City Paper is not for tourists
Good morning, City Desk readers, and welcome to Freedom Friday! Today’s topic: Chuck Lane, former editor of the The New Republic and promoter of the conventional wisdom on the editorial pages of the Washington Post. For those of you who missed last week’s FF, I said some not nice things to Chuck. Why did I say those things? Because Chuck Lane was acting like a dick.
1.) In a column titled, “Medical marijuana is an insult to our intelligence,” Lane mocked a woman named Angel Raich, a U.S. Supreme Court plaintiff who said she needed marijuana for a litany of illnesses. Though someone at WaPo has since scrubbed Lane’s remarks from the post, this is what he had to say about Raich: that she “might consider a consultation for hypochondria, or perhaps marijuana dependency.”
If I were Lane, I would’ve had this removed too. Why? Because it looks terrible to first say that, and then have to include a correction wherein you admit that the person you just made fun of “is about to undergo an operation to reduce her Schwannoma, which is a benign brain tumor.”
Raich also got in contact with the Marijuana Policy Project. That “benign” brain tumor? Here’s how the MPP reported it: “Raich is having highly risky surgery October 28 – surgery that her doctors had originally ruled out because it is too dangerous — because her brain tumor has now become life-threatening.”
2.) So, not only did Chuck Lane mock someone with a brain tumor, but then he turned around and painted medical marijuana activists as thugs. The opening line of his follow-up post (the one I blogged about last week) reads like this: “My post about ‘medical marijuana’ stirred a lot of comments, some of them approving, the vast majority hostile and vituperative — and one or two actually threatening.”
His email to me read: “I thought marijuana was a peaceful drug, but for some reason a lot of its adherents got really verbally violent over my writings.”
Look, Chuck. They made a movie about you, so you must realize by now that you’re not spouting off in a vacuum, and that regardless of how few of your usual readers are marijuana users, lying* about the effects and support of medical marijuana in the web pages of a nationally respected newspaper is probably going to draw out the whole gang. That’s how the Web works, and I think you’d agree—if you weren’t on the business end of the pitchfork—that it’s a very democratic way to do journalism.
But what’s most offensive is your implication that the reaction to your columns (95% of the comments were pro-medical marijuana and anti-Chuck Lane), were somehow out of character; that stoners and potheads are supposed to be peaceful and politically unengaged and quiet and dumb. (Or something.) But you couldn’t put us in the category of passionate, politically engaged citizens—we had to be “violent” instead, which plays to an entirely different stereotype, one that casts weed users and advocates as violent criminals.
If you expected that you could write a nasty hit piece with bad facts and escape unnoticed, well…surprise. You can’t, because we’re watching you, and we’ll continue to respond in intelligible, stereotype-defying ways for the foreseeable future/ fo’ evah evah.
[*Ed. note: Yes, Chuck, you lied to your readers. If you navigate your way to the MPP’s response to your first column, you’ll see a bevy of statistics that contradict the few you googled. Among them, this one: “And last year, the American College of Physicians – 124,000 doctors of internal medicine – stated, ‘Evidence not only supports the use of medical marijuana in certain conditions but also suggests numerous indications for cannabinoids,’ marijuana’s unique, active components.”]