Re: The Big Lie

Mark Bunster (mbunster@SATURN.VCU.EDU)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 09:57:19 -0400

At 11:05 AM 3/25/98 EST, Wally Sass wrote:

>The racial basis for the USA's drug laws is apparent. The very first law
>prohibiting drugs (opium) was passed in 1875 (in Cal.) and was directed
>against Chinese immigrants. Cocaine was first banned in the south to
>prevent an uprising of "cocainized Negroes".

I would say that the racial basis for their initiall criminalization was
clear; the continuing basis less so--more inertia, law and order, and

>Hemp was grown in this country from the 1600's until it began to be called
>Marijuana by W.R. Hearst during his anti-drug yellow journalism crusades of
>the thirties. (Marijuana being, of course, the Mexican word for Hemp.)

Hemp and marijuana are the same plant, but cultivation and resulting product
are much different. You can't get high off hemp, you can't make paper from
marijuana buds.

>Jimi obviously did 'do' drugs. According to the anti-drug dogma, ANY drug
>use leads to addiction. Jimi was a VERY high profile artist. He was black.
>He did ALOT of drugs! Their thinking (?) probably went something like this:
>"Just like them Injuns with the fire-water, these Savages have no control.
>Of course he is an addict!" It really pissed these racists off to see all
>those white kids going to see a black performer. What other popular black
>artist of the time had such an almost exclusively white following? Heck,
>Jimi was the highest paid Rock act of the time, per performance. (It helped
>that The Beatles were no longer touring). They felt that Jimi was 'Public
>Enemy #1' in the fight for the hearts and minds, of their own children. He
>represented everything white amerika was afraid of. By discrediting Jimi,
>they felt they were protecting 'The American Way'. Their successors have
>the same fanatical zeal:

While there may be some basis for this, I really don't think that Jimi was
excoriated as much for his blackness as for his ear-splitting music (don't
get me wrong, I have almost everything he released), his sartorial
flamboyance, and his youth, finally. Kids were smoking pot before Monterey
Pop. Blame Bob Dylan, Cream, or even the Beatles for that if you like. And
his drug use--but there were enough people to hate him simply for that
without worrying about what color hands were holding the joint or the tab.

I don't think Jimi's popularity with the kids was any more troubling to
racists than Ray Charles', or Little Richard's, or Diana Ross's. And given
that Jimi was after these others...I just believe there was plenty for small
minds not to like about Jimi, even disregarding his racial category.

Mark Bunster *You have nothing in your hands *Any power you have
Survey Research Lab *comes to you from far beyond
VA. Commonwealth U. *Everything is fixed--and you can't change it!
Richmond, VA 23284 * --JCS
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