Marijuana and Racism

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

In last week’s post on smoking I used the word Marijuana to refer to Cannabis. I thought that they were synonyms and had no idea of the history of them.

A reader sent me this article from the Ottawa Citizen: Here’s why you shouldn’t use the word marijuana anymore

I did some quick research and found this interesting article from CBC: Weed, cannabis, pot or marijuana: what’s the difference?

In brief, Cannabis is the genus of the plant, or its scientific name. It’s the name that the government is using for the product.

Image from this article on the Stranger Magasine.

The word Marijuana however has a much different history. There are a lot of different theories as to where the name comes from but the word was popularized in English in the early 30’s America. The opponents to the drug used the “foreign” sounding word to scare people and eventually pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which was the first step to making the drug illegal.

Apparently smoking cannabis wasn’t popular in the early 1900’s until refugees from the Mexican revolution brought it into the states. Because of this and the ever present racism, the word was associated with immigrants and used to fuel fear based politics. (so much has changed huh?)

The exact etymology is unknown. Here’s a list of theories:

  • A mash-up of the Spanish names Mary Jane (Marie Juane)
  • Bastardization of the herb Marjoram
  • From the Nahualt word, mallihuan, for Prisoner
  • From the Chinese, ma ren hua, or ‘hemp seed flower’

No matter where the word comes from, it’s a leftover racist term meant to encourage fear and we should stick to cannabis as the proper term.

Did you know any of this? Do you have any theories about the word?

Later Days,

Éric

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History, Hero Worship, and Being Problematic

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There has been a lot of talk about taking down monuments and changing names. Mostly this is due to things the people have done that are horrifying.

Removing the name or monuments to these people has been likened to sanitizing our history or hiding the horrors of our past.

The whole debate is complicated by the fact that most of these people have also done good things. So do we let one mistake destroy the legacy of a great historical figure?

Vintage still life. Vintage compass lies on an ancient world map in 1565.

History is a very human practice. It’s not a science and relies on what people wrote down and what they chose to leave out. Walt Disney smoked like a chimney but you’d never know from his pictures at the parks or the official videos. It’s possible that future generations will never know.

To get an idea how much we can confuse and conflate history have a look at this video.

Columbus was a genocidal idiot, yet I bet most people didn’t know that.

History is messy and the moment you start worshiping someone you start ignoring the bad they did. Very few historical figures are perfect and it’s important to remember. If we ignore the bad that historical figures did, we risk repeating it.

We also have to not go too far the other way and forget the good that they have done (not Columbus, he’s horrible). It’s a common practice now to demonize people for things they’ve done or said in their past. It’s important to balance out what people did with how they tried to make amends and how they grew. Just because someone was a dick doesn’t mean they didn’t change.

My Opinion

Having a statue in a public space, having your name on a street or building is an honour. If the historical figure has done something horrible (Genocide, mass murder, slavery, etc) move their statue to a museum with the proper, balanced, historical information. Or take their name off and replace it with something more innocent or someone more worthy. Leave a plaque explaining the old name and why it was changed.

 

Later days,

Éric

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In a World of BS This Guy Tells it Straight!

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There’s a movement in the media, politics, and general pop culture; that glorifies simplicity in speech. It’s deeply rooted in a false sense of nostalgia that believes the past was a more honest and wholesome.

This is sadly bullshit, the past was a cesspool of lies, death, hate, and stupidity. Kinda like today.

Why do people have this ridiculous idea that we are unable to speak our minds and that everyone is trying to screw us over now but the past was so much better? That problem is due to three things: Glorification of Americana, Systemic Hate, and Lies.

Flim Flam Brothers from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic
Flim Flam Brothers from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic

Glorification of Americana

Through movies and other media, the time period after World War II has been glorified as a golden age. Arguably it was, if you were a middle class, white male, with no left leaning political views. If you weren’t in that very specific demographic, it wasn’t all that great.

Despite this being a time of travelling salesman bamboozling and flimflamming all over the place, it’s still seen as a safe and honest era. Mostly because of movies and television, but also because anyone alive who remembers it was young and innocent at the time.

It was, however, a great time for racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Systemic Hate

We as a species love to find patterns in everything and even more we love to categorize everything. Once we’ve categorized and separated things into boxes, we then rank or judge value. It’s harmless when we’re talking about fruit, but when we talk about ourselves it gets dangerous.

The idea that certain races are mentally, emotionally, or physically predisposed to specific traits is a complete fabrication. The concept that there’s more than one race of humans on the planet is scientifically unsound.

Unfortunately, culturally, especially in Cananda and the US, we’ve had a lot of problems with hate. Historically there was slavery; recently there’s residential schools. All because of a need to separate or assimilate those who aren’t like us.

Thankfully, we are slowly moving away from such idiotic and barbaric ideas. Part of the backlash against our society becoming less hateful is a backlash against political correctness.

If you are not part of a culture or subculture that is attacked with systemic hate, you can’t understand the hurt that your “only joking” does. To them, the joke is funny because of things they’ve heard. With no one to say, “Hey. That’s hurtful!” systemic hate just keeps going.

Remember that you don’t have to be hateful to say something hateful. Political Correctness is just being a decent human being.

Liars

I promised I’d tell it straight, no BS, in the title so here it is:

YOU’RE BEING LIED TO!

All these politicians that want to make something great, push Canadian Values, or are saying it like it is; are lying to you. They are appealing to your Hate and False Nostalgia to get what they want. They may be lying to themselves at the same time, but a lie is still a lie.

 

Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Later Days,

Éric

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You Don’t Need to be a Jerk to Act Like One

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There’s something that’s been bugging me since November 8th. A lot of people have been saying or doing stupid jerk-like things.

Jerk behaviour goes through cycles and the latest one is to say, “It’s okay, I’m not a jerk.” As if not being a jerk meant your behaviour couldn’t be that of a jerk.

A friend posted an article where a jerk-face was condescending a female expert about her field. Someone commented that this was obvious mansplaining (When a man disregards a woman’s experience and decides to explain things to her despite her being way more qualified to explain the thing.) A guy commented that they were using the term wrong and that there was no way to know if the jerk from the article was actually a sexist-jerk.

So here’s something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand: An action is independent from the actor. In the same way, the action is independent from the actor’s intention.

The action is independent from the actor’s intention.

Let’s tackle the second statement first. What this means is that despite being influenced by an intention, an action is its own thing. If you call someone stupid, the action is hurtful even if the intention wasn’t. Even if both parties believe the act to be harmless it’s still a hurtful act. Because it normalizes a difference in cognition as bad. This may seem like a banal example but try it by replacing the word “stupid” with the pejorative racial slur of your choice.

An action is independent from the actor.

You don’t need to be a Chef to cook a dinner. Just like you don’t need to be a jerk to do something that’s jerk-like. In the example above, the jerk who was condescending to an expert might not have been sexist, but what he was doing was sexist. It doesn’t matter what he was or what he was intending, he acted in a sexist way.

Why is this important?

It may seem pedantic to insist on this divide but it’s extremely important. People are fallible and we all make mistakes. It’s possible to do a jerk act from ignorance and not malice.

The trend is to say, “Look at that person; they did something jerk-like. They’re a jerk!” That leaves no room for the person to learn or for the person to grow. It creates a society where there are whole websites dedicated to how your favourite celebrity/activist/politician/etc is “Problematic.”

There are people out there who act constantly in a jerk-like manner and they are jerks.

I have acted like a jerk in the past and when someone explained to me why what I did was jerk-like, I tried to change my behaviour.

 

Try to not act like a jerk when people tell you your actions are jerk-like.
Éric

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Disgust and Disdain

Hi,

I can’t remember if I’ve spoken about #GamerGate or #SadPuppies

If you’ve happily avoided these two movements you’re lucky and feel free to click away if you don’t want to get very angry, sad, and lose a little hope in humanity.

GamerGate was/is a hate movement with a veneer of fighting for journalistic integrity. I’m sure there are some in the movement that generally believe they are fighting for better accountability between journalists and video gaming companies but most are threatening people, specifically women, with violence and doing other horrific things.

SadPuppies was a movement that believes the Hugo and SFWA have strayed too far away from its Hard Science roots. To them, this means there are too many non-science writers, woman, and minorities that are dominating the field. “Real Science Fiction” is written by old white men with science degrees, or at least that’s how they sound.

The two movements have the same base in fear of losing privilege and fear of outside influence. Science Fiction and Video Games, have been dominated by white men for a long time and slowly over the past couple of decades women and minorities have started to take a place in both industries.

I’m an outsider, or fringe element to both industries. I play games but I’m not active in any communities outside of TableTop games, and I write but I’m only mildly active in the Ottawa writing scene. This means that I only know what I’ve read or seen from the news and people affected.

As an outsider these movements scare me. Plain and simple the things that have been said and done to certain people is fundamentally wrong. Threats of murder, rape, etc are evil. There’s no room for jest here they’re evil. Calling the swat team on someone, or posting their personal information online without permission is even worse than the threats. These acts are wrong on every level.

It’s not just the overtly evil acts that scare me. It’s the cliques, in fighting, and excluding of people for no other reason than that they disagree with you. The inborn sexism, racism, homophobia, and hate makes two of my favorite pass times feel dirty.

I want to make a career out of writing and I’d love to write for TableTop or video games but these events have made me not want to get involved with them.

Think about that for a second… I’m a thirty year old, white, cis, middleclass, five foot eleven, two hundred and fifty pound, man and these movements have me terrified to get involved.

Take another moment to think how it must feel for everyone else.

We need to stop being afraid of diversity and start embracing it.

Idic

 

Live Long and Prosper

Éric

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On Privilege

Someone on my facebook posted the following article and it made me mad. Not in the usual way in which I compeletly disagree with the author. I just think the author has missed the point entirely and in doing so is encouraging ignorance.

Authority, Google, and Privilege

The author starts by making a grand statement about how, white people (Especially allies and anti-racists) believe they have the right to his time because he has furthered anti-racist discourse. He goes on to say that depending on his mood he’ll either respond thoughtfully or link them to something. And then sometimes he’ll tell them that he’s “not there to serve as a resource to them”.

You’re probably thinking that he’s being pretty reasonable if not the nicest guy in the world right? And on the surface that’s what it looks like but let me tell you that the author is showing his own privilege and his own arrogance.

I don’t believe that people have the right to insist that he answer their questions. I don’t believe that he must answer the questions. What I truly believe is in the right of those people to ask the question.

If you actively champion a cause, in a public venue, you are positioning yourself as an authority. If you are willing to do that you must accept the consequence that people will want to both learn from you and challenge you.

Someone said in reply, that the man isn’t an “Answer Monkey” and to just use google. I suppose that’s fair, except that google will give you millions of replies, not all of them trustworthy. Asking someone you respect is simpler and safer in most cases. Is it lazy, a little, but we’re human, and sifting through endless research for every question isn’t possible on a day to day basis.

Public discourse is part of how the world learns and grows. To try and stifle it is wrong. If he was talking about botany, instead of race, he would just sound like he hated that people talked to him.

Is it Privilege to ask a person questions about something he’s positioned himself as an authority on? Yes but it’s a justifiable privilege that is a human right not “White Privilege.”

Trolls and definitions

The author goes on to explain that, while he was working on a paper, he decided to check out an interracial dating hashtag on twitter. He wasn’t happy with what he saw so he decided to put out a snarky Tweet.

Checks out #insightsbs. Sees white people describing their racial fetisheses as ‘not racist.’ Gives up forever.

The author than was then surprised and annoyed when someone responded by asking him to define Fetish. The person also made it clear that he was challenging the author and that he disagreed and probably would even after the author explained himself.

This folks is a form of Troll. They’re not living under bridges but they are damn ugly. What these kinds of people like to do is “fish” for an argument. Cast a line out and reel it in. Effectively trolling.

This form of Troll is the kind that says, “I’m not [add IST Here] but…” You can argue with them all you want but they’ll just keep poking you until you devolve into a swearing pile of poo. Then they’ll tell everyone how mean and wrong you are.

However, the question is ok. If I had seen the Tweet, I might have asked the same thing. Fetish is a loaded word with multiple definitions. Not to mention that Fetishism is the name of a serious Psychological condition, in which a person is obsessively aroused by a type of object. I understand that the word is used, in slang terms, as meaning a sexual deviance, or naughty like. (He certainly isn’t talking about the definition where people think that the bone of a saint has magical properties.)

I didn’t read the hashtag, and I’m sure there are a lot of nasty/racist things on it but I would want to know why he is equating preference with sexual deviance and saying it’s racist. Don’t get me wrong there are people out there that are racist and sexual deviants, it’s called Ethnic Pornography, and it’s people of different races in subservient positions and cultural stereotypes.

I’m not saying what he said was wrong but that the person had the right or Privilege to ask for clarification.

How it ends

They devolve into an argument. The author says that he doesn’t need to answer the question because it’s not his responsibility to educate people. The Troll tells him that his opinions can’t matter if he’s not willing to argue them.

My Opinion

As a blogger, and public figure, you have given people the right to interact with you. It’s the way public discourse has been done for millennia, and it’s the reason that Bill Nye still debates with creationists. Without questioning there is no growth.

Learning from an authority is more likely to stick in your head and make a positive impact then learning from google or Wikipedia.

Refusing to answer a question because you think it’s a waste of your time is your right, however for every 100 trolls who ask the question, there will be 1 person who is genuinely curious and can grow from your influence.

As much as there is “White Privilege” there is also a form of “Intelectual/Class Privilege” just because you’ve answered the question before, and think it’s a stupid question, doesn’t mean that the person asking is a troll or not worth your time. There are people out there who are ignorant (I mean that in the traditional, “Don’t know anything” and not the hateful people) and the best way to fight ignorance is with knowledge.

I can’t say it enough I truly believe that asking questions is a fundamental human right.

 

Did I misread the whole thing? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.

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On Privilege

Someone on my facebook posted the following article and it made me mad. Not in the usual way in which I compeletly disagree with the author. I just think the author has missed the point entirely and in doing so is encouraging ignorance.

Authority, Google, and Privilege

The author starts by making a grand statement about how, white people (Especially allies and anti-racists) believe they have the right to his time because he has furthered anti-racist discourse. He goes on to say that depending on his mood he’ll either respond thoughtfully or link them to something. And then sometimes he’ll tell them that he’s “not there to serve as a resource to them”.

You’re probably thinking that he’s being pretty reasonable if not the nicest guy in the world right? And on the surface that’s what it looks like but let me tell you that the author is showing his own privilege and his own arrogance.

I don’t believe that people have the right to insist that he answer their questions. I don’t believe that he must answer the questions. What I truly believe is in the right of those people to ask the question.

If you actively champion a cause, in a public venue, you are positioning yourself as an authority. If you are willing to do that you must accept the consequence that people will want to both learn from you and challenge you.

Someone said in reply, that the man isn’t an “Answer Monkey” and to just use google. I suppose that’s fair, except that google will give you millions of replies, not all of them trustworthy. Asking someone you respect is simpler and safer in most cases. Is it lazy, a little, but we’re human, and sifting through endless research for every question isn’t possible on a day to day basis.

Public discourse is part of how the world learns and grows. To try and stifle it is wrong. If he was talking about botany, instead of race, he would just sound like he hated that people talked to him.

Is it Privilege to ask a person questions about something he’s positioned himself as an authority on? Yes but it’s a justifiable privilege that is a human right not “White Privilege.”

Trolls and definitions

The author goes on to explain that, while he was working on a paper, he decided to check out an interracial dating hashtag on twitter. He wasn’t happy with what he saw so he decided to put out a snarky Tweet.

Checks out #insightsbs. Sees white people describing their racial fetisheses as ‘not racist.’ Gives up forever.

The author than was then surprised and annoyed when someone responded by asking him to define Fetish. The person also made it clear that he was challenging the author and that he disagreed and probably would even after the author explained himself.

This folks is a form of Troll. They’re not living under bridges but they are damn ugly. What these kinds of people like to do is “fish” for an argument. Cast a line out and reel it in. Effectively trolling.

This form of Troll is the kind that says, “I’m not [add IST Here] but…” You can argue with them all you want but they’ll just keep poking you until you devolve into a swearing pile of poo. Then they’ll tell everyone how mean and wrong you are.

However, the question is ok. If I had seen the Tweet, I might have asked the same thing. Fetish is a loaded word with multiple definitions. Not to mention that Fetishism is the name of a serious Psychological condition, in which a person is obsessively aroused by a type of object. I understand that the word is used, in slang terms, as meaning a sexual deviance, or naughty like. (He certainly isn’t talking about the definition where people think that the bone of a saint has magical properties.)

I didn’t read the hashtag, and I’m sure there are a lot of nasty/racist things on it but I would want to know why he is equating preference with sexual deviance and saying it’s racist. Don’t get me wrong there are people out there that are racist and sexual deviants, it’s called Ethnic Pornography, and it’s people of different races in subservient positions and cultural stereotypes.

I’m not saying what he said was wrong but that the person had the right or Privilege to ask for clarification.

How it ends

They devolve into an argument. The author says that he doesn’t need to answer the question because it’s not his responsibility to educate people. The Troll tells him that his opinions can’t matter if he’s not willing to argue them.

My Opinion

As a blogger, and public figure, you have given people the right to interact with you. It’s the way public discourse has been done for millennia, and it’s the reason that Bill Nye still debates with creationists. Without questioning there is no growth.

Learning from an authority is more likely to stick in your head and make a positive impact then learning from google or Wikipedia.

Refusing to answer a question because you think it’s a waste of your time is your right, however for every 100 trolls who ask the question, there will be 1 person who is genuinely curious and can grow from your influence.

As much as there is “White Privilege” there is also a form of “Intelectual/Class Privilege” just because you’ve answered the question before, and think it’s a stupid question, doesn’t mean that the person asking is a troll or not worth your time. There are people out there who are ignorant (I mean that in the traditional, “Don’t know anything” and not the hateful people) and the best way to fight ignorance is with knowledge.

I can’t say it enough I truly believe that asking questions is a fundamental human right.

 

Did I misread the whole thing? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.

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