Last weekend I was watching Sunday night prime time FOX. “The Simpsons”, “Malcolm in the Middle” – all that good stuff. Unfortunately I saw a commercial that made think. All I wanted to do was veg out. But no, my brain was called back into action.
The ad showed a swimmer not showing up for her race, letting down her teammates. She wasn’t hurt or sick, didn’t have an SAT to take. No, she was stoned. Responsibility: Your Anti-drug. This was a pretty slick ad. So, as the commercial urged me to do, as it was programmed to do by devious government agents, it made me think. It didn’t make me think about how treacherous such a seemingly harmless substance could be. The concept of responsibility is what came to my mind. Because millions of other Americans were probably also tuned in and watching Homer do stupid, funny things, that commercial spot must have cost the government a good chunk of change. This at a time when our country has a skyrocketing deficit and our beloved Golden State is facing huge budget cutbacks. Cutbacks that will rip into the funding of education, increasing the cost of higher education while decreasing the number of lucky citizens who can get a UC degree. The government should be thinking about responsibility. They have the responsibility to get their priorities straight.
If you catch a fish for a man, you feed him once. If you teach him to fish for himself, you feed him for life. The anti-drug commercial clearly aims to convince people not to smoke the wacky tabacky. It’s trying to impart some knowledge on its viewer; lets call him the average Joel. Being ridiculously optimistic, we’ll assume that a small portion of average Joels actually do take heed and stay away from the sticky-icky-icky. These easily swayed folks just got a free fish dinner.
In fact, the government did everything short of shoving it down their throat. Remember now that indirectly, the money that was spent on this serving of knowledge was taken from education-related funds. With the proposed budget, the UC is going to have cut out 5 to 10 percent of the number of admission spaces currently available for freshmen, not to mention limiting or even cutting altogether services like Campus Learning Assistance Services that are designed to enhance the educational experience. So basically the government’s choice of spending is going to result in fewer people who will be well educated.
The reason I’m not doing something dumb and really destroying my life – just enhancing it a little – is because I, Mr. UC education, have critical thinking skills. But the average Joel doesn’t know critical thinking, he only knows weed is bad. Maybe this is the government’s intention after all. It’s all part of a sinister plot to dumb down the populace so that we think what they tell us to think. What they want us to think so we can stay productive and they remain powerful.
The man has been trying to do this for a long time – think back to Cold War propaganda films – but we educated ones in “The Matrix” have kept fighting back. He is growing in power and influence, launching his most ambitious plan to eliminate his enlightened opposition once and for all. I haven’t seen the conclusion yet, but I bet I have a solution even Neo didn’t think of. Weed. Legalization man. Obviously this seems to run contrary to what our government in its conservative mindset would do. But let’s consider. Legalization would cause money to flow back into government coffers. Even pour, cause I know there are a lot of smokers out there. This would allow George W. and his cronies to invade North Korea, topple Iran – do whatever they need to do to get that power fix. Gov. Schwarzenneger could really show us what it means to be the governator and blow some shit up, too. And if they spread enough genetically-enhanced greens around, everyone would forget to care about what a monstrosity our so-called free nation has become. I’ll light up to that.
Joel Furman is a sophomore law and society major.