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Common sense 

You probably have a comprehensive and lengthy list of my dislikes obscuring your perspective of me, perhaps giving the mistaken perspective that while I oppose just about everyone and everything, I hold nothing dear or sacred. And it’s not your fault for thinking that. Sometimes it’s hard not to write above your intellect. But I’ve played to this impression, and will continue to do so.

I believe that it is a privilege to have the space and speaking power to voice my opinion, my jests, my dissent. It’s true that I have been accorded this privilege because I am, in fact, better than everyone else. Politics tend to be muddled, and politicians mostly seem like weavers of lies and shit. But that doesn’t alter the fact that I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to wade in and attempt to sort truth from propaganda, sense from foolishness. Because the only thing worse than failing to change the status quo is standing idly and futilely by and watching. I’d rather be a spaz than a shoe gazer. I’d rather dance than sit it out. Lee Ann Womack taught me that.

I hold these truths to be self-evident:

• That common sense is infallible and mournfully underappreciated. No one is above the rule of law, except when the law is ruled by the stupid. There is no power higher than the rule of logic and basic decency. And those who hide behind irrationality and draconianism are cowardly and deserve mockery.

• That being sick is scary, and the last thing a sick person should have to focus on is whether they’ll be able to pay their medical expenses. Everyone, regardless of financial status, deserves equal access to health care when they’re sick, and preventative care when they’re not.

• That equality is one of the most beautiful words in the English language—next to “freedom” and “open bar”—though a more complex one than we often give it credit for. And if we intend to call ourselves a nation in which “all men are created equal” we must constantly progress into new and uncharted territory. Is this uncomfortable? Yes, but so is athlete’s foot, and I’ve learned to live with that. Yesterday’s attitudes are already outdated. There are new struggles, no less meaningful than the battles already won. And if they require you to look inside yourself and confront your own prejudices—we all have them, I kicked a Canadian the other day—then so much the better.

• That it’s not illegal to be homeless. Living in the creek is not a crime; it’s an unfortunate quandary. There’s no excuse for punishing people who have been shuffled to our fair hamlet’s fringes by self-righteous city employees with broomsticks. After whisking them off benches downtown and herding them away from Sunny Acres by force, you can’t blame them for taking shelter wherever they can. Though, if this were an old-fashioned cattle round-up, the city would get top marks. Unfortunately, the humanity seems to be—what’s the word?—altogether absent.

• That liberty—that most beautiful dame of them all—is not something to be taken for granted. “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,” said Ben Franklin. Or maybe it was some other old, long-dead white man. They’re not entirely sure. But whoever said it is right. I tried to quote this to the guy I could hear breathing on the other end of the phone while I was ordering a pizza the other day. But he barked something about patriotism and said, “America: Love it or leave it!”

• That it’s hard to be human, and something like faith in a divine being can make the rough patches easier and the highs better still. But faith should never be used as a weapon against your fellow human being. Or as an excuse to place yourself on a pedestal above everyone else. And when faith or religion become a tool or excuse to exclude or oppress the minority, it is one of the greatest dangers to a government. I’m looking at you, Michele Bachmann, though I think that calling you a politician is doing a discredit to an already discredited race.

• That pot is just a freaking plant, and the government really needs to get over its obsession with it. Alcohol causes more deaths, often inspires violent behavior, and is more damaging to your body long-term. It’s illogical that one is a legal substance and the other can land you in jail, or worse, the back seat of a maniac NTF officer who won’t stop to let you use the restroom after detaining you. It’s essential to obey the law, but it’s difficult to convince people of that fact when the law is so blatantly irrational and biased. Also, it’s frustrating to listen to cops bitch about their salaries and pensions when they’re using taxpayer money to harass people cultivating marijuana. Sorry, Officer Buzzkill, that’s just not something I’m interested in funding. Once I feel you’re actually representing me on those mean and scary San Luis Obispo streets, maybe I’ll give a crap about your pension. Till then, I’d rather use my spare pocket change for Charlie Lynch’s defense fund.

• That, lastly, I believe you’re all very lucky to have me, even if I mostly just call people names and then hide behind the nearest clump of bushes. Because I’ll never bullshit you. I’ve got nothing to lose—believe me. If you could see the hovel I live in, you’d understand. And I’ve got nothing to gain. The next round of chew toys that gets tossed around here probably won’t find its way to my desk. And even if it did, I won’t be here anyway. I’ll be out back. In the bushes. ∆


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