The Breakfast Table

Moralityland on a Roll

Ahh Mim,

Good morning. The Coca-Cola isn’t cutting it. I think I want a scotch with my toast. The need to rant is upon me. So soon after the Brooklyn Museum, we are right back in Moralityland with something called the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and its leader Bill Donohue, wanting to scourge the movie Dogma from silver screens everywhere because, among other things, they don’t like Alanis Morissette being cast as God. (Click here for David Edelstein’s take on the controversy.) The League has so far managed to create picket lines and scare off Disney and Miramax, and this is nonsense is getting tired. I don’t picket churches, even though I find the Doctrine of Transubstantiation makes me queasy, and I don’t raise a crew to protest Adam Sandler’s insulting my intelligence. I simply let it slide and ignore it. It’s only a joke, stupid. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are falling angels who only fall as far as Wisconsin after being too zealous at Sodom and Gomorrah. Get it? I can hardly blame Director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) for complaining that no one’s going after the current box-office leader Stigmata, which is violent, bloody, highly anti-Catholic, or for telling the New York Daily News, “Next time, I’ll just make a stupid stoner flick, and leave it alone.” They wear us down by exhaustion. Believe me, I know. I once almost did two years in jail for publishing the work of Robert Crumb.

But talking of stupid stoners, a counterattack on Moralityland just came from the most unlikely quarter. According to CNN, New Mexico’s Republican Gov. Gary Johnson told a less than happy conservative audience that the legalization of drugs is well overdue. “Regulate them, control them, but legalize them,” declared Johnson, and I can only ask, “What kept you?” The War on Drugs has been raging through my entire lifetime, and despite hundreds of billions of tax dollars, the triumphant propaganda of the DEA, and at least seven administrations, drugs are absolutely everywhere, and the United States has the biggest per-capita drug-related incarceration rate this side of Hell. The equation is so damned simple and obvious. The very illegality of recreational drugs is the risk that creates the vast profitability. Remove the risk and you remove the profit incentive, and at least half the problem is solved. Regulation, control, keeping dope away from minors, and harm-reduction programs become infinitely possible. Of course, one does still have to fight what might be called the Drug Enforcement Industry, a modest but powerful branch of the Military-Industrial Complex, whose current leader, Clinton drug tzar Barry McCaffrey, was as dismissive of Gov. Johnson as he is of any discussion of legalization. He’s got bigger fish to fry. He was, after all, recently handed $2 billion to kindle his own covert brush war in Colombia.

I was also going to rant on about the Patient Bill of Rights, and why I really want Warren Beatty to run, but that’ll have to come later. Maybe after the bars have opened.