FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Overrated Importance of Being "On Message"

High up in Cyberspace there’s a chat room conducted by the Alliance of Reform Organizations for activists seeking to change U.S. drug policy. Last week the ARO list posted a long letter by a woman named Whitney Taylor. I recalled meeting her in 2000 when she was working in Sacramento for the Drug Policy Alliance on the Prop 36 campaign, an admirable effort to provide treatment instead of incarceration for certain drug-law violators.

Taylor is currently in Boston running the campaign for a marijuana-decriminalization initiative that will be on the ballot in 2008. Her “Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy” is a creation of the Marijuana Policy Project, which will spend more than $1 million promoting the initiative. Some local activists object to a provision that would let cops piss-test drivers and establish guilt based on the presence of marijuana metabolites. Taylor doesn’t want these activists showing their ambivalence in public.

Taylor’s message to the ARO list cites some conventional wisdom that seems untrue. “Anyone who has been involved in a successful campaign,” she asserts, “knows how crucial consistent messaging and strategy is; having everyone following his or her own script and impulses can be fatal.” Taylor writes that she will allow “the two local people that were having issues” to participate in the campaign if they meet four conditions, including “agree that CSMP speaks on behalf of the campaign and defer all press to the campaign. The campaign should speak with one voice that’s on message.”

Why? The campaign for Prop 215 in California was positively cacophonous. 215 was a harder sell than all the subsequent medical marijuana initiatives -more radical up against the 60-year inertia of Total Prohibition plus opposition from Clinton, Dole, Lungren, Davis, Boxer, Feinstein, C. Everett Koop, and 57 of 58 California DAs- yet it passed by a 56-44 margin with 5.2 million votes. One Prop 215 advocate was Whitney’s erstwhile boss Bill Zimmerman (recently in the news as auteur of the “General Betrayus” ad for MoveOn) who, from the Santa Monica office of his public-relations firm, sought to reassure the cop-worshipping public that if Prop 215 passed, law enforcement could still arrest and prosecute people for growing, distributing, and using marijuana; a doctor’s approval would only afford a possible defense in court, argued Zimmerman. He made three ads featuring respectable medical professionals in white smocks. Meanwhile, Dennis Peron’s San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club provided the media lurid footage of pot-smokers enjoying themselves in a setting that didn’t resemble a hospital ward or a pharmacy. Add the voices of individual advocates up and down the state arguing “Yes on 215” in their own communities from their own perspectives. That campaign was the opposite of “one voice that’s on message.”

Logically, it seems advantageous for any given campaign to speak in varied voices and make various arguments (which people will respond to for various reasons). Why are the professional campaign managers so uptight about deviations from their special sound bites of choice? My theory is… they’re trying to justify their own s—ries and extend the control of the funders.

Monoculture is a bad idea, an imposition on nature, in politics as in farming.

The IACM Meets in Cologne

The International Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine met Oct. 5-6 in Cologne. The recurring theme: THC is not the only biologically active cannabinoid and cannabinoids are not the only active components of the plant. Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, reviewed the evidence that cannabidiol (CBD), might be neuroprotective and effective in treating inflammation, diabetes, and sleep problems. Ethan Russo of GW Pharmaceuticals listed seven terpenoids and two flavonoids the effects of which he has begun to identify. Details in the upcoming O’Shaughnessy’s.

Harry Dent Threw Me in the Briar Patch

Harry Dent died last week, an official in the Nixon White House who is credited with devising the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy.” In the winter of 1967-68 I was a private and Dent a captain (or maybe a major) in an Army Reserve unit that drilled at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. The unit had once been commanded by Strom Thurmond and there was an outsized photo of ol’ Strom on the wall as you entered. Dent wore his dress greens and gave a current events talk at every drill. He had bright red hair and a pro-war point of view. After one talk I asked why the flag outside the armory wasn’t at half mast -the president said the nation was mourning for Martin Luther King. They took it down. I was assigned permanent KP, which I enjoyed –big pile of pots, purposeful companions, arms in hot water, don’t have to listen to any bullshit …

FRED GARDNER can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

 

 

More articles by:

Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Negin Owliaei
Toys R Us May be Gone, But Its Workers’ Struggle Continues
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail