Pubdate: Thu, 15 May 2014
Source: Tucson Weekly (AZ)
Copyright: 2014 Tucson Weekly
Author: J. M. Smith

R.I.P., J.M.

The hypocrisy of America's cannabis policy finally does our writer in 
by J.M. Smith

Dick Cheney sits on a porch step with his head in his hands. It's 3 
a.m. and the street is deserted. A hint of fading spring is in the 
predawn desert air, but the heat of summer is poised to take hold. 
The temperature rises fast when the Arizona sun comes up, but Cheney 
will be long gone by then. J.M. Smith is dead. Cheney's work here is done.

The former vice president of the United States isn't the same man he 
was 50 years ago, when he was untested by adversity, perceived or 
otherwise. War has been a looming presence in Dick Cheney's life 
since he was born. Europeans were dying by the thousands when he came 
into the world in early 1941, even though we resisted caring until 
later that year, when our boys started dying at Pearl Harbor.

Nonetheless, war was there, and Cheney was raised on it, fed and 
clothed and educated by it, influenced and propagandized by it, 
shaped by it his entire life, the same as the rest of the 
late-20th-century world. He was born into a world war, watched a 
Korean one unfold as a child, then cut his professional teeth on two 
wars simultaneously-a Cold War and Vietnam. Later he helped craft two 
Gulf ones-first in Iraq, then in Iraq again, to finish the job left 
undone from the first time-and Afghanistan.

Cheney started his career in government as an intern in 1969 and 
skyrocketed to the top. He quickly got a job as an assistant to 
Donald Rumsfeld in the War on Poverty, which we are still fighting 
and will likely always fight. By 1975, The Dick was White House chief 
of staff under Gerald Ford, a job he inherited from his old boss, Rumsfeld.

Later, after his cash cow was sent packing by a peanut farmer, Cheney 
ran for Congress and represented Wyoming for 12 years. In Congress, 
he sometimes worked as a foot soldier in a new war, the War on Drugs. 
He helped pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which created the 
Office of National Drug Control Policy. That office, where the 
infamous drug czar resides (a term apparently coined by Joe Biden, 
btw) is a known cannabis-hating organization that remains a pain in 
the ass for marijuana proponents everywhere.

It's not entirely Dick Cheney's fault that he is what he is.

Cheney and his ilk are prone to the Us and Them thinking that has 
always been a part of human existence and flared repeatedly in the 
20th century. They seem to see the world in blacks and whites, a 
network of crisscrossing lines in the sand, walling off various 
sectors of society and keeping them separate, occasionally literally 
splitting families the way the Berlin Wall and the 38th Parallel did. 
Step over my lines, I DARE you.

But the waves of change wash away the lines as fast as men like Dick 
Cheney can scratch them on the beach. There is an ocean of humanity 
out there, both in the corporal sense and philosophically. Americans 
are tired of inhumanity, however often it arises, and it seems we're 
ready for change on numerous fronts-violence, gender inequality, 
economic polarization ... and cannabis.

And partly because of America's shift away from dogma and toward 
realistic governance and humanity, the cannabis slope is sufficiently 
slippery that the Dick Cheneys of the world become virtually 
irrelevant, and along with them the J.M. Smiths. Without a Goliath, 
David is just some guy with a sling, and without a Dick Cheney, J.M. 
Smith is just a loudmouthed prick, drooling out hyperbole to random passers-by.

Mr. Smith didn't want to become that, so he talked Dick Cheney into 
killing him, because he couldn't do it himself. There's only so much 
a man can do with a twitching middle finger, only so many Fuck Yous 
to go around. It wasn't a fit of capricious weakness. It was a 
reasoned decision to end a fight that seemed won. Mr. Smith simply 
bowed out, like a starter in the bottom of the eighth inning. The 
conversation went something like this:

"The world overtook us, Dick, left us behind. I don't want to lie in 
this bed anymore, wishing I could move, and I don't want to be a 
relic. No offense, but you're a relic, a sad deflated shadow of your 
former glorious warmongering self. You world doesn't exist anymore, 
and mine is fading fast. All your wars are over, your favorite ones 
anyway, and you lost them all. The global Us versus Them mentally is 
fading. It must have been fun getting back into the White House with 
Rumsfeld, but even the war you two helped orchestrate is over.

"C'mon you sorry fuck! Do it! I'm not going to lie here for the next 
30 years, twitching my finger at the world! Just pull the plug, turn 
around and walk out. You don't have to say anything. You don't have 
to watch. You don't have to feel guilty. I want you to do it. Just 
pull the plug and walk out into the night and disappear."

Cheney looked deep into Mr. Smith's eyes, and what he saw brought the 
bile of hatred to the back of his throat. He saw freedom in J.M. 
Smith's eyes. He saw freedom and truth and justice-all the things he 
tried so hard for so many years to control. Cheney realized then that 
he couldn't control truth, couldn't withhold justice, couldn't give 
freedom to anyone. It made him angry to think that Mr. Smith, trapped 
in his own body by quadriplegia and facing a lifetime of indignity 
and devastating immobility, was more free than he would ever be.

Cheney looked away from J.M. Smith. He hesitated, clenching his fists 
at his sides. He thought about the forces he had tried and failed to 
control for the good of the nation-money, power, terrorists. All of 
them had slipped from his grasp, all proving uncontrollable. He 
didn't know if Mr. Smith meant what he said or not, but now it became 
irrelevant. He wanted J.M. Smith dead.

So he yanked the plug from the wall and stepped out into the cool 
desert night to think about what he had done.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom