John Hardin / @ 7:32 a.m. / Op-Ed

HARDIN: You Can Count on Me


People sometimes criticize me for my over-the-top opinions and no-holds-barred writing style. They think I should moderate my views and be more sensitive to people’s feelings. Fuck that! In reality, these people just wish I would shut up and leave them alone with their illusions, but they want to say it in a way that sounds like constructive criticism.

If Carl Hiaasen offered a few words of advice about my writing, I’d be all ears, but when I get writing advice here in SoHum, it usually comes from people who can barely read. I don’t listen to them any more than I would take target shooting advice from an unarmed blind man. If you can’t see the target, and you’ve never handled a gun, you won’t be much help, so relax. I know what I’m doing, and I shoot straight.

You’re lucky to have me, frankly. Thirty years of silence, secrecy and sycophantic schemers has given this community a very distorted image of itself. The injustice of marijuana prohibition turned community values on their head. What began as a new green awakening degenerated into the same old greed and dishonesty. We celebrate marijuana, but our addiction to the War on Drugs shapes us, and it shows.

Greed is uglier than alcoholism. It’s even uglier than meth addiction, and that heartless, senseless, relentless thirst for more takes a toll. Like alcohol and meth, greed hardens people while it kills them from the inside. I see what that disease does to people. I see what that disease has done to this community.

While cannabis may have healing qualities that make the user more sensitive to subtle emotional cues, the War on Drugs produces hard, rotten people. Every community has a few — quite a few, I’m sorry to say — just like every community has its share of alcoholics, tweakers and greed-heads. Unfortunately, the opportunities created here by the War on Drugs tend to attract them, so we have more than our fair share. We also have more than our fair share of money, which, like gravity, inexorably draws greedy scum towards it.

The War on Drugs made bad people rich while it drove honest people out of town, just like it does in any drug ghetto, and just like in any drug ghetto we have enormous social problems as a result. We try to put a nice face on it. We try to look like a normal, prosperous, small town, but the truth shows. It angers the rich ugly, hard, rotten people around here, that they can’t just sweep the poor, ugly, hard, rotten people out of sight, but that’s who we are, and that’s what the War on Drugs has done to us. So long as the War on Drugs continues, we shall remain, as a community, unnaturally rich, unnaturally poor and rotten to the core.

Greedy bankers and real estate bloodsuckers measure the marijuana industry in dollars, because that’s all greedy people see, but the more money the marijuana industry brings to Humboldt County the more poverty it produces. The black market marijuana industry produces poverty all over this country, but here in SoHum, it produces some of the most expensive poverty money can buy.

Greedy people, like drug addicts, become so focused on their addiction that they often fail to notice how poor they really are. The people who drive those spotlessly clean late-model trucks often live in total squalor — expensive squalor, but squalor nonetheless. Lots of children grow up in dysfunctional homes, without books and living on junk food, and we have some of the highest suicide and drug addiction rates in the state. For all the money that the War on Drugs brings in, we sure don’t seem to live very well as a result.

It takes more than money to make a community function. It takes culture, and hard, rotten people produce a hard, rotten culture. It’s a hard, rotten culture that blames the poor for their poverty, and rewards drug dealers for their greed, and this hard, rotten culture belies our deepest poverty: our penurious shortage of intelligence, imagination and moral courage. I know you don’t want to hear it, folks, but that’s the truth. You won’t get that from many people around here, but you can count on me.

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John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.


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