Here is an interesting piece written by a friend of mine. Give it a read, and leave any comments you have below.
Wearing A Burqa To Safegrad And The Effort To Legalise Cannabis
Graduation season is upon us, and with so many young adults celebrating their accomplishment, the booze will flow endlessly. The trouble for the rest of us, however, is this: for most of these graduates, drinking is not a legal activity and for one above the age of majority, it is illegal to supply these minors with alcohol. Nevertheless, they will find the substance to quench their spirited thirst, as they always do. They merely do so illegally and often quite dangerously, driving from party to party often intoxicated.
But parents and teachers have a solution: the safegrad. A safegrad is an event created to ward off these sorts of dangers. Often, a school or a parents’ group will rent out a community hall or a club of some sort and provide alcohol with a licence for a fee to be paid by the graduated students and their guests. The party-goers then do as they do, but in a controlled, supervised environment. Indeed, even those who have drunk beforehand are not allowed entrance. In theory, this is a good idea, keeping our kids safe from harm as they celebrate their victory over the soul-crushing institution that is high school and their entrance into the world of the grown-up.
But I smell fish, and given my prairie heritage, it is not for the ambient air. There seems to be something amiss in this effort. Let us examine some parallels.
Many a feminist today chide some Muslim women for donning the burqa. The reason, of course, is not for their style or the fact that the burqa is not an official religious garment (the Quran, indeed, assents only to the hijab, a garment which merely covers a woman’s hair). Rather, these feminists consider these women oppressed, forced to cover their face as mere animals, owned by their husbands. They very well may be correct, but what might be the justification for doing so?
Women of nearly all ethnicities have experienced periods in which they were subject to great danger. They are, after all, the physically weaker sex, lacking in testosterone, which facilitates muscle growth. As a result, they are often at the whim of men who seek to do them harm. Accordingly, women throughout antiquity and into the present are the demographic most subject to rape and violence. In Western, developed countries, much of this violence has subsided over the past century due to increased wealth and education. Much of the world, however, lags behind. It is up to fathers and husbands, therefore, to protect the women in their life, their wives and daughters.
To do so, the rites of societies have often changed in order to match these needs. Mediterranean societies, such as the Greeks and Romans, therefore, championed the domestic role of women, for they were certainly safe inside the walls of their family home. In the Abrahamic religious tradition, this condition has consisted of women dressing modestly, so as not to appear enticing to other men who may do them harm. The thought, in essence, is this: men will always pose a danger to women, from raping to beating and murdering them, and so women must do what they can to refrain from standing out and becoming targets, especially when they were not accompanied by their husbands or fathers. Thence has the demand for increased security, that provided by the burqa, arisen in some pockets of the Middle East.
These feminists criticise, in essence, the efforts of some Muslims to protect their women. But they do so on reasonable grounds: teach the men not to rape, not to strike violently at women and this danger will subside. The burqa, therefore, will no longer be needed. There, of course, is to be a debate between these competing positions. Education, after all, may not help if men do not listen. Or maybe it will be quite effective. But this debate is not the focus of my writing here. Rather, look at these feminists and ask of their other activities. Many are the mothers or sisters, or fathers or brothers of those very graduating celebrators who are avoiding danger by attending a safegrad. In other words, these feminists are criticizing the very argument they are using in supporting safegrads. For that I will not stand, although I may laugh hysterically at a woman wearing a burqa to a safegrad, if only to be protected from the rowdy, drunk, male graduates.
There is another instance of the same phenomenon: pot legalisation. Everyone does it, we are told, and there are no dangers to using cannabis, but there are dangers to using unregulated cannabis from the shady figure down the lane. Thus, some argue, recreational cannabis use must be legalised. There are, of course, other arguments to be tendered here.
Others may argue that the tax benefit from cannabis sales may ease national or provincial/state budget deficits or that cannabis legalization opens the door to all of the many useful products that can be made of hemp, which is, as we are told, a far more efficient crop than trees for papers or fibres of other sorts. I do not doubt these further claims, but let us leave them be for now. My focus is the first argument, for it is most often that to which people turn when debating whether to legalise, decriminalise, or maintain the illegality of cannabis.
Criticising the argument is done with ease. We can, of course, pick at the factual bits: there are, of course, dangers from buying marijuana from shady dealers, though most do not buy it in this way. Rather, they get it fromfriends at school or at work, from a third party supplier of a different sort, or they grow it themselves. Thus is the danger avoided.
Secondly, there are, in fact, dangers to smoking marijuana. Everyone knows that cannabis causes a bout of the munchies; that is social canon. The reason for this is that cannabinoids are important regulatory molecules in the hunger pathway of the brain. This, however, is not all they regulate. Many other necessary functions are regulated by these important molecules, which THC mimics, and interrupting or modulating them via cannabis use may be dangerous.
Very little research has been done to show such effects, though there are a great deal of more general studies that show it to be only minutely efficacious, health-wise, mostly deriving from the method of ingestion, namely by smoking it. The jury is still out, and will be for a long time. There is, however, somewhat new evidence that shows the effect of even scarce cannabis use on amygdalar structure and function, leading to more rash decisions. This, of course, is not that bad. Much success in the business world, after all, derives from not knowing what you’re doing and doing it anyway.
Finally, there is the matter of addiction. It is true that physical dependency is never a danger with cannabinoids, for they merely mimic common, natural neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. There is, however, an ever-present danger of psychological addiction derived from the pleasure received from using cannabinoids as mere recreation. In other words, dopamine release is the very danger that lurks in every toke.
These are all rather weak, peripheral critiques. The more solid line of argument is to show the parallels between this effort and the support of burqas and safegrads. In other words, instead of caving in to the proposition that everybody does cannabis and procures it in a dangerous manner, should we not, instead, teach people to refrain from using such potentially harmful drugs? It seems clear that the better, more permanent, more noble solution, like in the case of violence towards women, is education to refrain from these negative activities. Such is the same for drinking after graduation; it is better and more effective to teach our sons and our daughters not to drink illegally (or even legally) but, rather, to refrain from doing so in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Otherwise, we are simply reinforcing undesirable and socially destructive behaviour, and this is not something that ought be done, methinks.
By: The Alder Tree