Sunday, February 08, 2009

On Breakfast Champions and Paper Tigers

So this week, cereal giant Kellogg's pulled its endorsement of the greatest, most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time--the amazing fourteen-gold-medals-winning Michael Phelps--because he smoked pot.

Consider this: the cult film Reefer Madness was made--by a church group!--some seventy-three years ago. And so howlingly obvious was the silliness of the film's premise, even then, an exploitation film company saw fit to buy it and sensationalize it further so as to reap maximum profits during a slow economy (hmmm...). Later in the century, the film gained cult status as a comedy of sorts, as it was jam-packed with set bloopers and ridiculous, over-the-top statements ("Women cry for it; Men die for it!"). In 1973, budding rightwing strategerist and future David Gregory dance partner Karl Rove suggested screening Reefer Madness at Young Republicans' fundraisers as a way to attract the kewl kollege kids to what one can only imagine were, er, thrilling, must-attend social events. True story.

It's the year 2009, everyone. I cannot believe we're still debating this. Adults, personal time, private bodies, waste of money and law enforcement personnel, fiscal priorities, and so on and so forth. Then there is the not-insignificant issue of prison overcrowding due to mandatory minimums. Oh, and the fact that, unlike the foamy beers that bring you the Superbowl, the sparkly vodka martinis leaping from the pages of your favorite magazines, and all manner of rainbow-colored prescription pills--Tell your doctor!--the makers of which underwrite your daily televised serving of (bad) economic news, the Evil Weed has not, to date, caused a single overdose death.

Radley Balko of The Agitator wishes Michael Phelps would write this letter. So do I. An excerpt:

Here’s a crazy thought: If I can smoke a little dope and go on to win 14 Olympic gold medals, maybe pot smokers aren’t doomed to lives of couch surfing and video games, as our moronic government would have us believe. In fact, the list of successful pot smokers includes not just world class athletes like me, Howard, Williams, and others, it includes Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, the last three U.S. presidents, several Supreme Court justices, and luminaries and success stories from all sectors of business and the arts, sciences, and humanities.

So go ahead. Ban me from the next Olympics. Yank my endorsement deals. Stick your collective noses in the air and get all indignant on me. While you’re at it, keep arresting cancer and AIDS patients who dare to smoke the stuff because it deadens their pain, or enables them to eat. Keep sending in goon squads to kick down doors and shoot little old ladies, maim innocent toddlers, handcuff elderly post-polio patients to their beds at gunpoint, and slaughter the family pet.

Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll apologize for smoking pot when every politician who ever did drugs and then voted to uphold or strengthen the drug laws marches his ass off to the nearest federal prison to serve out the sentence he wants to impose on everyone else for committing the same crimes he committed. I’ll apologize when the sons, daughters, and nephews of powerful politicians who get caught possessing or dealing drugs in the frat house or prep school get the same treatment as the no-name, probably black kid caught on the corner or the front stoop doing the same thing.

Hear, hear.

If you're so inclined, please write a note to Kellogg's chief marketing officer, Mark Baynes, and let him know--politely, of course--how you feel about his company siding with the nonsensical so-called "War on Drugs" and against the brilliant, young, multiple, multiple (etc.) gold-medal-winning Phelps.

Kellogg Company
1 Kellogg Sq
Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

(SNL clip via Sully; H/T Michael Hussey)

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