Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Rick Salutin
Page: A15


People celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, though they're
inevitable. Since you never know the precise moment of a WHAM, it
should be worth a cheer

Deep social change happens so slowly it looks like nothing is
happening. Not just over years, but decades, maybe longer. Nothing,
nothing, nothing, nothing. Then, WHAM. The imminent legalization of
(non-medical) marijuana is a perfect example. Its perfectness even has
a generational, father to son, symmetry.

Back in 1969, the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau appointed a
royal commission to recommend policy on marijuana. Its head was a
future Supreme Court justice. They heard hundreds of witnesses,
including John Lennon, and in 1973, reported. Two of the three members
recommended decriminalization for possession and cultivation; the
third supported legalization. No one suggested keeping it criminal. It
must have been what Trudeau wanted. You always select people knowing
what they'll give you. Then, nothing, nothing, nothing - till the son.
Why finally now? Who knows? But that's how it goes: there is social
ferment, yet no official policy or law reflects it. You feel it's
hopeless. Then it bursts forth whole. Too bad for devotees of the
cause who died in the interim.

In the same era, the 1960s, came the sexual revolution. It questioned
heteronormative sex. It was like the drugs, music and political

Anti-capitalist authorities, such as Herbert Marcuse, theorized about
the possibility of "non-repressive desublimation." Intellectual guru
Norman O. Brown advocated "polymorphous perversity" versus
uncomplicated (marital-only) intercourse.

Then, 30 years of nothing. Gary Hart dropped his 1988 Democratic run
for U.S. president because he was spotted on a sailboat with
not-his-wife. In 1998, Bill Clinton was caught having oral sex in the
oval office (making every word in that phrase sound sexual) with an
intern. The sole achievement of his eight years as president was
resisting the stigmatization and staying in office. (It seems to me
Donald Trump owes Bill Clinton for the fact that his "p---y" tape
didn't cost him victory.)

The official marker for change on this front was same-sex marriage,
which became legal nationally in the U.S. in 2015. WHAM, finally.

What about Bill O'Reilly, the mighty mouth at Fox News, who this week
was booted for harassment of women working there? Did the Murdochs
just find out? I think it's unfortunate that O'Reilly's harassment
history got intertwined with Fox's right-wing ideology - because the
very same things have happened for years at other media outlets of all
stripes. Women's lives were blighted and careers destroyed at more
"liberal" or progressive institutions by behaviour as ugly and
sometimes far worse than his, including, bien sur, the CBC. But why
now? Nobody knows. It seemed to coalesce at the time of the Jian
Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby cases two or three years ago. Then, why then?
I don't think there's an answer. (Which should make people wary of
declaring "causes" of anything, like wars and recessions.) But that's
when women who had been fighting these battles for decades began
saying they sensed a "sea change." The lesson is obvious: don't fret
about lack of results; just keep on battl! ing.

Personally, I find it regrettable that the arrival of the cannabis
legislation hasn't been more celebratory. I know laws are dry things
and Parliament, a dreary place. Besides, everyone can say they saw it

Still, people celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, though they're
inevitable. Since you never know the precise moment of a WHAM, it
should be worth a cheer.

Maybe it's because fighting when the outcome is uncertain or hopeless is 
more fun. Pierre the dad had an insouciance in office that his son 
lacks. Even 10 years into power, he pirouetted for the cameras behind 
the Queen's back as they went into a formal dinner. Meaning what, 
exactly? Maybe: Believe me, all this prestige and rank means nothing, 
though I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Justin had that before his political ascension: when he called Peter
Kent "a piece of s---"; boxed, defying the odds, against Patrick
Brazeau; or two years later, said nothing "f---ing matters" in the
ring except who you truly are.

I'm sure he has his reasons, including the dad he had, but now, over
10 years younger than Pierre was when he pirouetted, he sometimes
seems older.

All the more reason to take pride in delivering the knockout blow in
the case of pot. He should have learned how long it can take to finish
something that's clearly right.

Maybe little Hadrien will get around to electoral reform.
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MAP posted-by: Matt