Suits or Stoners? Hippie Bigotry Lives

tommy-chong-cheryl-shuman-cannacigCheryl 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.

Hager haircutOf 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.


Author: Steven Hager

I'm a writer, journalist, filmmaker and event producer.

13 thoughts on “Suits or Stoners? Hippie Bigotry Lives”

  1. Steve wrote: “When you call someone a “loser” because they have dreads or long hair, that’s really no different from calling someone a “nigger” because they have dark skin. It’s a blatant attempt to dehumanize a culture.”

    WRONG. This is an very insensitive statement. Anyone can change their hairstyle, but you can’t change the color of your skin or sexual orientation. A subculture is not the same as an ethnicity or gender—people can CHOOSE to belong to certain subcultures regardless of their race or sexuality.

    Steve’s point about “hippie bigotry” is a valid one and the “suits vs stoners” debate deserves discussion, but when he goes overboard by making statements like this it discredits his arguments completely.

    I’ve been discriminated against and unfairly judged by so-called “high holy hippies” because I don’t look just like them, wearing their uniforms of tie-dye, patchwork or steampunk clothes, nor do I have dreads or piercings, since I prefer a clean-cut, low-profile appearance. Overemphasis on subcultural identity as just being composed of certain fashion trends and accessories is part of the problem with our shallow, materialistic society.

    1. I obviously don’t agree. I am part of a legitimate, honorable culture, yet my children are constantly being brainwashed by the media not to trust my values or my culture. Meanwhile, many of my brothers and sisters can’t get jobs and are constantly profiled by police wherever they go. You think this is just “insensitivity” because you haven’t lived in the shadow of this opresssion for 50 years like I have. It is much, much more than insensitivity. And the marijuana laws have been used to hold my culture back for 70 years now. Yes, there are hippie fascists and I often make fun of them. These are not enlightened people, although they sometimes look like us.

      1. It’s strange that you equate a few friends making fun of your style with the sort of widespread cultural oppression that members of my community face on a daily basis. If hippies owned the national media and pumped out propaganda against people dressed in suits for 30 years, then you’d have some idea of what that sort of campaign feels like on our end.

    2. You are funny. Your argument is good until the last line. You said shallow materialistic society. You do the very thing you accuse others of.

  2. Does it really matter what clothes you wear? Anyone that believes legalizing cannabis is the right thing to do is worth their weight in gold. People that hide behind a cause instead of fighting for a cause will someday fall. Let’s just work together and spend our time legalizing and forget what we are trivial in my eyes

    1. No it doesn’t matter what clothes people wear, what icon is on their altar or what sacraments they choose to imbibe. We are all related and everyone deserves respect (unless they demonstrate otherwise). The only hater in this scene is Cheryl, who can’t stand us “loser” hippies, which she even describes as “High Times” people in the article, even though the magazine is read by all. You can feel the cultural bigotry just oozing out of her. She is an elitist and has no respect for the people who actually built this movement so she could come along and cash in on our hard work. And then trash us.

  3. Well, most people know that what Cheryl represents is a complete farce. She’s not wealthy, successful, or connected. She hasn’t lived in an elite zip code in ages (but she keeps a small apartment “near” one so she can pretend she’s a resident of the adjacent community). She has failed in every one of her business ventures and lost lots of money for the investors and benefactors she’s grifted along the way. This elitist act is all another component of the totally fake persona she’s built around herself. It’s all smoke and mirrors though. She is a complete phony and anyone who has spent any time with her quickly figures this out. It’s horrible that she would say such negative and judgmental things about people who are just like her, but when she does, it’s only because she’s projecting her own self-loathing because deep down, she really hates herself and has tremendous shame for the fact that she was born poor then failed at every attempt she ever made at becoming the famous Hollywood celebrity she’s been trying to turn herself into for decades. I’m not attempting to excuse her – just exposing it for what it is. In her youth, she was fairly attractive and she cultivated her greatest skill which was getting wealthy benefactors to fund her dreams of becoming a star. It didn’t work out for her because she has no real talent, has raging narcissistic personality disorders with delusions of grandeur, is a vindictive, jealous, conniving, self-absorbed attention whore that has been busted repeatedly for being a pathological liar, has a criminal record of fraud and forgery, is rumored to have been a call girl posing as a sunglasses sales rep who um, makes house calls, (*ahem*) and has a reputation for being a batshit crazy celeb-stalker and cyber bully. Over the years, those tendencies has managed to make her more enemies than allies along the way. But once she completely wears out her welcome in one group, she just tries to re-invent herself and declare herself a star in another group. Unfortunately this leach is glomming on to our community now and her lies and self hype has gotten her some attention, her house of cards is already falling because people are seeing right through her facade. It won’t be long before she’s run out of this community too, like she has been so many other times before, because the list of powerful enemies is growing every day.

  4. So, a profiteer who sells hundred dollar “blessed candles” is going to chide another profiteer who doesn’t want to be associated with the stoner culture?

    We are now through the looking glass, people.

    1. Ok, so I make ceremonial candles and sell a set of 7 for $77. These are made of the finest soy wax and essential oils and hand colored, and hand poured and I might clear $10 an hour after they are packed and shipped when everything is said and done. If that is “profiteering” then I am guilty as charged, although I’m a single dad with two kids living at the poverty line so whatever profit making I am doing is pretty marginal don’t you think?

    2. And I never called them “blessed candles” although they do represent an evolutionary jump in candle magic in my opinion. They are a meditation and prayer tool that can easily be employed by anyone with zero training.

  5. I like many others have just been wondering about her intentions. Man am I glad to read these comments! It let’s me know she is one of us! LMAO! Not many things / people in the movement are as true blue as their own promotional writings of themselves! Really. We can’t put someone down for making money off the weed with legal avenues. And I can’t down her for all the good publicity she has garnered in the name of Rick Simpson Oil, or the televisions production of spilling the news. She is giving many patients hope. And that is commendable in my opinion. No matter what she used to do, or who…,or why…don’t matter, people have the right to redeem themselves and shine like a crazy diamond. Hell even NORML made statements and anti hippie comments for decades! If anyone said stuff like this about my friend, wife, or mother I’d be pissed off. But when you are picked as a Seattle Hempfest Activist of the Year.., you will be scrutinized and examined under the fickle fingers of the marijuana public. I’m sure that when High Times reporters cover her every action we may have better appreciation of her activism.

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