I-502 Debate: Where Do We Draw The Line?


Rik Lee

By Mickey Martin
Cannabis Warrior
Russ Belville probably knows people who like kiddy porn, and it is unclear what his involvement in this kiddy-porn scandal really is.
Okay….That is probably not true. Or maybe it is. Who knows?
But I can reference it and speculate here and on my personal blog because the internet is a wonderful place. In turn, unsuspecting and gullible people on the internet could read my piece, and many may start to spread this dirty rumor around.
The next thing you know, Russ is knee-deep in some kiddy-porn scandal that he has nothing to do with, and which is weakly evidenced as ever even existing.
But the damage is done, right?

Which brings me to my point. In Washington State and beyond, there is a very volatile fight happening regarding the legalization half-measure being put forth there, I-502.

Jodie Emery

To keep it short, Marc and Jodie Emery support the effort. Marc Emery has penned several articles, published on Cannabis Culture and elsewhere, that call those who oppose I-502 “foolish” “ignorant” and “dangerous,” amongst other things.
That is fine. That is Marc’s opinion and he has a right to that opinion. But other folks also have a right to publicly refute the Emery’s position.
So a spirited, and often off-color, debate has been happening. In response to Marc and Jodie’s very public commentary and inflammatory remarks, which Marc admits “provoked a reaction, not unexpectedly,” Toke of the Town editor and Washington state resident Steve Elliott, decided to write a rebuttal to the Emerys. In doing so, he also made some tough remarks about the Emerys, calling Jodie a “trophy wife” and suggesting they had “sold out to law enforcement.”
So stay with me… Marc made some remarks that Jodie backed up that disparaged those that oppose I-502. Steve Elliott responded with some other disparaging remarks that many believe crossed a line… so enter Russ Belville.

NORML of Waco
Russ Belville

Russ decides to come to the rescue by releasing a piece called, “Anti I-502 blogger resorts to misogynist attacks to oppose legalization.” Super….The title alone is crazy enough.
But in the first paragraph of the story, Russ attempts to tie Steve to a Village Voice lawsuit from years ago in which a child sex trafficker used the “Backpage” section of the Village Voice to prostitute an underage girl. The girl sued the Village Voice, only to have a Federal judge toss the suit out of court.
The judge ruled, just as we do not hold cities responsible because there is a street where people prostitue young girls so because the city has a street they are directly responsible for the crime somehow, Village Voice cannot be held responsible for every bad person who uses their services (or virtual street) for nefarious purposes. The pimp in the case was given five years in prison, which is the appropriate sentence for the crime.
The lawsuit against the Village Voice was an effort, IMO, to seek monetary gain from a horrible act. The Village Voice has won three Pulitzer prizes and has been one of the leading voices on gay rights and HIV/AIDS in this Country for decades.
Here is how Russ opened his story on Steve:

There is a certain popular marijuana website funded by a company that rakes in money facilitating online sex trafficking of minors – I won’t link to it, because pimping little girls is no joke in my town – whose author won’t stop falsely demonizing Washington’s legalization measure, I-502.

“Because pimping little girls is no joke in my town..” For reals?

Steve Elliott

This is how you are going to start a piece aimed at showing the comments made by Steve against Jodie were out of line and “misogynistic”?
By attempting to immediately tie him to a child sex trafficking case that was thrown out of court because of false legal grounds that was filed against the company that syndicates his column, and is one of the storied news pioneers of our time, and who owns dozens of the most popular weekly rags in the country, including SF Weekly, LA Weekly, and Seattle Weekly?
So you are accusing Steve, and everyone who works at these organizations, and everyone (including MOST cannabis collectives) who advertise with them, and how about all of the people who make money off of the people who make money advertising with them?
Oh wait….that would include you, Russ.
I think you can see where I am heading.
Where does the slippery slope of misplaced agression begin and end? How ugly will this debate get, as the election approaches?
From a person who did all of this in 2010, and spent innumerable hours carefully crafting rebuttals and logical assumptions about my opposition, I can tell you it will probably get much worse… unfortunately.

Cannabis Warrior
Mickey Martin 

So where do we draw the line? Is it possible to be civil and have a debate without making sni
de remarks, or attempting to make people out to be a child sex trafficker? I think it is.
I would hope people draw the line somewhere in the neighborhood of “your position sucks because…” vs. “you suck and are a trophy wife or sex trafficker because…”
I think you can still make the same points without the personal and fallacious remarks. I think there is enough actual issues and problems with people’s debate positions to fuel a powerful discussion.
With Hempfest approaching this weekend, there is sure to be some excitement and lively discussion surrounding this issue. Some may speak for. Others will speak against. People will be booed and cheered. We are all adults with the right to respect ourselves.
I would hope that people could at least be civil in public and respect one another’s rights to exist. It takes a lot of people to make a world.
But in your debate, do us all a favor…draw the line.
Let’s not make connections that are not there to try and belittle the person whose position you disagree with based on issues not related to cannabis, or this movement, or the person being debated, in any way whatsoever.
There is plenty of dumb shit you can say that IS related, so try starting there if you feel moved. Civility is not easy, but sometimes we have to be the bigger asshole…

Editor’s note:
 Mickey Martin, the Cannabis Warrior himself, is coauthor of the book Medical Marijuana 101. You can buy it here.