Pubdate: Wed, 27 Sep 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Paul Krassner
Note: Paul Krassner is the author of "Sex, Drugs and the Twinkie
Murders - 40 Years of Countercultural Journalism."


Well, it was a hot day in Phoenix, Ariz. -- 103 degrees, to be exact -- and
14-year-old Nathaniel Dight was elated over his custom-made chess set. Those
carved wooden pieces had been weighted precisely for the smooth moves he
liked to make. But before the game could begin, young Nathaniel was ordered
to take a urine test.

"I know why you're doing this," he snarled. "It's because I've won three
tournaments in a row, isn't it?"

"No, son, that's just a coincidence. This is a random drug test."

"I don't do any drugs. I mean like when I get a headache from playing chess
too long.''

"Look, here's a cup. I need you to go fill it, right now."

All right, I made all that up, but consider the implications of something
that I haven't made up. America's drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, wrote in an
article published in the September issue of Chess Life magazine: "Research
proves that mentoring youngsters and teaching them games like chess can
build resilience in the face of illegal drug use and other destructive
temptations. Drug testing is as appropriate for chess players as for
shot-putters or any other competitors who use their heads as well as their

Accompanying the television image of a couple of eggs sizzling in a frying
pan, the phrase "This is your brain on drugs" has always carried negative
connotations, but apparently McCaffrey has changed his mind about that. He
now seems to believe that drugs can actually improve the way your brain

There was once an infamous chess player named Alexander Alekhine who held
the world championship longer then anybody. His games often had superb
surprise endings, known in chess circles as "brilliancies." For instance, he
would checkmate with a pawn move that no sane and sober mind could ever
imagine. He was a notorious alcoholic, however, and McCaffrey is only
referring to illegal drugs.

"Just when I thought I'd heard it all from McCaffrey," was the reaction of
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation. "Drug testing for chess players? What's
next from this over-reaching drug czar? Drug testing for tiddlywinks

Maybe the drug-law reformers should follow the example of gay-rights
activists by having celebrities come out of the pot-smoking closet. Already,
veteran stand-up comic George Carlin admitted that he smokes pot to help him
"fine tune" his material. At the Shadow Convention during the Democratic
National Convention in Los Angeles, Bill Maher said, "I'm not just a pot
reformer, I'm a user" -- then quickly added he was just "making a light
remark there, federal authorities."

As Ellen DeGeneres appeared on the cover of Time magazine saying, "Yup, I'm
gay," there might come a day when a presidential candidate will appear on
the cover of Newsweek saying, "Yup, I'm stoned."
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