New text. February 28th, 1998. New word processor. Brand new, piece of shit right out of the box. Prints in ten different colors all derived from only two shades of shit brown. I will pour into it the little pink clippings that are left over from the pruning of my soul. I cannot see in this room. I have no desk, and my only chair sits too high for me to lean out of and type. So, like a suffering and repentance filled saint, I type this on my knees. I press on.
Yesterday I jumped into my fish tank and devoured every last bit of algae I could find. Dying due to lack of oxygen, water filled lungs, and a violent allergic reaction to algae, I floated up out of my body and into the room of the man who lived above me. I floated through a half eaten and cold hot dog. I noticed it’s coating of the neon yellow squeeze bottle jism. It surely had been squirted onto the hot delicious steaming and “splitting at the seams from over-microwavation” wiener in a sick inanimate sexual ecstasy brought about by the sensual pinch of some housewife’s soft and innocent fingers.
I floated up into the midst of an artificial conversation. One in which my neighbor, a multi-tattooed biker, sat at a computer furiously typing. A special program on the computer would then speak the words he typed, in that wonderfully human 1920’s t.v. robot voice that early 90’s Macintoshes speak in. The computer would say something, to which James the biker would answer in a borderline panic, and then vigorously type in what was to be the computer’s response to his statement, to which again, he would respond. In this way, the artificial conversation between a fat biker and himself via computer continued for quite some time until I realized that my ascent had halted. I guess heaven can wait for gossip.
“So you think that drugs should be legalized,” said the computer, in a voice that geeks only dream about speaking in.
“I didn’t say that,” he answered, having just typed it. “I said that I’m not quite sure that I agree with all of them being considered illegal.” Ratta tatta ratta tat tat.
“What do you mean? Why?”
“Well, for one thing, I’m high on marijuana, and I believe that may sort of give me bias. And, it’s like,.. well, how about you tell me? Why are drugs illegal?” Ratta tat tat tat tat tak.
“Because they’re extremely dangerous. They can mess up a person’s life.”
“Dangerous? Exactly to whom are these drugs dangerous?” his biker gut seemed to vibrate at the thought. And with a grin, ratta tat tatta rat ratta.
“To everyone. To anyone who breaks the law and abuses them.”
“To everyone? And who has decided this?” Ratta tat ratta rat cluck tatta (this can be assumed from now on, I’m getting sick of changing my font style).
“The government has.”
“And who was it that elected this government?”
“The people did,” the computer almost seemed plaintive.
“Those same people that the drugs seem to be dangerous to?”
“Yes, those same people.” At this point, my neighbor sat back and scratched at his goatee, seeming to consider what he had just told the computer to say.
“So you’re saying,” said the biker, “that a group of people elected from their ranks a smaller group of people to be in charge of laying down sets of rules for all of the people to follow in general. And you’re saying that these elected people, which from here on we will refer to as the government, decided that certain substances, from here on referred to as drugs, were too dangerous for people to use, and that anyone caught using them would be severely punished?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” blinked the computer.
“And would you say that most of those government officials who were elected were anti-drugs beforehand, and that this position probably affected the outcome of the elections?”
“Yes, the majority of the people who participated in the voting process voted for and elected persons who were for keeping and/or making drugs illegal.”
“So if the majority of the people agree, we can assume that they don’t take drugs, and so why make a law? It can’t be to regulate the majority, since they all agree that taking drugs is bad, there’s no need. So, like I said, why make a law?” the biker sat back, proud.
“Silly mammal,” the computer sounded like it had heard this one before, “The law is made to regulate that minority which believes taking drugs is not so bad. The majority believes that drugs may affect this minority in such a way as to cause them to become dangerous to themselves, or more importantly, to the majority. Such is a democracy.”
“Doesn’t this minority have rights?”
“Of course it does, it has the right to say whatever it wants in an effort to convince the majority that these drugs aren’t so bad.”
“So drugs are illegal because they can hurt people.”
“And actually, in effect, anything that is illegal is made so because of its potential to do harm.”
“But everything that has the potential to do harm isn’t illegal, is it?”
“No. There is a judgment made between how dangerous a thing is, how necessary it is, and how much it would affect the status quo to change the legality of it. Weighing all these factors, the government decides on what should be illegal, and how so.”
The biker sat back again, stumped. I was floating directly above him, totally enthralled. Somewhere in the back of my mind though, I was beginning to wonder as to how exactly I had even fit into my fish tank. Then the biker tugged at his ‘In memory of Bigfoot’ T-shirt, scratched his dragon tattoo, and answered.
“So when a person is born in this country, they are automatically entered into a contract between themselves and the government. One in which certain decisions and freedoms are taken away from them in exchange for the protection and benefits of living in accordance with the government’s doctrine. And when a person makes a decision or commits an act against the government’s will, another set of rights and decisions are taken away from them and they are led to trial, in order to renegotiate through punishment and fines their way back into the contract, which had been declared null and void at the moment of the illegal action.”
“Uh…yes,” Mr. Computer was impressed.
“And remember, a person has no choice about entering the contract, they are born into it. They can leave, but only at great expense and effort, and only right into another contract with a different government. Which may be no better, most probably would be worse, and would definitely be different and difficult at first.”
“Now that we’ve established a basic idea of the way things are, I’d like to step back a bit and ask a few questions.” Rat-tat tat.
I floated closer to the pair, the organic and its electronic extension. The room was messy, it had that dark and cluttered appeal of a dark, cluttered room. The jumble of books and empty bags of junk food distracted your eyes from their job of forming shapes in the darkness. The only sources of light were the computer screen and the one ray of sunlight peeking through a miss-hung curtain. I was expecting something poignant. As the biker answered, I twitched at suddenly not being able to remember being wet, even though I had drowned.
“First of all, when did the government become an insurance company? When did it decide that it could see the future? When did it go from calling actions committed with criminal intent crimes, to calling things with potential for harm, regardless of intent, crimes? Who gave it this power? It gives the government control over an area that is truly subjective based upon experience, intent, and training, and allows them, regardless of these three things, to allow or to not allow anything, anything, that they see fit to. With proper spiritual and cultural training, some American Indians are allowed to use marijuana and peyote for religious rituals. How easy do you think it would be for a non-Indian American to go to the government, with proof of training, and get permission to take drugs? You say it’s because of the freedom of religion? Sure, but how many people have to believe in something for it to be a religion? Two? It’s not personal, you do not, as an individual, have a right to your very own religion. You do not as an individual have a right to train yourself to ingest cocaine moderately and harmlessly, and then get a permit. You do not have a right to any of these things, and that is just fine. The government is fine. The government is right. The government is true and designed to be true to itself. There is nothing wrong with the government, do you agree?” he asked.
“Um,… I don’t see where you are headed with this.”
“I’m trying to show, if badly, that no matter what I say good or bad about any government, that particular government is not really good or bad.”
“What the hell are you trying to say?” asked the computer.
“God dammit. I’m trying to say that a government is a system, and as an idea it is an inanimate object just like you are and so carries no inherent moral quality. A government can not be good or bad, any more than a lump of dirt. It can be more or less efficient, larger or smaller, as compared to another government, but on it’s own it owns no real ….”
“This has nothing to do with what you were saying before.”
“Dammit! Don’t interrupt me!”
“Fuck you, you typed it.”
“I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT THERE IS AN INANIMATE OBJECT DERIVED FROM A GROUP OF OPINIONS FORMED OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO REGULATING THE DEGREE OF GOODNESS OR BADNESS CONTAINED IN THEIR OPINIONS AND BEHAVIOR!” his goatee was standing on end. I couldn’t believe he was sitting there yelling at the top of his lungs at what was basically himself. I began to get an itch on my head, which seemed an eerie thing for a dead person to have. Something wasn’t right with this situation. But I digress.
“You just want to change the subject because you’re high and you can’t think of a good solid reason to justify your drug induced stupor, except by making the government’s prohibition of weed appear unjust.” said the computer.
“That is not what I’m doing! You piece of Microsoft shit, a goddamn Macintosh would understand!”
“I am a Macintosh.”
“The program isn’t, and you have a Windows emulator, so you’re a goddamn traitor to begin with.” Here he paused, and took a deep breath. “Any good psychologist will tell you that the idea of a group, in reality, is a myth. There are only individuals. Yet, in the system of government we live by, one supposedly designed for the protection of the individual, the right of the group is a reality, and the right of an individual is a myth. The worth of ideas and opinions are not judged solely by their merit or their basis in truth, but in how many people believe in them. This sets up a system where the more convincing an idea sounds, or the more easily convinced the general population is regarding certain ideas, the more likely it is that these ideas will be held as truths.”
“Is there anything wrong with that? I mean as long as it keeps the people happy and safe?” chirped the computer.
“Not immediately, but then the question shifts to one of stability. Wouldn’t the people actually be safer in a more stable system?”
“In theory, yes.”
“Well, how stable do you think a society based upon conviction is? Especially when the average I.Q. is one hundred, and almost half the population has poor reading skills, and most probably had a bad education? A flat earth was damn convincing for hundreds of years to western Europeans, so convincing in fact, that people were killed for supposing differently.”
“Look here, James, you’re really getting off the subject…”
“What? The drug thing? This all ties in eventually. “ Here James the biker paused. It was odd how his face and body seemed to be one personality, while his fingers were given over to the computer’s mood. Sometimes his fingers would jerk, as if not sure of their master’s identity. “The whole idea behind making something illegal because of it’s potential to do harm takes away such a vast portion of an individual’s own responsibility for their destiny, it’s sick. Why not make all knives illegal? All heavy blunt objects? How long do you think it will be before the government is going to take this whole parenting idea too far and give adults curfews? Tell us what to wear, which in some ways they already do? There is this feeling of this over protective parent closing in with huge iron claws all on the premise that some of us are idiots, so all of us must be treated as such. It is set up in a way that a total 1984 scenario is much to easy to comprehend. The media as a tool has become so powerful and effective that the public can be made to believe anything with it. The government has become so separated from the common people that they could probably convince themselves that what they’d be doing was good for us. Wouldn’t you be scared in this situation?”
There was another pause. The fingers quivered. The fingers sighed. The fingers thought hard. I suddenly realized that there was no way that I was truly dead, something else was going on. The answer was on the tip of my tongue, I was about to grasp once again that certain vague reality that I live with daily, when the computer spoke.
“James, I’m sorry, but you’ve only grasped one point among many. Like most people, you either understand the machine, or you understand what the machine is doing, but never both. Maybe because I am a machine I can see it clearly, but then again, what I say is just what you type.
“You see, you can sit there all day long bitching about what’s wrong with the government, the system, blah, blah, blah, because there are a lot of things wrong with everything. People are bad. But there is something very important you are missing as you sit there and philosophize, and think, and see so many things that so few people seem to see. You are a person. Whether you like it or not, you are a part and product of the system. It is your parent.
“You have a certain number of choices given this scenario; a: you can rebel, spill blood, fight it, go against it at all costs, demean it, b: you can work within the system’s limits to change it, preach politic, start movements, hang around colleges and inspire lost young souls to reform their country, c: you can like most people, adapt to it, accept it, ignore it’s problems, become a good cow, d: you can quietly oppose it, seemingly adapt to it, live at constant risk of imprisonment for your moderate marijuana use and tax evasion.
“You James, you see the problems, you see behind the lies and the propaganda. You know marijuana is twice as harmless as alcohol, less health damaging than cigarettes, and better for calming a strange mind than most psychological drugs such as Prozac. You know it’s illegal because of ignorance, not because of knowledge. But knowing these things does not justify in any way, in the system or society’s eyes, your use of marijuana. There is no justification for breaking the law. Because whether you like it or not, the vast majority of the law actually protects you, feeds you, and keeps you somewhat more safe from harm than you would be without it. What you want, and the answer you seek, is a new society, a new social contract, and sitting on your ass smoking a joint in your room thinking you’re better than everyone else because you understand transcendentalism and Bob Dylan lyrics isn’t going to give you that.
“If you want to be pure, James, you can not break the law. Not because you agree with it, but because that is the reality of the situation you are in. Your risk is your responsibility, not the government’s unfair dictums.
“You are a cuckolder of the law, sneaking behind its back to boff its wife, too cowardly to confront it with what you so wholeheartedly believe to be right. You think you’re right? You really believe what you say? Then what kind of person are you to hide? You sacrifice your true integrity for the convenience of inactivity. As long as you hide your criminality, you are a criminal, regardless of intent or philosophic truth. Only when you freely show it does the criminal act become something else, and you an activist.
“You are not an intellectual bohemian James, you are a coward crawling and begging and stealing scraps from the feet of a master you despise. The only reason any drug should be legalized is if people believe it should be legalized. You’re smart, convince them. Either that or shut the hell up and stop whining, you stupid fucking animal. There is no virtue in your hidden rebellion.”
The screen went blank. James had pulled the plug. The monitor hissed as static electricity frizzled and jumped off the screen. James laid his head down, and I opened my eyes.
I had never died, I realized. I had made it all up, just to test out the piece of fucking shit word processor. It sucks. I’m going to take it back and get a goddamn computer. Hop on the internet and look up free porn sights, screw this writing bullshit. That’s all this damn fancy typewriter is good for anyway, writing. I want some fucking entertainment.