Thursday, December 29, 2016

They Call Me Supermensch, by Shep Gordon

Mr. Gordon is an entertainment manager who got his start handling Alice Cooper, and is also known for representing famous chefs. In this auto-biography, he emphasizes his notion of treating people well, striving for win-win deals, and paying back kindness.

The book is very engaging and it was great fun to read. But I have one complaint, something that nagged at me about this book until I finally figured out exactly what it is.

Mr. Gordon, a lifelong cannabis user, talks quite nonchalantly about his pot (and other drug) use in his book. The thing is, in many parts of the US, including Hawaii where Mr. Gordon lives, its (non-medical) use is illegal.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to cannabis. I just find it very upsetting that wealthy or famous folks like Mr. Gordon can flaunt their use of cannabis when literally millions of Americans are arrested for the same thing. For example, according to the ACLU, "Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana." []

It seems as though a privileged class of elites, like Mr. Gordon, Snoop Dogg, Willy Nelson, and the like, can be quite public about their use of cannabis and flat out ignore the laws, but millions of normal folks who use cannabis risk incarceration and even felony prosecution.

This imbalance seems unfair. Whichever way the public pushes on legislation, I'd just like to see fairness and equity in the enforcement of the law. So, if you're anti -cannabis, then insist on equal prosecution of Hollywood types. And if you're pro -cannabis, then fight against the current laws that lead to so many arrests: 8.2 million according to the ACLU, between 2000 and 2010, which were 52% of all drug arrests, and of which 88% were for simple possession. []

If Mr. Gordon wrote about all the sit ins or protests or lobbying efforts he'd organized to correct this imbalance, I'd feel a whole lot more impressed by him. Reading about him smoking a joint in his hot tub to help him come to inventive new ideas wasn't all that sympathetic.

Is this a big deal? According to 2013 FBI data; in Texas alone, 70,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. As Texas State Representative Joe Moody says [], these arrests can destroy young people's' futures. "... if you had a financial aid grants those could be off the table for you, federal student aid is definitely off the table, getting a job is going to be extremely difficult because those criminal background checks are going to show up... Renting an apartment. Anything a young person is needing to be doing to kind of get on their feet to get their life going, all those things can be derailed by a minor conviction.”

My over-reaction to this political topic affected my view of what was otherwise a very good book, which I still recommend.

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